My girlfriend recently saw a movie called Cabin in the Woods–she loves horror movies. I haven’t seen it–I hate horror movies–but I am living in one at the moment–it’s called PMS! I’ve experienced it mildly and heard about it for years (I am 43 after all), but I never understood what everyone was talking about when it takes over and becomes all-encompassing madness! I feel like I’ve come out of my own cabin in the woods! Or not even a cabin, more like a dark dank cave. I am now on intimate terms with those raging fierce mythological creatures–Medusa and Kali.
When I was younger, I remember attending a belly dance class at my dear teacher’s house, Mesmera. (She belly danced with snakes–it was fabulous!) One of the dancers broke down in tears and said she was on her period. Mesmera told her to go out in the garden and sit on a bench and to give all her angry negative feelings to Kali. “Give them to Kali! She will eat them up! She loves that darkness!” I always thought that was a cool way to look at a scary image and one I didn’t really understand. Kali was the scary goddess with her tongue sticking out and a necklace of bloody severed heads and her foot perched on a body–dark! As a female, and I was raised to be a sweet ray of sunshine, so I never understood in a deep way, these darker feminine archetypes.
But now, after this last bout of PMS…I feel like I have reached a new understanding with Kali and Medusa. We are more than best friends, more than sisters or even twin sisters: we are more like, ONE AND THE SAME! Even my hair, which used to hang silky straight, has started to curl into a massive frizz that resembles, yes, it’s true, SNAKES!! Snakes on my damn head!! For some time now I felt like all the unwritten stories in my head were hissing and dancing and wouldn’t sleep until I wrote them down. But they are not just stories–they are just writhing raging energy looking to strike at anything and everything. How strange. Me, who has always been a love bunny–a creamy crumpet of delight–is now a stalking walking screaming muddy forest dweller, peering out behind bushes with wild eyes, mad, so so mad!!! At everything!! As for my best trick , turning men to stone, well, let’s just say my husband has done an excellent impersonation of a stone wall lately, hiding from me, trying to make himself invisible if I’m in the room (no small feat when you’re 6’4), trying to ignore my glaring dagger eyes.
This of course only makes me more mad.
Can’t he see I’m sinking here? Can’t he see me in my little boat, capsized and drowning, with only my arm waving in the air, “Help!” There would of course be flowers floating in the aftermath of my sinking, just like Ophelia–I understand her now too, but she was a maiden, and I’m not a maiden. I am a Mother, not a spring maiden surrounded by sweet flowers. I AM MEDUSA!! I am Kali!! The fierce ones!! The ones that take no prisoners. (If you could see me, you would see me jump into a deep plie right now, sticking out my tongue and hissing like Kali. Of course Kali would never say something so prim as “plie.” She would say something more nasty, like “squat.” Then again, I can’t squat right now after my hip surgery. But that’s a different story.)
I have also felt unable to accomplish any tasks lately, until yesterday, when I decided I MUST pull myself up by my bootstraps and actually be a responsible parent and do those hateful mundane chores that go along with being a grown-up–go to the grocery store, make Dr. appts., and worst of all, pay bills. I pity the bill collectors I spoke with yesterday. No sweet Marci: “Here, let me bring sunshine to your day, and what was your dog’s name? And oh, here, take my money. Late fees? Sure ok, if you must…” Nope! Waive these freaking late fees right now, and don’t make me take some damn offer I don’t want. I said NO, I don’t want a 90 day trial run. Take that shit off my card now. Goodbye.” Take no prisoners bill paying!! It was kind of awesome!
All these years, I thought I would age gracefully. I would move effortlessly from maiden to mother to crone. Every phase would be light, joyful, magical, wise and steady. Nope. Turns out the journey is more messy and chaotic; more like a descent into that underworld I’ve heard so much about but haven’t really visited until this year. As I’ve watched my eyelids get thinner and require makeup for the first time. My eyelashes, once so lush and thick, now thinning and barely there. And I’ve got a rash on my forehead that my husband can’t see but I CAN FEEL and a huge bump on my nose which my husband says is a simple zit but I know to be something disfiguring, something that makes me look like a cross between Rudolph and Karl Malden. And when I say Rudolph, I don’t mean Valentino. I mean the Red-nosed reindeer. I told my kids that my nose has special powers when it is red and swollen like this and if I wiggle my nose at them, they have to stop fighting. I didn’t think they’d believe me, but so far it’s working. They stare spellbound as I wiggle my disfigured shnoz at them, and it freezes them somehow for a minute, makes them laugh, and they move on from fighting into playing. (Or was this a dream I had…it’s all blending together.).
It’s strange, I’ve been under the Medusa-Kali spell, but while we’re at it, let’s just throw that Greek sorceress Circe into the mix. I don’t know anything about her except that she turns all men who visit her island into swine. There’s a leap! A man acting like a pig? Wherever would anyone get that idea?? Doesn’t take a goddess to figure that out. But now I’m just being mean. Henry will grow up to be a man someday, and he is such a sweet endearing angelic boy (when he’s not pointing his homemade bows and arrows at me or sleeping with slingshots that end up grinding into my back after he climbs into bed with me.).
But come to think of it, he does carry a little pink Piglet, as in Pooh’s piglet, around with him. And is there anything sweeter than a chubby cheeked little boy carrying around a stuffed swine? But Piglet is not a swine! He is a baby pig, and babies are all sweet, children,… damn it! Here we are, back to the age thing. OK!! Very young humans are sweet!! Medium young humans are… well, I guess moving from sweet into… difficult terrain. (That’s putting it nicely, right?) And older humans, what happens to them? They descend into the underworld where danger lurks around every corner!!
And mind you, when I’m in this mode, I might say “I think I’m hormonal. I think I might be PMSing.” But saying these words doesn’t make me feel any less irritated by the world. Joseph Campbell said, “How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service, is the trick.” Now replace “ego” with menstrual cycle, and you have my conundrum.
And most delightful, this descent into the underworld of all things dark and scary began only 14 days after my last period!! 14 days!! Oh delight!! That leaves me, what? (Don’t ask me to do math right now, I’m going to estimate…)About 7 days a month now when I’m not bleeding or raging against the machine, the machine being mostly my husband.
I came to him this morning and put my arms around him.
With tears in his eyes, he said “Welcome back.”