Thursday, May 1, 2008

Biology as Destiny?

The old 'new' way of thinking about women's cycles is that it's a nonevent. Puberty, pregnancy, menopause - just breeze through it, keep working, keep your chin up and all will be well.

However, many of us are flumoxed at the raging hormones surging through us, affecting our emotional stability, our moods, our performance at work, our sleep, our relationships. Our spouses are afraid to come near us at the PMS time, and during pre-menopause, my PMS lasted up to 2 weeks some months.

"Menopause isn't an event at all, but a process that takes place over five to seven years and as as many profound metaphysical, social and sexual layers of meaning as the passage of menarche, which ushers in a woman's fertility....The polemicists ....are often women frozen in an outdated era of feminism. Ignoring a host of new data that demonstrate some clear gender differences stemming, at least in part, from variations in male/female biology..." from The Silent Passage, Gail Sheehy

We are different, and stuffing our mood swings into the closet will not help us 'deal with it'. What I think we're missing is an understanding of the huge transition this end of our period brings up for us. We need to mourn certain things, grieve a little for what is dying, let ourselves lay low in the cocoon while we are changing, and celebrate the new self that is being born. It is a time to come to terms with past traumas and hurts, to make peace with our ghosts, with our selves. We learn to treat ourselves with compassion and kindness, as we would treat others. We learn to move more slowly because multi-tasking is no longer working for us.

Mostly, we learn to listen within. The needs of the inner being can no longer be ignored. A woman's cycle is something to get to know. Your inner workings are something to get close to. The ancient rituals and ceremonies surrounding Demeter and the Eleusinian mysteries were connected to the cycles of Mother earth, and of women. Our bleeding was once sacred. Our need for alone time was once respected and valued. Journalling, keeping track of your cycle, watching the moon's cycle to see how aligned you are, are just a few ways you can do this.

So don't get conned into thinking because we have equality in working status (in most areas), and parity on a salarial level, that we should just shut up about our bodies' needs at this transitional time, and keep on keeping on. If you are feeling exhausted, wired, overwhelmed, irrational and emotional, give yourself a break. Find out more about this peri-menopausal shift, this journey towards the self. There are many good books listed on this blog, but a very good overview is Joan Borysenko's A woman's book of life, or Dr. Christiane Northrup's Wisdom of Menopause. A little information and a lot of inspiration will make you feel less 'insane'. You are not insane, you are just finding a new balance. The old one won't work anymore.

Right now I am reading, The Change by Germaine Greer and The Silent Passage by Gail Sheehy. A new book, just arrived today, is Marianne Williamson's The Age of Miracles, Embracing the New Mid-Life - more about these in a future blog.

Let yourself breathe a little today. Just for today, accept how you feel, and breathe into it.

Embrace the power of doing nothing, if that's what it takes to make you feel better.
That's where I'm at this week, making little sabbaticals as I go,



bella said...

so much wisdom here.

Beverly Keaton Smith said...

Hey Jenn...nicely written and yes, yes yes!

Your Very Best Friend said...

Please read my blog, I need your help, your very best friend

motherwintermoon said...

Another great post, Jenn! Beautifully expressed. I second beverly's comment...yes, yes, yes!


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