– BY KATE CODRINGTON –
Come back! This gets good, I promise, just humour me for a moment by noticing what associations arise in your mind when you read that word? A catastrophe? Old age? Something that happens to other people?
What about perimenopause?
What thoughts arise when you read that? Maybe vague thoughts about anger or ill-health?
Whatever specific meanings arise in your mind, it’s likely that they’re drawn from our patriarchal, sexist and ageist culture. Even as light-filled, inclusive, big-hearted feminists, we have still absorbed the culturally dominant, negative beliefs about menopause. This negativity and fear create a heap of problems; we feel shame when the symptoms arrive, then we can’t talk about it, we suffer in silence. We don’t realise that other women feel the same way or that there are simple ways of managing ourselves. It can be misdiagnosed and most importantly: we don’t understand that menopause is an initiation, aka a magical healing force that is coming to make you happier.
It’s a re-birth of the soul
And, oh joy! It’s coming sooner than you think.
The expectations of menopause, like those about periods, are imposed on us from outside and you’ve already discovered that your menstrual cycle has enormous gifts, right? It’s the same with perimenopause. If we turn inward, away from what we’re told to expect, and stay present to what is actually happening within us, we notice something remarkable.
In perimenopause, our system is asking us to turn away from the outside world, loosen our grip on ‘achieving’ and begin to heal. To begin to let go of ways of being that don’t serve us, like toxic relationships, negative beliefs, holding onto pain and trauma and, most importantly, rushing around trying to please everyone.
You know that online course you signed up for, but only did half of, on how to self-actualise? Perimenopause is that course and you get it for free.
Not that it’s without challenges obviously, because in our late thirties and early forties, we feel that maybe we’re getting the hang of this being alive stuff and easing into our power. Then to find that the rug’s come out from under our feet and all the rules have changed and no, you can’t go at life 24/7 without consequences, will hurt. We fight it. We push through our tiredness, but you need to know that this will make your transition tough if you try to push through and don’t rest.
Nearly all symptoms in perimenopause are made worse by stress. It’s a sensitive time, much like pregnancy, and your system will complain loudly about things that in the past you could tolerate; noise, horror films, empty loo rolls, litter, injustice, alcohol, coffee… any number of extraordinary triggers. What are you going to do? You have a choice; you can side with the external voices and criticise yourself for failing or falling apart. Or you can access your inner kindness, being your own best friend and enquire into ‘What would feel good right now to help me heal?’.
How soon is soon?
The timing for menopause is as unique as the colour of your eyes, but some people notice a subtle change from their late 30’s. Others maybe not until their 50’s. What would this look like? Possibly, but not always, a change in your menstrual cycle. The changes can be very subtle and also come and go, we are cyclical after all!
The sign to really look out for is a longing for more time to yourself; less time doing things like ‘emotional labour’, over-caring, pleasing people, looking outside for love and validation. You might notice that your premenstruum starts a little earlier and you feel freer to tell people what you need, you see the truth more clearly and are able to communicate it. Your needs during your period might be clearer; to rest more, drop your burden and dream or drift through those days.
Your self-care for perimenopause is to pay attention to, and value this inward drift towards yourself. It’s a deep honouring of who you really are. She’s starting to stamp her feet and shout because she will not be ignored. Honour your need for inner healing, whatever that looks like for you. You probably already know what that is and do a little of it. However, perimenopause requires you to do it a lot more! Be it walking, singing, pottering, day-dreaming, meditating, yoga, gardening, sleeping, or Yoga Nidra. It doesn’t matter what. It doesn’t have to cost you money. It only has to soothe your mind and body.
Here are some prompts to help you
Take some time to do some free-writing for each prompt. Set your timer for 3 minutes and keep your pen moving across the paper. If you get stuck, just write ‘I am stuck I am stuck…’ or re-write the prompt to get to flowing again.
- I can’t spend time by myself because…
- When I’m tired of people I love to…
- My body loves it when I…
- My mind goes lovely and quiet when…
- I commit to giving myself more inward time by…
About the author
Kate Codrington is a UK-based menstrual and menopause mentor, writer and facilitator who has been a therapist for more than 25 years. She’s been featured in Time Out, The Evening Standard, the London Metro as well as various well-being publications. She’s worked as a reiki therapist and studied biodynamic psychotherapy. A member of the ABMT, Kate is also trained in body psychotherapy, pregnancy massage with shiatsu, abdominal-sacral massage, fertility massage, womb yoga and menstruality. Her mission: to change the way we regard menopause and show women how to relax into their own, inner authority through their cyclical nature and menopause process. Kate has a free workshop on 7th August, Hot Flush Party. Check out katecodrington.co.uk/
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