Monday, May 4, 2015

further adventures in midlife crisis

I've had a kind of rough couple of days, so it's time to celebrate some more. I need to concentrate on the positive here.

The next thing I'm ready to celebrate about being middle-aged is (Celebration #4): we've already been through a full 25-year cycle of fashion, so we remember the current fashions the last time they were popular. I was around the last time maxi-dresses were in style, so I already know that five years from now we're going to wonder what the hell were we thinking? I can save myself the grief and not wear them.

Celebration #5: We don't expect to be happy every single minute. This one has been major for me. When I was younger, I would get to a good place and be happy and think,  this is how it's going to be for the rest of my life. Then I'd get stressed or busy or down about something and wonder what was wrong. But at 53, I know that nobody is happy every single minute. Enjoy the good moments when they come. Don't get too upset when they go. The good times come back, the bad times eventually go away.

Celebration #6: We know that you don't have to wait until everyone around you is happy to be happy yourself. You can be happy even if your friend is down (although you might want to be careful not to rub it in her face). You aren't responsible for making everyone around you happy before you can be happy yourself.

You know what? fuck it. I don't feel like celebrating today. Here's the real thing I'm dealing with: I'm pissed. I seem to be pissed all the time. I know women who sail through menopause like it's no big deal--one woman told me, "I wish I'd known that was going to be my last period. Maybe I would have done something to mark the occasion. But they just stopped. I've had no symptoms before or since."

I seem to be at the opposite pole. The three years before my last period were the most miserable of my life, health-wise--floodlike periods, migraines, depression. Thank God, the health part of it is way better now. Now I'm just a fountain of negativity, bitterness, and anger.

Here's my theory. You know if they pump lab rats full of testosterone, the rats become aggressive, violent. If they pump them full of estrogen, they nest, they make everything nice for everybody around them. What if estrogen masks what you're really feeling? Maybe now that my body isn't producing estrogen so much anymore, suddenly I'm having to deal with every little bit of anger and frustration that I avoided for the sake of nesting for the past --oh, how long was I cycling? Forty years?

It's not like I never got angry before, but this is different. This is like a well of dark, bitter, ugly stuff that bubbles up and I can't get to the bottom of it. I'm doing my best to just have faith. Everything I know from psychology, Buddhism, Christianity, even just my experience with life, tells me that if I just keep letting it go, eventually I'll get to the bottom of it. But I'm starting to be afraid that I'm just turning into a dried up, bitter old shrew.

At least I do have some skills for dealing with it these days. I used to have that "I'm feeling angry and I'm pushing it away at the same time" thing going on--like when you're letting yourself indulge in chocolate, but at the same time you're thinking I shouldn't be doing this I shouldn't be doing this I shouldn't be doing this. I mean, if you're going to indulge, you have to just let go of the guilt and the shame and indulge, or else what's the point?

And I think the same thing applies with all this negative stuff. I've got it, but I don't want to have it, so at the same time I'm feeling it, I'm pushing it away. I hate feeling like this, I don't want to feel this, I shouldn't feel like this.

Now I know I've got to stop with the pushme-pullyou thing and immerse myself. It's the only way to get where I want to go. But God, it sucks.


Tech Chick said...

I know these feelzzzz. It's good to see someone else share them too.

Cheery-O said...

I've HRT'd my way thru it...that's after ditching the female equipment in my 40s.
So, I think I've missed this part of menopause. I remember a dinner with a woman I highly respect who said menopause is awful; we need to talk about it and support each other.
What I know from dealing with physical injury (I'm really prone to strained muscles) is that ignoring the pain is less effective than sympathizing with yourself through the pain (anger), listening to where it is awful and noticing what makes it worse.
Again, your honesty is a treasure. Keep posting!!

Laurel said...

Well, my last period was 4 years ago, so I guess I've been "in menopause" for 3 years (beginning ONE year after your last period?) and for the first part of it, I didn't notice much difference. Then, the weight crept on, and I made some changes, and nothing changed except the weight kept creeping up. And I felt bloated. Then I cut out the diet coke, and at least the bloating went away. My main complaints are the weight gain, and the LACK OF CONCENTRATION, FOGGINESS, MENTAL COLLAPSE. *THAT* has been totally shocking to me. Very humbling to no longer be sharp, and to in fact, be rather dense and dull. I'm hoping it's a temporary thing---. Have you experienced that? Without my mom to guide me a little bit, I've depended on my women friends for information and commiseration---glad you are one of my women friends! And, I'm sorry about the pit of anger---that sounds as bad as the fogginess, but in a different way. I guess they are both connected to being OUT OF MENTAL CONTROL, right? You cannot "think" your way out of it, which is our way of dealing with stuff…...

BarbN said...

Tech Chick-- thanks, and I'm glad to know I'm not alone. So far you're the only person who has admitted to similar feelings, although I think everybody goes through crazy stuff in their own way.

Cheery-O, "ignoring the pain is less effective than sympathizing with yourself through the pain (anger), listening to where it is awful and noticing what makes it worse." That is the perfect 3-step plan for dealing with this. I should get a t-shirt with that written on it. :-)

Laurel--you know, the fogginess is a scary topic for me because I'm so terrified of having alzheimer's. I think I was doing some magical thinking about how I could make myself stay sharp by taking classes, challenging myself, etc, but "Still Alice" kind of nuked that idea. So, I'm not sure I can even be accurate about how foggy I am because I'm so scared about it that I tend to alternately underplay it and exaggerate it. That might be a good future blog post. But yeah, I've experienced it. I think it's better than it was while I was in peri-menopause, but I'm not entirely sure I have an accurate way of gauging that.