Discover more from Ruby May
What the world needs to know about women in midlife
Musings from a Feminine perspective
Earlier this summer I joined the largest global, international Facebook group centred around menopause.
I lasted about 24 hours, until I removed myself.
The amount of suffering through debilitating symptoms, the confusion around where to go, the stories of doctors misdiagnosing and giving out anti-depressants, the level of disconnection from the wisdom of the body and the amount of offerings of poor advice, was overwhelming.
Why would women go through thousands and thousands of years of evolution, only to fall apart at midlife?
And how is it possible that there’s still so little consciousness around what 50% of the population go through?
What is going on?!
As someone confronted by perimenopause myself, I’m needing to do my own sense-making around it.
What I’m discovering is that the journey through menopause (which often begins in the late thirties or early forties) is a profound awakening into all the ways we have neglected ourselves and need to face ourselves. It is an impossible-to-ignore demand from our body and spirit to start changing our ways.
On a collective level, the amount of suffering menopause frequently causes is a clear reflection that we’re not meant to be living in the way most modern day humans are living. The more separated a culture is from natural rhythms, the more toxins we ingest, the more emotions we repress, the more symptomatic we become.
But there is something beautiful about this:
There is a dignity in this invitation to wake up and to come into a deeper reverence for ourselves.
It’s a powerful, transformative process to lovingly confront all the unintegrated aspects of our psyches and be ‘worked’ through this phase, just as our menstrual cycle works us in the decades preceding this (especially our premenstrum).
Like menarche (our first bleed), which is an initiatory event that supports us to step into the next evolution of our being, so too with menopause. We are asked to look in the mirror and do the work required to step into elderhood and live fully from our inner wise one.
What a grave injustice it is then, the way our culture frames and deals with menopause.
Although dealing with symptoms through HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is the best option in certain cases, the paradigm that this mostly comes from is to mask the symptoms so that we can carry on ‘functioning as usual’.
Despite all the inner work I’ve done and the holistic health model I aspire to, this modus operandi is deeply ingrained in me too.
Here’s a snippet of a conversation I had with my naturopath from earlier this year:
“Can I just take some chasteberry so that I ovulate better?”
“Do you think that might be pushing your body to behave in a certain way? What if your body doesn’t want to, and the kindest thing is to allow anovulatory cycles?”
“O.k, but can you give me something to make my energy come back?”
“Yes, I could, and at the end of the day it’s your decision, but my fear is you would go into old pattens again and wouldn’t learn the lesson your body is offering you.”
I am so grateful for her approach and the opportunity to see how I was not being loving or truly respecting my body and the journey it’s taking me on.
And so day by day at the moment, I am navigating the multiple challenges - physical and emotional - that midlife is bringing and trying not to fight them or find a quick fix, but just listen.
What are the ways I have been living life that are no longer working for me?
What habits do I have that need to change?
What do I need to say no to?
What wounds are arising to be healed?
I feel like I’m being sucked deep into the belly of the ocean, stripped of my energy and drive as I know it, disassembled and required to shed who I have been, knowing that one day a wave will rebirth me to shore. But that could be a while away and there’s work to do and parts of me to face before that happens.
I’ve heard people say you can’t prepare for menopause.
I don’t believe that.
Living attuned to your menstrual cycle and letting your inner seasons teach you, and nurturing relationships with wise elders who you can see shining brightly after coming out the other side… these are wise preparations.
And the more we talk about it, the more we can bring this initiatory process out of the shadows and into the light, and give it the dignity and possibilities for support and care it deserves.
Happy (belated) World Menopause Day!