When I was much younger my parents were heavily involved in Vietnam Veterans support groups. My dad being a Vet and my mom being appalled at the treatment the vets had received coming home. They would take us to Veterans rally’s and flag raising ceremonies. One of their groups even had a “POW cage” they took to events. It was a replica of the cages used to keep the prisoners of war. It was made of bamboo sticks tied together with braided ropes and was the equivalent of a dog crate for humans. Barely enough room to lay curled up and maybe turn around a little but not much else.
It has stuck in my memory. It is the model for my own imaginary prison. When I am suffering from PMS, the regular me, the me that everyone knows most days of the month is stuffed into that little cage. The rest of me is taken over by the POW/MIA (Prisoner of Womanhood/Mentally In Absentia) who typically resides there. Just as you’d suspect, once released she is out for vengeance. She is tormented and tormenting. Irrational and irate. In short, she’s crazy! She says things I don’t have the heart to say, even if I do sort of agree with her. She gets enraged and her blood boils to the point that her skin is crawling as if she is being eaten alive by jungle mosquitoes! She lacks focus and is overly emotional. She is flinging poo at any one stupid enough to come close to the cage. She has degenerated into pure beast mode.
Meanwhile, me, the real me, sweet, happy, positive, non-poo flinging me is locked in my mental cage screaming for her to stop.
Please don’t say that!
Please, you don’t really mean that!
It’s not going to end well if you say that!
She never listens, she just keeps plugging away. Spewing days, weeks, months, sometimes even years worth of past anger, hurt, bitterness, jealousy, paranoia, rage, anger, self doubt, self righteousness, and hate. It’s never pretty but it sure has gotten ugly a few times.
I read recently that the cause of this hostage situation is hormonal. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone battling it out in the mine field of my mind. My body the demilitarized zone between my head and my heart. Estrogen retreats back and Testosterone surges past the front lines, smashing through emotional walls and busting the lock on my POW/MIA cage releasing the beast. Eventually peace loving Estrogen wins out, pushing that Testosterone fueled POW back into the cage for another few weeks.
It may seem unfair that we women are forced to fight this constantly re-occurring battle, the waxing and waning of hormone levels, the ups and downs of being a girl, the crazy irrationality, the emotional instability, the unhinged responses to even the most mundane events, the indecisiveness, the full on rage over really nothing. It would seem that would be completely unfair, except at least we have Estrogen – in case you missed it, boys do not. So those super crazy days, right before you start bleeding, with Estrogen running low and Testosterone coming on strong are the closest we women ever come to being male.
So next time some silly boy says something reeeeaaaaallllly stupid like “Are you on your period?” Just let your POW know (after she’s done screaming at him) at least her prison sentence has a monthly reprieve, 3 weeks off for good behavior. That guy? He’s a lifer with no chance of escape.