by Bernadette, Self-employed in Community Services, Australia
Last month I attended ‘the first gathering’ in Melbourne for a group of women in the cycle of menopause. If I’m honest, I attended because I have loved being with the women who attend the women’s meetings, the sharing that occurs and the unifying experiences that remind us of our true power as women – the power of learning to truly be ourselves, connecting to our ability to be still, to really feel our bodies and to appreciate and celebrate the well of wisdom they contain.
This specific Menopausal Women’s Group I attended because it was another opportunity to have this wonderful experience again… AND I was eligible because I biologically fitted the criteria (not that that was necessary)!
What occurred was profound for me.
During the evening I was moved by all the different ways in which women experience the cycle of menopause.
There were women who were parents of very young children sitting beside a grandmother who was just learning to say no to the demands of her adult daughter. One woman told of her 70-year-old pattern of rescuing her sister that she had recently broken, whilst another woman was facing risky surgery for cancer the following week.
Absolute equality was felt in the room as each woman’s sharing was honoured without question, doubt or judgment. When comments were made or things were pointed out that suggested going to another level of self-love, there was no defence or reaction. The room was still and the unity and acceptance sounded loudly.
I realised that for me the cycle of menopause has little to do with the cessation of menstruation and everything to do with:
- Truly accepting and honouring myself as a woman
- Truly appreciating myself now, at this time in my life cycle
- Fully expressing and sharing myself and my experience and wisdom
- Truly caring for myself and making choices that reflect that care
I realised that I had not claimed myself as a woman in the menopausal cycle. I realised too that I had not connected to my other cycles as a young girl, teen or as a young woman, and now here I am in my middle age and in my menopausal cycle. I had not connected to my grey hair, and I have been grey for 20 years!
I wondered how I had arrived here? Where had I been? How disconnected have I been just doing life and not being in it in a way that I appreciated myself – my personality, intentions, fragility and vulnerability, my skills and inner beauty.
The meeting was one of those ‘stop moments’ for me and I became for perhaps the first time, truly, truly aware of my body as my closest ally in developing and supporting my womanly wellbeing. This was what was missing – connecting to my body at a deeper level.
Pondering more in this the cycle of menopause, I feel a deep loss because I could have done with a true friend and received support from my body in my early years. After all, everywhere I went, she was there too! The strange and sad thing is that I have always had a deep connection with my essence (my innermost knowing), but I have overridden it in favour of the expectations I had become aligned to and that were being reflected to me from the world outside.
It was possible that:
- When I felt fat and ugly, my true body was reminding me that I am actually beautiful
- When I felt friendless and misunderstood, my body knew me better than anyone and I didn’t stop to feel that
- When I craved attention, my body was there to feel and to enjoy – I didn’t trust the love that was always present
- When I was confused about who I was, I had markers of truth in my body that I discounted – like the joy I experienced at watching a sunset or tuning in to the wonder of how my kidneys worked
Women in the group shared themselves in a way that was very beautiful. I understood that whilst every woman was sharing her unique experience, I had my own too; it is deep and wide, 55 years in the making and it matters – I matter.
That ‘I matter’ is only really relevant if we all matter, and that was perhaps the most profound ‘stop moment’ for me. I could only begin to feel my own beauty and relevance as others reflected theirs to me, different and all as they were. What connected us all on that evening was the commitment to being there and the way in which each woman was held and honoured in her presence. I can still feel the power of that evening. It was truly something special and holy.
I could begin to feel myself stand in my womanliness in the cycle of menopause. My cycle as I live this life is wonderful and beautiful in what it is, and so am I. Surrendering to the presence of love in the room was an undeniable act of self-love. We all allowed the love in the room to fill and inspire us. For me it was an experience of gathering up the last 55 years and bringing it to now. There was an equality in the encounter that I had not experienced before with a group of women, a marker for what is possible.
Connecting with ‘all’ of this in our first Melbourne menopause group was true inspiration for me to truly live as a woman in this cycle. The possibility is mine and therefore ours. Thank you to the presenter Mary-Louise Myers for her reflection, inspiration and true commitment.