There isn’t anything I can say about menopause that hasn’t already been said: the good, the bad and the ugly. Women and their victims have been prattling on about the ceasing of cycling since forever. I am still “peri-menopausal” – meaning I am still cycling, but there is no question that something’s changed. It is like the weather here at 2000 feet above sea level in the first week after Labor Day. The days are still hot, the sun still has it going on, and when it is humid, it is as miserable as it was in July. But the nights are cold, and the mornings are misty. I can see the dogs’ breath on the first walk of the day. And spring wildflowers are making a leggy, half-assed reappearance – just a few stunted blooms in honor of admitting that they are all confused by the sudden coolness and rain mixed in with blazing hot afternoons.
My adolescent hormonal twangs are also making their half-assed reappearance: acne? Thankyouverymuchindeed. Lovely. Intestinal chaos? Yes, I’ll have a second helping. Great. But here’s the crazy part: my mood is good. Better than good, I’m happy. This is monumental and bears repeating: I’m all the way happy. Happy about nothing and everything. Happy in the abstract. Happy as a baseline. “Quiet moments of pointless joy,” is close to how a friend put it the other day. I’ve never been this happy. I find this mood state to be a novel and rather pleasant companion. I move through the dramas and perils of the day (yes, the dog ate nasty garbage and will likely be ill, yes, the newsletter I edit will likely be late, yes, the electric bill is due and the mortgage needs to be paid…) but they don’t bother me. They don’t get under my skin the way they used to.
In fact, nothing gets under my skin the way everything used to. I worry a little that maybe I’m losing my edge – losing some fundamental crabbiness that defined me – but I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. It isn’t apathy, it is a mellow optimism that has infected my soul. I don’t care because I feel that stupid shibboleth “don’t sweat the small stuff” has taken over my consciousness and I really don’t believe that any of this is anything other than small stuff. As a former type A control freak worrier, this is pretty huge.
I do continue to experience flare ups of GERD (that’s heartburn on crack for those of you that aren’t familiar with the terminology), although they are changing too. I skipped a few regularly scheduled flare ups, then had a beast of an episode. Ever have some organ in your body hurt so intensely that you are actually frightened? Seems like living beings shouldn’t be able to feel that much pain and still be fundamentally ok… but I guess that is precisely the case. I’m ok. It passed. As it always does. As everything always does. I said to the hubby that the GERD is the only bad thing in my life right now. Considering that I have no formal job, am paying two mortgages and two college tuitions, living in a house that recently upgraded from “looks like a garbage dump” to “looks like a construction site,” as well as all the usual crap (my life could be summarized as the act of trying to cram 4 pounds of shit into a one-pound sack – or 4 belgian malinois into a house that could comfortably accommodate 2 dachshunds), declaring the occasional GERD flare up as the only bad thing in my life right now (and really meaning it) is jaw-dropping. I have lost my ability to complain. I’ve shed my edge, trading it in for a nap in the afternoon and a glass of wine in the evening.
Maybe it is because we moved. I really like where we live now, although I really liked our old house and our old neighborhood. But maybe living in a wretched shack constructed by the brainless and thumbless out of the cheapest possible materials is a spur to go deeper. Everything is awful so that pushes you to find the good and focus on it. We insisted that we would not move unless we found someplace better. So, laughable as it is to declare it, given that our new house is really a tearer-downer, not a fixer upper… this is better.
Maybe it is because I am finally doing what I want to do with my life in a career sense. Which is to say – I ditched my career, and construct a financial life out of a patchwork of creative and intellectual challenges. I write, I make jewelry, I split wood, I bake bread. Lather, rinse and repeat. Doing a bunch of things with a lot of dog walks in between each task works way better for me than going to a job somewhere away from my house. I love being home, and I love creating. I think humans were made to be creative – that’s our dharma as a species. The more I anticipate menopause, the more I eagerly embrace this creativity. Maybe it’s all connected?