Again I am astounded by the unbelievable resonance of the 2020 Year of Truth subject chosen back in January for this month, menopause. This month I am acutely aware of the effects of perimenopause or the legit actual menopause in my life. I’ve got spring allergies going on full force alongside allergies to dairy, alcohol and sugar, a touch of poison ivy, an ongoing hyper autoimmune response from a tick bite years ago on top of these day to day hormonal shifts and the ever present low-medium grade worry about coronavirus that we all share. It’s a lot.
I hesitate to write about menopause. I almost don’t even want to write the word menopause, as if the natural process is shameful, the word overburdened by some hex or global voodoo. Why is this? I’ll take a “stab” at answering that question, along with an in depth exploration of this nature-taking-its-course experience for all women, 50% or more (certainly over 40) of the population.
The first thing that comes to mind about menopause is the fact that women literally start to fall apart with this life change. The comorbidities include heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, dementia, auto immune disorders, general emotional un-wellness, and a variety of cancers — not to mention the symptoms and effects such as sleeplessness, hot flashes, loss of bone density, etc. In searching for menopause shame I noticed that women speaking boldly about the stigmas around it are creating distance by naming it “the menopause.”
I also found a very good article about the menopause that includes, among other things, reference to women being diminished by their physicians for reporting their (up to 34!) symptoms. I had a terribly shaming experience with my local female doctor and am loathe to go back. Could the severity levels of the menopause also be due to understandably suppressed or unprocessed emotion?
Women like me who were fortunate to witness their mothers’ experience of the menopause have at least some basis for beginning this adventure. My mother seemed to go through “the change” for a full decade. Summers were the worst and she’d hot flash so badly she could only wear tube tops (remember those?). I can believe the connection between unprocessed emotion. She had lost so much in her lifetime. The one thing I remember her telling me directly about her childhood was that her grandmother had died in med with her. I believe I overheard the fact that her father had died a year or two later. Both before she was 10. Her son died when he was five and then her mother died the next year. That is a whole lot of emotion to process for anyone, especially “back then.”
A friend and I sat for a visit this week (outside 6 feet apart) and as I mentioned sleeplessness and hot flashes she gave me a little bottle of hot flash fizzies which she’d said was very old. I was tempted to still take whatever they were despite the pills being expired but when I searched for a date I only found ingredients like carnauba wax. It took me quite a while in my desire for a new path of healing to realize these were a candy gag.
Shouldn’t processing emotion be as natural as breathing? The answer as to why women have been led to feel shame about the menopause is complex. So many generations of very subtle behaviors have reinforced this. (ironically at the moment, I’m eavesdropping on a raging family argument about women’s and men’s work, who works harder, how men get too much praise and women don’t get appreciation…)
What’s up with so many of us wide awake at 3 am?
One fascinating tid bit is the fact that according to ancient Chinese medicine, every organ has a corresponding time of day. The two organs that process most of the body’s toxins (aside from the skin) are the liver and kidneys. Guess what the liver hours are; 1-3 am. And the kidneys? Yep, 3-5 am. Being that our bodies are 70% water (just like the earth) there is a lot to say about water’s healing properties. And being that the world (just like the body) is overburdened with so many toxins — poisonous chemicals dumped in the ground, belched into the air, and trashed into the oceans — water’s job at healing the body is harder than ever these days — inside and out. (check out last month’s blog on inside-out biology).
I flipped through the journal I’m writing in and landed on this free flowing offering:
I am from water, which is never average. Water changes me every day — especially when I remember to let myself be changed, be surprised, be confused, be sad. For then, water flows as she will and I flow along for the ride. I just appreciated a sip of this magic. She becomes more precious as time goes on. It is as if she contains all the memories and all the hopes I have ever had — just waiting patiently in small quantities of recognition.
Healing any part of the body-mind is a truly courageous adventure. It is not a joy ride and should not be done alone. And once we start to see things, like patterns between stress in the body and certain conversations, chronic issues in the world can feel like fractal parts of the self. The lows can feel abysmal and the highs, short lived. While drafting this I was in a pit-i-fully low state and tried to connect with my spirit. I received this statement: “Be careful of your gorgeous heart, listen to it tell you when you need a rest, it’s the only one you’ve got.” So sweet.
Like anyone, I aspire to stay positive and full of light. In my experience, the ability to ride the waves of life – to feel high and carefree – comes after a lot of deep dives.
Digging into the weeds or roots of problems feels like my specialty. My latest dig has excavated this list of messages we sensitive folk, particularly the “fair” sex, have likely internalized over the years, perhaps thousands of years; listen to what emerges when you review them:
- close your legs when you sit
- keep the hair off your legs, armpits and many other places it grows on your body
- paint your face, finger and toe nails
- don’t question authority
- follow the rules
- speak kindly
- bite your tongue
- don’t outsmart a man
- don’t get emotional
- volunteer your time
- keep everything clean & organized
- don’t ask questions (one is generally okay)
- wear your hair up, or straight, or curly, but try to make it perfect
- don’t be angry
- be small – girls are meant to be seen not heard
- be more patient, kind, forgiving, and generous with others than they are with you
- close your eyes, grit your teeth, it’ll be over soon
- pretend it didn’t happen
- know that men are to be celebrated – especially if they share their emotions
- women are to be looked at and to support men emotionally, energetically, mentally (every way but financially)
- women expressing emotion are to be — hmmmm — ignored … or worse … silenced…
And another quirky tid bit for you — A brank: a spiked muzzle for torturing vocal women in 16th century London. WTF?! It can be no surprise, to anyone even half awake to the multi-millennial systemic oppression of emotion, that the natural response is OVER-reaction – verbally, emotionally, energetically … and immunologically.
Cognitive resonance is a huge factor in brain health, body-mind wellness; estrogen receptors are in the brain, lungs and endothelium – the key entry points for disease.
The exciting thing, finally, and why this post is titled men-oh-pause, is that media focus on mature women is shifting from abusive shame to genuine curiosity. Hollywood women have reached a point of power, perhaps the critical tipping point, where they write and direct and produce content. Check out this post for a look at the rise in feminine consciousness in politics and media.
It is also no surprise to some who are noticing the subtleties of women leadership, that the countries led by women are seeing the lowest cases of coronavirus and deaths. These include: Iceland (Katrin Jakobsdottir), New Zealand (Jacinda Ardern), Germany (Angela Merkel), Scotland (Nikola Sturgeon), Thailand (Tsai Ingwen), Finland (Sanna Marin), and Norway (Erna Solberg); 13 of the 193 United Nations countries. Could it be that citizens of these countries, both men and women, have higher levels of natural healing hormones like estrogen – which is being used to treat the men twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as women – due to less media manipulation, less misinformation, and clearer communication?