The Shocking Truth About Menopause
Dried up old crone, old bag, hag, witch… is it just me, or do you think that we might have a bit of an issue about women aging? For the generation who grew up with Madonna, hitting menopause now, is there really only a choice between ‘tragically letting yourself go’ or desperately stretching your face and body into oblivion (sorry Madge, looks weird)?
You only have to check out the nasty shaming that Susan Sarandon received at the SAG awards last month, while the cleavages belonging to her 20-30 year old colleagues were ‘safe’.
Yes my friends, it’s International Women’s Day again and time for my annual, feminist polemic! You can read last year’s on Cindy Crawford or the previous years’ about how to feel good in your skin, but not much has changed since then; cosmetic and drug companies are still making a fortune out of our fear of aging. This year IWD are leveraging social media to gather momentum for gender equality with the hashtag #pledgeforparity You can join leaders from politics, industry and the creative world across the world by pledging here too.
Meanwhile ordinary menopausal women are treated as mad, bad and likely to be dangerous too. Flushing, stroppy, dried up, unreliable… but what if I told you that this period of your life could be the best thing ever?
The truth about menopause
Yes, the shocking truth about menopause is that it’s healing. It’s a natural self-help process that is happening right here, just underneath our noses. Who knew? No one ever told me at psychotherapy school, that self-actualisation (being the best-self you can be and living with meaning and self-fulfillment) the holy grail of therapy, was a natural process?! That my body, naturally practiced becoming self-actualised all by itself, every month with my menstrual cycle. And if I nourished and nurtured this process over time, it would allow me to turn into myself at menopause. Crikey! If this got out it would put the self-help industry out of business!
Menopause is a natural time of transition, a time of shedding masks and the compliance of childbearing years to finally live your purpose. A time to examine who you are, what you have done and who you want to be next. No wonder we get stroppy; there’s a lot to be stroppy about!
From about the age of 40 your hormones will start to shift, (with interesting results) most especially because as the process goes on we become more and more sensitive to stress; if you haven’t taken good care of yourself by resting, eating well and having a low toxin-load, your body is going to tell you about it now. Loudly! This is peri-menopause. Weird stuff can happen like –
- PMT for weeks on end
- Wild flushing and temperature control issues
- Interrupted sleep
- Desperate desire to be alone
- Weight gain around your middle
- Dry skin, dry vagina, dry bones
- Total intolerance of authority
- Old traumas re-emerging
- All kinds of childhood issues biting you on the bum
- The issues that were around at the time of your first period, return to be healed
All of which will be heightened if you arrive at 48 undernourished and over-stressed with your adrenals in a state of collapse.
When you are experiencing any of these symptoms, listen! It is your body and psyche telling you that it needs something different. That changes are required in your life for the process of transformation to work through you. By the way, menopause, technically, is when you haven’t bled for a year. Though many women stop for more than that and then find themselves with a surprise period. Why? It can be triggered by stress, change or just your body needing to clear out.
Getting juicy again
So what’s the recipe to survive the initiation and emerge as ourselves? How can we get juicy?
- Sort your diet out; making positive choices is always more sustainable that denying yourself what you crave.
- Be kind and gentle with yourself in every possible way.
- Do more of what you love, more often.
- Find a contemplative, daily practice that you enjoy; meditation, yoga, tai chi, chi gong, having quiet cups of tea.
- Express yourself. Safely of course – write stream of consciousness, journal, write poems dance and sing your truth. Do your thang sista!
- Get help – keep company with good women, get skilled therapists and professionals on your team.
- Say NO, just say no to what no longer suits you.
- Juice yourself up with womb massage and learn to massage your belly yourself.
- Sit down and get familiar with not knowing. So scary but so essential for transition.
- Do a little bit, or even better, a lot of NOTHING. Entertain the thought of a menopausal gap year (month/week/day)
- When those painful old patterns come up, give some time to patiently review and heal them.
- Give yourself permission to be by yourself if and when you want to
- Trust your intuition, let her be your guide.
- As you stop doing so frantically, you will find more ways to love yourself unconditionally.
- Use vaginal steams to warm and soften.
- Chart your life by the moon to give stability and rhythm, if your cycle doesn’t serve this purpose any more.
The truth about menopause is that it’s not always easy. It can be a tough journey, especially if you identify strongly with hyper-femininity. But you do not have to suffer! Resisting the process out of fear will ultimately only bring more pain and illness to your life. Then when we’re through the process we’re kicking ass. Right?
So what menopausal issues are you dealing with right now? Let me know either in the comments, or if you prefer, by email; the more we talk about the issues of aging the more parity there will be. #pledgeforparity