The hormonal fluctuations brought on during peri-menopause are physically challenging to say the least, but I find the mental acrobatics, at times, more daunting to overcome.
I remember back in my teens my Dad telling my Mom that his good friend’s wife woke up one day and decided to buy a motorcycle and cross the country on it leaving him and his three boys behind. I’m not sure if she actually bought the motorcycle, but I know she left. And I’d bet she was menopausal when she did it. (My Mom has joked ever since that if Dad’s not careful she’s going to buy a motorcycle.)
How many times, recently, I’ve thought I’d like to buy that motorcycle and race on outta here, I don’t know, but I’m sure more than once. The urge to escape from my own life seems tempting. But alas, wherever you go, there you are, so I guess I’ll wait on buying that motorcycle. That and I’m all of a hundred pounds and probably would have to jet off on a mini-bike; not the romantic idea of escape I have in mind!
Today though, basking in what has become a recurrent state of hormonal haze, I had a bit of an epiphany. I was sitting listening to a fashion designer speak about his career and his thinking on design and following his heart to pursue his passion, when it hit me. Here I am sitting amongst 24 high school design students ready to transition to the next level of life, and I am doing the same thing. I am sitting here ready to transition. Or better yet, I am already transitioning.
I always thought of menopause as a body in transition only, but now I wonder about the mind. Because I believe in the mind body connection, it dawns on me that my mind is trying desperately to make some sort of transition right along with my body. The boredom and restlessness, the feeling of disconnectedness, this is my mind trying to find it’s place in a body that is changing. And the lack of acknowledging that makes it that much harder. One of my favorite sayings is that water finds its own level. And I can’t help but feel that I’ve been trying to hold back a tidal wave with a piece of cardboard.
Every day I add to the stress of my body’s transition by thinking I am wrong to feel this myriad of feelings. I need to let it go. I need to feel disconnected until I reconnect. I need to be bored until I’m not bored anymore.
Bhuddists believe that you cannot live a good life unless you accept a good death. How can you live to the fullest if you deny that it will end? So then applying that same philosophy, to have a good transition you must accept that you are transitioning. Maybe if the message to women is that menopause is not the end of something but the beginning of something else, we’ll stop fighting with it. We are consistently told we don’t have to feel the way we feel. Take hormone replacement and feel better. Take herbs, drink soy, take this drug or that. The messages are constantly negative. I’ve always wondered why doctors are always trying to change a natural bodily function with drugs and hormones. Who established the idea that our bodies are not doing what they are supposed to be doing and that we have to correct nature? Why am I not allowed to feel like crap? Why isn’t that alright?
So I think yeah, you’re gonna feel like shit some days. You’re going to be exhausted and fatigued and stressed. Your sex drive might be compromised, you’re going to be bloated and bored and a big pain in the ass to everyone around you. And then, one day you’ll have passed through it and come out the other side and it’s going to be beautiful. And you’ll be different. Because you are always different, from one moment to the next you’re different. But this is a big different. And your body has known it all along. So don’t try to stop it, or mask it, or fight it. Let it go. Let it all happen.
The clouds do part and the sun does come up again…and again…and again. What can women accomplish if they accept themselves with all their challenges and just keep moving through? Pushing on.
Where is my mind leading me? Why have I tried so hard not to listen? We listen to our bodies don’t we? Why not our minds?
I’ve said many times that teaching high school is not my last career. I’ve had two before it and I’m sure I have another one in me. The boredom that comes and goes is a message. The restlessness, the disconnected feelings that my mind is in the wrong body are all trying to tell me something. The past few days I’ve felt like an observer in my own life, moving through it all but not really participating. It’s a strange feeling but at times I’ve enjoyed it. It’s as if I can be whomever I want to be while I watch from a perch from above. I am here but I am not. And yet, this too shall pass.
But for now, the writer in me wants to tell you about the poetry in the moment. That moment, standing on the edge of the water, in the quiet between when the waves rear up and hit the beach and silently slip back into the sea. I feel like that’s where I’m standing, in the waxing and waning of my own waves. And it’s not actually a bad place to be. I have a choice; to dive into the water or turn and walk away. Or even just stand there and listen to the waves crashing and their silence as they pull away.
Even as I write all this down, my mood is shifting. Acceptance is a wonderful thing.