Many devoted readers may have already learned of my theory of PMS. Now it is time to post it to the world, in my most serious effort, to date, to get picked up by a scientific journal.
Let me start by putting a few things on the table and then brushing them aside, roughly, in an explosive fit of impatience. For one, I suffer from this condition. Since I was a teenager, I've struggled to maintain equilibrium in my life despite the recurring sequence of biochemical events I experience on a monthly basis. Moving on.
Another thing: the name of this condition has always bugged me, the use of the word, "syndrome" in particular, but even the use of the word, "condition." In medicine, the word syndrome tends to mean a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease. The not-so-subtle suggestion being that there is something wrong with me, as opposed to the reality of the situation, which is that there is something wrong with everyone else.
We all know the basics of menstruation - the ebb and flow of various hormones or hormonal triggers, all culminating in the flow of menses. Call it what you will - having your period, being on your moon, being on your cycle - one thing is undeniable: this is bloodletting. Think for a moment about what this means - a slow (or not-so-slow) draining of blood. Life blood. Vitality. That is crazy!
So here is my point: It takes a LOT of energy to stay calm most of the time. To maintain an outward appearance of order in the face of the horror and brutality that humans commit on a daily basis. To keep my composure despite the very real risks of harm befalling my loved ones. To act with grace when strangers and friends alike act selfishly, and to show compassion when others drive like morons. To silently forgive my husband, time and time again, for folding the napkins wrong. So wrong.
Most of the time, I can summon up that extra energy. I am strong. As strong as a small horse.
But when my life force is being drained from me . . . well, sorry, I'm just not that polite anymore. It is not that I am suddenly crazy or having thoughts and feelings that are caused by my hormones. Rather, it is that all of the energy I usually use to be superhumanly zen is diverted, and I have to let you know what I really think.
I invite you to extrapolate from this theory (remember, you read it here first!) and to think about the work you do everyday to forgive, forget and move on. This is important, productive work. Doing this work is part of what defines adulthood and differentiates us from, say, my four year old who will wail with all of her being when the wrong kind of noodle is selected for dinner.
But inside of all of us is that four year old, the person who wants fusilli and not tortellini. Inside also is the person who is thrown into a crying rage because thousands of children in our wealthy nation are too poor to eat properly, and an exasperated person who has no patience left for bigotry or hatred or war and no energy left to fight them. A person who sometimes needs to scream, occasionally because of a wrongly folded napkin but more often because people are mean for no reason, like the jerk neighbor who thinks his roses are more important than my child's need to play ball. Also in there is the person who is brought to tears because women are finally playing professional basketball and it is televised with high-cost gatorade commercials. And because we've finally elected a smart, compassionate President who also happens to be black. That is amazingly wonderful and worthy of weeping.
We all must continue to do this important work of rising above our daily rage and tears and horror and irritation. We must transcend the behavior in others we abhor, those daily violations of decency and respect.
However, and according to my theory, this is the lesson that those of us with PMS can teach: the rage, the tears, the horror, the irritation - those are very very real, and those will not - and should not - just disappear. The rising above, the transcendence, is a superhuman act. And when we don't? Well, its certainly not because something is wrong with us . . .