Sunday, October 11, 2009

30 days out

30 days until Flow is officially on sale. Last night, while thinking about this post, it seems like a good time to write about how the book came to be. But, I've already written that story. There's something about blogging that makes me want to examine new topics and thoughts, not recycle what I've already put out there.

Which leads me to . . . how much information do I feel comfortable sharing? FLOW came about because I was too ashamed/scared to talk about my period. It had stopped for almost a year and while I was terrified that something was terribly wrong with me, the fear of discovering I had a deadly illness, combined with talking about menstruation (which I NEVER did), was like a gag order. Better to suffer in silence, desperately hoping each month I'd find blood. Not a great surprise here—jewish angst runs deep.

It turns out that there was nothing wrong, at least nothing that the stereotypical doctor-in-a-white-lab-coat-with-grey-hair- and-reading-glasses could find in a sonogram or blood tests. He patted my knee, handed me a birth control pill pack with a "honey, we just need to jump start your hormones" and sent me on my way. The problem: I was anorexic and chemically "fixing" my cycle didn't actually fix anything, it just obfuscated (I get extra points for that word) the problem. Then again, I hadn't officially admitted to myself I had an eating disorder. It took years in therapy before I could get past the dramas of every day life to acknowledge what I was doing to myself. And man, the lightbulb that went on for that realization blew my mind. I remember calling my father—our relationship was tenuous at best back them—and telling him about my disease. He said, "Of course you're anorexic. Just look at you." A bomb dropped. My family knew and didn't say anything? Didn't confront me, challenge me, try to get me help? It wasn't just me living in denial.

Around that time, New York Magazine ran a story exposing the false claims of countless low/no fat snack places that thousands of women relied on for sustenance. With a muffin on steroids gracing the front cover, the lid was blown off of calorie counts and fat content. Tasti D-Lite, my main food group for years, was a major culprit. On one hand, actually having more calories than they claimed probably kept me out of the hospital. But I had been betrayed and wrote an outraged letter to the editor, which was printed the next week. It was the first time my name had ever been in print (aside from dance recital programs and yearbooks) and I was thrilled. My mother was horrified. "I am a recovering anorexic" was my opening line and she was only afraid people she knew would see my letter and discover my secret.

And now my book about menstruation is about to be out in the world. The subject that wrapped me in silence will be all that I talk about. Objectively, that's fine. I can analyze advertising and discuss cultural history for hours on end. But my own experiences? I'm cool with impending menopause and embarrassing stories (like my leak onto white carpenter pants in 8th grade woodshop). In FLOW I wrote about nightmares I used to have about my bat mitzvah and my impending period, and my experiments with alternative products. I found though, that sex is another story altogether. We did an interview last month, for December's Marie Claire, and the focus was menstruation and sex. My co-author cavalierly shared stories about ex-boyfriends and personal preferences. I shut up.

Maybe that's my next book.

Day 13 is a wrap.

1 comment:

GAPrincess said...

I think you have uterine fibroids. About 2 years ago my periods became intensely painful and annoyingly long, like 6-8 days. They also started fluctuating between every 26 and every 32 days.

I had a hysteroscopic myomectomy in August 2009 and I am back to a 4-5 day period which occurs every 28 days. Better yet, I can take Motrin for the minimal cramps rather than vicodin.