The Maiden is mostly concerned with her own life and thinking about what the future holds for her. The Mother centers on caring for the family, children, partners and parents.
The Crone (once a dreaded word that conjured images of the crazy cat lady who lived on the edge of society) has “been there, done that” and can refocus on herself and then, if she’s a mind to, the world at large.
A Very Personal Journey
You know, I never really had an issue with getting older. That was until, one day, I starting feeling older. Every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or in a photograph… And I’d think, who in the hell is that old woman? She looks like my mother!
Maybe that was the start of my midlife transition. I wondered if it was a change in the season, but there hadn’t been much of a change weather-wise. Maybe it was more of a change in my season. Maybe it was just me being out of season… or in season…
Menopause was kicking my ass at the time, my anxiety levels were up, I was either having a hot flash or was in a cold sweat. I had a hard time concentrating, focusing on the task at hand. I’d get started, then get sidetracked. I didn’t have a good night’s sleep for a long periods of time. I had strange dreams that I couldn’t quite remember, night sweats, dull headaches or I’d wake in the morning to a full blown panic attack.
The Mayo Clinic lists many symptoms of menopause, among them irregular periods, loss of libido, decreased fertility, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, increased abdominal fat, thinning hair… geez Louise!
It lasted a damn long time, but now as I think back it wasn’t all negative. Although half a Xanax got me through more than a few morning anxiety attacks and I still have some pretty major “power surges” (hot flashes to the uninitiated) it also brought about some positive things that I want to explore here, too.
Putting the Period on Periods
Irregular periods weren’t a new thing for me. The only time in my life I had regular periods was when I was on the pill before my first child. My periods had always been few, far between and light. The first couple of years (I was considered perimenopausal by my doctor) my periods became just the opposite. It seemed I had a period every couple of weeks, sometimes they would flow right into the next one. I was spending so much money on disposable feminine hygiene products I decided to buy a menstrual cup (something I wholly recommend).
That eventually subsided and the times when “Aunt Flow came to visit” became further and further apart. It’s not like you can raise a toast to celebrate your last period because you don’t know it’s happened until some time later, but it was a happy day for me when I tossed that trusty little cup in the trash and I could look forward to wearing any color I wanted!
Hot Flashes, Power Surges and the Sisterhood of Purple
I remember sitting somewhere, quickly tugging the top of my shirt to get some air to circulate around my suddenly steamy torso when I noticed another woman in the room doing the same thing. We locked eyes, became still, then smiled at each other and continued to fan ourselves. A knowing look passed between us and instantly we shared a bond.
The hot flashes were probably the worst part for me. I did find that drinking a small glass of soy milk every day did help to ease them some, but simply owning them by changing my attitude toward them (hence the name, Power Surge) did more. When you suffer with something it seems to take forever to pass. Embracing them as a discharge of excess energy made them more tolerable for me and seemed to lessen the time it took them to pass.
Fertile Myrtle, Barren Betty and Lucky Lucy: Libido, Fertility and Vaginal Dryness
Some articles I’ve read say the libido can be tied directly to fertility, that as one becomes less fertile they can become less interested in sexual activity. Pffft, I say. Just knowing that I no longer had to worry about becoming pregnant took one more negative preoccupation out of the equation. Fewer worries floating around in the back of your mind can lead to a much more relaxed and fulfilling sex life.
On the other hand, being dry “down there” can be a bit of a problem and led me on a long hunt for the perfect lubricant. After a few trips to F Street, I finally found it in my neighborhood grocery store, extra virgin olive oil! I imagine regular olive oil works just as well, but the “extra virgin” part makes me chuckle…
Not by the Hair on my Chinny, Chin, Chin
You start to notice changes in your hair, and not just the hair on your head. The hair on my legs is lighter in color, finer and more sparse, as is the hair under my arms. They say you can tell a woman’s true hair color by the color of her bush… My true hair color is, well, let’s just say I have a silver lining!
Less hair grows where it used to, but it begins to grow in places where it didn’t before. That became painfully obvious to me when my almost three year old granddaughter looked at me studiously, put her finger on my upper lip and said, “Grandma, you gotta mustache just like daddy!” Ahem, I guess I need to wear my glass when I look in the mirror… Needless to say, I spend less time shaving, but more time tweezing.
Cat Ladies and a Broad Vision
In my lifetime I can remember when people thought older women were not good for much, that they were dried up old biddies who had nothing to look forward to but a lonely life. Even with all the changes that my body has gone through I feel more comfortable in my skin. I am able to embrace my sexuality, feel juicy instead of dried up.
Women today are more confident than ever. Date younger men? Many women wear the badge of “Cougar” with pride! More women are living on their own terms, without society dictating to them what they need to happy and fulfilled. Maybe it’s because we’ve started to comes to terms with our own mortality but we are more able to see things for what they are, more willing to take a stand for what we believe in and to do what it takes to make change.
I found this in an old journal of mine, and it kind of sums up some things for me:
My eyesight is worse, but my hindsight is better, as is my foresight.
My hearing is worse, but I listen better.
My backside is larger, but it counterbalances my frontside.
My bones ache more, but my heart aches less.
Sex in San Diego, a column appearing every Thursday here at The OB Rag, explores topics related to sex in America’s Finest City. To encourage openness while still respecting privacy, most authors will use pseudonyms.