The other side

DD and I celebrated the Day of the Dead on Sunday night with his work bestie and her partner. It wasn’t intentional, DD was in the mood for margaritas and it coincided with a significant date in the Mexican calendar.

We ate soft tacos and sipped tequila and talked A LOT. Well, the chicks did – she’s just as loud and chatty as me. The blokes managed to get a word in every now and then.

You can read about our bulk fun evening over at The Thirsty Travellers.

In other news, I just read an article in The Atlantic called “The Bitch is Back”. I thoroughly recommend it to middle-aged women or anyone trying to understand them.

It’s quite long and middle-aged lives are pretty busy, so I thought I’d share the parts that resonated with me, as a woman who has been there, bought the postcard.

The author, Sandra Tsing Loh, describes the part of peri-menopause that I’ve found most challenging – the mood swings – as “the sudden onset of a crippling, unreasoning gloom”.

She admits to being “a middle-aged woman who labors mightily every day to wear the mask of being sane, admitting to experiencing only the narrowest spectrum of emotions, from good-humoured cheer to only the lightest irritation.”

I hear you, Sandra. The struggle is very real.

She discusses how, at night, the depression and anxiety are “so much stranger and more intense”.

She writes: “The other night, I was awake at 3:24am as usual (melatonin, Tylenol PM, Ambien, forget it—I could take them all at once, paired with a bottle of wine, and still drive an 18-wheeler). As I lay in the darkness, all at once, the name Brian Hong surfaced in my consciousness and I experienced not a passing wave of despair, but despair simply moving in as a cold, straight tide.

“I have no idea who Brian Hong is—I was filled with gloom simply because of the name … Perhaps Brian Hong is the head of a small Asian nonprofit who several months ago earnestly if a bit keeningly e-mailed me, citing as a referral the name of a mutual friend, to ask if I would drive an hour down to San Pedro to give a free speech at a fund-raising benefit for a flailing youth center for depressed gay minority teens at 10am three months from now on a cloudy Wednesday.”

Now she finds herself lying in the dark haunted by her failure to respond to whoever Brian might have been. I also know that feeling far too well.

She notes that the middle-aged women who are “clawing their way one day at a time through this passage, have no rules—they glue themselves together with absolutely anything they can get their hands on”.

I am hopeful that my clawing days are drawing to a close. The hormonal hell seems to be receding – or at least becoming more manageable – and I feel a growing sense of peace.

The events of the last few weeks have crystalised many things – it’s a relief to no longer be constantly questioning my abilities and self-worth in the midst of it all.

I look back at when I blogged about feeling “contentment” and think it was more that I’d accepted the status quo. The bad stuff was easier to believe and I’d convinced myself I didn’t deserve better.

That’s no way to live.

As The Wisdom of Menopause author Christiane Northrup speculates, menopause may be “the reclaiming of self”.

She explains that during an 80-year life span, a woman is only fertile for about 25 years. Therefore it’s not menopause that is the hormonal “disturbance”, but fertility. It’s during fertility that a female loses herself in a cloud overly rich in estrogen.

When she emerges from that cloud, she “can rejoin the rest of the human race: she can be the same selfish, non-nurturing, non-bonding type of person everyone else is”.

I’m not sure selfishness is my goal. I simply want to be accepted and appreciated for being … as the diversity and inclusion gurus say … my “authentic self”.

I am tired of ducking my head apologetically when I have nothing to apologise about and being less when I want to be more.

I am an intelligent, knowledgeable, dynamic, capable, productive woman, hear me roar …

Song of the day: Helen Reddy “I am woman”

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