I’ve written previously about the PMS symptoms that started in my mid-30’s and in my mind, they have been the prelude to menopause. Women often talk about freedom from pregnancy worries as a benefit of menopause, but it has not historically been a phase of life with which I've had positive associations. My mentality completely changed two weekends ago when I listened to this TED Talk from Sandra Tsing Loh.
The Fertility Cloud
In the video, Sandra Tsing Loh references a book by Dr. Christiane Northrup called, “The Wisdom of Menopause,” and she draws from the ideas in this book. She talks about the post-menopause years as a continuation of our pre-pubescent years. Together, they bookend the time period during which the fertility cloud descends and we are capable of procreating.
At one point, Sandra imagines a woman during her fertile years, in the kitchen, cutting up tiny, little sandwiches for her family. And as she’s busy cutting, cutting, cutting … suddenly, the fertility cloud lifts. She looks around, as if awakened from a dream, and sees reality. She sees able-bodied people around her, her grown children, and yells at them to make their own tiny, little sandwiches. It's quite amusing, I recommend watching it.
The Freedom of Menopause
Viewed through this lens, it is our fertile years that are the anomaly and can be thought of as “the change.” Menopause is the return to normal. This simple re-framing has me genuinely excited about my post-menopausal years as freedom from the tyrannical master that is my menstrual cycle.
Every month, as I wrote about in this post, I am at the mercy of my hormonal swings and I have re-designed my lifestyle to cater to them. No longer, after menopause (I miss eating cheese!). I know that menopause itself can bring challenging times … the dreaded hot flashes and mood swings (could it really get worse???).
But after those years are over, freedom! Renewed energy, excitement, new vistas. Women talk about their kids growing up and leaving the house, giving them time to pursue second careers and new interests. As sad as it is to think of the empty nest, I am genuinely excited about the prospect too because I remember how much easier life was before puberty, how care-free.
Wherever this hormonal journey takes me, I appreciate the TED Talk from Sandra Tsing Loh. It’s given me a new perspective on aging. Instead of worrying about getting old, I’m looking forward to a new phase of life that brings new opportunities.