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I started my period, today.

I wasn’t really expecting to; I was rather expecting *not* to start it, for another 9 months or so, if you catch my drift.

As I have 2 children from my previous marriage, and my husband only has my kids, there was temptation to spread some blame around… the temptation was made worse, not better, by the fact that I know fine well I’m nearly 10 years older than my husband; if one of us has faulty plumbing, it could well be me. My Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) got diagnosed more than 12 years ago, when I was struggling to get pregnant in my early 20s, and they said I had suspected endometriosis at the time, as well as ovaries covered with tiny cysts. But lo, I became pregnant before I could be checked for endo, and had 2 kids, and to be honest, I thought I was done with the whole birthing children thing, so I let them take me off their waiting lists and such-like… no further tests needed.

And then all the things happened that sometimes do, and I got divorced and re-partnered, and had a stint of polyamory (I’ll never know whether that would’ve worked out, if I hadn’t gotten too attached to someone who treated me like shit once he realised I wasn’t going to break my original partner’s heart just to please him)… and eventually, I wound up being left, falling in love with my best friend, and (in a sad turn of events) leaving my original partner in the end anyway.

That’s my first reason to be grateful: someone who knew me a little through mutual friends, acquaintances, and some pretty hardcore frenemies, had one half hour conversation with me, followed by one all-night conversation with me (yes, a literal conversation: don’t be like “treated me like shit” guy and accuse me of the other) and chucked out all the rubbish he’d maybe assumed, and got to know me as I am.

Then, while I was at my very lowest (weeks after my stepdad’s suicide, in the middle of my university dissertation, and during the portion of my relationship with “treats-like-shit” where he’d escalated it to physical abuse and was actually kind of scary to be around) my best friend started coming over and sleeping on the couch opposite me (we each had a couch, we slept not touching, except for sometimes holding hands). I felt safe for the first time in months; I felt understood and genuinely liked for the first time in years, or maybe ever.

And ditto for him, on that last part of the above sentence.

My second reason to be grateful is that he believed me, when I said I wanted to be with him forever, even if it was platonically… I didn’t care if we never slept together, aside from the literal sense of it–I wanted him nearby, where I could hug him and talk to him every day, and he wanted the same thing. When it evolved into my helping him overcome some sexual hang-ups, I was thrilled. When–some months thereafter–it became a genuine, reciprocal, sexual and romantic relationship (after he’d moved in with me) it ruined all my other romances and potential romances… we hurt one person, and I’m sorry, but he actively wanted to share me, and I wanted to stop being shared. It is possible to be spread too thin… and I am grateful my now-husband understood that.

The third reason I have to be grateful (and all I’ve got time for; it’s canny early/late, depending how you look at it) is that, after several months of being absurdly in love (including a whirlwind engagement and wedding) we felt secure enough to stop using my family planning app to avoid pregnancy, and start using it to increase my chances of pregnancy. I’m still taking my temperature (almost) daily, with a super-sensitive thermometer, and I still know within 24-48 hours of when I’ll be ovulating, menstruating, when my PMS might start, etc… and every time I start my period, after thinking maybe this month I won’t–when I’m irritable and bitchy and then dissolve into pointless tears–my husband listens to me, holds me if I need it and gives me space if I need that, and just generally puts up with my shit (and remember, I’m not THAT far out of an abusive relationship… I’ve still got quite some emotional baggage, to be dealing with) every time all that happens, I’m more grateful than ever, for my husband.

I just wouldn’t mind a reason to be grateful that looked like (a smaller, plumper, arguably cuter version of) my husband, is all… and I sure wouldn’t mind giving him another tangible reason to be grateful for me.