As a young girl, having a woman in your life to help you navigate adolescence is vital. Someone to explain the changes that are and will take place in your body; to talk to you candidly about the “birds and the bees” and to help you set boundaries as you mature into adulthood. Not being able to make sense of the changes, the feelings, or even the sight of menstrual blood for the first time, if no one has prepared you, can be very frightening. And so I appreciate the sometimes embarrassing talks with my own mom, even when it appeared as though I wasn’t listening.
Now that I’m in my late 40’s I’m wondering why the education stopped there. Because once again, I find that I’m experiencing some peculiar happenings in my body but this time, I haven’t had the benefit of preparation to help me make sense of them. And although I’m not frightened I do have days when I feel like I need a support group to bounce things off of, share and compare.
A few months ago, I was in deep thought and sort of absent-mindedly playing with my chin when all of a sudden I caught hold of something. The feeling startled me at first so I quickly let go. But curious, I went in search of it again. The culprit: a hair that had obviously been hiding and growing. I say “obviously hiding and growing” because it’s the only way I can explain its length. The monstrosity, while hidden away in a tight little curl, had grown to span the distance from chin to mid chest. I yanked it out (it hurt) and in a panicked frenzy went searching for others and thankfully came up empty.
Last week I was teasing my husband about this crazy, wild, grey hair that grows out of his eyebrows when I suddenly remembered “the hair.” I began to poke around my chin a bit. Sure enough she was back, and in a snatch, she was gone again. It finally sank in that my new friend was here to stay. And since anyone who’s going to be in my life must have a name, I’ve decided to call her – - Bernadette.
My menstrual cycles have gotten noticeably heavier this year. A phenomenon I find odd and annoying because at this age, if I were expecting any changes it would be to see it slowing down in preparation to make its exit, not speeding up like a runaway avalanche. I’m talking 3am, jump up from a sound sleep and change the bed sheets heavy here. So is this normal? Instead of going off quietly into the sunset, does it have one last hoorah, a couple of laughs, and then go out with a bang? Someone help me!!
And menopause?! I was reading an article last week about women suffering in silence with painful sex during menopause, and other painful menopausal symptoms that they’re embarrassed to talk about. And I remember feeling my heart break in reading this because no woman should feel shame or embarrassment about these changes that are happening to us. When did it become taboo to discuss the beautiful process of maturation? It’s not. In fact, it’s no different from preparing a young girl for the changes puberty will bring in preparing her for her adult body. Let’s talk about it!