The Four Freedoms of Menopause
Menopause has gotten a bad rap for centuries. First it was whispered about—even dubbed “the change” because the m-word was just too controversial to use in polite society. But once boomers encountered this major life transition, we burst the closet doors wide open—no hiding for us.
Seemingly everywhere one turned, there was a book or an article about this major life transition. Yet most of these pieces, informative as the were, spoke mainly of the discomfort of perimenopause and little of the wondrous freedom that comes with post-menopausal zest.
Suzanne Braun Levine and I have held many conversations on the topic. Suzanne is the former editor of Ms. magazine turned prolific author of books for women over 50. In fact, she’s just come out with her newest one, How We Love Now, Sex and the New Intimacy in Second Adulthood. Our latest discussion is a mere 15-minutes—well worth your time because Suzanne’s thoughts will resonate with you and deepen your perspective on your own journey through this remarkable stage of life.
In addition to enriching our relationships, the menopausal years provide us with numerous life-affirming freedoms. Many women report they’re happier in their third act than ever before.
Here are four freedoms that are true for me and, I’m guessing, for you as well:
The obvious—no more “feminine hygiene” products, uncomfortable bloating, or monthly mood swings. I often forget this freedom because I’ve now grown accustomed to feeling energetic and happy most every day of my life. However the cessation of one’s period is truly a cause for celebration.
Perspective—I’m freed from many of the worries of my youth. I no longer obsess about details, spend hours worrying that my words may have been misinterpreted, or feel wounded by a friend’s oversight. The realization that life is short is both a lesson in reality and immensely freeing. Perspective is truly one of the greatest gifts of age.
Learning to say “no”—This particular freedom is one Suzanne considers to be one of the most important of them all. As she puts it, it is only by learning to say “no” that our “yes” becomes authentic. In other words, we are now giving ourselves permission to “choose to” rather than to “have to.” This simple act of authenticity frees the individual and everyone in her circle of relationships… no more begrudging acceptance for us!
Learning to love myself—I’ve learned that I truly want to take care of my health, my wellbeing, and my-SELF. As they say in the commercials, it’s “because I’m worth it!” No longer as concerned with how others may view me, I’m finally, finally realizing that I’m a valuable person in my own right. No more, “if I could just lose 10 pounds, I’d be attractive” thinking for me. I’ve become feisty!
So let’s share the good news with our younger sisters who are deep in the throes of perimenopause. Let’s let them know there is light at the end of the tunnel and, better yet, that light is big, bright, sassy, and incredibly freeing.
And be certain to check out Suzanne’s book—there’s no better way to celebrate love, sex, and the new intimacy than with an old broad’s sense of freedom!