Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Menopausal Journey as Rite of Passage

Is menopause merely the cessation of your period?  Is it about losing your memory, having hot flashes,  and losing your fertility? Or is it a mid-life reorientation project? Do you feel like you're falling down the Rabbit Hole?

This journey you are embarking on somewhere in your forties is a deeper phase to your woman's journey, a developing and a continuing and it involves a lot of unknowing. It felt to me like being in a labyrinth in the woods, a circular path that branches out and leads in so many different directions it's really easy to get lost.

What is the path of a woman's life?  Especially a woman who decides to have children, who gives over her body to create another body.  How does she regain her center (if she has lost it) and how does she keep those boundaries clear - me, us, them? How does she find herself again? Menopause is part of that journey towards finding yourself in mid-life.

Menopause is not an overnight thing. It creeps up on you slowly. You don't notice it happening until one day you realize your period hasn't come this month, or maybe you’ve skipped two months and your pregnancy test comes back negative.  Then it comes back again for six months, so you forget there's something going on.  Or suddenly you notice your PMS has increased to two weeks out of the month, and if you really stop and look at it, you see your emotional landscape is a little out of whack.  Or maybe you just aren't sleeping well at night and all the Chamomile tea or hot milk can't calm the hyper little gerbil running in its cage between 2 and 4 a.m.

There are many different physical symptoms and lots of websites to describe them to you, everything from sore joints to hot flashes and heart palpitations. What my blog tries to point to is not the symptoms, but the journey.  It's as if you are on the highway to Ottawa from Montreal, and took a side road without realizing it.  You look up and wonder where you are, the landscape doesn't look familiar, the trees are in the wrong place, and the road signs post names of towns you don't remember or recognize. You need to figure out where you are.

One way you can honour your not knowing is by standing still.  The first thing to do when you feel lost is to stop running in circles, stop pretending you know where you are.  Stop and ask for help.

Someone who has been there before may help you. Someone who has been lost and found the way home again.

This mid-life woman's way has been largely uncharted till recently.  The women who came before us perhaps felt 'women's stuff' didn't matter, or the subject was so taboo, no one actually talked about it.  Or they were told it was just their uterus being hysterical. The male hero story describes the quest of the masculine, but where are the stories of the Feminine Quest?

It is time to honour your own knowing, your own woman’s journey.  Questing. Know that the way out is the way in.  Going down and in will lead you up and out.

To help you with this rite of passage, I have written The Tao of Turning Fifty, What Every Woman in Her Forties Needs to Know. Check out my website at for a free excerpt.

Take good care now, and stay in touch,

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mxtodis123 said...

I was one of those very lucky ones, a rare case that had no symptoms other than irregular menses for several months. I was 47 when I had one heavy menstrual, so heavy it was almost like a hemorrhage for one day and then it was gone, never to return again. No hot flashes, no mood swings, no depression, nothing. I was blessed yes, but I sometimes wonder if this rite of passage just passed me by.

jennifer said...

it's never to late to make a ritual for yourself, if you want to celebrate the passing of your menses. What can you give thanks for?