Have I lost myself or discovered the true me, the me that I never accepted. Ironically my biggest fear throughout my life has been to appear weak. I say ironically because after all isn’t being fearful a sign of weakness. So there is this thing called menopause! Yes that simple statement deserves an explanation mark. I am only in my mid-40’s and didn’t think this would be a concern anytime soon. Well, come to find out another lovely gift from my package of genetics is early onset menopause.
Let me pause here for just a moment and say that I realize no matter what my hormones are doing there are many factors in life that cause stress and challenges. One’s state of being is never dependent on one factor alone. That would be way to simple and boring.
Now back to the business of experiential reality. Menopause sucks!!! For those of you that don’t know, early in my career as a human, I was diagnosed with a mental illness. Labels and identifiers have morphed and changed over my lifetime, but the diagnosis that has stuck for the last 20 years is ULTRA RAPID CYCLING BI-POLAR I WITH MIXED EPISODES. Scary shit, believe me I know! Luckily in the 1990’s some great advances were made in mood stabilization medications and Cognitive Behavior Therapy was introduced. Through modern science, lots of self-help and tons of support I have lived a very full life. I will never be a simple person. If you want an easy person in your life I highly recommend making friends with someone else (for that matter get a dog, I am not sure there is such a thing as an easy person).
I can confidently say I am an expert at monitoring my moods and internal signals to stay aware of any ‘undesirable’ or unhealthy shifts. It is not a simple task to stay hyper aware of your internal state, gauge that state with your observed external reality, judge how your external expression of your internal reality is effecting the people you come in contact with and then use all this data to determine if any adjustments need to be made to medications, diet, exercise, sleep, sun exposure, meditation practice, yoga practice, social activities…. oh and how I am breathing. Because of course how one breaths can quickly change both your internal and external reality and then it is time to reevaluate everything all over again. This self evaluation can be exhausting, confusing and overwhelming, but amazingly effective.
I have spent a lifetime studying contemplative practices, social psychology, neuroscience, yoga, Buddhist philosophy and anything to do with the mind-body connection. Funny thought… how can there be a connection between two things that were never separate, but instead really just one? Anyway, let’s get back to menopause. No, I have not lost myself or even discovered my true self. Neither is really possible since there is truth in every version of oneself and if I really lost ‘self’ then I would have become a Buddha. I am starting to sound so damn ‘airy fairy 🧚♀️, crystal crowd’, but hey acceptance of self is my new game! The point that I keep dancing around is that menopause has saturated me with a soup of hormones and aggravatingly uncomfortable symptoms. My internal state has become an unpredictable mess only equaled by climate change. My hard earned and comforting baseline is completely shot to shit! I feel like a fresh new little baby chick that needs to be protected and nurtured until I can learn to read my owner’s manual that I just spent a lifetime writing. It started with hot flashes, irritability and all kinds of issues with the lady parts. These carried the show long enough to convince me I was dying of cancer, pregnant or both! I am happy to say neither of those were true. I am ok, I just simply don’t recognize myself most days. I no longer have a protective shell. Everything soft is exposed and vulnerable. My heart breaks so easily, tears of joy and sadness streak my face daily. I feel completely turned inside out. It feels a lot like puberty minus the anger. This is me right now and I am thankful.
I am where I am meant to be. These growth periods are a fucking ride! Pain is educational and inspirational. With each thing I lose multiple gifts arrive. Thank you everyone out there for your kindness and patience. Fortunately this is not a solo trip.