How to make peace with the Menopause
The menopause is a normal part of a woman’s life journey. It is not a medical catastrophe – it’s a transition.
Issues around our health can come up at this time because our bodies and psyches use any type of transition time to speak to us. This does not mean that our hormones are a problem that need to be managed or fixed; but rather that any difficulties around hormonal shifts are indicating something about our overall health which needs to be addressed. My message is to encourage women to listen to and trust their bodies so they are prepared for the transition.
The menopause is brilliant in that it is a very clear signal that we are getting older and can’t cut corners with our health anymore. I must emphasise that we are not going into decrepitude - in fact you can potentially go into some of the healthiest and most empowered times in your life at menopause. However, if you want really good, vibrant, older years, then pay attention to your health now; go and see a natural health practitioner for a check-up.
Menopause is the final key piece of around 35 years of the initiatory process of the menstrual cycle. I believe that if the wisdom of the menstrual cycle was restored to women then menopause wouldn’t be such a drama – they would be psychologically prepared for it and would have grown an inner capacity to meet it with greater equanimity. Unfortunately most women are turning up to menopause not having been taught how to engage with their menstrual cycle as an inner guide and self-care tool and so subconsciously there is a deep panic of the soul when this cycle comes to an end.
Read the interview on 'How to make peace with the menstrual cycle’ here.
Menopause can also be challenging because we haven’t had empowering cultural messages about being an older woman. This is starting to change but for most women there is still a sense we are no longer the wanted ones; we are no longer seen as intelligent or useful or meaningful even though actually we are stepping into what is probably the most powerful phase of our lives.
The first signs of the initiatory journey of the menopause usually happens in our 40’s when women start to ask: ‘What about me? What’s my life about?’ And also start to examine their role in the household and the meaning of their life in general. Your 40’s are about coming into yourself and tending to what’s important to you, what you need to change. It is vital that you pay attention to this to avoid huge drama when you hit menopause.
A classic first big moment of the menopausal transition is when you suddenly notice your cycle’s rhythm becoming irregular, or those other signs of ageing: the falling hair or wrinkles. For some women this prompts the urge to run to the doctor for HRT. Denial and wanting to run away from ageing is a normal reaction at this point and I would advise you here just to observe and love yourself and this tendency. It is tragic when women surrender their authority to their doctor to ‘manage’ the menopause; instead you need to stay true to your inner feelings and your changing mood and energy and hold onto the knowledge that you are being guided through this transition by something inside of you.
Around the time you are having your last bleedings you can feel uneasy; the cycle begins to break up, the familiar ground goes from under you. It’s normal to feel a little lost, like you don’t know who you are anymore, like you are being undone. This is the time you are doing the heavy (inner) work of menopause and the more you are connected with the menstrual cycle and you acknowledge this, the transition will be easier.
The most important thing you can do as a menopausal woman is to slow down; there’s a huge need for rest – to drop your bundle and surrender. Then you make time to listen to your inner guidance which knows what changes you need to make and you can start sifting through your life like sorting through paperwork: this is in / this is out / this is not working for me anymore / I need more of this. This is also a time to make peace with old griefs, hurts and failures and any feelings of disappointment about how your life has turned out.
I also encourage women to have some kind of reflective practice like writing a diary or going to a women’s circle – a way to take quiet time away from normal life and have space to listen to your inner voice.
The menopausal upheavals are a process. After the initial distress, panic, grief or anger you will find yourself gradually emerging into a place of ease and acceptance where you start to notice the shoots of a new, exciting post-menopausal life. You are more rested and you’ve got rid of the things in your life that no longer serve you. You come out of menopause liberated; no one is telling you who you are any more - you can finally name that for yourself, and this is such a wonderful and empowering feeling. This self-acceptance is not narcissistic but liberates you from your personal baggage so you become free to get out there and become a channel for the knowing and huge power you have. You now finally and fully come home to yourself and step into your own unique calling.
You can find out more about Alexandra’s work on her website www.redschool.net.