Some time ago, I likened the transition from having a period every month to not having a period as a process of moving an ocean from here to there via teaspoon. Inevidably, you lose some water.
I haven’t actually hit the officialy menopause mark, but I’ve been working my way there for fifteen years. Yes, I did say fifteen years.
I distinctly remember when I knew my body was changing. I turned forty. I was married, living in Tennessee, working at a job I didn’t like. I was probably depressed, though it’s never been diagnosed (and I’ve had a few bouts of what I identify as depression. It’s been years though, so let’s not dwell on sadness.)
I was having a period. And then, gushing. It was as if I all of the blood in my body was bleeding out. I swear.
Anyone with medical knowledge will know that that’s not what happened but that’s what it seemed like to me. Thankful to be at home, I was nevertheless miserable.
It only lasted five to six hours, but it signaled that my body was ready to change. That change has proceeded on since then, for fifteen years.
Thankfully, I haven’t experienced another onset of heavy bleeding of that nature. But there have been plenty of other symptoms: hot flashes, weight gain and loss, dietary requirements adjusted, sleep interruption. Through all of it, I’ve trusted that my body knew exactly what it needed to do. It’s much smarter than me.
Body changes I could deal with. But I wasn’t prepared for the theme of loss.
An Emerging Theme
This theme of loss has only emerged clearly in the last six months, mostly during coaching sessions. That hour-long meeting gets me to talk about what’s going on in my life.
As I talk, things emerge that I’ve been thinking about. Those things are often just under the surface of conscious knowledge. That is, when you know you know, but can’t quite put the words to your knowledge.
And this theme of loss is pretty stunning. Here is a growing list of things that you might consider losses. Some of them apply to me, others not so much – at least not yet.
- the death of my old self and old ways of doing things
- the death of how I used to be able to eat anything
- the end of the summer of life, and the beginning of the autumn of life
- the end of following the unending “I should” or “am supposed to” do it this way, and the unfolding of new ways that are unique to me.
- an empty nest
- parents dying or having to caretake for your parents
- loss of anticipated freedom – How you were dreaming of a carefree retirement, but now you have to take care of your parents or grandchildren or partner.
- your youth: looks fade, skin, hair, the ability to adapt as fast as you used to
- physical changes: not just menopause, but back pain, feet changes, physical mobility
- the death of friends
- the death of famous people you’ve followed for years either via a real death or their fall from grace
- the death of a relationship
- letting go of the old messages that were stuck – things like “this is how you’re supposed to be at this age.” These things just aren’t true, and they’re constantly changing
- In the maiden/mother/crone trio, there’s the change from extended maiden to crone — and I skipped mother
There Are Gains In Those Losses
Just like the cycle of seasons, and the abundance of crops at harvest time, menopause does bring significant gains.
But just for now, talk to me about loss.
What did you lose? How did it make you feel? What did you do to move forward?