My father-in-law was about to blow the candles out on his 61st birthday cake when I felt a familiar dampness between my legs. It was trickling through the crack of my underwear like an unwanted stream of water beneath an air conditioning unit. I quickly stuck my hand over the back of my light blue Seven7 jeans and pretended it was not happening to me. No! No! Damn it! Not again. My pants are dry. They have to be dry! These pants are Sahara-Desert-dry. But I knew that they were not, and there was no time for denial. All I had left was to pray the white dining room chair I was sitting on was not soaked with my DNA. I glanced behind me, and there it was—that unholy stain of my A negative blood. The blood that refused to stop flowing out of me for eight days a month. The blood that was now anemic because it had become an unwanted red sea relentlessly spilling out of me, robbing my body of nutrients and constantly staining my best pants. The blood that continually reminded me of my ongoing internal war with endometriosis.
By the end of the happy birthday song, I had officially ruined another piece of furniture with my curse. I nervously asked my husband’s mom, “Ya know? This is a really nice chair. How much would you say a chair like this might run you these days?” When she replied it was an antique family heirloom, I leaped up in a panic and tried to drag it to the nearest bathroom. But my attempt to clean up the evidence was thwarted by my husband and his two parents who had no idea why I was trying to put their good furniture in the bathroom. And then they saw it—like an awkward after school special—my menstrual blood all over their chair. I wish I could say this was the first piece of furniture I ruined, but it’s not. I’ve bled on a lot of things—movie chairs, restaurant booths, the cloth seats in my car, my bed and even a chair in church during choir practice. I was in the second verse of “Amazing Grace,” and a large crimson stain seeped through the back of my pants without warning. One of the most mortifying nights was when I was invited to a fashion show in Miami during the filming of an episode of VH1's “Basketball Wives,” and I had to abandon my coveted front row fashion show seat due to another massive and unexpected endo bleed. I literally had to toss my swag bag, which was filled with some sweet stuff, on top of the stain and bolt to the nearest restroom before making my dramatic exit toward the parking lot. I wish this were the worst of it, but it’s not. Then there was the time in 2011 when I was invited to Dita Von Teese’s suite at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel. There was nowhere to sit except a white couch. Terrified to sit, I awkwardly attempted to interview her standing up. Hey, anything was better than wrecking a hotel couch I could never afford to replace.
I’ve always had a heavy period, but I didn’t think what was happening to me was normal. “You’re fine! You don’t have anything,” my friends and family always reassured me. They told me what I wanted to hear, so I went on living, bleeding on furniture and apologizing for it later. Once my doctors diagnosed my endometriosis, there was no wondering what was causing these massive bleeds.
I am still worried to leave the house during my time of the month in anything other than black pants. But I don't let it completely dominate my wardrobe anymore. I have invested in a steady flow of endo-friendly wardrobe staples such as black yoga pants, stretchy black jeans, black capri pants and black wide-leg trousers. But during my time of the month, I may also rock a colorful maxi dress or even a wildly patterned navy blue pair of palazzo pants.
I have come up with an endo rig now where I wear a tampon, a pad and slide some additional soft toilet paper in the back of my underpants as an added safety net just for peace of mind. Do accidents still happen? Of course, they do, but I don’t let it get me down so much anymore. I’m no longer ashamed of my stains. It’s nothing for me to be embarrassed about. I toss a sweater or a hoodie around my waist if I can’t get home and I just keep going on with my day. My accidental blood stains are the mark of an endo warrior. I may be bleeding, but it won’t stop me from succeeding.