Hot, Hotter and Hottest.
I shall write my five hundred or so words on Menopause. I will not go on about empowerment, nor wisdom or coming into one’s own or any of that because for me this last summer of menopause has been one of daily misery.
I am like the old cubby house that I built in those days when I was Queen of the house. It is like me. It still leans against the paling fence, its concrete floor inscribed with the names of children and myself all now fifteen years older. Fanciful tulle curtains draped by childish hands to cover the windows are now draped by the weather’s whims and wishes...a bit like me trying to get my lipstick onto lips that have almost disappeared. Hm!
I feel as rejected and unused as the old cubby house. Quietly falling apart in the oppressive humidity; becoming part of the quivering, crawling moistness; sort of rotting away. I do feel like the old cubby house...”Yes its still there...remember all the fun we had in it!”
Is this how I really feel? Will it pass when the furnace dies down again inside me, and my flood of weeping eases? Do I need more Meno Eze...Remifemin? How in hell am I supposed to know?
Why can’t I stop crying? I see my own mother’s eyes looking back at me from the mirror...did she feel like this and I didn’t realise? Didn’t notice at all? Was I too busy to really see my own mother? Did she also grieve periodically, having to be the healer, the holder the lynchpin...till emotionally empty she cried the shit out of herself...as I do?
Is this really me in the bathroom mirror, hiding out with the door shut as I cry...writing these thoughts down...not a wardrobe drinker but a water closet writer...still can crack a joke huh?
Eyes swollen; piggy= like...looking like a crazy woman...a blowsy woman in my mirror. Can this possibly be me says a voice inside from somewhere far off? Trying to stop and regain control. There are visitors in the house and I must appear normal because if I don’t then they really will start to think I have lost it. I am really aware of maintaining control...for this very reason. The grip on appearing as I should is probably a good thing although it does not feel like it.
Trying to stop the flood, the flow but unable the cease the awful exhalation of everything inside that is coming out.
I drip...brow, eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, neck, chest...and when does the next three monthly or six monthly flood suddenly pour out of me...unannounced? Hopefully I will be at home.
I am burning up from a constant furnace in my chest, where I hold all my emotions...and almost hourly it seems to flare up into my head leaving me exhausted. Sapping my energy, deconstructing confidence which I took for granted but which was won after years of my beating at invisible walls.
Oh God! How many more Summers will be like this? Power surges...what a lot of crap. How floaty and Yankee Oprah Winfrey style speak...How clever! How enlightened! How much of a con job is that? Yet another one to face down...denying my reality? If its so great for everyone else then the old guilt trip...”well then, whats wrong with me?” has to be addressed in this fast becoming evangelical- style, politically- correct way of growing older.
I am so bloody hot all the time. My husband searching my eyes in concern and fear (of the unknown!!) when I release the pressure valve I must release in a torrent of words, tears and sweat.
My daughters both in their twenties, might look away and be wickedly amused if I fumble a bit too long with my bags, or get a bit flustered, but these days its not with embarrassment ( I assume). I feel their compassion and kindness and that is the greatest gift I can have. That they see me as a person in my own right, who is also their mother, and its no big deal if I am not the same every single time they see me. As a reward for their kindness I assure them that when its their turn, it’ll all be taken care of naturally of course...I hope it is but its laughable to think I can reassure them when I am in the middle of it myself.
But conversely there is a part of me that sits somewhere in a high place inside me, inside all the dripping, sweating, hot, blowsy, flustered, clumsy outer layers of me...sits somewhere closer to God...a part of me which sits inviolate, allowing that the raw and rough Celtic...”anything might and probably will happen” berserker in me is growing, being healed and honed by all of this human experience that the rest of me wonders if anyone ever needs. If only to have empathy for others, for what our Mothers endured so stoically...those that did not become institutionalised.
For too often my life feels as if I have stepped into the current of a raging river and I am no more than just dead wood in a summer flood. Sometimes I feel like I have no feelings, lacking excitement, interest, hopefulness...behaving methodically...(its a way to get what has to be done , done for those of us with no choice), when out of the blue I discovered that the Scottish Annals and Irish Annals both showed identical datelines for the birth, death and battles of a king called Arthur...so there is nothing wrong with me...history excites me; learning new truths excites me; realising and understanding new concepts; seeing our girls as people who can understand that their mother is excited by these things...and realising that they also feel the same way about these sorts of things...Knowing that what really excites me is inside...inside that part of me that sits apart and never changes except to grow. But I knew all this years ago, being Menopausal didn’t allow me this insight.
SO...if and when I finally emerge from the world’s worst menopause...(when have I ever done or felt anything moderately?}...let me not ever forget what it felt like, nor put on rose coloured glasses...and imagine it as the best time of my life. I’d probably fog the bloody rose coloured glasses up these days anyway. It is not the best time of my life. It is one of the very worst times of my life and I see nothing at all positive about the reality of menopause as far as I am concerned. I used to feel great, superb, supremely healthy and now I am just hot, hotter or hottest, depending on the stress levels, the outside temperature and my hormonal nightmare.
Perhaps the lesson is...”This too shall pass”, and if I resist the con jobs of the mega industrial / pharmaceutical money making conglomerates who are in full forward throttle, assuring us that there is a gene for every known ailment, and emotional condition, and if we just keep giving generously to all their cutsey wutsey fund-raising events, “a cure fer what ails ya” is just around the corner, a con job which is dangled daily before my eyes as people I know laud the benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy, and wonderingly look at me hoping that soon too I will hop on the Hormone cash register, and “feel the immediate benefits” like them. Its the long term benefits I am after...and I wonder why my sister with breast cancer was warned never ever to use HRT...if there is no danger! And why are GP’s being asked to advise all women beginning HRT to have a Mammogram before they start? And why does the largest study on HRT for menopausal women show a massive rise in breast cancers in women who have used HRT...as high as 50% for those who have used HRT for a few years and over 26% for short term users? This is on top of already high rates of breast cancer events in modern women, young and old. So...for all the anger and negativities and all of that...perhaps it is endurance, patience and acceptance that are the life lessons for me right now.
I was very surprised and pleased when I mentioned this to one of my daughters (in their twenties) that she said, “Mum, YOU don’t need to learn any more about endurance.” It made my day to know that she understood at a deep selfless level my reality...but my life ;lessons will be only over when I have drawn my last breath. In between that are hopefully many years of reflection and contemplation till finally I draw one last earthly breath and exhale into ...What? Perhaps my time for objective self observation. Now that will take some patience, endurance and acceptance.
There is plenty of information available on the dangers of HRT. (Sherill Sellman’s “Hormone Heresy - What Women Must Know About Their Bodies” is essential reading for all women. Available Nexus PO BOX 30 Mapleton QLD. 2560 for $35 Ph 07 54429280
Therese Mackay 2001 & 2002