blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

This isn't your mother's menopause

Maybe I've always had too much testosterone to go gently into menopause by nagging for grandchildren, puttering in the garden and waxing nostalgic over crap that happened 30 years ago. My menopause feels more like a certain type of man's -- not the guys who go all soft and contemplative in their dotage, but the stereotypical silver fox in the Ferrari he can finally afford, cruising sweet young 40-somethings at the upscale bar. Ouch; yes, I'm that guy.

I went through a mopey period. Ten years of a mopey period, to be exact. My weight ballooned. Everything ached. I could only find a special occasion dress in the fat woman's department at Nordstrom's. I'd stand in front of my kitchen window and watch people jogging, biking, being alive, and think, "Gee, that used to feel good. That used to be fun. I can't believe I used to do that." Then I'd waddle back into the family room with a bag of chips and watch more television. It didn't matter. I was old; old people are supposed to act this way. On days when the estrogen was especially volatile, I would shift into manic phase by yelling and throwing things. I was like Liz Taylor in her later days, only without the bling--so actually like Liz Taylor as Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," only without the sex.

The wakeup call for me was seeing the pictures from my best friend's daughter's wedding. Even fully made up and dressed to the nines, I didn't just look old, I looked dead. Well, yes, I may be old, but I'm not dead yet.

So over the past year I stopped dyeing my hair, lost 40 pounds and rediscovered physical activity -- biking, skating, jogging, kickboxing and recreational sex. I'm successfully passing for 10 years younger than I actually am, and yes, I fully intend to continue the deception for as long as I can get away with it (harder than you think; when I say I remember the '80s, I have to foster the illusion that I remember them as a high school student, not as someone who actually voted for Michael Dukakis, even though I have the campaign buttons to prove it).

In one way I guess I can say I'm rediscovering the essential self that got set aside--physically when the procreative imperative took over at puberty, and mentally/emotionally after I became a mother. In another, deeper way, however, I'm morphing into the woman I was meant to be all along -- the woman that isn't fettered by the fears, insecurities and self-consciousness that go along with being young. I'm too damn old to give a fuck what people think of me. And that's a healthy attitude for any age.
Has all this second-adolescence activity made me a less contemplative, more shallow person? Perhaps. But since I already went through old age during my real adolesence (oh so much bitter reading of Herman Hesse, writing bad poetry and simultaneously mocking and envying my popular classmates!), it seems to be balancing out perfectly.

As far as being a wise crone dispensing sage advice, unless I can look and act like Maria Ouspenskya counseling Lon Chaney, I'm not interested. Yes, you can ask me for advice, but my responses are less likely to sound like the Dalai Lama and more like Coach Mike Ditka: get off the cross, man up, and tighten up that offensive line. (That's another weird thing about menopause: Along with the relentless hot flashes, in the last year I've also developed and taste for an an understanding of football.) And of course, the ever-popular, "You need to get laid."
Heck, it worked for me.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm... menopause with a healthy side of testosterone. Now we're talkin'. Carl Jung is beaming ear-to-ear from the Other Side. Animus, anyone?