My journey into menopause began as I started noticing and feeling certain changes in my physical body: my shape rounded slightly around my hips and lower abdomen, and there came a series of what felt like a volcanic heat erupting in my body, particularly from the chest upwards. These sweats would come and go quite quickly in duration but vary in their intensity as well as their frequency. At times the heat felt prickly and all consuming, and at other moments it was a feeling of letting go, with a quality of freedom. There were intermittent feelings of frustration, with a yearning to understand more of what was going on inside me. I found I experienced varying degrees of feeling light and heavy within my body throughout the months, and the cycles of no bleeding became longer and longer until a year had passed with no period.
What I am describing here are only some of the physical changes I began noticing. But there is more to menopause than just the physical symptoms.
I observed my maternal and mothering instincts rising to a new call.
This was especially noticeable at work in the way my advice, guidance and life experience were being sought more and more by staff, colleagues and guests of varying ages. There was a deeper warmth and openness in my connections with everyone and more clarity in my ability to truly see and feel what was going on for people. I felt the way I was responding was in fact offering everyone a deeper sense of understanding and acceptance of others, inspiring more wisdom and less assumption or judgement. It felt like this connection was an innate part of my journey: a service connected to an older wisdom from deep within my heart.
Amidst all this there was also a feeling of a rising to a new sense of sexiness from deep within, and a beauty that somehow did not feel unfamiliar. Yet there was a new quality to the sexiness, a tender playfulness and joy that I felt had not previously been expressed.
Understanding my menopause: Women in my family
I began to ponder my own recollection of these moments for women I had known in my life. I felt that if I was able to gain more understanding of their experience of menopause it may offer some guidance and support for my own path. My earliest memory was the menopausal experience of my mother. I remember it more as a series of symptoms: heat in the body; very obvious hot sweats, a sense of frustration at times, mood swings and a remedy prescribed by her doctor – to combat all the symptoms – Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT.
My mother did not respond well to the HRT. Mum felt it added to the symptoms and did not allow her any clarity of what was going on in her body. She made sure she imparted this information to her daughters as a precautionary measure for our own experience. I can’t recall much discussion around it and never really thought to ask or invite any deeper questioning of what was going on for her with it all.
I now recognise that at the time, neither of us had the awareness that would have perhaps allowed us to open up to each other and ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of it all.
I do remember her feeling that although menopause was at times a nuisance, it was also part of what a woman has to go through. Mum’s experience of menopause also echoed the sentiments from her own mother’s sharing, who felt menopause was something you, “just deal with as best as you can!”
I feel it is important to share that for my mother and her mother, it seems like menopause was something to be endured, but not felt or explored.
Although I had experiences of women close to me to draw from, I felt intrinsically that there was more to understand in developing my own awareness of my relationship with menopause. I felt a strong pull from within to explore the fact that this is not something women have just started experiencing, but in fact a cycle that has been experienced by women from all over the world for hundreds of years.
I was seeking a deeper understanding to help guide me and offer new ways of observing, supporting and expanding my awareness.
This has been stirred in me through my connections with Esoteric Women’s Health as well as my research from readings, blogs, writings (Avis, Nancy E: 2007) and websites (Pekker, Michael; 2012) showing the lived experience and wisdom shared by elders throughout history.
So how was menopause considered then?
And what could we learn from this?
There were varying degrees of understanding of the menopause cycle throughout the ages, and it was often viewed somewhat of a curse rather than a blossoming. Prior to the 18th century, “it was seen as a natural phenomenon,” but “over the next 300 years it was thought of as a disease with possible links to insanity, and combative treatments and surgery that were quite dangerous.” (Foxcroft, Louise; 2009).
For the Mayans, Native American Indians, Aboriginal and other ancient indigenous women there was a belief that the moon’s cycles governed our own cycles. They believed that menopausal women were in fact entering a ‘doorway’ to becoming the wise ones and elders of their communities and tribes.
Menopause was considered a ‘rite of passage’ into an elder energy with an invitation and responsibility to express and share the wisdom that this passage connects women with.
It was a time that called for women to be quiet, to slow down, reflect and be still, inviting the wisdom to be expressed in a more creative, gentle and deeply considered way. The women were revered as pillars of strength and wisdom for their families and larger communities.
My research of historical approaches to the menopause, along with my continued inspiring connections with Esoteric Women’s Health, has allowed me to feel that by taking a moment to stop and then listen to my own inner voice I am inviting a deeper connection to my own body and what I am experiencing.
It is like a pull towards the wisdom we know is innately there inside us all.
From my research I’ve been able to consider this rite of passage as a gift.
One that has fostered a more nurturing relationship with myself and my own body and a deeper quality in my connections with everyone else.
The effects of this have been markedly felt in my relationships with everyone and deeply enhanced the quality of my service at work, opening up great conversations about what I and others are observing as qualities inspired by menopause. For example, there is a newly developed calmness and grace that exudes in the way I interact and walk through my work place and a depth of warmth in the way I invite others to share and consider the responsibility of expressing more honestly. It has invited me to feel into the fact that there is a beauty and purpose to menopause.
The more I connect to me and my menopause, the more I inspire other women to deeply connect with themselves through their bodies, too.
By Chrissy Caplice, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
- Avis, Nancy E; Ph.D. Crawford, Sybil; Ph.D.; Cultural Differences in Symptoms and Attitudes toward Menopause; For Menopause Management Publication; September 21, 2007.
- Pekker, Michael; Menopause: History of research; December 24, 2012.
- Foxcroft, Louise; Hot Flushes, Cold Science: A History of the Modern Menopause; Medical Historian; UK, 2009
For more Inspiration and Understanding of the Beauty of Menopause:
Menopause and the body as the marker of truth: acceptance, empowerment, and self-care.
The joy of menopause: connecting women to their deep inner beauty.
How our daily choices affect our experiences of menopause.