Menopause- The Unfamiliar Room in My Own House

Breaking apart as a mirror

People usually write posts when they have something they need to say or something beautiful to explore (that’s my fav), or maybe when they feel passionate about highlighting a cultural change or injustice that needs exploration. But I am posting today because I don’t have answers on this topic. It feels uncomfortable. In the midst of menopause I feel like I’m standing in a room of my own house, but with a quizzical gaze. I’m in shock that I had no clue this room even existed. How can this be true? How can you live in a house for years and not know about a room? But this is exactly what menopause hormones seem to create. They blindside you with strange, hidden parts of yourself. I’m tempted to close and dead-bolt the door to that room so I can’t find myself in there again, but there’s no doorknob, no dead-bolt, no lock.

This room is filled with remnants- items I’ve used in the past line the walls. I see books and a fully decorated Christmas tree from years gone by. I see stacks of photo albums and used furniture. I hear music and snippets of conversations from my past. It’s all familiar, but yet uncomfortable. I tear up looking around. I don’t recognize the room, but I recognize the items. Strong emotions are ignited.

The season leading up to menopause has introduced parts of myself, (albeit exaggerated), to the “front of the class”.  It’s like jr high school on steroids. This awkward version of me standing up there in the front of the classroom; almost unrecognizable. I know I must make sense of her, love her, cheer her on. I know she’ll get through this, but probably not without battle scars. It is the oddest of things not to recognize yourself. Even more odd to recognize something, like the eyes, but nothing else looks familiar.

The unstable thoughts that hurl so quickly makes me ponder this phenomenon. Where did it even come from? What awfulness has happened to cause this? Paranoia, insecurity and lack of confidence seem magnified into unreal proportions. I keep saying “this isn’t really me”, all the while knowing that I must make friends with this awkward stranger in the mirror. The most unsettling thing is not how I “look”, but how I “feel”.

As a society we seem comfortable laughing at “hot flash jokes” (we gotta laugh so we don’t cry, right?) and have come to terms with a little “menopause crazy” (even I find this crazy a little funny at times). But… paranoia, anxiety and depression? No, we don’t like to talk about that. And I get it. It’s complicated, not so easy to fix and we feel too vulnerable to say those thoughts aloud.  I guess I should say, I feel vulnerable about that. I admire strength and tenacity, perseverance and hope. This feels like the opposite and so I breathe deeply, trying not to admit this force is something I have to deal with. I try to cry silently, rage quietly, pray fervently, desire honorably…but I’ll tell you, it’s been awfully hard.

So today, I’m trying a new and honest approach with menopause as I write about it “out loud”, not because I have answers but because I have questions. Feeling isolated is not a feeling you want to feed. So, I’m attempting to starve that awful feeling and send it shrinking in darkness. I am bringing something to “light” because don’t think I was designed for this (is that a problem? I don’t know) and yet I’m here, doing what I know to do—taking supplements and rubbing cremes, asking forgiveness, praying for patience and crying a bit more than I think a grown woman “should”.

So, there it is. Maybe you’ve felt alone in this hormone abyss. I hope you take some comfort that the mirrors are all lined up along the edge of the room and a there’s a bunch of us standing in shock not recognizing what we see before us. You’re not alone. Maybe writing it out loud will help someone be ready when it happens to them? I hope. People tell me this will pass. They said that phrase in pregnancy too. They were right. They said that about the children growing and going. They were right. They say there is another glorious side to this place. (patience is required). I hope they’re right.

Grace Collectors

 

As I roamed the cemetery reading the names and dates, sayings and commentaries… I stumbled across this inscription. “She was too good, too gentle and Fair To dwell in this cold world.” Someone lost someone dear. Their tears probably fell into the very earth I stood upon as I read the lines.

I have a theory that pain experiences create vacant wells within us. Pain vacancies are cavernous, hollow tombs, longing to be filled. Grace seems to find it way to the tomb’s door, asking for entrance. Grace is a chameleon, appearing to us based on our need. – water for our parched mouths, light in our darkness, comfort when we’re lonely, courage in our weariness. Maybe our need in itself is a grace to us, so that we will look and listen, receive and rest. When we welcome grace inside, the cold, black-and-white spaces, once horrid reminders of loss, become masterpieces in contradictions; grand paradoxes. Grace is miraculous like that.

And so, I roam the little graveyards imagining each spot as grace collectors. Tears and sorrow made way for the sacred and hopeful.  I feel respect for those who felt the pain of loss in this very spot. I don’t have to know them to honor them, They are contrasts to fast-paced, mindless living.

Cemeteries are grace collectors.

Where magic, mystery and divinity meet

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For ever weary soul-
May the vision of a wave rolling in be a calming and invigorating force for the task ahead.
For every cluttered mind-
May the winds that take our hair up on end and toss it in directions unfamiliar be a clearing and cleaning of all things unnecessary for abundant living.
For all who are lonely-
May the stroll along the shore bring the power of loving and longing together like the form of a shell at our feet, symbolizing the grandeur of hope.
May the power and force, sound and rhythm be the cadence of newness; freshness; purpose for the path ahead. May every particle of sand symbolize deep and abundant love. May the patterns we see in the sand and water be reminders of the beauty of surrender.
May we take in the breath of this moment and share it with all we hold dear with hopes that even through our virtual connections we may feel the closeness of a hug, a tender smile and a shoulder to lay our head.
This is the magic, mystery, divinity of the ocean meeting the shore.

love- volatile and safe, adventure and surrender, noun and verb, concrete and abstract, sharp and kind

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I can’t remember a time that I didn’t believe there was a world more real than the one we see. But today I feel it more surely, like knowing the waxing and waning schedule of the moon, never doubting how it will brighten the night sky. We wait expectantly. I believe LOVE is much the same. Even in our darkest, doubtful, dreadful moments we give a silent nod of respect to this foundation called LOVE. We can’t ignore it. We crave it. We want to understand but also to be understood. We’re wired with tenacity and curiosity, belief and hope that we can go deeper still as the divine voice faintly sings something familiar and we forge ahead to get closer to the LOVE source.

LOVE is that subtle but sure foundation that causes us to believe and pursue the best in us. We seek while also wanting to be found. Love keeps us curious and busy roaming back roads forgotten. It keeps us searching for poetry, writing new (and old) lyrics, looking with longing eyes to the places all around and within that we know can and should be redeemed. It compels us to give weight to whispers, nudges and inklings not fully understood but heard in our soul. It brings a song in the night. LOVE truly is beautifully breathtaking.

LOVE, and the pursuit of living love fully, pushes us past our perceived boundaries, surprising even our own selves in a moment’s notice. It’s volatile and safe, adventure and surrender, noun and verb, concrete and abstract, sharp and kind.

It is the answer to most of our questions.

Love.

BBC show, River – season 1 review

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I became riveted by the BBC television show, “RIVER”. (I love the name River, maybe that’s why I was drawn to it.) The show follows a detective in London as he tries to solve a case that has the potential to destroy him both personally and professionally. As the show progresses, we find ourselves becoming intimate with the challenges of mental illness, loneliness, immigration, grief… We find ourselves understanding facets of these issues in such a unique light.

Last night while watching the season finale, I found tears streaming down my face. I was drawn in to hope FOR River. I was cheering on his investigative pursuit, but more importantly cheering on personal honesty and all of the relief it could bring. River finally does open up and allows himself to be washed with the truth. He welcomes his feelings in a way he hasn’t since he was a boy. And as we experience it with him, we become more aware of our own desire for courage and honesty that heals.

Here is what River says about “LOVE”…

“In books and films and plays it’s always so compelling, so complex.                                 There should be more than one word for ‘LOVE’.                                                                            I’ve seen love that kills, and I’ve seen love the redeems.                                                              I’ve seen love that believes in the guilty, and love that saves the bereaved.                      What we will do for love – die for it…”

The show is so well-written. The actors are phenomenal. I highly recommend it, and look forward to Season 2.

 

 

mud, snow and hope

snow mud hopeI roam the paths in each season and look for hope. It’s what I do-look for hope in change. Some days/seasons are easier than others. Remember when the tree was so vibrant and then the leaves began unattaching, falling and changing resting spots as the wind blew?. And I admit I was tempted like all the rest to see this as a loss. But when the leaf was almost dust, a lacy intricate shell, I found this change almost magical. I could see the hope in change.

And I do believe that Hope is worthy.

But today the path is only muddy, a mixture of snowmelt and dirt. The leaves that turned from vibrant color to the browny dust, is now diluted, being taken somewhere else, far from me it seems. Maybe it fills a little crevice in the rock? Maybe it finds the perfect resting spot? For all these reasons, I try to imagine.

I imagine because Hope is worthy.

I know in time I will see new growth appear when I gaze up to the sky. I will see green and not gray… but is it ok to feel the sadness of longing? Maybe feeling something gives this change the dignity it deserves?

I hope so. Hope is worthy.

My autumn hikes changed me. And frankly, I feel almost ruined by it now.  Oh, I know the winter stillness has it’s own lessons to teach, and I will eventually get into my seat and listen to the instructions, but I’m rebelling today, just standing in the back of the classroom with my arms crossed, daring the teacher to try. I miss my former teacher.

But deep down I know that Hope is worthy.

Maybe change holds up a mirror and shows us what love does to a soul? One taste and we are forever seeking just one more moment of cherishing and being cherished; one more moment where nothing else matters; one more collision of peace and ecstasy. And even though remembering stings and reminds me of something past, I choose to remember. I think to myself “to fight is to hope”. And…

Hope is worthy.

 

 

 

Love~Like the Summer of ’69

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If love was a body of water, the ocean would be minuscule in it’s ability to contain

Nothing would have the power to stop the water from meeting the shore

If expressed in words, the plot would never end

the book would be the words read before every night of sleep

If love was fiction, no tale or plot would be grand enough

the hero or heroine would never ride into the sunset, they would never leave the set

If a melody, a song, or symphony, the cadence would always play in our memory

a never-ending companion from within

There would be no end to euphoria, no end of the divine

If love was measured in time, eternity would only be the beginning

As simple and intricate as a ticking clock held in a pocket

Feeling the depth of love would be as simple and as profound as touch, hand to hand

yet overwhelming as a flood washing down the debris on the mountainsideawakenings-quote

Love is the magic behind the mystery

The forgotten thing remembered, just like the summer of ’69

~(thoughts from the movie “Awakenings”)