Musings on Menopause, or How Little Control We Have over our Lives

I’m really not bloggiI believeng these days–too much going on in the thing called LIFE–but every once in a while I start ruminating on something, then I begin to write in my head, and before long I just HAVE to get it out. So here goes.

Because I am one of those very regular, very ordinary people, I hit menopause exactly when the books say you’re supposed to:  age fifty.  All of a sudden the fertility left me, and I wasn’t at all sorry to see it go. I had been expecting it to go, and though I wish my skin still looked dewey and not like the occasional snakeskin I find in my garden, I’m good with menopause.  I’m fine with it. Really.

What nobody told me about where the other things that happened during the next four or so years.  I had been told I’d be irrational, crazy, weepy, and moody.  I’d been told that I would frighten my family and no one would want to be around me. Well, friends, I DID begin crying at the drop of a hat, but there were some very sad and stressful things going on in my life
at the time, plus, you know, there are always sappy McDonalds commercials, so I did cry a lot.  Still do, if something hits me in just the right way. So that much was true, but I’m happy to say that I don’t think I frightened anyone, my hubby didn’t move out of the house, and my kids are still talking to me. When they’re talking.

But here are the weird things: ever since my thirties or so, I have suffered from migraines. They were tied into my hormones, naturally, because they came every two weeks and would pain me three days on one side of the head, and then three days on the other side, if they decided to stay that long.  If you’ve never had a migraine, you should fall to your knees right now and thank God for your healthy brain. I’ve had a broken bone, I’ve had an angioplasty, and I’ve had my tonsils taken out as an adult, all painful situations, but they simply cannot compare to a raging migraine.

But when the fertility clock ticked its last tock, my migraines disappeared!  With no reason!  Suddenly I was finding migraine pills stuffed into various hiding places (since you never want to be caught without them), and I was thinking that I should send them to some of my migraining friends, because those things are as expensive as gold. I had my life back! I could go on trips and not worry about being sidelined in some strange place because I couldn’t lift my head or look into the light! Whee!  Life was golden.

But then, around the close of the second year, the migraines came creeping back. Not as forcefully, but there they were–about every two weeks, three days on one side of the brain, three days on the other.  They are nowhere near as bad as they used to be, but they have returned to keep me humble. Or, like Paul said, to make God’s strength evident in my weakness.

After menopause, I discovered that my hair had begun to curl. Wow–I had never had curly hair. As it grew longer, I threw it up in a headband or pony tail unless I had to go somewhere and, you know, look Good, but last month I told my hairdresser that I was tired of looking bad. “Just put some product in it and let it go,” I told him. “I’m not fighting the curl–I’m going to learn to live with it.”

And now it’s so curly that one of my aunts thinks that I got a perm. I didn’t. Honestly.  🙂 It’s just . . . hormones.

One day during this golden era I was driving down the road and I put on my glasses. (I’m near-sighted, so I need glasses to drive.)  But lo and behold, I found that my vision was worse with my glasses!  I could see just fine without them! So I went to the eyedoctor to get my eyes checked and what do you know–my eyesight had healed itself right back to 20-20. I only needed a wee bit of correction for reading.  So I had my glasses changed and walked out of there thinking, “You’re not getting older, kiddo, you’re getting BETTER!”  A menopause miracle!

But then, sad to say, after a few months my eyesight slipped right back to where it had been, so I had to go get my glasses changed AGAIN. Hormones! Enough to drive a woman crazy (and isn’t that the reason behind all those menopause stories, anyway?)

So I’ve been pondering things like brain chemistry and hormones because they show how vulnerable we really are.  I have friends who have mental disorders like depression and OCD, and as much as we want to believe things are spiritual warfare, sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes God allows us to suffer physical infirmities–and that includes the mental side of things–because it’s part of his mysterious will for our lives. If we were at the top of our game all the time, if we needed nothing and no one to be happy and successful, what would we learn? Because we learn when we fail, and we grow when we suffer. And when we are at our weakest, we are all the more willing to reach out to God.

Long ago, I realized the full significance of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. Yes, we humans have free will, but our will is thimble-sized. We can’t do everything we want to do, and we can’t do everything. Our options are always limited, sometimes severely.

But God is always in control. I can rest in that. Especially when I’m feeling particularly human and helpless.

Well, that’s it for me today. Glad I got this down on metaphorical paper.

~~Angie

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