My daughter took this photo in Melbourne early in 2020.
Contemplating my beautiful journey with her as a mother made me think of something that happened as she grew up. To be honest this is a little hard to admit! But for the sake of any woman approaching perimenopause, well, here I go ...
One day when she was 12, and I was 42, I found myself behaving like a crazy woman towards her, angry - behaviour that I'd never shown before in her young 12 years.
We all stopped for a silent moment, in shock I guess, no one saying anything, and then she broke the tension by bursting into laughter. She found it hilarious. Eeek! She’d never seen anything like it before.
I fell to the floor in shame and tears, so embarrassed at myself. I never knew I was in Peri-menopause and that my hormones were wreaking havoc on my body and emotions, affecting my work, how I felt about myself, parenting, and my relationship.
Hot flushes, poor sleep, weight gain, low libido, anxiety, foggy-headed, irritability, depression, vaginal dryness ... all of these and more are what women associate with menopause or perimenopause. These are indeed all at times, debilitating symptoms of this transition of life.
I find that women focus only on these outward symptoms because, well, of course, these are speaking the loudest. How can you ignore it!
But there are also some very positive and freeing aspects of this phase. And that awaken women to their deeper and truer path and potential. And it's this aspect that is ignored.
We are meant to go through this phase. However, so powerfully influenced and conditioned by media and society, even aspects of the fitness industry, that women are often striving to be more youthful and in particular, to look like they are 'together' all the time. This places enormous expectations on ourselves to 'be' a certain way. And women often feel like they are failing. At everything. And then can spiral further into depression or anxiety.
In truth, life can be messy. It can be freaking hard. And it can be heart-breaking. As we move through our 40's and beyond, many women have been confronted by some pretty heartwrenching stuff - relationship issues, breakups, health scares and challenges, illness, death of loved ones or friends, tragedy may have struck. These are traumatic events, and stressful. Stress has an enormous cumulative impact on our hormones.
'The hormonal system is so delicate that Leslie Kenton, author of Passage to Power, Natural Menopause Revolution likens it to a neverending symphony; as one instrument (hormone) comes to the fore, others recede into the background, the body always balancing and changing. A woman's estrogen and progesterone levels (the hormones needed for fertility) can change from one hour to the next and depend greatly on her thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as well as external events in her environment.
Kenton explains, the word hormone comes from the Greek word, hormao, which means "I excite". And this, she continues is exactly what hormones do. "They are messenger chemicals made in minute quantities in the brain or in special endocrine glands, such as the thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, and ovaries - sometimes even in fat cells - and then carried in the bloodstream to distant parts of the body where they control, activate, and direct the ever-changing system and organ functions, urges, and feelings that are you."
Kenton goes on to say that each woman is biochemically and spiritually unique, noting that, "So central are hormonal events to how women think and feel that it would be no exaggeration to say the female endocrine system is an interface between body and spirit." (Excerpted from Tantric Sex and Menopause)
I just love how holistically she began speaking on this subject in the '80s and '90s when there was very little known.
There are so many aspects to this journey for women. I honestly thought I was broken in so many ways. And now, at 60 and looking back, I know it's not true - never was. This transition is indeed an opportunity to embrace a metaphoric initiation into the true empowerment of being a woman. Never before have we been more confronted, yet more supported to be 'all that we are.'
So I am on a mission to help other women see the truth in this transition and that it is not something to fear, but to gain insight through.
I have been holding in-person events called Mindful Menopause with great reception and I want more women to feel empowered in this stage of their lives, so I am currently working away in the background to bring this online to further support and ease this transition from a holistic perspective. If you'd like to be the first to hear when this event is available online or locally in the Southeast Queensland region of Australia, let us know here on the event page.
If you have not read my book Tantric Sex and Menopause - Practices for Spiritual and Sexual Renewal, co-authored with Diana Richardson, I highly recommend it to help support a positive experience of this important transition in your life.
And just a little note: Womantime Retreat ~ Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Day Woman in August 2021 is SOLD OUT, but please click on the link to join the waitlist, if you're keen to join us this year. You just never know with all the uncertainty these days.
I'd love to hear about your questions, challenges, or insights in perimenopause, and beyond. Feel free to add a comment below.