Warning: if you are male, this post will likely make you uneasy. It may even cause cold sweats and a little vomit to find its way into your mouth. Read at your own risk...
I was "that girl." The one that developed far faster than any of my skinny friends. In third grade, Meredith and Brookie were still stick figures with beautiful hair and really hip knee socks. I'd already started to pudge out and get "knobs" on my boobs.
I HATED that. I wanted to look like the other girls with my shirt flat against my chest. My knobs (and belly) were holding me back.
My mother started hinting about shopping for bras and I revolted. I was having none of that.
I knew my friends would be able to see I was wearing a bra and it never crossed my mind that they might find it "cool." I did not want to be different.
Here's what you need to know about my mother. There is no gray. There is white and there is black. You have knobs. You need a bra. Period.
My youthful angst meant nothing.
I cried and I cried.
I wore thick shirts (in the middle of summer) to hide my shame.
A few months later, all my friends started doing exercises while repeating the phrase "I must, I must, I must increase my bust." As soon as they'd start, I'd find a way to disappear, wishing with all my might that I could GIVE them mine.
Slumber parties lost their charm for me. In the middle of the night, girls would rip their shirts off and start evaluate who was "growing" and who had the best chance to get a boyfriend. I already knew that *I* had the biggest boobs and I'd NEVER want a boyfriend. It all seemed so unfair.
But none of that was anything compared to being the first girl in my class to get her PERIOD.
Talk about trauma.
Halfway through my fifth grade year, I was sitting on the toilet with a fist full of toilet paper. I wiped and stared.
There was blood.
I freaked out. Not because I thought I was dying. I knew what periods were. My mother was always very open (more than I'da liked) about her period.
I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO HAVE ONE.
"Mom...?" I croaked.
"Can you come here, please?"
"I'm making dinner. What do you need?"
"MOM! COME HERE!"
I heard the spatula hit the pan and a big sigh.
Her footsteps down the stairs.
The door opened.
I showed her my toilet paper.
"Oh. Yep. Looks like you got your period. Hold on."
Moments later, she was back and throwing a TAMPON at me.
"Just make sure you get it in right."
After a very quick tutorial, she was back upstairs and telling my DAD.
I wanted to die.
And I had no fucking clue what to do with a tampon.
Years later when I was in high school, my friends and I talked about getting our periods and ALL of my friends had mothers who gave them the whole "aw, you're a woman now" speech and showed them how to use a PAD. They said their moms didn't feel comfortable with them using tampons at such an early age.
For my mom, it was like, "Stick it in and set the table."
I remember staring at the tampon for a long time.
I did my best to defile my own body. All I'll say is it wasn't pretty.
I trudged up the stairs, wanting nothing more than to never have to look at my father again.
He didn't meet my eyes. I was grateful.
The moment we sat down at the dinner table, I knew something wasn't right. I started fidgeting.
Then my mother, who'd never even considered that this might be a private and difficult moment for me, started laughing.
My dad and my brother looked at her.
"Heather, you don't have the tampon in right, do you? You can feel it?"
OH MY GOD.
My fork clattered to the table. I'm sure I turned all sorts of red.
I couldn't even speak.
"Come with me, we'll put another one in."
I followed her back down the stairs, certain that death would be less painful than living at that moment.
Back in the bathroom, I asked:
"Isn't there something else I can use? I don't like these."
"Don't be silly. Wearing a pad is like wearing a diaper and people can see when you wear one. Besides, you have swim practice and you can't wear a pad. You need to figure this out."
Dear God. I had forgotten about swim practice. What if I bleed in the pool?
I wanted to cry.
My mother WATCHED as I tried several times to get a tampon in.
Finally, I had moderate success.
I skipped swim practice and went straight to bed. And prayed I'd die.
Knobs and bleeding? My life was over.
Somehow I managed to survive it all and am happy to report no issues with tampon use. No thanks to my mother.
Just in case you were wondering....