The M WordFeb 21, 2020
Almost afraid to say the word out loud, I tip toe around it. With an uncertainty of how or when all this trickled into my life, I also can’t say that I didn’t expect it. Leaning in on my older sister, I was fully aware of what the years ahead may bring but perhaps I lightened the issue a little too much. Here I am in my mid 40s and suddenly, it’s hitting me that I won’t be excused from this natural cycle of Menopause.
So many questions!
Technically speaking, there’s no shortage of information out there. Depending on whose view you follow, there’s also a whole lot of mixed views on what you should be doing to mitigate your Menopausal symptoms. From medical treatments to natural remedies, it’s a DIY kinda prescription.
Why isn’t it coming up at all in my girl’s night out? Or in my conversations with my sons? Or with a male friend when he asks me how’s my day’s going?
The other day, I was working out of a co-working space when I felt compelled to share with a male peer at the coffee station that I was suffering from a mild migraine and was finding it hard to concentrate. That I hadn’t slept well the night before. That I felt all this had everything to do with the fact that I was Perimenopausal and it’s kinda maddening.
I bet he was expecting a simple “great” to his question of “how are you doing today?” The simplicity would have sufficed and spared him the space between us. Let’s just say I had verbal diarrhea and perhaps indulged in TMI (too much info).
But. Normalization is also of importance.
To begin with, let’s start amongst women. Why can’t “Ugghhh I’m having a rough day cause…Perimenopause” be as common as “Ugggh I’m having a rough day cause…PMS”?
See what I mean?
I’d love for you to hear that these days I wake up in the middle of the night in a sudden panic because my body feels like it’s on fire and I’m left wondering if my air conditioning system blew out. No sooner do I have this thought and I’m back into deep slumber.
I’d love for you to understand that I have no control of my menstrual cycle anymore. Some days I’m left with “OMG. Am I pregnant? At this age??” while wondering how to break this news to my adult son who could easily be having a kid of his own. And other days, I’m left feeling perplexed because I could’ve sworn I just had a period a few days ago and here I am, facing another one.
I’d love for you to witness how my mood escalates from zero to 100 without any forewarning. One minute I’m ecstatic about life and full of gratitude and then in a blink of an eye, I’m nit-picking about anything and everything. Anxiety shows up in waves, unlike something I’ve experienced before. A sense of doom washes over me and I’m left wondering, why?
I’d love for you listen in on my conversations with my older sister where I ask her a million and one questions, while making a mental map of how the upcoming years will play out for me. Can anyone say something positive about this stage of life? I once had a woman tell me “y’know – everything you’ve heard about Menopause? Well it’s not only true but ten times worse!”. Just imagine carrying that load around daily!
I’d love for you to smell the new scents that are currently on my dresser and know that this is my desperate attempt to hang on to my old life lest my sexiness suddenly disappears overnight.
I’d love for you to feel what I feel when I struggle to find the right words or suddenly lose my train of thought mid-sentence, all the while wondering why my sharp mind’s starting to deceive me. Feelings of inadequacy creep up while I apologize to my listener and request her to remind me of what I was talking about in the first place
And mostly, I’d love for you to touch my womb and feel its emptiness as I become painfully aware of its inability to gift life anymore.
All this. And more.
Weaving in and out of this mesh, I need to remind you that I’ve barely crossed the starting line and am totally cognizant of the fact that the finish line is nowhere in sight. But it definitely feels like I’m part of a bigger plan and that symbolically, this stage of my life is not only essential but can be beautiful if I allow it to be.
How do I know that?
Because I’m also that woman who’ll tell you, after having gone through my first childbirth with all kinds of medical intervention including an epidural, that natural childbirth was one of the most incredible phenomenon I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. The pain I experienced during childbirth was unlike any other BUT the exhilaration I felt during and after the process wouldn’t have been possible had I numbed my way through it.
Something tells me that it’s going to be similar with Menopause.
Birthing a new life, a new way of being comes with a certain lightness. I know way too many gorgeous and inspiring 50+ women to think otherwise. The thread that ties these phenomenal women together is one of Embracement.
Embracement of ease and surrender.
Embracement of freedom.
Embracement of acceptance.
Embracement of savouring.
Embracement of cultivation.
Embracement of release.
Embracement of what never came to be.
Then there are all the little and practical yet celebratory acts of embracement:
Embracement of staying in on the weekends and going to bed early with a good book.
Embracement of saying it like it is – no sugar coating required.
Embracement of dining solo and actually enjoying it!
Embracement of looking at the world from a different perspective and in awe– through the eyes of a younger generation.
Embracement of creating new things-yes even if you are the age you are.
Embracement of loving your body exactly the way it is as it shifts.
Navigating the changing landscape of my being is no small feat in case all of that got lost in my attempt to paint a positive picture of Menopause. What I am certain of is that this inevitable process can only be sacred if I hold it with the tenderness it deserves instead of questioning and resenting it.
It also begs to be celebrated.
Ask me again in 5 years and I may have a different story for you but for now, I’m going to indulge in my reverie.
I commit to saying the word Menopause out loud as often as I can, to writing about it, and to bringing it up in regular conversations without any shame. These are the simple things.
I’d like to go a step further and state that I also commit to recording the highlights of Menopause – moments that take my breath away, scenes of women gathering with depth, dances between the cyclical patterns of nature and my own body, and meanings that surface during this stage of life.
In fact, you should consider all this self-actualization goodness as a Declaration of Menopause.