Can I just say what an honor it is to be here?
Lynette has created a true treasure trove here at MGB. How many of us have been supported through the straits of menopause by her caring touch, her sensible guidance and her tickling humor? Want to know why your hair’s drawn like a magnet to your shower drain? Or why even your pajama pants seem to be permanently shrunken? Or how to make sense of the new you?! MGB’s search box is your “Ask Lynette”.
As the ‘newest’ Menopause Goddess on the block, I’d like to take the menopause conversation from the ‘what to do’s’ to the ‘why is this happening?’. Why indeed? If I had only one word to answer that, it would be ‘change‘. Apparently menopause is all about change. Let me explain what I mean …
Menopause is confronting, there’s no two ways about it
Many of us enter perimenopause without forewarning. We know it’s coming down the pike, but since we’re not exactly looking forward to it, we think it’s only going to happen around 51 (the average age of menopause) and we’re in our 40’s and bleeding regularly so we put it out of our minds.
Next thing we know, we start to feel different, and it’s not a nice different. We find ourselves irritated by things that never bothered us before. We hear our grandmother’s refrain echoing in our heads: “Is it hot, or is it me?” It might take the proverbial sledgehammer to realize what’s happening, like when we’re jolted awake by raw panic at 4 am. Or when we find ourselves looking twice in the mirror because we no longer recognize ourselves. Or when we start forgetting everyday words, our keys and the dim and distant past when we felt turned on.
Sooner or later, the reality of being at the gates of the next phase of our life becomes unavoidably evident. And when it does, we find we have a choice. We can either sink into despair – this being “the beginning of the end” with our lives going downhill from here, or …
… we can let the challenges of menopause help us change
Through the centuries, menopause has been called The Change of Life. Nice sentiment but as we all know by now, change is hard. Why change when we’ve got by so far – even though we know there are some old familiar habits that we know aren’t great for us. Like this millennium’s nicotine – sugar (“I’m not looking to see if there’s sugar in yogurt, too!”). Or those moments in our relationships where we feel that small stab of disrespect or being taken for granted (“Mom, I’ll do the dishes later, my friend’s waiting for me.”). Or those judgmental inner voices that we don’t even notice anymore (“You should have let them know what you need, you’re a grown woman!”). We get complacent, we feel obliged to lie in the bed we’ve made, we learn to tolerate these little “infractions”, we resign ourselves to how we are, how life is, how the people around us are …
… until our bodies have enough and insist – gently at first, and then louder – that our lives need an overhaul. What’s happening, as our hormonal profiles change at midlife, is that our needs change too. Our bodies start to speak up on our new needs’ behalf. They hope and pray we’ll take the time to listen. If we do, we have the opportunity to step into a collaborative relationship that can guide us through the all changes we need to make to not only alleviating our symptoms but to set us up for a healthy and fulfilling second half of life. This is the unexpected gift of menopause!
I know, taking a pill to make the unpleasantness go away has much more appeal – it’s so much easier to be told what to take, and then just carry on doing what we’re doing, right? Yet, somewhere deep down we know that sooner or later we’re going to need to change how we’re pushing ourselves, to slow down and take stock. If you’re experiencing symptoms, your body is letting you know the time is now. It’s time to tend to your relationship with yourself. It might even be time to give yourself some good old-fashioned loving as you tend to your own wellbeing. If that sounds like a leap, from hot flashes to self-love, you’ve come to the right place.
Adapted from Ashley’s upcoming book, The Conscious Menopause Survival Guide
As a gift to her new MGB friends, she’d love to chat with you about your menopause challenges. Contact her for free 20 minute phone/skype consultation at ashleyjeanneross.com/conscious-menopause.
Ashley offers Conscious Menopause coaching in San Rafael and via Skype. You can read more on her website ashleyjeanneross.com.
Being single at this age is a struggle – wanting a partner yet being alone. Friends are busy with their spouses and kids. I want to feel valued.
Dear Ann ~ yes, thank you for naming the difficulties we women have when we dont fit the ‘normal’ social template. And yes, we all want to be valued for who we are – it’s actually our birthright, and a powerful antidote to our struggles. The consensus from our Conscious Menopause circles is to use the change we feel happening in our bodies and minds to turn our attention to how we value ourselves. Hmmm, in what way are we mistreating ourselves …
I am just starting down the road of perimenopause. I had a partial hysterectomy in 2008, so I still have my ovaries. I don’t have hot flashes or night sweats, but I am feeling the bloating, weight gain, lack of wanting to exercise, and vaginal atrophy (as my gynecologist put it). I think the part I struggle the most with is this slow weight gain trying to creep up. I ran marathons until knee surgery 4 years ago. Now, I hike on weekends, but it is not enough. Ugh…
I am not yet in menopause yet but am 50 and I think I am almost there . One thing I am experiencing is very irregular periods from heavy to non stop spotting is this normal ??
Yes, Beth, it is normal. As we move through perimenopause our hormonal profile changes until it finally settles into what I like to call our Full Womanhood a couple of years after menopause (which is after 12 months or 13 moon cycles after our last period). For a more detailed read about the changes you might experience and what to do about them, you can type ‘heavy bleeding’ into the search box at the top of this page.