It’s been a little over four years since my menopause rhapsody started. After I found out why I was having hot flashes at night and vaginal dryness was a reoccurring thing, anxiety and spiritual awakening took over.
“Do you think I’m crazy?” I asked my husband.
“A little,” he confessed, and I laughed as if I wasn’t crying or resisting the urge to lash out.
It’s hard–menopause and midlife. Adjusting to the signs of perimenopause, while coping with the reality that life as a younger, less tired person isn’t something any of us planned. But it’s part of life. It’s a phase few bypass unscathed.
And parenting during menopause is no joke either. It brings on a host of unplanned challenges. Try raising three young kiddos (eleven, eight, and four), while your body and hormones feel like they might snap at any moment, but it’s my normal I guess. It’s what I’ve come to accept day-in, day-out.
To help cope, I’ve had a lot of self-work:
- I’ve read and learned a lot about what is a midlife crisis for women and made a list of great books every woman should read in midlife.
- I’ve meditated on my passion and purpose and reflected on where I’ve been, where I want to be in the future, and in the process gotten to know myself much better.
- And, I’ve started a blog, Midlife It, to share my stories and connect with other women going through the same phase of life.
These little devotions sure have eased some of my stresses and answered many questions along the way. But my literal experiences with midlife so far? It’s been…strange and much different than I’d expected.
I suppose when I reached forty, I imagined being greeted by a circle of sage, gray-haired women and escorted into some sort of private club. Maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s not too far off from what I’d envisioned. In reality, I had the opposite. The day before my birthday, my husband surprised me with a solo-getaway to a luxury resort, forty-five-minutes away.
In a daze and a little nervous, I packed an overnight bag and headed out. I can’t remember the last time I’d had an entire day and night all to myself. When I checked into the room, I felt giddy–like the first time I was handed the keys to my studio apartment. It was one of those sensations I’ll never forget. I felt…whole, happy, and relaxed. No one needed my attention. No one demanded an equal say in what I was going to do next. And no one knew or could understand how badly I really needed that temporary separation from my family.
The whole two days–the dip in the private swimming pool, dinner and breakfast room service, and nearly every spa treatment–gave me perspective. I realized then, the first and only person who could carry me into my forties, was me. I was the sage, gray-haired woman. I forgot what it felt like to love myself, believe in myself, and take time to just be myself.
I realized then, the first and only person who could carry me into my forties, was me. I was the sage, gray-haired woman.Tweet
My next experience was recent. One of my close friends passed quite suddenly and unexpectedly. The death and midlife of someone I knew that was my age slapped me into the realization of just how unpredictable life can be.
“How would she want to be remembered?” I cried into the void that overcast, chilly fall evening.
After a few quiet moments, the dried prairie grass and withering wild flowers whispered back, “How would you want to be remembered?”
That was it. That was all it took to kick my weeping sorry butt into action. I don’t want to be remembered for what I thought about doing. I want to be remembered for the things I’ve done. And to be honest, I’ve got a pretty lengthy list of to-dos.
One of the things I wanted to put into action was building my tribe–connecting with other like-minded midlife women. Since my early thirties, making new friends hasn’t been easy, nothing like the college days when one could just meet people and make friends in quads or classrooms or parties. It was work. And I sucked at it.
Saying out loud, “Hey, I’m Tera. Want to be my friend?” felt so juvenile. Yet, the conventional ways of meeting these women weren’t working either.
Then, social media friends started reaching out. Once I weeded out the ones who only wanted to sell me something or suggest I promote my memes on their pages, I started to meet some great women. Missy Farrow, founder and blogger of popular site, Midlife Margaritas, was one of my first Midlife It supporters. I paced my bedroom trying to decide whether I should email her to ask if she’d be interested in exchanging guest blogs. After a lot of sweat and calming tea, I finally hit send on that email and within a day she responded and we started hashing out great content to share.
Since that first connection, everything has seemed to move at warp speed. Marcia Kestor Doyle (Menopausal Mother), Stella Fosse (erotic fiction author), Wendy McGee (Fit Fannie), Kathy Garland (Navigating The Change)–all of these women have become my surrogate sisters. They’ve each taught me something unique and memorable, but as a whole I’ve learned that friendships in midlife are just different. They’re not about the long, historical lives you’ve shared together. They’re about the here and now, finding depth in the limited amount of time we have left.
So far, my experiences with midlife have given me much to think about. While sometimes I still have to return to my list of coping skills, I usually come out better and happier as a result. I delve deeper into self-work, forgiveness, and compassion. And with all of the chaos and craziness, midlife has helped me reckon with the strange and different I would have probably shied away from years ago. Midlife has helped me welcome the surprises of unpredictability. And in the right light, I find myself reveling more and more in the unknown.
Tera lives in a little house on the hillside of the suburban Denver, CO. She’s a mom, wife, blogger, fiction writer, and sometimes has to get a side-hustle to pay for these creative outlets. As founder and visionary behind MidlifeIt.com, she shares personal stories, tips, and facts about midlife, menopause, and beyond. She’s one of those brutally honest friends with wit, warmth, and a little fire to keep you moving.
She’s always looking for another girlfriend to help her start trouble.
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