When Karen Leland first approached me about a Huffington Post piece on The Big M, she asked a series of questions. She’s also the Life-Balance Examiner for Examiner.com, so her first question was appropriately "How do peri-menopause and menopause affect a woman’s sense of balance in her life?" I answered her this way.
"A woman’s sense of balance is affected completely. Totally. Utterly. If a woman has managed to attain a certain level of balance in her life prior to these transitions, it will astonish her how completely "unbalanced" she will suddenly feel with the advent of the Big M.
The worst of it is not knowing what to expect or what is happening. Time and again, women will say to me "I thought I was going crazy."
There is good news, however, and HOPE. First, the worst of it is temporary. A goddess may be in for a tough year or two and things never completely return to our Pre-M state, but the ups and downs even out and balance is again attainable.
And, if we are prepared for this momentous transition, if we know what to expect, and that it’s temporary, we can handle it. After all, we’re women! We have reservoirs of strength. We give birth, for crying out loud!
And it may turn out that we give birth again, to a new self."
Ultimately, she pulled from my other answers specifics for a top 10 list of tips for becoming a menopausal goddess. The final tip addressed the "brain fog" aspect of the Big M. It was to be gentle with yourself when you put the mail into the refrigerator. When I gave that answer, I felt very balanced and sure that I was speaking with the voice of crone wisdom.
Alas, in a bizarre life imitating art moment, I was able to test this tip for myself today. I lost, or more likely misplaced, my checkbook. After calmly looking in all the usual places, (purse, check drawer, under the seats of the cars) I demanded that my husband join the search and/or tell me what he’d done with it. He hadn’t used it, but jumped into the fray.
Ordinarily he is the creative, right brained partner and often misplaces things in plain site. At these times I urge him not to worry, to be calm, to stop looking and the missing item will turn up. In an irritating role reversal, this time, he invoked the calm voice of reason, while I was having a panic-driven meltdown, tearing through the entire house looking EVERYWHERE for the motherloving CHECKBOOK! Which I still haven’t found! And yes, I even checked the fridge. Note to self: refrain from being logical, voice of reason when next Dewitt has hissy fit over a misplaced object.
So an amendment to that final tip: Be gentle with yourself when you can’t be gentle with yourself, because your freaking brain went on the fritz again. Just when you thought you had it all together.
I finished my interview with Karen, telling her that I believe that Menopause is a wake-up call. It starts out as a horror story, but with the support of other women, it can turn into a most amazing coming-of-age story One of the worst journeys you never wanted to take might morph into the best trip you’ve ever been forced to endure. I still believe this, even in unbalanced moments such as this one. Menopause. It truly can herald the best part of our lives. (But it’ll really piss us off first.)