So I’m wondering, do you ever… think about the phrase “Wisdom Comes With Age” and wonder who made that up and what were they talking about???
With the definition of wisdom being: “Accumulated knowledge of life or in a particular sphere of activity that has been gained through experience”, here are just a few profoundly impacting mid-life tidbits of wisdom I have accumulated through my life’s experiences thus far:
If everyone looks younger than you it’s because they are.
It’s OK to trust your life into the hands of a doctor that looks like your youngest child. And it’s OK to ask if they brushed their teeth and washed behind their ears. They understand.
Russian Tea is going to be the new “it” beverage soon. Get a jump on it and dig out that old recipe. I just had to look up how to spell recipe.
When your knees betray you and you can’t get up gracefully from that chair, lie and say you just went on a 10 mile run. Or groan as you struggle to rise and say, “Phew, those were good ribs”.
Pretend menopause is a game show and you win money for every hot flash or bladder leakage. Then take yourself out for ice cream and a hair shampoo.
Arguing with hubby not nearly as fun…cause you can’t remember why you got angry in the first place.
It’s OK to listen to the Allman Brothers and feel really cool again.
Ding Dongs don’t taste the same nor do HoHo’s.
And the most important piece of true wisdom to practice everyday: Regretting the past is a waste of time. Forgive yourself.
So I’m wondering, do you ever…
Feel like you are in a gnarly tango with (peri)menopause? For me, just when I have somewhat tamed those morbid menopausal symptoms and I’m feeling back to me again, I discover that I am aimlessly wandering the aisles of Safeway or some other potential place of public humiliation talking to myself and in addition, extremely irritated and angry with anyone that comes within 25 feet of me. Or pretty much anyone within my hormonally challenged eye line.
And my memory!! What happened to my memory? Mr. Sandman stole it in the night? I lost it watching the WWI wrestling or America’s Next Top Model?? What happened?
It’s not just losing my keys, forgetting why I entered a room or not being able to complete a sentence with a shred of coherency, but I am staring this very moment, at my “to do” list from yesterday and one of the items I hastily scrawled marked “urgent” is: “MAKE PRICE RED SOCK”. What am I supposed to do with that?? I have formed the letters in every possible combination and got nothing! It may come back to me and then again may not.
And another frustration…I get the most ingenious ideas in the middle of the night. And since I would forget them the next morning, I placed pencil and paper by the bed to jot down my gifted prose and creations. I then would wake up to: “The rock has moss but the sun comes out”…?? What am I supposed to do with THAT?
I’m learning, as I know I’m not alone in this, to find humor when I forget names and faces, my address and social security number, birthdays and leaving my keys, cell phone and wallet in the car while it’s running…wait that last one wasn’t funny at all. Never mind. I’m really not learning anything at all about this and if I was, I’ll most likely forget it anyway…
Many of us support each other through laughter when experiencing these uncomfortable menopause signs and symptoms.
While we can chuckle, there is something more serious some of us women suffer during this transitional time. Sometimes I wake in the morning feeling useless and believe the messages in my head that say, “You can’t do this, who do you think you are, you’re too old, you’re a loser, you are not needed anymore…” etcetera and etcetera.
Being a naturally vibrant and life-loving woman, this for me is disturbing. As I fight through the onslaught of slandering woes and push myself to do the necessary tasks for the day, I find my mind calms a bit. But some days the self doubt, anxiety, restlessness are too much as my fluctuating hormones dictate my sense of wholeness and well being.
There are 30 some symptoms of (peri)menopause and the aforementioned are only a few. The physical ones, hot flashes, night sweats, etc. are a sweaty walk in the park compared to those that affect our mood and mental well-being:
Mood swings, sudden tears
Trouble sleeping through the night
Irregular heart beat
Feelings of dread
Loss of libido
Difficulty concentrating and mental confusion
Disturbing memory lapses
Incontinence with sneezing
Aching, sore joints and muscles
Increased tension in muscles
Itchy, crawly skin
Weight gain and bloating
Gastrointestinal distress and indigestion
Hair loss or thinning
Changes in body odor
Electric shock sensation under the skin
Tingling in the extremities
Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
Gum problems, increased bleeding
Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier
Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, ‘whooshing,’ buzzing etc.
Guys who live with (peri)menopausal women, you can breathe now, it does subside. I know it is difficult. I feel sad for my husband sometimes when I am shut down, checked out and just trying to ride out a nasty mood.
I believe all of life’s transitions for both men and women are challenging. Passing through these stages allows us to see at our deepest level, the true nature of our character and our need for grace.
The following is my husband’s point of view on me and my menopause (brace yourself):
“One beautiful Saturday morning about 10 years ago I am reading the paper and sipping on a Starbucks soaking in the stillness and solitude of our home, when I hear her footsteps descending the stairs. Jan rounds the corner and I notice that she looks like she just plowed 40 acres of land last night with a broken down mule. Being the observant male that I am with all the sensitivity that I could muster, I said, ” What’s wrong honey, you look horrible.” She looked at me with a hollowed out expression and said, “I don’t feel like me anymore. I don’t understand what is happening to my mind and body with this menopause stuff. I woke up feeling depressed and dreading the day.”
So understanding that I should say something that will bring comfort and caring, I said, “Gee honey, there seems to be something wrong with you everyday.” As she cocked her head to the side and squinted with one eye half shut, looking like the Hunchback of Norte Dame, she coldly stated, “Oh gee, thanks for your overwhelming understanding, and further more you don’t have the slightest clue about what I’m going through! If only you could feel for one day what I feel!!” So my solution was to get out and go play golf.
As the days wore on and the nights became colder we both sensed a profound disconnect in our relationship. As Jan’s mood and symptoms escalated from her hormone imbalance, I too was becoming moody and depressed and just didn’t want to be around her. I would fantasize about taking off for a long motorcycle trip.
We both knew that changes were going on but we didn’t know how to get back to where we were before all this menopause stuff hit. The primary thought that I felt during this time was, that it was all about me. I’m in adequate, unlovable, whatever…
What I have learned is that Jan didn’t have any more control over her menopause symptoms, than I have over the course of world affairs. When I finally recognized that this isn’t about me and I began to show her a little empathy and compassion, she was able to give me the same in return.
For me, the menopause experience has been a journey of self-discovery about who I am as man and husband. The realization that menopause is treatable and it is not all about me has taken our relationship to a much deeper level, even before menopause.
Look men, we have a choice, we can shrivel up into our self centered little world and try and pretend that this problem is not real, have a beer or play golf, tune out etc., or we can take matters into our own hands and try and fix this situation like you would a leaky faucet. Any of these remedies will most likely lead to disaster.
Listening, empathy and compassion will go a long way no matter what life challenges come your way. So ask yourself, “What if this was cancer or another dread disease, would she not deserve the same dignity, love and respect?”
So the solution? Show a “Whole lotta Love!”
Good man! And I’m hoping my mid-life musings and menopausal mishaps may have brought a little humor and comfort for some menopausaly challenged amazing woman (or man) today.