This is how it is now.

"Diagram of a Tamp" by Nico Mazza

"Diagram of a Tamp" by Nico Mazza

I was eight years old. I remember during dinner I felt a little weird, and I went to the bathroom, looked down, and saw blood. I was just horrified. I wasn't warned about it. No one was talking about it in school yet. I thought I was dying. I was prepared to die in that moment.

I told my dad, and he called my grandmother, and together they explained what was happening. He didn't know what to do. I mean, how could he know what to do? He only had me, one daughter.

He went to the store, and he bought one of everything. He came home with eight bags; every size tampon, every kind of pad. He even bought fucking Depends! He handed them all to me and said, “I have no idea what to do.” He gave me the directions, and I took everything with me to the bathroom. 

I had never thought about my vagina that way. I remember looking at these diagrams having no idea what was happening, or why it was happening. The directions talked a little bit about your monthly menstruation and I thought, "I’m going to have to do this once a month, forever?!" I had no idea what the word menstruation was, but I knew the word monthly.

I tried the tampon, and it hurt because I was doing it wrong. I put the Depends on, and they were really uncomfortable. They were giant overnight ones, way too big because they were made for a full grown woman, and I was an eight-year-old girl.

I didn't really connect that this thing happening to my vagina was related to all these other things. I didn't learn about sex until school. I was lost for a while. It wasn't until middle school health class that I really understood what the fuck was going on down there. Before, I had no understanding that it was my body preparing itself to grow a child. I just saw it as this thing that I had to deal with once a month. 

My father and I have still never really talked about sex. I knew he was always there for me, but I faced a lot of my own sexuality alone and had to figure it out. I always felt like I had to be more independent when it came to being a woman. In the moment I got my period, I thought of myself as an adult. I felt changed physically, and emotionally, I felt this surge of maturity. "This is how it is now." 

Submitted by Anonymous, Edited by Arianne Keegan