The one thing you can be sure of about the menopause, just like puberty, is the inevitability of it. After all, if I am lucky enough to reach old age, I have to pass through this particular gate. And I wish to do it with a sense of anticipation rather apathy…or dread.
Like most of us, I have weathered a fair few storms in my life. I am stronger now that I have ever been before.
However, if I’m honest, I’ve not been fully aware through most of them. In the majority of cases, I have woken up to the impact of my changing circumstances at some point during the transition. Usually, during a period of intense pain (emotional or physical). In one case, the veil lifted only decades later.
For example, my passage across the threshold into puberty – some 36 years ago – began without any kind of map. Like a newly born fawn, I stumbled through the changes that came my way. With weak legs (sometimes quite literally, from the sheer intensity of my periods), I fell into my twenties with no real grace.
For the most part, I was unaware of the changes that were taking place. Sure, I lived them. But I didn’t understand them. Nor was I prepared for them. I had precious little more than the perfunctory information necessary to drift into adulthood. And I definitely didn’t recognise it for the significant milestone it was.
I wasn’t initiated. I just got older. But I was lucky. I came through, more or less, unscathed. However, knowing what I know now, I realise the whole experience could have been so much richer.
In the years since I’ve noticed the signs of menopause on the horizon, I have chosen to do things differently. I am saddened that I didn’t acknowledge my first bleed. And I am determined to be ready to honour my last.
Thankfully, taboos are being broken. It is becoming more acceptable to talk about menopause and we have just marked World Menopause Day. There are rumblings, like the distant thunder that comes before the refreshing rains. We are slowly losing our obsession with youth. We are beginning to remember that with age comes wisdom, even freedom.
We will all experience things differently so the specific support we need will be equally varied. My holistic training and practice have taught me that we need to attend to the following three things in equal measure. To make my menopause matter, these guide me as I begin the traverse across this unfamiliar landscape:
– How are you feeling about approaching your menopause?
– What support do you need?
– Where and how is your body seeking attention?
– What might help?
– What will being a menopausal woman mean to you?
– How can you honour it?
The answers to these questions will help you decipher the balance of support that will be most beneficial as you make your journey. If you’re not sure, I’ve created a free worksheet to help you find some clarity. Additionally, for those in the UK, I am hosting a one-day mini retreat to offer in person support.
For example, it may be your body that is calling out for more attention right now. In which case you might be looking for more detailed support with the physical changes you are experiencing. Programmes like The Change Plan offer a great resource for those wishing to get a handle on these.
Or it may be that, for now, you feel more drawn to better understand the deeper implications of moving from a woman who bleeds to one who doesn’t. The Red School offers a unique, even spiritual, perspective on connecting with your changing cycle.
Perhaps everyone might do well to consider some kind of celebration. Whether at the first signs of menopause or sometime after your final bleed. Make it a party by all means but be sure to infuse it with some kind of ceremonial observance too. The right celebrant can help you create something meaningful.
Above all else, I hope you are able to see your menopause as more than a collection of symptoms to be managed. Honour it as a coming of age and find your own way to grow older as gracefully (or disgracefully) as you please!