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Jul 9, 2014

The Great Transition

I had a great day yesterday. 

I felt so good.  I had energy.  I enjoyed my kids.  We cleaned and cooked together.  We danced and drew and played and sang together.  I bought new (used) books for us.  I felt like the me I most like to be.

Yesterday was a good day.  More noticeably so because I haven't had a lot of those lately.

It seems, you see, that I'm going through the "great transition" earlier than most women.  I won't go into the gory details but, historically, menopause has been a fairly rough transition for many women in my family.  And the same seems to be holding true for least so far.

I very often walk around in a somewhat zombie-like daze sapped of energy while my hormones wreak havoc in every part of me, fluctuating wildly day to day.  Some days I fear I'm going crazy.  Some days I'm a stranger in my own skin.  Some days I feel pretty good, almost normal.  Most days I feel unbalanced physically and mentally, and with me already being a very emotional, heart-on-the-sleeve kind of gal, so many daily physical and mental peaks and valleys are becoming overwhelming.

It sucks.  A lot. 

I know menopause is somewhat of a taboo subject for a public forum.  Much like depression, sex, trouble with kids, family secrets, adjusting to motherhood, really any out of the ordinary thing that happens in a woman's life - menopause is uncomfortable and awkward for people to discuss.  Women don't want to share their burdens, don't want people knowing their business, don't want to let on that they're not perfect, don't think anyone cares.  And those things are perpetuated by so many people saying, It's menopause.  A woman's burden.  Suck it up and get on with it.  No need to talk about it.  No need to cry over spilled milk.

And I agree that this is a natural, non-fatal burden every woman experiences.  But being who I am (an over-sharer) and being a woman in the year 2014 when women are generally tired of the whole suffer in silence, ignorance is bliss, hide your feelings and fears thing, well...

I'm officially saying screw that. 

I'm not super excited for everyone to know this about me.  I feel a little embarrassed about it, actually.  Which makes me mad.  Why should I feel embarrassed on top of every other weird and terrible thing I'm feeling?  This is a natural part of womanhood.  A naturally sucky part, but natural nonetheless. 

What I am saying is that it's okay to talk about it.  It's okay to reach out for answers and commiseration and ideas and advice.  I for one am tired of reading clinical BS that downplays symptoms, almost to the point of making it seem like women are just making them up.  Yeah, I'm really tired of that.

Thankfully I am blessed with supportive family and friends who listen and advise. 

I'm so grateful for them!

I have also read a stack of books that have helped me figure a few things out and am learning to advocate for myself with my doctor to find safe and effective options for me.  But I don't let on to many how terribly scary and foreign this feels to me, or how much I'm truly struggling with it.

I guess that's why I want to share this. It is a very personal thing for a woman to go through. The physical changes and mental drag in addition to the feelings of finality and loss at the end of a such a beautiful stage of's a tough pill to swallow.  Especially going through it prematurely.  Many women my age are just starting their families.  And here I am facing a phase of life that my body and mind don't feel mature enough to wrap around. 

Yup.  It sucks.  (Can you tell I'm still in the anger phase of this weird grieving process?)

But anger can quickly give way to laughter as the hormones dance their crazy jive, which has lead to some funny moments during this journey.  Like my poor Rich listening to me read a list of symptoms, both of us realizing how many I am already experiencing, and laughing a lot about it.  I mean, if you're interested and don't already know first hand, read a list of symptoms You'll see that they...well, they're ridiculously shitty.  There's just no nicer way to put it.  It's laughable how bizarre they can be in so many different ways.  

For those who suffer the worst of those symptoms, menopause is not the graceful transition into a gentler calmer stage of existence that it can be for some.  For those who suffer it seems our vitality and youthful vigor are busting their way out of us with a hellacious bang, dragging us to the front line of a fireworks finale...loud, long, combustible and unpredictable.

At the same time, I am fully aware that this is temporary. 

It's not a fatal illness.  It's not debilitating.  And it will end at some point. 

Having such a good, normal-Nicole day yesterday not only made me acutely aware of just how lousy I have been feeling, but, more importantly, it also made me acutely aware of how much worse daily life must be for people who do have debilitating or fatal illnesses or who have loved ones who are fighting those.  Like I said - I know what this is, it's not going to kill me and it will end.  And I'm extraordinarily grateful for that.  And that's kind of a big statement for me, because

it's hard to find gratitude and thank God when you're feeling like shit. 

But yesterday's glimpse of normalcy brought that into crystalline clarity for me.  It made me prayerful and thankful that this is but a temporary burden, not a death sentence.  And it made my heart break for those for whom the adverse is true. 

So this, like every other season of change in my life, is not something I'm gracefully, easily accepting and adapting to.  I am, unfortunately, just not built that way...I wish very much that I were.  I can't figure out how to go gentle or quiet into this new stage of my life.  I'm mad and confused and nuts and, instead of pushing those feelings down inside to add to the fiery chaos that's already burning there, I'm getting it out.

If I've done nothing but bore or gross you out, or made you roll your eyes and wish I had a stiffer upper lip, then that's cool.  I apologize for the offense.  But please know that I'll still be here for you when you go through this, if you need someone.

Because it sucks.

While prayer is so important and helpful and comforting, I'm a bit peeved at the big guy right now for piling this mountain of crap on women (of which he's fully aware - I talk to him all the time, mad or not). So talking about it with other people helps me. After all,

He made us to need one another. 

It's a much healthier and wiser thing for me to acknowledge my difficulties and to reach out to people than to go through life's super shitty moments alone.  Shouldering it alone does me no good, nor those around me. 

So I open up. Cry about it.  Laugh about it.  Share it. 

Maybe in the meantime I can help someone else the way others have helped me...and that makes it all worth it.

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