Monday, March 24, 2008


Menopause is still one of the few semi-verboten subjects left in our culture. We may joke about hot flashes and memory lapses, but we don't talk very much in polite society about the actual impact of menopause. I think that's too bad, because for me “The Change of Life” has been not only just exactly that, but it has been for the most part an unexpectedly positive experience.

First of all, I have to say that I have had no serious physical issues, which probably skews my view of the whole experience differently from those women who suffer with debilitating physical symptoms. Unlike for many women, in my experience the physical symptoms of menopause have been more positive than negative.

Surprisingly, the emotional and psychological impact has been wonderful. I feel more confident, more creative, more competent than ever before. I was never overly concerned with what others thought of me, but I am even less concerned about it now. I am what and who I am. To those who have a problem with that, my response is, “Oh, well.” I can't be bothered with letting others diminish my growing personal power. I am respectful and conscious of the effect of my actions on other people. (Sometimes I feel like the only person in my world who bothers with that bit of common courtesy.)

The biggest surprise has been the burst of creativity and sort of spiritual expansiveness that came with menopause. For me it is like the breaking away of a chrysalis, and the emergence of a butterfly. I don't think my butterfly has really taken off yet, but it is definitely emerging.

Writing used to be a hobby, now it is my animating passion.

Nature was always fascinating and engaging, now I find everything from tiny details like rain dripping off a leaf to global warming to be matters of deep import, worthy of contemplation and deep concern.

Religion was always very central to my life , now I find (organized) religion to be utterly irrelevant, while at the same time I find myself more spiritually aware than I have ever been.

Whether it is because of hormonal changes that allow my brain to operate differently or because of the decreased focus on family-building and child care, it is as though my very psyche has expanded. Beautiful things are more lovely. Food tastes better. Entertainment is more fun. I seem to savor things in a way I never did before.

A lot of Baby Boomers seem to be trying to fight aging for all they are worth. I find myself reveling in it. For years I've looked forward to advancing to the level of the Wise Old Woman – otherwise referred to in Jungian parlance as “The Crone”. I'm getting there and I'm liking it.

Hence the problem perhaps????!!!!!

I said the other day that the funk I find myself in has to do with me dealing with other peoples' issues which I thought had little to do with me. I think I may have been wrong about that, at least in part. Several people in my life are going through their own issues having to do with aging as well. Some are handling it better than others. (Translation: the women I know seem to be doing well. The men... not so hot. That should not come as a surprise.) For the most part their issues and problems belong to them. I am very careful to try not to get caught up in things that are not my problems to deal with.

There is one little thing I didn't think about the other day. My friends, colleagues and family are also having to deal with the changes in me. It appears that some of those changes have not been received very well. There may well be part of their behavior toward me which is truly a negative reaction to changes in my behavior. I should probably challenge that ... that is, if I could sort it out.

In any case, I find myself in the process of being transformed. That may be a good thing for me. I have to keep in mind that it may prove a challenge others who are accustomed to the Old Me.

I also have to be mindful that, while I am a person who loves and embraces and seeks Change, most people are not. Most people like things the way they are. Most people are afraid of change and try to avoid it. They are freaked out by someone who relishes Change (even when it is scary). I am charging off excitedly toward Old Age with the attitude that it will be a new adventure. Others are hanging back, afraid and depressed. I am very, very annoyed by that. I need to keep in mind that they are just as annoyed by my attitude.

Hell, in terms of most things in life, I am the most risk averse person I know. If this were a question of changing jobs, changing homes, changing something a person has any control over, I'd be fine with their reluctance. I'd be sympathetic with their depression. I'd be willing to sit tight and wait until they were ready. I would probably be hanging back as well, fearing to make the wrong decision.

But getting older isn't something we have any control over. It's happening whether we like it or not. We have to go down that path no matter how afraid we are. I believe that every day we waste sitting around being depressed and miserable about aging is one less day we have to do something meaningful, help someone, make a difference, do something creative, be joyful, be stupid, or act like a fool. That is where I lose patience. I can't stand people (of any age including children) who sit around and mope and whine and bitch and complain. I can't stand people who think their lives and issues are so important that other people should take up the slack while they sit around feeling sorry for themselves.

I am prepared to go on living my life, doing my duty and taking care of my responsibilities while at the same time dealing with my own issues. I expect others to be able to do the same thing.

Clearly, I am delusional.

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