I had stayed awake until sunrise again.
Periodically through my adolescence, I would stay awake until the sun rises for no particular purpose, regardless of what the next day had in store. After the movie ended, I began to wipe my stinging bloodshot eyes, contemplating whether to go to sleep or try to cry again.
The older I get, the less frequent my tears come. This is normal, I suppose. You have too much at stake to dedicate an entire hour or day or week to crying. I would be late for work. I wouldn’t answer any important phone calls. I wouldn’t be able to drive my car across the country for dinner or apply my makeup or make small talk.
Back then, I could hollow out my entire week and submerge myself in my emotions. The same songs on repeat, or a phrase from a book or that one movie. I’d watch The Hours at 2 in the morning, and then play the movie score by Philip Glass all day, sometimes through my tiny laptop speakers, other times through my ear buds all day, but always clasping hard onto that feeling.
I didn’t perceive this type of crying as anything negative or harmful. I would use it as a routine cleansing, the same way you’d take a bath you don’t need. I wasn’t sad for any particular reason. I just needed to cry. It was a difficult concept to explain to others, so for this cleansing period I would disappear and then reemerge ‘better’ but with a realisation of sorts, having spoon-fed myself feelings, thick and rich as if from a tub of molasses.
The running joke is that a woman on her period must exile herself into the woods, much to the disgust of her loved ones, but mainly to her own self-repulsion. Spare society the gross workings of your female body. No one wants to hear about that. Recoil in shame until it is over.
There is nothing shocking about what my body does once a month. It is as commonplace as a sneeze. It is what my mind does alongside it that continues to enthral me.
My intuition is so unconsciously sensitive; I catch blood before it even shows. I am overwhelmingly joyful the day before, funny and charismatic and full of buzz. I am overwhelmingly angry the day of. Irritable. I snap at the people I care about. Every comment is pointed like a scorpion’s stinger, it invades me. and I begin to cry again.
Not always. But I separate myself for a few days. Sometimes I oil and brush my hair and scrub my skin. And I dive deep into everything, all the feelings I’ve forgotten how to feel because it’s 7:00 AM and the most important thing is to have shoes on and clean teeth and be behind a wheel by 7:20 or I won’t be arriving by 8:00. Nothing is beautiful and soft and romantic and woeful when my body is ‘normal’. Everything is hard and sharp and scary and boring.
Period-induced emotions are shrugged off as invalid.
“You’re angry because you’re premenstrual.”
“You’re crying because it’s that time of the month.”
But I mean everything I feel. Like someone shy and reserved that can only express love after a few drinks, just because I don’t say it any other time, doesn’t mean I don’t mean it now. I mean it all. I am furious. I am hungry. I am miserable. I am ecstatic. I count these feelings as blessings. I am blessed I am able to feel them all at once, one after the other. I see the tiny veins under my skin. I see the brown of my iris, glistening. I notice the pink of my nail beds. I flood my body with awareness. And I don’t feel ashamed.
Surely, this is more important.
Fajer Taqi is a 26-year old writer and poet from Bahrain. She has a BA in Creative Writing and an MA in Media and Communications. Her writing revolves around fruit, flowers, people, and the suspiciously mundane, often combined. You may visit her Instagram here.