So far for me, the last 4 or so years haven’t been pleasant but I haven’t taken to my bed for more than a day, (okay, two, at the most.) When I’m feeling really down, I’ll usually call my sister for support. She is ten years older and has been through this and remained sane, for the most part. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not crazy. Plus, my sister always makes me laugh. I also take comfort in my two beautiful grandkids; Hayley, 6 and Ethan who’s 3. When I’m with them, I can’t help but smile. I believe that it’s almost impossible to remain depressed when you’re in the company of children or animals. Enter Marley. The kid’s one-year old, big, rambunctious black Lab. When he’s not jumping or slobbering on me, he’s chasing Eva, their cute, little black and white kitten. She’s so adorable, at least when she’s not in Marley’s mouth. I myself own a mellow, 5 year old cat, Scout, who is probably the only living creature that can stand to live with me right now. He’s pretty much clueless about my moods. When I have a crying spell, he doesn’t ask me what’s wrong. (If he ever does, I’d better change my meds.) He’s just there. And just the act of petting him is soothing and comforting. Animals have a sixth sense for there are moments when he’ll be very affectionate and won’t leave me alone.
So, as women, having to endure menstruation, PMS, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause, did we get the raw end of the deal? In the Garden of Eden when Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, I think God should have rewarded her, not punished her and all womankind for eternity. At least Eve was curious and showed initiative while Adam was content to remain somewhat clueless. Or maybe God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that only a woman had the strength to bear these painful rites of passage. Maybe God also knew that although they might be difficult, the rewards are well worth it. Because what I’ve come to realize is that with each stage of suffering we give birth to something beautiful, literally and figuratively. Menstruation marks the time when we emerge from the cocoon of childhood and into the mysterious, exciting and confusing world of womanhood; the proverbial caterpillar to butterfly metamorphous. Pregnancy and childbirth catapults us into the realm of awe, fear, love and joy of motherhood. And now menopause, well, I’m not sure yet who or what is going to emerge. Although my ovaries are “drying up”, as my doctor so eloquently put it, I am discovering that in other ways I’m blossoming. I’m reaching a new place of self-acceptance and dare I say maturity. Menopause is like a huge exhale; ridding myself of a lifetime of baggage that has weighed me down for so long. I’ve been holding in my stomach for over 40 years, for God’s sake, it’s time to let it out, once and for all. I’m letting go of some beliefs I have because I discovered that they were not my own. My relationships with family and children are being redefined. Although this process is sometimes painful it’s a necessary one. Besides, I don’t have much of a choice. I kind of look forward to seeing what kind of woman rises up from these ashes, left by repeated hot flashes. I hope she has cookies. But, then again, maybe I don’t.