Real Talk: When I didn't Know What Period Cramps Were

Real Talk: When I didn't Know What Period Cramps Were

I remember the first pang of period cramps because it was the night I had my first make out session. With so much emotion brimming within me, I assumed the stomach retching was nerves, something I knew well.

I have a very nervous stomach. I always have. In fact I’ve spent much of my adult life working on my anxiety, but I still get those familiar twists in my tummy whenever something with perceivably high stakes is going on. Even at 30, when I’ve been speaking on the phone for decades, I get a slight stomach ache before “important” calls.

That night freshman year, when I sat on the floor of the TV room of my friend’s cool hang out house, my crush was just a few feet away. We had gone for a night swim and now we were settling down to watch a film.

Being the rebel he was, my crush had chosen to lay in the mirrored closet – he said he could stretch out in there. I knew I was suppose to go in there too, but I was terrified. I mean – everyone knows what happens inside mirrored closets.

As the serpentine discomfort weaved its way through my stomach, a familiar self loathing began to settle in, but then something amazing happened. Even though I felt faint and nauseous, I stood up and walked over the closet, got inside and lay beside my crush.

He smiled and leaned over me, closing the door. We made out. It was weird and wonderful. I still remember the slimy, but not gross feeling of his tongue in my mouth. And the internal monologue as I told myself i was making out. For those few minutes I forgot my stomach pain and everything was beautiful.

Then we stopped. We got out of the closet to watch the movie – no one lies in a closet to actually watch a movie, you can’t see anything from that angle. As I sat on the floor in my mostly dry tankini, I felt what I now immediately recognize as menstrual cramps. I leaned forward and held my aching stomach and my crush put his clammy hand on my bare back. I didn’t want to show that I was in pain because I was also ecstatic about our closet liaison, but it was bad. It felt worse than just normal nerves. It was different. He rubbed my back and it helped a little. I forced a smile to show off my newly braces-less teeth.

Just at the moment I was going to excuse myself, to go to the bathroom (and how embarrassing would that have been) my dad showed up to pick me up. Not embarrassing at all. He popped his head in the window of the TV room and said hello. I jumped a little then made my escape, hopping up, I grabbed my things, ran out of the room and out of the house. By the time I got home I had started to bleed into the bottoms of, what I would come to call, my lucky bathing suit.

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