It’s the start of a new month, a new week and, as it’s now a year since my last period, I’m declaring it the start of my Cronehood, my age of wisdom. For some reason the thought of being an old woman amuses me greatly. It feels liberating, almost joyous, as if I have achieved a goal. Which, in a way, I have, even though being freed from what was, for me, the painful and debilitating curse of menstruation is not quite as physically pleasant as I anticipated.
Hot flushes are vile, insomnia and other ME/CFS symptoms are exacerbated and it’s been quite a shock to discover than one does literally become a “dried up old stick”. I’ve had to learn new ways to care for my gut, eyes, skin and hair. I don’t mind my hair going grey, but I do mourn the loss of condition and the fact that it no longer grows as luxuriantly as it used to. I have few vanities about my appearance, but I did enjoy my abundance of thick chestnut-coloured hair (once I got past the era of childhood teasing that red-heads tend to experience).
On the other hand, the gradual lessening of hormone-induced mental and emotional turmoil is such a relief. At first it was difficult coping with the more random upheavals that occur as the hormonal tides begin to falter. The predictability of menstrual cycles did at least mean that I could plan around them. I knew when I was likely to feel over-sensitive or depressed, when I would be in pain and weakened by the flood. With menopause everything becomes totally unpredictable – there’s no regular bleeding, but hormonal fluctuations still occur and at times I experience deeply unpleasant and somewhat scary mood swings.
Menopause isn’t called “the change of life” for nothing – I do feel like a different person, while still containing all the selves I have been over the years. I still have much to experience on this journey. I may be technically post-menopausal in medical terms as it is one year since I last menstruated, but much is still in flux… At puberty you feel you have all the time in the world to do anything you want to do. At menopause you know your time and options are limited (even more so if you are in poor health). I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do like new beginnings and the feeling of optimism they bring.
At some point I’d like to do something other than write a blog post to mark my Cronehood, but so far I haven’t come up with any ideas that feel right. Still, I wanted to record the fact that today, right now, I feel content and grounded in my aging process, even though almost nothing in my life is what my past selves hoped for or anticipated. Perhaps later I’ll bake a cake and offer a piece with a libation to the gods, but right now I need a rest.