#1 I don’t want a period, period.
Last July I had a period, short and forgettable. September I had another. Then, blissfully nothing. I was delighted to be done, done, done. Then I had lunch with a friend who was complaining about her heavy periods. I was a little arrogant about my 2 periods in six months. She looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Oh, you’ll have another.’ Bitch. She was right. She ordained my period to return. She summoned up the bloody goddess of menstruation. It started the very next day. It has now lasted for six days so far – that’s two days longer than the longest period I have ever had. I don’t want to have my period any more. I have always considered them a pain in the ass (and the uterus) and a huge inconvenience. Well, except for the time or six when I was single and I really, really, really wanted that period to start. Truth is, not only is a period bothersome, I absolutely hate the smell of menstruation. It is vile. It’s what I imagine how rotting waste in the streets of some third world country smell. I don’t want to smell that again, ever.
#2 The sharp moments of mental clarity are great until I can’t remember the name of the person I’m talking about to my best girlfriend.
I pride myself on remembering pretty much everything. Ask my friends from 40 years ago. I can quote them from 6th grade. I can remember high school minutia including who lost their virginity, when, and the names of the deflowering boy. I can remember the near exact words of co-workers who effed me over. I can’t quote movies or remember song lyrics but I can reiterate the exact words my husband used when we broke up back when we were dating, and the words he used to get me back. But, lately, I can be having a conversation and suddenly can’t remember the name of my dentist, or the star of a movie I just saw – even if I’ve lusted over him for years. There’s a very scary early Alzheimer’s thing that happens when your brain turns to mush because your body has decided to mature.
#3 The creative high is amazing. The fall afterwards, sucks.
With or without a period, I’ve noticed for the past two or three years that I have the most amazing creative ideas about a week before when my period is supposed to start. It is rapid fire. I am exploding with enthusiasm and conviction that my ideas are not only great but are going to turn into something otherworldly. Fortunately, I now know to take a lot of notes (see #3). And just as soon as bleeding starts ( or what should be the start of my period) the creativity slowly drains out. With every tampon change, I am literally flushing away all that glitters and was gold. Within a day or two, I am so low that getting off the couch is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. I put on a happy face to get my kid to school and my husband out the door. Then I sink into the couch and into a mini depression. I’m only allotted six to eight hours because I need to pretend to be amazing and on it when son/husband return from their day of mind challenges and social interaction. It’s during this time that I start to question my worth as a woman, a person, a mom, a wife, a friend, a functioning part of normal society. It’s when I start surfing the internet for a ‘real job’ because producing/writing is sporadic at best and I have a big credit card to pay, and a kid to send to college, and dogs that need to go to doggy daycare. What I usually discover very quickly: I’m not really qualified for anything else. At least not anything that will fit into my schedule so I can drive my kid to school, have coffee with a friend, not work out, go to the dog park. Sinking. Further. Into. Perimenopause. Abyss.
#4 These hips don’t lie.
This will be brief. I’ve always had an ass. One I have been proud of. One that has been admired by more than my husband back in the day. What I didn’t have is the flop that rides above my jeans. I wasn’t always stacked like one of those old Fisher Price stacking toys. You know the one that has all the different color rings and you stack them by size. That’s what I see now, only when I’m dressed. Naked, it is more like a weeble. Yes, the ones that wobble but they don’t fall down.
#5 Night sweats vs freezing extremities.
Truth is I hate to be cold. I have hypothyroidism (since 6th grade) so I’ve dealt with the cold fingers, toes and the end of my nose for a long time. Unfortunately it has gotten worse. Even worse than when I was pregnant and I’d sleep in sweats with a scarf wrapped around my head like I just got in from the mid-east. Now I sometimes go to bed wearing yoga pants, a top that wicks away sweat and a hoody… covered with extra blankets that stay tight because I make my corgis snuggle in for the extra body heat. On a good night, the cat sleeps on my head. Sometime in the middle of the night, the dogs are kicked out of bed. The blankets are tossed in a heap between my husband and my overheating body. The yoga pants are stripped off. In the course of a good 8 hours, my husband can experience heat fluctuations that are like traveling from the Arctic to the equator.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “There is no more creative force in the world than a menopausal woman with zest.” I suppose that is true. But no more true than, there is no more frightening woman than one who sees you as the only thing standing between her and the last Oreo. No more true than, the woman who still bleeds is excited to be participating in this personal gift of womanhood. Seriously, and I speak only for myself and the multitude of voices that live in my head, I/we think forty years of a monthly bleed-fest is enough. It sucks. And… it stinks.