Embracing Menopause

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

“It is sad to grow old but nice to ripen.” –Brigitte Bardot

Attitudes toward menopause directly reflect one’s ability to manage physical and emotional tribulations accompanying aging. It is common to cast away our emotions in an attempt to forget about the changes our bodies are going through. Commiserating with friends quickly proves to be useless only worsening the situation. Socially detaching oneself from menopause is not constructive. Shifting your perception and mind-set can alleviate associated anxieties and stresses.

Societies frequently view menopause as a negative point in life — a disease, a time of loss or a partial death. Sex, beauty and physical attractiveness are all associated with only the youth of society. These unfortunate viewpoints can make the transition more difficult and uncomfortable. In a youth-oriented society, inevitable aging can be terrifying. So, how can we nurture our mind, body and spirit? How can we amalgamate them with a positive cultural and societal outlook? The first step is to avoid pessimistic attitudes as they are unconstructive and harmful. As our biology changes, why not celebrate the change?

In some native cultures, menopause is seen as a positive transitional period. Ancient cultures perceived menopause as a way to make wisdom. When a woman ceased menstruation, her blood remained in her body for the purpose of making wisdom. A menopausal woman was held in high esteem and respected as she became wiser. Communities heavily relied on aging women as they were frequently sought out for advice. These wise women have an important, highly valued status. How can we continue this encouraging way of thinking? Menopause is a time of quiet celebration as a woman moves into a deeper level of self-discovery and spiritual awareness. This point of view is often overlooked.

Society constantly reminds us how old we really are getting. Aging is difficult to avoid and can be disappointing and ambiguous. Our foremost concern should be reassuring ourselves that our midlife passage is bringing good news too! Society should not dictate how we feel about ourselves. Our spirits need to be brightened and optimistic! We need to surround ourselves with positive attitudes, reassurance and encouragement. Menopause is not a time of loss or a disease. It is a time to truly accept aging as a period of empowerment and spiritual passage. In order to do so, one needs to have self value and self esteem. By balancing your physical, mental and emotional states, aging will be more graceful and gradual. Try turning menopause into a positive experience and take delight in your body’s transformation. The physical and emotional uneasiness that usually accompanies menopause can be relieved. Women use many outlets to accomplish this.

Artistic expression can assist in adjusting emotionally to menopause. As you cope with this new phase of life, there is hope for balancing your menopausal self love! Cultural perceptions are greatly influenced by how each of us sees our own aging process. Dr. Rosie McLaren, an artist, psychotherapist, writer and lecturer narrates Menopause Art and Body: Contemporary tales from the daughters of hysteria. The book is a collection of artwork, visual diaries, journals, creative writing and poetry from twelve artists expressing their encounters with menopause. Artistically expressive outlets are common methods of self-discovery during menopause. Many women feel they become more creative and expressive during menopause. Raising consciousness around the issues of aging through these arts has a profound effect on society. Helen Redman is a widely exhibited artist who creates paintings and drawings of her experiences during menopause and aging. Her acrylic painting “Hot Flashing” expresses her tumultuous emotions in a self-portrait. May her thoughts on the painting inspire you:

Helen Redman, Hot Flashing

“I wanted to focus on my wrinkles, make friends with them, because they are going to get more and more pronounced as I age. I’m trying to take things that women are in such terror of and turn them around. I’m going to look and look at these wrinkles, watch them as they progress and come to love them. It’s my way to meet aging full on — to fully embrace the inevitable and natural changes in my face and body. In fact, redefine what my culture has ingrained in me, and in all women in the United States…”

…This time of life, often the most feared and disregarded in our culture, is paradoxically the richest in feminist potential. We need to explore the upstairs of our lives and menopause as the gateway to full self realization. We have an unprecedented opportunity for learning about this stage of life as the baby boomer generation suddenly gives us unprecedented numbers — maybe even the critical mass to make a difference.” -from www.birthingthecrone.com

Helen Redman focuses on bringing creativity to menopausal and aging women through workshops in southern California. The workshops concentrate on creating art about women’s lives through menopause and aging. Joining a workshop such as Redman’s may help address your issues through creative expression. Workshops may also be encouraging and help you feel like you’re not alone.

Another creative outlet one woman pursued is through performing and visual arts. Jeanie Linders found theater as her expressive channel. “Menopause The Musical” celebrates women and their changes through a comedy that allows women to be “okay with where we are in life now.” The musical addresses all of the challenges associated with menopause including the mental, physical and spiritual realms. Linders explains:

“…I have come to realize this is a stage in the lives of women my age that, in reality is still in limbo. Most women know intuitively every other woman is experiencing the memory loss or night sweats or hot flashes. They talk about it with their friends and, on occasion, with their spouses. But, when they’re in a theatre of 300 women, and they’re all shouting “that’s me!”, then they know what they are experiencing is normal. They aren’t crazy; they call it a “sisterhood”.” -from www.menopausethemusical.com

Inspirational women who take control of their bodies by balancing their mind, body and spirit have more fun than those who bask in the displeasures of aging. Bringing yourself to terms with the process is the difficult part. Once you have accomplished this, shining the light on others in distress should be your next goal. Psychosocial support is available through many channels of exploration. Let your creative wisdom fuel your spiritual self and further emotional balance during your passage into midlife. Try exploring literature, poetry, art therapy, or other expressive group therapy to promote self-love during menopause.