When women approach their “change of life”, they usually fall into one of two camps: they are either elated for the changes that menopause will bring or they dread them .
If you fall into the former category, you may be reaching out for female wisdom from those who have walked before you with comfort, success and grace. You have a feeling of optimism about the future and what great treasures you will find inside yourself as you follow in their footsteps. It feels easy and unthreatening.
If you have no idea what that means, you probably fall into the latter category. You may need tools to reframe the experience and bring health and triumph that carries you from mother to “monarch”.
I like to think of the broad phases of a womans’ life as maiden, mother and monarch. This second half of a womans’ life, the longest phase, is the queenly reign. A time when she finally knows herself and can stand in her truth with power and direction. Whether she had children of her own or not, that decision is laid to rest and the focus for the remainder of her life is largely more inward. Peri menopause and subsequently menopause, is a natural time of the body slowing down in it’s reproductive cycle. But that doesn’t mean a slowing down of the woman! Many woman find the period of her life, pardon the pun, after menopause to be the most liberating and energizing, and even, the most sexually satisfying. The key is to take things into your own hands…pun intended. Education is empowerment. And menopause is no different.
You are Birthing Yourself
It starts with examining your perception of this life event. Just like when pregnant with a baby, if you listen to doctors, media and advertising campaigns more than you listen to your own life and experience, you probably think it will be a veritable hell. Symptoms of menopause range from mild hot flashes and slowing menses to more severe changes and outcomes such as longer, heavy periods, anxiety and depression, memory loss, hysterectomy or the threat of breast cancer on one side or heart disease on the other! Without estrogen replacement therapy some changes will naturally occur such as dry skin, greying hair and dips in libido. And the possibility of a higher risk of heart disease without it is a call to examine life choices not to medicate ourselves. It is the EXPECTATION that menopause, like it’s younger sisters, menstruation and pregnancy, will be hard, or even classified as a dis-ease that has me confounded. As I examined the choice of having young skin and hair at 60 years old versus a chance of breast cancer from taking HRT it seemed like an obvious decision. Aging gracefully was a conscious choice.
I went through menopause on the younger side of average. Giving birth to my twin sons at 41 years old, I realized that a hormonal chain reaction was set in motion. I was proactive about the possibility of “double” the post partum depression and went for regular acupuncture while pregnant. Whether it was the acupuncture or the two of them just being so darn sweet, I didn’t experience PPD but I did begin to experience other signs of erratic hormonal adjustment. It seemed to me that my body had worked hard to produce those two in all their healthy perfection and I had used up much of my stores. For a little while my hair loss was increased and mostly, my periods became shorter in their duration and in time between monthly cycles. This on again, off again cycle continued for a few years. I officially entered Menopause at age 47.
Our Choices Effect our Outcomes
There were two big factors in how I went through menopause- one on the plus side and one on the minus.
The biggest single impact in increasing my symptoms, the minus side, which eventually included some hot flashes and slight weight gain, resulted from a major life decision to end my marriage. It wasn’t an impulsive decision, mine was a marriage fraught with difficulty for more than a decade. It was a decision that simmered from my mid 30’s to my early 40’s. And this is the crux of the menopause issue in my mind. I chose to lead a life that begged and pleaded for my attention, while I tried to avoid it and placed my focus elsewhere just to avoid change in my world. The resulting symptoms that went unchecked, spoke to me much more emphatically when I entered my change. But menopause has a way of raising your inner voice and I heard it loud and clear and chose to listen. The final decision came after doing an impactful session of Hypnosis in which I saw myself at a fork in the road. The left hand road was the life I had been leading, easier to choose, nothing radical changed but was predictably less and less happy and, eventually, very unhealthy. I cried when I saw it. On the right, was a harder uphill climb, a new direction but one in which I envisioned myself living a long life full of happiness and fulfillment. The hypnosis didn’t change my reality but I was ready for the subconscious lesson I was receiving. So I cleaned out the cobwebs and righted my wrongs and took a full inventory of what I wanted and needed to be healthy and happy from that day on.
On the plus side, I have always been interested in my health and continued to do so. I do most things in moderation – I love walking, biking, yoga, eating an organic, mostly vegetarian diet, spending time with friends and sleeping 8 hours a night- oh, how I love my sleep! And I’m on a great career path as I love my job as a mentor and hypnotherapist. As I look back and see where I was headed only half a decade ago,I feel no regrets about the big changes I made. I feel great about how I transitioned from motherhood into monarchy and my sights are set on a deeper, more meaningful life where I take the harder left hand path rather than staying stuck on the easy right. And, although I don’t have a nuclear family anymore, I have a beautiful, healthy, loving one and I’ve crowned myself Queen of my experience. I’d have it no other way.
As I develop into a stronger, wiser, more full version of myself, it’s fun to share my stories. But my experience is just one voice, I would love to hear yours!
Janet Cochrane, CHt is a busy mom, a hypnotherapist, a lover of life and is trying her hand at blogging, writing poetry and short stories among other things.
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As I read a variety of resources I stumbled onto this fun and informative article: