Everybody’s change is different. But change we do; we do change.
Adolescence is the first change. Little children start to morph right before our eyes. Tiny waif like boys fill out, voices dropping, shoulders forming. Girls grow curves and budding breasts and the chemistry begins. So we could call the beginning of adolescence, menoprimo, the beginning of change.
Then we go through our reproductive stage. Hormones take charge of the body and drive us through this next section of life. Let’s just call this next stage ‘meno’ and for women that stands for menstruation or non-menstruation, which is also known as ‘pregnancy’. Those are your two choices.
Then the beginning of the end; menopause. Men and women, pause. Change.
The waning of the hormones. The decrease in oestrogen and testosterone can feel pretty intense as the body bravely tries to adjust. The list of symptoms for menopause covers pretty much anything that feels bad.
Anxiety, asthma, allergies, and arthritis can all be described as possible side effects of menopause. When the happy hormones stop the whole show changes. I gave birth fairly late at forty years and then breast fed for three years, so when the Change began I was in a free fall from happy hormones. It felt like I had returned from the moon.
Men experience the change too. I can see changes in my partner. And that’s cool because we are changing together. We are not meant to reproduce anymore. And that’s good because we are a lot less energetic than we used to be.
The time of Change can be seen as a positive development, as long as you don’t mind the fact that you are actually getting closer to dying.
The woman’s body can rest from the rigor of monthly cycles and blood letting. She can grow a few chin hairs and have more time to take on the world. If the man sticks with his wife he can also rest peacefully knowing that his baby making wife has retired from that job. He can mellow out and make cookies.
I did not mind the bleeding or the births. That was all pretty natural and made sense to me. It grounded me and made me feel like I was a part of the animal world in a cathartic and feral way. Bleeding and birthing were intense bloody experiences.
When I was reaching the end days of the reproductive cycle I had massive blood lettings. The cycle would start with a minimal and discreet sort of blood; dark, scant and without pain. But it would build in intensity until I felt my muscles scraping every bit of blood from my lower body leaving me weak in the knees and pale.
The blood of the last few cycles was bright red as if from a wound. Stop now, I would say to my body, this is not menstrual blood, you are just trying to kill me. And it stopped. Gradually the cycles slowed down, once every three months, twice a year. Once a year?
I have not heard from my womb in a long time. It is pretty quiet. It is no longer calling out the months, transforming my breasts, engineering my moods.
I am enjoying this Change. I am being transformed into a non-reproductive woman. I am becoming a hag and a crone, a woman not weighted by sexiness or babies.
I feel strong. like a old bear waking up from a sleep, not about to take any shit from anyone. Also, as the baby years recede behind me I feel a childish joy in the return of my own personal time.
Time to myself to write! And 50,000 words into a novel, I can honesty say I am writing. To create! Fifteen hooked rugs in the last few years and now I am planning a series of rugs and a show. To dream! I have ideas and concepts for plays, films, radio shows. The more time I have the more plans I have.
The hot flashes still surge through my body during the night. Sometimes my joints feel loose and like my hips could fall out of place. Things are changing and adjusting within me.
But I find that the sweating leaves my skin dewy and refreshed, and I believe that the heat of the flashes acts like a mid life protective fever, cleaning my body of bad chemicals and realigning my hormone levels for the next forty years of stable womanhood.
Like my girl friend the matriarchal Orca, or Killer Whale, I intend to lead the pod with my acquired wisdom.
Photo copied from skepchick.org (insights-into-menopause-come-from-killer-whales) With thanks!