The Ravages of PMS, Part 2: Refuge

Outside, freezing rain. Hello, February. Mindfulness Class, Week 3: canceled.

This afternoon, as Aviva napped and Pearl threw popcorn on the kitchen floor, I took refuge in this post, then left this comment:

Imagine what anger, which you describe so viscerally, becomes in the body of someone who isn’t turning it into song, isn’t writing on a blog, checking in, slowing down? I know I have that in me.

The less available I get, the more Aviva needs me. She becomes a barnacle, tightly clasping onto my front, my back, my leg, my hip, my neck, my hand, my head, my hair, my heart. I feel myself recoiling from her. Waves of self-judgment crash over me. I take refuge here.

I cringe every time somebody needs something – a book, a snack, a different book, a different snack. I cringe every time someone bonks or bumps. I cringe with every whine, every demand, every request, every need. I cringe when the phone rings. I am bone dry. I am tapped out. I am washed up. I am premenstrual. It’s a matter of days, hours maybe. I take refuge here.

Greg walks home from work and before he has his boots off, I’m taking refuge in the bathroom. I’m peeing. I’m counting breaths. I hear him outside the door, being a good dad. Who wants to play Candyland? I sneak through the living room, trying not to let any small people see me. I take refuge here.

It wasn’t always this way. There were moments when I rose, when I rallied, when I gave in and gave up and crab-walked around the living room, laughed even, at the absurdity of our afternoon. I take refuge here.

It wasn’t always this way, or any way. Everything changes. I’m at my worst when I forget this, when I get so sucked into the moment, when I become the tightness in my chest, when the frustration and impatience and intolerance blend into a wicked mother’s brew, frothy and threatening. When I get preachy, when I hear myself blathering on to deaf ears about gratitude or honesty. I cringe at myself. Blindsided. I take refuge here.

And forgive myself.

12 thoughts on “The Ravages of PMS, Part 2: Refuge

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jena, see all these guilt things you’ve listed…the skulking around to go hide, the impatientce, the on-the-edge frazzled nerves…that’s exactly what it’s like for me these days…only you’ve written about it so freaking perfectly and poignantly!

    Forgiveness…now there’s something I’m asking other for…I can’t seem to bring myself to ask myself for though…it’s too thick and almost hardened like gangster cement…



  2. Anonymous says:

    Jena I’ve no clue how to sign in here so my comments keep coming up as anonymous…just so you know though, it’s me Lil from changingwoman…


  3. leighsteele says:

    Exactly. There could be no more perfect ending sentence then the one you wrote.

    We all need refuge, that “sacred space” that renews us so that we can empty our mind…and thus begin our journey to mindFULLness once again.

    As Joseph Campbell says “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”

    You find yourself here, in your refuge. Your kids find it in you. The balance is so tough, but with each word you release onto this screen, you also release resentment and anger and guilt and deep exhalations.

    I relate to every word in this post. Thank you for putting it into words.



  4. marta says:

    Ah, refuge. When will I feel I no longer need it?

    And by the by, I’ve linked you over my way…this post definitely sealed the deal


  5. Jena Strong says:

    Shelli – Mirrors, all of us.

    Lil – I know it’s you. Tell me more about gangster cement.

    Leigh – I love that image of emptying and filling the mind, the heart, the mother well…

    Marta – Is refuge necessarily something not to need? I guess I want to embrace it, not as a rejection of anything, but as a way in, or back, to myself – which ultimately leads me back outward, with more reserves this time. So glad to be linked up.


  6. bella says:

    Oh Jena, you’ve done it again, opened my own eyes and heart with your honesty and compassion.
    We need more of this. More telling the truth as it really is. More of the truth telling that is not about blame or shaming ourselves. Just letting it be and forgiving ourselves.
    Refuge. this has, oddly enough, been close to me these past few days. We share the same frequency of energy it seems.
    May you find refuge in all this and more.


  7. Karen says:

    I like the ending. Hee hee. (Everything else you can get rid of, not that any of us do.)

    Tomorrow, tomorrow is that blessed other day.


  8. RocketMom says:

    I, too, came here for refuge this afternoon – refuge from feedings & diaper changes, & potty training & runny noses & ceaseless “I wants”. Forgive. Renew. Return.


  9. Jena Strong says:

    Bella – yes to the frequency… and more soon.

    Karen – ah, to get rid of the rest. It could be that simple?!

    rocketmom – I love this trio of forgive, renew, return.


  10. Anonymous says:

    Jena, I talked to a good friend and mother today. We talked about the guilt…her’s different from mine though. Mine seems to have been birthed with my daughter…and nursed through my post-partum depression. Now that anger is here, the guilt feels inescapable ~ gangster cement ~ solid around my ankles, drowning me in an ocean of regret for the anger/yelling etc.

    I DO like the trio to ~ forgive, renew, return. I think I will add it to the things to think about during the night (insomnia and I are like this!)…

    Take care,



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