There have been a few times over the last few years when my husband has asked me, “Does this mean you are going through the change?” Since I had not been through the change yet, I would say, “I don’t know, maybe.” All the while thinking, “I don’t think this is the change,” and yet all the while wondering, “Is this the change?”
Women talk about going through menopause as if it is a devil of a thing. Why is that? Well, it comes with hot flashes that melt the makeup right off your face, and mood swings that have you on an angry rampage one second and in a puddle of tears the next. Weight gain, night sweats, heart palpitations, incontinence, bloating, irritability, and allergies are all signs hailing the onset of menopause. Why would anyone dread that?
I read an article recently that exposed thirty-four symptoms of menopause. I stopped counting when I had reached about fourteen that I have or have had. I can remember the first night I woke up from a deep sleep to the feeling of sweat running down my thighs. Too much information? Well, you should probably stop reading now.
I jumped up out of bed to find that the sheets beneath me were soaked through. I literally had to go get a towel and dry off. I changed my night shirt and underwear and slept the rest of the night on top of a towel… all while Matthew slept soundly, unaware of the commotion on my side of the bed. Lucky duck.
Hitting that menopause wall is hard for a lot of women. It signals the end of one era and the beginning of another. Lots of times it feels like you have completely lost control of your body and your mind. Sometimes it’s the first time we women ever give any consideration to the fact that we are not really timeless. We realize that even though we don’t want to have more children, we soon won’t be able to even if we did want to.
Which we don’t.
But it still bothers us.
I didn’t say any of this made any sense.
That’s probably the most frustrating thing about menopause. It does things to our bodies that just don’t make any sense. If we remember back to puberty, we can agree that the things going on in our bodies didn’t make sense then, either. It was a season, just like menopause is a season. The difference in seasons for us is that puberty meant the start of something, while menopause means the end of something. For some of us, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
For most of us, menopause will last about ten years. That’s quite a sentence… for us- AND our spouses and children. There is plenty of literature and articles out there to help women navigate these years. Some of it is good, and some of it is snake oil. Some doctors offer hormone replacement or antidepressant therapy. Some encourage exercise and diet change…
Can we just stop always talking about exercise and diet change?!! (Sorry, lost it there a second)
I think the worst thing we can do while facing menopause is to keep quiet about it. Women need to talk, no matter in what stage of life we find ourselves. We will weather these years better together; together with our girlfriends, and together with our spouses. Remember, the sweet loving woman he thought he knew has gone on a bit of a hiatus… we need to assure him she will be back. He needs to see glimpses of her from time to time.
We can’t expect our husbands to know how to deal with us any more than we know how to deal with ourselves. We have to tell our spouses what we need during this time. We need his patience. We need to hear that we are still beautiful, wanted, and secure in our relationships…
When we got married, it was our dream to grow old with the man. Well, sister, this is where the rubber meets the road… This is where it begins, and it really is a beginning. For most of us, the best really is yet to come, and I am not just talking about grandchildren! (Although, that’s going to be pretty awesome!)
I had the great privilege of hearing John Maxwell, 68, speak recently and he said this, “I’m going to live until I die.” I think I will do that, too. Menopause is just a thing, and it’s not even a huge thing. Just like puberty, it will pass. Let’s focus less on what’s happening to us, and more on what God can still do through us. Menopause wants us to focus on ourselves, making life all about how we feel. We’ve never been able to trust our feelings before, and we certainly can’t now.
In Psalm 42, the psalmist is downcast and he doesn’t understand why. He is struggling. Sound familiar? But then, with each struggle, he reminds himself to put his hope in God and to give him praise. God is our refuge and strength, our ever present help in times of trouble. Our bodies? Our emotions? They will fail us, but God never will.
Menopause is a big ol distraction. Let’s just deal with it and get on with the business of living. There are a lot of things I have left to do, and so do you.