This might sound a bit gross, but from when I was 8 or 9 and knew what periods were, I liked the idea of bleeding from a part of me that had never seemed to match the pain it had been subjected to. I'm clumsy and I trip over or bump into everything. And when I have my little collisions, I find bruises. I bang my arm? Chances are I'll have a mark. But the sexual abuse left only mental marks- marks I wouldn't recognise until I was a bit older- and I hated that. I had nothing to show for it. It didn't make sense. It wasn't fair that the worst pain had no tangible signs, no scars from my war. But when I was a grown up, when I got my period, I would not only be a woman and untouchable, but I'd have earnt my warrior marks and would bleed it all out.
Of course, I was massively disappointed when I got my first period. I was bloated. I was weepy. I was spotty. I ruined a nice pair of knickers. There was no recognition because my mum had unceremoniously thrust pads upon me a few months before and because it started the summer holidays I was 11, I couldn't even go into school and brag. By then my sexual abuse had stopped, but even so, it didn't give me the closure I craved.
After that, I became determined to lose my period. Again, my period took on a higher importance to me and by the time I was 16, I'd banished it through starvation. And again, it was a massive anti-climax. Yeah, ok, the tampon tax wasn't an issue any more, but I was always petrified of it coming back and what I once eagerly looked forward to as a sign of womanhood, I then feared... as a sign of womanhood. I think by the time I was in my late teens I'd realised that, actually, as a woman I was even more at risk than I was as a child. So I became something in between. And I still wasn't happy.
I still have a complicated relationship with my reproductive system. I want children. I really, really want children. So I try to look at my period just as a sign that I might just be able to bear children, and nothing more. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I am privileged to have to sex organs to match my gender. Yes, I am bloated and weepy and spotty and sometimes I'm caught unaware and inconvenienced. But yes, that's all ok.