Do you even know what menopause means?
I had to go to three different websites to get clear on how the medical community defines the three supposed stages of the big fat transition from being able to make babies to not being able to make babies. That’s really all it is, according to science.
I’m so glad I wasn’t born back in the day, when girls were shamed during that time of the month. Shame for your natural way of being is a way for oppressors to get your permission to oppress you. Thankfully, my Catholic elementary school had a very honest and thoughtful approach to sex education.
By the time my daughter reached that magical age, period parties were back in style. Thank you Marlo Thomas and the feminists who came before me!
On the other hand, I don’t think menopause really came out of the closet until recently. Sales of those old-fashioned handheld fans, along with the electronic versions, likely went through the roof once promoted by that very first smart person who saw them as a way to provide relief to millions of women who were suffering from hot flashes.
There’s still some shame going on though. Women secretly laugh over cocktails about the awkwardness of pulling their fans out during a business meeting. Why? For fear of being seen as somehow less than.
The faked reverence (by too many) for women’s capacity to create life is revealed once it butts up against the egos of men whose identities are affixed to the false narrative that profits trump everything else.
The way women experience menopause is NOT natural in my opinion. The economic system in which we live thrives on selling you something. We don’t really know what menopause even looks like when experienced naturally.
A Mind, Body & Soul Approach to Menopause
This post is about that time of life. Menopause is about more than biology. Within it lies the secret to unleashing new creative potential. Many do not want you to know this though. That’s why women who dare express the emotions that accompany that time of life are quickly put in their place through more shame.
I call on my own life experience to inspire you to make friends with menopause!
Hot Flashes, Night Sweats & Belly Fat – The Body
My awareness about how the food industry has been fucking with our bodies was pretty high already. But going through Eric Edmeades’ week-long Mindvalley course called, 7 Days to Breaking up with Sugar, really pissed me off.
Do your hormones fluctuate during that time of the month and during this life transition? Yes.
Does what you put in your body make it worse? Yes.
Do pharmaceutically created substances help in the short term? Sometimes.
Do these remedies often lead to new problems you never had before? Yes.
Here’s what I learned:
The food and diet industries feed into each other, trapping you in a cycle of eating and dieting. It’s the only way they both can survive.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are the cornerstone of the devious plot. I was shocked when I understood how much three grams of sugar really is. And where it’s added simply to get you to want to eat more than you otherwise would – it’s a redo of the tobacco industry, before it got caught.
I’m so excited I found steel-cut oatmeal with zero sugar. Same with bone broth (good for collagen and glycine for metabolism - and I make my own). And fruit is NOT the enemy, just eat it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
Loss of Focus, Purpose & Sense of Direction – The Mind
“For ten years, I was just lost,” Jane Fonda admitted during an Oprah interview. This was years ago, but it stuck with me – until I could relate. She went on to explain how she kind of fell apart in her forties. She didn’t know what she wanted or what life meant to her. But no one else could tell.
I was about thirty-eight when I was plunged into this mysterious world.
“How long have you felt this way?” the nurse calmly asked me on the phone, as I lay in bed. Is my right arm numb? No, it’s just falling asleep, I told myself. I breathed. Am I overreacting? I think I Googled symptoms of stroke. Is it the right arm or left arm? I only called the nurse because I was being tormented by the image of my children finding me dead in the morning.
“I have to call my sister. My husband is out of town,” I told the nurse after she said she was sending an ambulance.
And then, “I think it’s anxiety, a panic attack,” the doctor notified me. I was alone, in the ER, at the hospital. I don’t even remember how I got back home.
“Really?” I felt embarrassed. And then I felt embarrassed about being embarrassed. I hadn’t been feeling panicky or anxious about life, that is, until that night, when I thought I might be having a stroke.
The good news I was fine. The bad news was my over-achieving doctor now had a mystery on her hand. Not my heart – my endurance was that of a twenty-five-year-old apparently. “Can you think of any way you felt different before this happened?” my detective doctor asked me.
“Well, I haven’t had a solid poop in a week,” I said sheepishly.
“Progesterone,” she immediately said. The stress I didn’t know I had had cut my progesterone hormone off at the knees. I went on to become an advocate for bio identical progesterone cream, when I witnessed pharmaceutical companies fighting against access to this natural miracle supplement.
Soon after, another mysterious symptom appeared.
“I can’t focus,” I said to my husband. My mind is so noisy, I can’t even sit down and begin to work in the morning.” My mind was not in sync with my body. The noise just wouldn’t go away.
I was scared again. I could tell my doctor had been waiting for me to admit that I couldn’t handle everything like I thought I could. “Other people have real problems,” I would say. “Don’t do that,” my doctor gave me a hug.
It felt like giving in, giving up, but I had to try the little pill she knew I didn’t want to take. Within two minutes, my mind cleared, like Moses parting the Red Sea. Whatever was tormenting me was driven down into the depths of the ocean - for now. I got myself off the magic pill a couple years later, after I was no longer able to get aroused sexually. Eventually, I would have to deal with the root cause of my noisy mind.
Depression, Tears, Anger – The Soul
Not until after divorce, did I realize that my marriage had acted as a security blanket. I loved my husband. The unraveling of our twenty-four year plus relationship reflects the complexity of the evolving notion of partnership between a man and a woman. Our projections onto each other highlighted our attempts to heal the unconscious collective wounds inflicted upon the feminine and masculine. We tried. We still care about each other. And our adult children are amazing.
First comes grief. Did you know that every tear shed releases a thousand toxins from your body? That heavy movement you feel in your chest during and after a big fat cry is your soul making new meaning.
Then comes anger. Do you know why some men make women feel bad about their anger? Because they’re secretly afraid of the power women have over them. Think about it. Only men who are insecure need to hold women back in any way. Only men who are insecure need to blame women for why they rape them. Anger is not pretty, but it is beautiful. If it’s not allowed to be unleashed in a healthy way, beware. When it’s allowed to be unleashed, it creates.
My first post-divorce relationship, PhD research on women, sex & God, anger at my dog – he was peeing on every piece of furniture – and hot flashes all collided at once. Many dreams that visited me at the time featured the phallus, which had evolved from an object of shame to having one attached to my body, which I loved and kissed. I felt like that woman fighting to reclaim her spirit, the one that Jungian analyst and philosopher Linda Leonard describes in her book, Meeting the Madwoman: An Inner Challenge for Feminine Spirit (1993/1994).
I felt compelled to draw all of the swirling forces that couldn’t be contained anymore. Womb on Fire is what I call it. My womb, with hot colorful flowing lava, a penetrating penis, and flames of red, orange, yellow, and purple bursting up and out of my womb. All around the image I wrote these words: take in phallus, purple God, womb = vessel, phallus = feminine, fire, volcano, madwoman = crazy, and creative.
Within the week I had brought form to something that had been living in me that I was previously unable to articulate. I prepared and presented my workshop at the Alverno University Community Conference titled, Healing the Collective Wounds that Prevent Deep Connection Between Men and Women.
And then my inner Madwoman went on to tell me exactly when and how to end the relationship with the man who served as soul mate when it ran its course.
Then comes anxiety. I’m working through that now. I’m not even through with the transition, and my life is already so different. I got in my car and drove away from the place I had spent all my life. I launched myself as a writer. I’m getting ready to move again. I’m going to be publishing my memoir. I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’ve had to do things for which others surely are judging me.
Just a couple weeks ago, I flipped a guy off – for the first time ever. A week earlier, I had run into the gas station and a man said that thing that pisses women off, “Smile, you’ll look so pretty.” The part of me that was taught to please others held me back from telling him to fuck off in the moment. I walked out berating myself for accommodating this man. I tried to let it go.
Two weeks later, as I walked past a car and the man in it who yelled some disrespectful phrase, suddenly, I felt no fear and no obligation to be polite. I didn’t turn around. I just proudly walked on and put my finger up in the air – Fuck you! For me, it was one of my most empowering moments.
I’m not afraid. C.G. Jung believed women were particularly suited to bringing a new consciousness to the importance of soul and relationship in order to compensate for a too one-sided valuing of logic, consciousness, and spirit. I’m positive it does NOT have anything to do with women anymore. Women have learned to be as ugly as men! And some men are more in touch with their feminine than those ugly women! For those of us - men and women - who are willing to accept the risk of finding truth for ourselves, the reward is knowing that we are part of evolving the consciousness of humanity.
I hope I’ve given you a new way to look at menopause. Your dreams, emotions, mental health, body – they’re all collaborating to tell you whether it’s time for a change.
Consider journaling about your reactions to this post, along with paying attention to your dreams the same night.
Consider virtually attending my workshop It Ain't Easy Being a Man Either; Transcending Fear-based Movements. I'm so excited that this is the third year I'll be presenting at this conference, which is devoted to dialogue around empowering women.
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