Can you feel it? Life has been simmering away gently on the hob and suddenly it’s as if an invisible hand has reached out and turned up the heat to maximum temperature. Rather than the lid keeping all that boiling liquid safely under control it is suddenly pushing its way out through the edges, hissing and spitting, making a mess, refusing to be kept down any more, finding its way out into the light in a messy, scary, uncontrolled way.
This is not how it is meant to be, the voices in my head tell me. You’re going mad. Keep going. Don’t let anyone see your struggle. You’re crazy enough already. There is no need to bring all those skeletons out of your closet. Lock the door more firmly and throw away the key. Keep life busy, tidy, controlled, maintain appearances or else. “Or else what?” I whisper back, afraid of this pressure that is building up inside me, this feeling that I am pre-menstrual all the time, this long forgotten temper that wants to shout “NO. I will NOT do that / hear that / accept that ANY MORE”, this constant low level exhaustion that has me collapsing into bed by 9pm yet wide awake at 5am full of inspiration to write this bloody blog!
I look around my friends and family. So many of us are feeling this way. Most of us are in our mid to late 40s but some feel it far sooner and others are able to live in blissful ignorance of that ticking clock for a few more years. It’s like that other sacred rite of passage in a woman’s life – childbirth. We know that the baby will come. We have a window when that is likely to happen. But we have no control over when that moment will choose to arrive. The Universe holds all the cards on that one. Perhaps our ability to live in the question at that moment might help predict how we respond when Life comes calling again with a sacred rite of passage; that of peri-menopause and midlife.
How do you feel about the term midlife? It is not something that is celebrated in our culture. We want to be perpetually young, not middle aged. Yet there is no way around it. We are in midlife. As my darling daughter so helpfully put it on my 45th birthday “you’re half way to 90 now Mummy”. Thanks sweetheart 😉 But she’s right! Our lives on earth are short and for me there has been an increasing urgency to wake up, get moving and share my gifts at the same time as an immense yearning to slow down, take better care of myself and fantasise about running for the hills and allowing my husband to take over for a while.
Peri-menopause adds another ingredient to the mix. Whilst our declining hormones may not be enough to show us up as menopausal on the Doctor’s blood test, we know something is changing. Please, I beg you, give credence to your own experience, what your own body is telling you. As a good friend of mine puts it “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it probably is a duck”. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not experiencing something you know you are. There is a lot of information out there on the menopausal journey right now but it focuses almost exclusively on the mainstream view that it is a physical process that must be endured or medicalised. NO. I want to shout as I read these articles. This process is a spiritual awakening. It is a quickening. It is our calling here on Earth waking up and asking us to please get a move on because the planet needs each of us to step up and live our highest potential. It needs us to claim, own and share our gifts. It’s like an internal GPS system pointing out where exactly our lives are off track and urging us louder and louder to get back on the path that is ours alone.
To answer this call we have to walk through fire. This is why those long buried skeletons start tumbling out of the closet, why the steam is hissing and spitting all over the stove. We have to hold and heal our traumas, our hurts, those disowned parts of ourselves that we decided were unacceptable if we were to be loved. If you’re still reading this you have probably been working with these parts of you for years. Yet at midlife it is different. There is more urgency, and the invitation is to examine the deepest recesses of our souls; places darker than we have ever been before. Yet there is gold to be mined in each of those places, gifts to be claimed. The invitation is there to stand tall, burn bright and move beyond fear.
Beyond fear. Imagine what a generation of women of wisdom and grace and fire could do once they have moved beyond fear! Imagine how we could shape the world. Be part of this generation, answer the phone to your calling. Dare to walk through the flames and rise again reborn. Shed all the skins that no longer serve you. Dare to be yourself. Say no – often. Say yes to your own needs. Give yourself permission to slow down. Notice the voices in your head that liken that to death, reassure them but don’t let them change the fact that your heart and soul know what you need. You know what you are experiencing. All you need to do is tune in and let the magic happen. If you can’t do it alone that’s OK, in fact I would be brave enough to suggest that none of us can navigate these stormy waters alone. We need our friends, our sisters, our companions on the journey. And support. Lots and lots of support. We have no idea what will await us on the other side of this transformational rite of passage but we can be sure that it will be more perfect for each of us than we would ever dare to imagine. Therein lies the adventure!
I would love to hear your stories of this midlife journey of awakening, whether you are right in the middle of those stormy seas or have navigated to the calmer waters on the other side. It is imperative that we share our experiences and our wisdom of this forgotten terrain. Please comment if this has touched something in you, or get in touch to see how I can be your guide on this thrilling, scary, and ultimately fulfilling adventure of a lifetime!