My body is doing the thing that bodies do…change.
Oh yes, I remember: being in my 20s and hearing my mom say that this is what happens.
I’d give a limp empathetic look and move onto the pressing concerns in my life: mostly hanging out with friends as much as possible.
I turned 45–one hundred ninety-six days ago.
I swear…the night of my 45th birthday I woke up in the wee hours of morning steeped in my own sweat, panting for cooling.
My moon phases t-shirt was stuck onto my skin.
My scalp was as if I’d just worked out in a cross fit class which, let’s be honest, hasn’t happened in years!
As I peeled off my clothes and changed the sheets (yes, it was like that)…I said aloud: “What the fuck?!”
Really, I slide into my mid 40s and am pre-menopausal?
It actually got a chuckle outta me.
Get a woman who is totally peering apprehensively around the corner at her mid-life, wondering if she’s on the right street because it doesn’t quite feel right and BAM! …Mother Nature assures her she is :).
Maybe it was a weird night.
Maybe it was extra hot in the room.
Or maybe, I was having a dream about singing on stage with Bradley Cooper (So hot).
Here’s the thing, though. Since then, I’ve had two more episodes like this. (wuh-wahhh).
I had to ask Google what was happening to me.
I’d heard the words pre and peri menopause float around without really knowing there was a difference.
Well, there is. (Thank you, Ms. Maggio, for explaining that so well to us in 6th grade). (Eye roll).
Healthline.com tells us: “Premenopause is when you have no symptoms of going through perimenopause or menopause. You still have periods (whether they’re regular or irregular) and are considered to be in your reproductive years. Some hormonal changes may be occurring, but there are no noticeable changes in your body.
On the other hand, during perimenopause you will start to experience symptoms of menopause (for example, changes in period cycle, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, or mood swings).
Premenopause and perimenopause are sometimes used interchangeably, but technically they have different meanings.”
I am not 100% sure, but I’d diagnose myself as peri.
My irregular sleep and shifty moods could be attributed to a life overhaul due to Covid and other stuff though…
so, the jury’s still out.
Besides, I really don’t think I could get preggo at this point.
In any case, I’m not getting any younger.
While grappling with the physical realities is a journey in and of itself, the mental/emotional ones take on a different kind of weight.
Recently, I had a Zoom call with three of my best friends who I’ve known for 20+ years now. We grazed upon the topic of aging and opened up to each other about the variances in challenges with it all.
The unifying thread was the bewilderment of how we got here.
Shit, we still feel we’re up for shenanigans now just as much as we did when we did when we met our year abroad in Barcelona.
Ok, so maybe we’d go to bed hours earlier.
But…the playful energy is there; the desire to explore, the willingness to laugh at ourselves and together.
What do you do when you start recognizing that you’re older now?
Like when cashiers start calling you “mam” and don’t even look to ID you for your wine at Trader Joe’s or you ache more after a workout than a year ago or you’re debating the hair dyeing question or the men on dating apps reflect your age group…(yikes).
We asked this in a vulnerable setting and hoped one of us had the magic answer.
At the moment, I wished we had women who were a bit older, in their 50s to share with us their personal insight.
For a while now, I’ve admired women who were steps ahead of me in life…who embraced age with grace, strength, wisdom, and beauty (i.e. Meryl Streep and my paternal grandma, Cupertina Martin).
Having these women (personally known or famous) as expanders help us envision a future of possibility for ourselves.
For far too long society has erased women from the stage, the screen, the podium, the main office, the view… once they got to a certain age.
Relevance has been determined by your dress size and how youthful your skin is.
How fucked up us that?
The truth is this: years do things to women. Incredible things.
Sure, they add lines to their faces and wirey grays to their hair.
They plant dimples to their thighs and add inches to their waist at times.
They shift hormones and introduce new, interesting moods.
And, they also… awaken the undeniable instinct that defends, aligns with, and applauds truth.
They dump the restraining “I shoulds” and go for the liberating “I coulds”.
They shine a light on the beauty of knowing thyself and the appeal of delicious risk.
It’s an interesting place to be in for sure. This limbo of youthful magic and power of age.
Actually, it’s a pretty sweet spot to enjoy for a while.
I’m sure my 6th grade teacher didn’t have the foresight to drop such knowledge onto us…and I don’t blame her.
The late 80s didn’t exactly inspire a feminist approach to “Social Studies”. Or was it “Science”?
But, even as I navigate this stage alone-together, I feel much more confident in a gorgeous outcome.
Because, let’s face it, women, wherever they are in life, are the fucking shit.
(Full disclosure: I didn’t know how to eloquently end this, but know this last sentence is 1000% true).
(p.s. this photo of me is when I willingly went into saunas to sweat…this is me reminiscing :))