Menopause is a call to change. This is the time to “pause,” listen to the wisdom of the body, evaluate the first half of life, and create a vision for second half. It is the time to grieve losses and let go of old ways, self-limiting beliefs, and unhealthy relationships. It is a time to journey inward, to find and express your deepest passions, to find your most authentic voice, and to craft a life from your essence.
Loss is a recurrent theme in menopause and midlife. What are the dreams we had about how we thought life was supposed to be that we now know we will not realize? What are the disappointments in love? The losses of loved ones? Changes in lifestyle? Menopause challenges our identity and asks us to let go of who we were and allow space for new parts to emerge. It is a time to allow ourselves to deeply grieve our losses.
Depression, a common experience in menopause, has many faces and causes. It can be anger turned inward, a life unexpressed, simple fatigue, or a serious biochemical condition requiring professional attention. Allow yourself to go inward, find the gifts of the dark, challenge the beliefs of hopelessness and victimhood, find and express your anger, cry, and give yourself permission to be. When you are ready, expose yourself to early morning sunlight, take a long walk, use natural mood stimulants, dance, sing, listen to music, and have a long talk with an intimate friend.
Christiane Northrup, MD says in The Wisdom of Menopause that women going into menopause with serious unresolved emotional issues and unexamined lives have more acute symptoms and a more difficult passage. Attitudes, beliefs, and recurrent thought patterns have a major impact on this transition. Allow the call of menopause to highlight long-held themes and resolve to do whatever it takes to find peace with them.
The filters to warding off our fears often drop during hormonal changes. Stand in them with your warrior energy, knowing you are more than your fears and you have deep wells of wisdom to answer them. Listen to your fears, share them, and let them inform new ways to set boundaries and create safe spaces in which you can deepen your understanding of yourself.
The hormonal veil lifts and becomes thinner between the conscious and unconscious mind. We see more, and we are less willing to abide the injustices and abuses in our life and in the world. Sometimes it feels impossible to stifle a scream. Our anger can be a great teacher during this passage, and it pays to find a safe way to express it. Anger can help mobilize the courage to change. We can find our passion on the other side of rage.
In I Will Not Die an Unlived Life, Dawna Markova writes, “Traveling from the known to the unknown requires crossing an abyss of emptiness.” Yet so many of us fear meeting ourselves, and our speedy demanding lives offer us endless distractions from this. This is now a time to find the courage to give ourselves the kind of presence and time we have given to others. How can you know your own truth unless you slow down and listen to yourself? Allow yourself to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life. Add a thoughtful pause between your impulses and your actions. On a daily basis, find the way that brings you closest to yourself, either in nature, meditation, contemplative prayer, or some meaningful refuge.
Menopause and midlife can stimulate a strong urge toward authenticity and creative expression of life purpose. This is the time to strip away the ways in which you live the dreams and expectations of others while finding and expressing your own unique path. Where do your talents and gifts intersect with the needs of the world? Regaining your energy is directly related to living your passion and purpose.
Women in menopause begin to lose their tolerance for self-criticism; it wears out the body and destroys quality of life. This is the time to turn all of the compassion we have developed for everyone else back into ourselves, treating ourselves as we would our most beloved children. We need to learn to cradle ourselves in love … and in turn, then, we can love others in profound new ways in the second half.
- What is unfinished to give?
- What is unfinished to heal?
- What is unfinished to learn?
- What is unfinished to experience?
- What is the courageous conversation I need to have with myself?
- Who am I now? Where do I belong?
- What is out of balance that needs to be changed?
- What are the beliefs that allow me to continue to sacrifice myself to others?
- What are the beliefs that cause me to sabotage my health?
- What am I the best at? What do I love?
- What do I do where time goes by without my even knowing it?
- How do I find a better place from which to live my life?
Recommended Books on Menopause
I Will Not Die an Unlived Life, Dawn Markova, Conari Press, 2000
The Wisdom of Menopause, Christiane Northrup, Bantam Books, 2001
Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, Susan Weed, Ash Tree Publishing, 1992
Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer, Jossey-Bass, 2000
The Millionth Circle, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Conari Press, 1999
Claiming Your Place at the Fire, Lieder & Shapiro, Berret-Koehler, 2004