Monday, March 5, 2007
Menopause - Good Grief
Nora Ephron’s new book of essays entitled I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman underscores the need for real wisdom from real women when going through the the transitions of menopause, midlife, and aging. “There are all sorts of books written for older women,” she writes. “They are, as far as I can tell, uniformly upbeat and full of bromides and homilies about how pleasant life can be once one is free from all the nagging obligations of children, monthly periods, and in some cases, full-time jobs. I find these books utterly useless, just as I found all the books I once read about menopause utterly useless.”
The goddesses would have loved her and welcomed her into our group like a sister. Because that is how we feel about the changes thrust upon us. Perky and upbeat doesn’t work unless and until we can go through the appropriate stages of grieving. Losses are occurring each and every day for us. We’d be crazy to be happy and excited by them in the beginning, maybe ever.
The stages of grief that we goddesses have gone through in the time we have been meeting are pretty much the same as the stages of any loss. Denial was broken through as soon as we found ourselves sweating like pigs, crying for no reason, and unable to sleep through the night. Depression, anger, and bargaining are continual themes in our lives just now as we help one another move toward some semblance of acceptance. Small wonder we can’t face either optimistic, cheerful tomes or dry medical renderings of physiology, symptoms, and treatment.
While these may have value, they do not speak to our experience. The upbeat, “menopause is such a great opportunity” books may be useful once we are accepting what is happening to us, but initially, we feel like we are ‘doing’ menopause wrong, because we don’t feel like it is a great opportunity. Yet. We just want to be understood and to understand, first. And honestly exploring these changes in a community of supportive women is the first step.