This Is Worse Than the Day I Pooped My Closet

Listen, friend. I will give you one — and only this one — opportunity to stop reading. If periods gross you out, you should be done. Right now. Click away. Abort. SAVE YOURSELF. Or carry on. I don’t care — *shrug* — I’ve done what I can. Now it’s on you.

I don’t really know what to say about this other than it’s worse than The Day I Pooped My Closet. And I do not believe Hallmark has made a sympathy or apology card that quite covers the “I’m sorrys” I owe my son-in-law so I’m a little stuck on how to make this right.

On the bright side, I suspect we’ve officially reached the all-time low point in our mother-in-law/son-in-law relationship, so it’s nice to get that out of the way. No more wondering. No more anxiously watching the passing of the years to see when the Most Awkward Moment will rear its head. No more heightened awareness to prevent the slide of a relationship from supportive to cordial to tolerant to rotting decay. Nope. None of that for us. I managed to take us off the Relationship Cliff and plummet to the bottom of the canyon where we lay in bloody ruins, unable to look each other in the eye. So it’s all looking better from here. No where to go but up!

For background purposes, know this:

1. Periods get weirder as humans who have them get older. 

2. Actually, everything gets weirder as we get older. 

3. And, by weirder, I specifically mean more sporadic. Messier. Gooey-er. Chunkier. Sweatier. 

4. There are night sweats that ignore polite perspiration and set far wetter “body of water” type goals.

5. There are baby hot flashes that drive one to sit naked in one’s bedroom window in desperate bids to cool off. 

6. And there are periods that arrive without warning, as sudden and furious as every natural disaster before them, and as unpredictable in the swath of destruction they leave behind. 

Look, none of this is pretty but all of it is true, and, perhaps worst of all — and pertinent to this story — one doesn’t always know which squishy, squashy, mushy event is happening in one’s pants. It’s like being twelve years old again, except at age forty-six, which leads me to conclude I may never learn how to have a body.

So, yesterday.

Yesterday was hot outside, and yesterday I went swimming. 

Also yesterday, I changed out of my swimsuit when I was done. I threw on the clothes I had in the bathroom — a bra and a dress. 

All of these are things, I feel, that normal humans do. None of these are things, I feel, that should have given me a sense of foreboding, which is why I did not have any such sense. 

So yesterday, I went to the kitchen where my husband and my son-in-law were making themselves lunch, pulling carne asada beef from the fridge, planning to cook it on the stove. 

And yesterday, I felt squishy and squashy — par for the course these days, but information I usually keep to myself for propriety’s sake because I am nothing if not a model of decorum — and I went to feed the dogs, puttering around, pulling out the bowls, and scooping out the kibble.

“What is that?” asked the son-in-law.

“What IS that?” asked the husband.

Which is when I glanced over to see what the “what” was to which they referred. 

Which is when I realized it was blood — a whole puddle of it — in the middle of the floor.

Which is when I realized it came from me. That that squishing and squashing I’d felt was productive squishery and squashery. That as I crossed the kitchen, minding my own business, my own business was not minding me. That I’d somehow failed to notice I’d leaked. In a dress. Sans panties. Onto the floor. 

Which is when my eyes widened and brain seized and my words froze.

BECAUSE HOW DOES ONE SAY “THAT IS PERIOD BLOOD” IN A WAY THAT DOES NOT SAY “THAT IS PERIOD BLOOD” BECAUSE SAYING “THAT IS PERIOD BLOOD” IS GROSS?

The gentlemen leaned in to examine the pool upon the floor. And I watched them in horror.

IN HORROR.

THAT IS HOW I WATCHED THEM.

“Is that blood?” asked my husband.

“Is it?” asked my son-in-law.

And my brain unseized far enough to think YES. YES, IT IS BLOOD. And also, OH NO. NO NO NO NO NO.

But my brain did not unseize far enough to think what to do. What to say. HOW TO STOP THEM. HOW TO MAKE THEM LOOK AWAY AND FORGET WHAT THEY’D SEEN.

“Where did it come from?” asked my husband. 

“Where did it come from?” asked my son-in-law, looking from the floor to the package of raw beef in his hand. The not-at-all leaking package of raw beef in his hand.

The dogs began to approach, sniffers sniffing.

And all I could think was I KNOW WHAT IT IS. And I KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM. AndTHEY HAVE TO STOP LOOKING AT IT. And OMG STOP THE DOGS. 

And normally I like to think I’m good under pressure.

Normally I’m good in a crisis.

Normally I’m the one to call in an emergency like my cousin did when he cut off his thumb with a skill saw and needed someone to drive him to the hospital. Because normally blood doesn’t freak me out, and normally I can think on my feet, and normally I can make things better instead of very much worse.

There was nothing, sadly, about this situation that was normal, however, and so my stuttering brain prioritized things in this order:

1. Make them stop looking at it.
2. Make sure they don’t have to clean it up.

“STOP,” I commanded, and they all looked at me. The men. The dogs. “Just BACK AWAY,” I said. “And look away. It is blood,” I explained, “and I’ll clean it up.”

I thought that might be enough. I thought that might work.

Unfortunately, it is normal to want an answer to the question about the origin of a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, and so they persisted.

“But where did it come from?” they asked again. 

Which is when I made the Biggest Mistake of Them All, and I told them.

Listen, friends, and listen well. There is a time and a place for the truth, and there is a time and a place to lie. THIS WAS A TIME TO LIE.

But did I?

No.

No, I did not.

Instead, I told the truth.

“That is blood,” I said again, and added, “from my vagina.”

FFS, Beth. SMDH. COULD YOU NOT HAVE LIED AND SPARED EVERYONE? 

The rest, to be honest, was a blur. The son-in-law, wisely, made a run for it, raw package of beef returned to the fridge where it stayed. The husband heroically held off the pack of dogs. And I somehow managed to clean up while rewinding and reviewing the play-by-play in my head for what I should have said, how I should have lied, how I should have deflected.

“What, that? Oh, that came out of the package of beef. Weird that there are no holes in the package, but I KNOW that’s it BECAUSE I SAW IT. No worries, though — I got it.”

…or…

“What, that? Oh, that’s so weird. Looks like blood, BUT I’M SURE IT’S NOT BECAUSE WHERE WOULD IT HAVE COME FROM? No worries — I got it.”

^^^Two things that would have been better than what I actually said.^^^

And so, here we are.

The son-in-law eventually returned to our house. I apologized for telling the truth. He graciously said it wasn’t my fault and that these things happen EVEN THOUGH IT WAS MY FAULT AND THESE THINGS DO NOT HAPPEN. He even — sort of — is looking me in the eye again, which speaks to both his kindness and his bravery because THIS IS THE WORST. 

I feel like there has to be another way to say I’m sorry, though. Like, a way to make this right, you know? 

But I haven’t found any Hallmark cards that say “I’m sorry I have a vagina and that you know this now,” or any gift baskets online that say “I’m sorry I told you the truth; I hope in time you can learn to trust me again.”

So I guess what I’m saying is a) there are worse things than pooping the closet, after all, and b) if you have gift basket ideas, I’m all ears. 

With love,

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
23 comments
  1. I snorted loudly enough to bring a query from the person in the other room. I think you handled it beautifully.
    Signed, the person who dripped blood down the hospital hallway when on a little walk with her family the day after birthing a baby (my apologies to the staff member who had to clean it up by following the trail)

  2. I had a similar post-giant pregnancies blood gush while lying face down on an exam table and never noticed a thing. Apparently I was too focused on the long process of removing a chunk of my leg and then the longer process of sewing it up in layers. Luckily all the male doctors and staff left the room before the very nice nurse helps me flip over and sit up. She immediately panics seeing blood on the table afraid my stitches have already popped out. We finally figure out what has happened and the most embarrassing part was admitting I didn’t feel a thing – like I’m used to being soaked in blood or something. She offered to let me leave through the back door. I bravely said no and walked out the front with a strategically placed purse.

  3. oh my goodness, I need to remember this story for all the unlucky middle school girls who need to hear it! I love how you can spin such a relatable (and thereby stress inducing) story into something so hilarious! Love it so much 🙂

  4. I too will never learn how to how a body and am thrilled not to be alone in that. It also makes me sad that I too feel the need to apologize when my body is just doing what over 50% of the bodies in the world are doing.

  5. I really feel you should grab the bull by the horns with this gift basket. It should have multiple items in it that are red, and also multiple that are vagina shaped. Perhaps peaches, delicately cut in half? And also some tasteful strawberry syrup to dress them with? Maybe some red jello with some tasteful strawberry chunks? I think you could really RUN with this here… (see what I did there?)

  6. I’m at work. At my desk. In a open plan office, holding in my laughter and snorting into my coffee, and it is making my tummy hurt and my eyes cry.

    Beth, I love you. Thank you. You are awesome. One day your son-in-law is going to be in What Could Have Been An Awkward Position for some other girl or woman and he’s going to be totally chill and tell them the story of you and pool of vagina blood on the kitchen and they are going to feel so much better. And he’s going to be able to make it So Much Less Bad For Everyone … and it will all be thanks to you.

    1. *Or any person who menstruates. Thank you Sharon for the reminder!

  7. I don’t think there’s a menstruating person (I started to say “woman” and changed it) alive who hasn’t had a similar experience. Maybe not in front of her son-in-law, but a period-induced leak that wasn’t predicted and was embarrassing. I know I have.

    I can see why you feel sorry for what happened, but hey! Your son-in-law is married now, and if he wasn’t already acquainted with periods, he soon will be. 😉

  8. Full Moon tonight I belive, your body is naturally responding to the pull of creation. The Divine Feminine hides no more. 🙂

  9. I think this might have embarrassed my husband in the first few months of marriage, but after doing custodial work in the hospital ER nothing fazes him.

  10. Aye, yi yi! Let’s break this taboo! Let’s talk about the dirty, unmentionable, disgusting female blood. You know that bringer of life that nestles our young but has been relegated to the dark corners of unspoken womanly uncouthness.

    I truly hope the next generation of girls and women can know their periods as something other than a secret trauma and producer of endless embarrassment. I try to fight such feelings but they are so indoctrinated into my psyche that it’s hard to truly feel comfortable around the idea of leaking period blood.

    Periods of my youth were marked with cramps and clots and anxiety over leakage. After twins at 45 years old I plunged straight into peri menopause and my periods also went wild. Sudden massive flooding would overwhelm all protection and leave me fleeing restaurants with borrowed coats wrapped around my waist. I chose to start hormone replacement therapy with continuous dosing. That suppressed all periods! Wow, it is awesome not to have any more periods!!!

    But now my 10 year old daughter is maturing early and I’m suddenly thinking of how to help her handle periods in a year or two. Maybe hers won’t be as bad as mine were. It makes me anxious just thinking about all the hiding and shame and embarrassment that so many girls go thru.

    We are so un-evolved…

    1. Yes. Let’s break the taboo of period blood being gross and embarrassing! Thank you.

  11. I’d say, good thing it didn’t happen in the swimming pool – now that would have been hard to clean up. Reads like your son-in-law is as good as you’ve always told us. No need for gift baskets, unless you get yourself one with whatever you like: wine, chocolate, a day at a spa. Really, you deserve it. As a mum, a mother-in-law, a wife, a daughter, a woman, a person.
    Hug and waving. I admit, the waving is from deep down in murky, muddy waters at the moment. Am wondering if I’ll remember when it is the right time to call for help… Your mail kind of helped. If only just to remember that I am not alone on this crazy ride of life.
    xxx

  12. Why must we be torchered like this as women? Don’t we suffer enough? I think we could fill a book with ruthless period stories.

  13. Oh honey… *hugs* |
    It’s funny and not and to be honest I recommend your son in law just … learns to laugh at the insanity of life.

    We are human. We are leaky and messy and often just… not as nice and neat as we wish we could be.

    Much love to you, Friend. Thank you, for making this world a little brighter.

  14. A similar thing happened to me in a church choir room. There I was, singing about the blood of Jesus, and I had a little accident that was definitely not little. My dear friend was sitting next to me and we waited until the choir room had cleared out, then she helped me steal the chair. We chucked it over a cement wall and jammed it in the back of my car. It was clean and back in place by the next choir practice.

    1. Heidi, this story is brilliant!!!!

    2. I love it! The got-your-back friendship, the theft and return of a church chair… this little story has it all!

  15. Ha ha! Seriously! This menstruation diva is putting up a fuss, going out kicking and screaming. My body keeps manufacturing crime scenes. Sorry you had witnesses (also, not sorry, because that is hilarious)!

  16. Huh. I thought pooping the closet was way worse than this (son-in-law embarrassment factor included — at least you could clean this up on your own!).

  17. Oh Beth, I’ve sort of been there. My mom had a very similar thing happen at church once. She was having some very heavy bleeding problems and after the meeting was done she stood up and blood was pouring out. She ended up dripping blood all the way down the hall and into the bathroom. I followed behind trying to clean it up before anyone noticed. It didn’t work, people noticed, but fortunately for us they thought someone had a nose bleed.

    I totally understand.

    Hopefully you will be able to laugh about this in 5-10 years….

  18. Beth, you’re in great company. Have you seen the new Bodyform advert? Apparently this is the year the whole world accepts bloody vaginas, and you’re a pioneer! (Thanks for sharing!)

  19. If there is a gift basket involved I recommend no red items in it, just sayin’!!

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