Learning to live in the “middle” is challenging.
That’s what I came away with the most as the past decade ended and the 2019 chapter wrapped up.
I’ve wanted to write this piece for a while, actually probably a good two years, but struggled with how to accurately take on the challenge. I mean, it’s far from glamorous and to many completely uninteresting, yet for a large number of us (women) the struggle is indeed real.
So as I spent the last year listening to women who surround me, I realized there are many of us confused, frustrated and completely challenged by how to navigate this “pause” in our lives.
Now of course, the mother in me hesitates at going completely transparent as I happen to have kids who are proud of what mom does and well, this is not a Pulitzer-winning topic. That being said, it is one I wish more women had talked about prior to crossing the “meno” threshold myself.
I mean prior to entering this unforeseen part of life my experience was limited to mood swings and extreme body temperature and that came from memory when my mom’s journey began in her early 40s. That was a crazy time for anyone in her life, as we never knew when the moods would alter. Often times we’d use humor to remedy the effects, screaming “duck and take cover” as the “mood swings” would come into effect. This actually proved helpful as it made her aware and gave us a chuckle versus the alternative.
The extreme emotion proved to be the hardest part for me earliest in this phase of my life and if being completely honest, it still is a bit of a struggle. As a single mom in her next phase of life, it’s fair to say it is not really the ideal time to enter into a new relationship, but life has a funny way of testing us and so that is exactly where I found myself.
Midway through life, newfound facial hair (pretty I know), a metabolism on vacation in China, body temperature rivaling that of an Arizona summer and a personality once best portrayed by Sally Field – welcome to menopause.
If I were my guy, I’d be quick to think it was a classic single girl bait and switch. Our relationship began just as I thought I was on the downside of this chapter and as a healthy, fit woman, had come through it fairly unscathed – oh, silly me.
At the time of our connection I was not only in my best physical shape, but mental state as well (the two do indeed work hand in hand). Within six to seven months of our relationship starting, the bottom truly fell out, as I found myself going through extreme emotions which were completely unexplainable.
The pivotal moment came one day as I left for work and could not contain my tears. Turning to my life counselor and life warrior herself, I called my mom. I still remember saying the words, “I just don’t feel like myself anymore” – she met me for breakfast.
As we discussed options, I knew meds were not a route I wished to explore if possible.
Side note: As a woman living with epilepsy I have spent most of my life on medication, which I appreciate. However, whenever possible I like to explore options first and so I did and it worked. And then it didn’t.
You see, it seems that this chapter of life, lived by so many before me and so many more still to follow does not pass quickly. It tests us on a semi-regular basis, which causes us to exhale relief only to later wake in a puddle rivaling a great work out and think: are. you. kidding. me.
The Google search can be a great place for remedy and solution, it can also be a place where you feel even more lost or as if you lost your mind.
The latest hurdle, which logically I recognize happens, yet hit me quickly off guard is the changing of the hair texture. Think about that a minute, your grandmother’s wavy, textured hair did not look that way in the photos you saw from her “younger days.” Yeah, so that also happens and um … again, no one told me.
I find myself chuckling as I pen this, realizing that some readers might be reading and thinking, this girl really has issues. The reality of course is this is not about sharing “issues” but hoping this falls on eyes which may be in that spot of crying in your car or wondering what happened to my (once) full bodied hair – you’re not alone.
My point here is not to give you the answers, for each of our questions are vastly different and this is not a one size fits all chapter. I’m also not a doctor or licensed health specialist so there’s that.
I will offer a few things which have proved helpful and as I vow to have clearer vision in 2020, I’m placing these things on the top shelf of my life going forward. What you eat does affect your hormones, your mood and yes, your belly. Exercise is a great way to handle stress and set the mind straight. Personally, I recommend knocking that out at the start of each day – preferably when it’s dark and the world it asleep. I’ve come to learn it’s the best time, because no one can derail you by asking something of you; that will come later.
Sleep is a whole other topic, which is rare and interrupted during all of this. I will however offer that the two aforementioned items can indeed help you gain about six hours on a good day or two three-hour naps throughout the night. Currently I take what I can get.
In short, this “pause” period is no picnic, but we’re not alone. There is a sea of women out there just like us, getting emotional when they get cut off, wondering if their waist will ever return and begging the great universe for just “one” good night’s sleep.
But just as the women did who came before us, we will come through this chapter one way or the other. The challenge lies in deciding will we be a victim or a victor. Somedays, even I wonder, but what I know for sure is there are a lot of years left before me. So for now, I’ll google hairstyles for wavy hair, embrace the fashion of tunics, as I whittle my waist and always, absolutely always dress in layers.
Readers interested in learning or sharing products which have been beneficial during this phase of adulting, please e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.