Sun & Moon
I read recently that men’s hormones are like the sun; they repeat on a daily cycle. In one day, a man will experience a fluctuation of energy, ability to focus, and ease of connection. Energy levels for men are usually highest in the earlier part of the day and decrease as the day goes on. Sounds perfect!
Women’s hormones, however, are like the moon. We experience both a daily cycle AND a monthly cycle. This means that our energy, ability to focus, and ease of connection fluctuate, depending on the day of the month. But that’s not all that varies throughout the month. Our libido, creativity, ease of communication, physical appearance, body temperature, motivation to exercise, hunger levels, emotions and self esteem ebb and flow like the tides pulled by the moon.
This makes me think. A lot.
Because it seems that the world is tailor made to fit the male hormonal pattern. The 8- hour work day, for instance? A man wakes up, shows up, then decompresses. Rest, repeat. If he’s lucky enough to not be dealing with health issues or life-altering events, consistency and routine serve him well.
A woman, on the other hand, may find herself unable to wake up, show up, and decompress in the same way day to day. Like the moon, she is in a different phase and place than the day before. Her body and mind are CONSTANTLY changing, shifting, ebbing and flowing. What does this mean? Every day upon waking, a woman has to “read the room”, so to speak. She has to check in with herself, her mind, her body…and then act accordingly.
What’s Wrong With Me?
The problem is, since the expectations of men and women are essentially the same, women often have to make hard choices, whether consciously or not. This might mean staying home because she has cramps. Or skipping a nap so that she doesn’t fall behind in her work, even though her body is begging her to slow down. She may feel “less than” or like she has to hustle to keep up with the men in the room. She may have self-deprecating thoughts like:
What’s wrong with me?
Why am I always tired?
Why can’t I stick to a consistent fitness routine?
Why is it so hard for me to get out of bed this week?
Why am I eating like an elephant?
Why do I feel so anxious?
Why am I not sexy?
And the people around her are having similar thoughts:
Why is she so lazy?
How come she’s so moody?
Why is she always complaining about something?
What the heck is her problem?!
Nobody Taught Us…
So here’s what I think. None of this is our fault, or anyone’s fault for that matter. The truth is, most women aren’t living in alignment with our design. Why? Because nobody taught us how. For centuries, we have been defaulting to the male experience.
In thinking back to when I first “became a woman”, I don’t remember much except being handed a box of pads. Then a couple years later, teaching myself how to insert tampons. I remember dealing with excruciating cramps for years as well as intense PMS (it’s thankfully gotten better as I’ve aged), and feeling ugly and fat and unmotivated for about a week straight.
Welcome to womanhood.
Some things have changed with time. For instance, no more chronic acne or debilitating cramps. No more super intense mood swings (medium ones, now). But other symptoms have taken their place: EXTREME fatigue during menstruation and the days leading up to it, and powerful sugar cravings.
Ever been told these things are in your head? You’re just using them as an excuse? You’re exaggerating? Well I’m here to remind you that you’re not crazy or making things up or exaggerating. You’re paying attention. But frankly, I think we as women can do better.
What I mean by this is we need to more CONSCIOUSLY pay attention and then INTENTIONALLY act accordingly. We shouldn’t be reactive or surprised every time a negative shift in our minds or bodies occurs, profusely apologizing or wondering why we suck at life. We don’t have to bend to the needs of the world when all we want is to take a 30-minute nap.
I get that we can’t curate our lives perfectly or expect everyone to accommodate how we feel at all times; that’s not what I’m saying. What I AM suggesting is that we learn to take ownership of how we are feeling, get in touch with our bodies so that we know our hormonal patterns and symptoms, and essentially allow ourselves to get in alignment with our design. We practice consciously paying attention and intentionally acting accordingly. No apologies, no shame, no guilt.
I am disappointed that I didn’t learn the science behind a woman’s cycle or get in touch with my own cyclical patterns until recently. I’m sad that this information is not handed out to girls and women in colorful brochures as often and effortlessly as street vendors selling cotton candy. It’s unfortunate that women are so ashamed of their periods, their cycles and fluctuating hormones, and are taught to keep these things quiet, private, under the radar.
If we want better for ourselves and our daughters, nieces, students, friends…we have to educate and empower ourselves. I’m still on this journey. It took me years to build resentment and shame around how my body operates, so it will take me years to unlearn the lies and misinformation and conditioning surrounding my cycle. I now believe that we were designed this way for a reason, and the last thing God wants for us is to hate our bodies, always living in a reactive state and covering up what is meant to be beautiful and purposeful.
Some days we will find ourselves energized, attentive, creative, engaged, happy, excited about life, motivated. We can use this time to be adventurous, meet up with friends, work on projects, and get nice and sweaty in our workouts.
Other days we will feel tired, withdrawn, anxious, depressed, slow, unmotivated. We can use this time to rest, read, watch Netflix, look inward, meditate, journal, hibernate, take walks.
Changing The Narrative
If we can lean into a new way of living, we can forgive ourselves for what we always thought were our problems: flakiness, inconsistency, instability. We can move into a way that is more supportive, accepting and fulfilling, rewiring our brains if we need to. And we can do better by the girls in our lives who are about to approach a beautiful, significant, life-altering phase, by celebrating, teaching, empowering and modeling.
Friends, we have to change the narrative.
I hope you will read my next post where I go into more detail about the stages of a woman’s cycle, what each stage means, and how we can empower ourselves and the girls in our lives to view their bodies and minds as divinely designed with love, grace, respect and awe.