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.

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Take-away’s from 2016

Take-away’s from 2016:

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  1. My body is my friend. Believing good things are happening in me in the midst of feeling ill is faith. It is part of the path to healing, which involves the spirit as much as the body (‘You are the Placebo’ is a good book)
  2. There are amazing people in this world, spreading cheer, love and light all around. I found in my most vulnerable places, full of need, I could see them (feel them) more clearly.
  3. Food is so awesome.(especially Krispy Kreme doughnuts).  Yes, eating is nourishment but also an avenue for connection and pleasure. We eat for more reasons than just staying alive. It’s a beautiful need/want see-saw that vacillates between our body and spirit.
  4. Sometimes we have dreams… and then we must grow to accommodate them.
  5. Menopause is cruel. BUT, menopause shows us where we are most vulnerable, then asks us to be ok with that. All that is left is the strength and beauty that was always there, just hidden.
  6. I am strong. And so are you. We are strong
  7. Friends can make difficult places easier and easy places meaningful.
  8. I think I believe in mental telepathy, or a cousin to that.
  9. We can be surrounded by people and feel alone. We can be alone and not feel lonely.
  10. A baby’s entrance into this world grounds us here into the tangible but simultaneously elevates us into intangible worlds of divine magical mystery. (Thank you, angel Lennon.)
  11. Watching a toddler allows us to see again that what we witness every day is a miracle. (I love my sweet Moses.)
  12. We all desire validation. We must accept it as a gift from God. It was never meant to come from others.
  13. Spouses can/do change. Spouses can reveal us to us.
  14. Nothing/no one can destroy love.It DOES win
  15. No one can steal us, unless we let them.
  16. Sometimes old horses help us believe more deeply.
  17. Las Vegas is emotionally loud.
  18. Pursuing that which fuels the soul makes time irrelevant.
  19. Everyone is relevant
  20. Spanish Moss in the trees make everything seem heavenly
  21. Eating bread (from Ingrained Bakery) on a park bench with my parents is special.
  22. Ask myself “how do I want to feel?” It will answer the “what should I be doing” questions.
  23. We are all so very much alike.
  24. This too shall pass (even elections)
  25. “What if” questions should be asked more frequently
  26. Ask more questions to those we don’t understand.
  27. RV living is an adventure. (plan winter in a warm place)
  28. Sometimes we need a nice neighbor late at night.
  29. Seeing a newborn calf can make us want to live on a farm.
  30. Zip-lining is really fun. do it.
  31. The “most” ______person we know, could be our child. (Teachers and inspire-ers are not always before us chronologically 😉 (ie. Brooke, Jake, Josh, Jordan, Natalie, Eli, Bethany)
  32. We are never too old to try.Never.
  33. If we listen, we hear.
  34. Unfortunately, tans fade and wrinkles last. 😉
  35. Life changes can happen anywhere because change starts within us. (the secret life of change)
  36. Never underestimate a full moon. It can take our breath away.
  37. Maybe growing old can be more about the “growing” and less about the “old”.
  38. The sand, water, shells and sky consistently deliver mystery and stability.
  39. A country song in all of it’s simplicity can reveal our human complexity.
  40. What we know doesn’t make us better.
  41. Sometimes a year ends before we feel “ready”