A Rite of Passage

love yourselfI feel like I should issue a spoiler alert. To all my young friends, I’m going to throw down a bit about middle age. If you don’t want to know what’s coming, proceed with caution. I’ve been thinking about middle age and all the “joy” that comes with it, particularly menopause. I’ve heard menopause described as a “rite of passage.” Wondering if that could really be true, I decided to look up what that actually means.

Rites of passage have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So let’s think about it for a minute…yep, perimenopause, then you’re in the thick of it, and I’ve heard afterwards you move into a new phase. So, yeah, it does sound like a rite of passage. And it’s something all women go through one way or another. Truthfully, men go through it too, alongside the women in their lives and they have their own rites of passage.

So if it’s a nature process of life, I wonder why it’s so hard? At least it’s hard for me and my friends in the same boat. As I think about it, the hard part is all the physical symptoms that seem impossible to control. I did not ask for whiskers to randomly sprout from my chin; or for the hot flashes that make sleep elusive; or, let’s get honest, the uncontrollable weight gain – I think they call it the middle age spread. Let me just say…I am not amused.

But I’m wondering if there’s a different way to look at all this. The truth is, it’s inevitable. No woman can escape it. Some have fewer symptoms or are propelled into it, but we all go through it. I haven’t even mentioned the emotions that go with it, but they can be extreme. My husband can attest to the crying that came with the early stages for me.  Where is all that coming from???

What if, instead of fighting it, or resenting it, we embraced it? Leaned in to it. Accepted the fact that our bodies are changing rather than being angry about it? Accept that we have no control over it…that is a big issue. As women, we’re used to having a lot of control over what’s happening in our lives. We have taken care of our homes, our families, jobs…juggled our hobbies and things that bring us joy…for the majority of our lives. This should be something we’ve got covered. We (and I include me in that), want to continue controlling our bodies…and we can’t.

We accuse, we blame, we fight our own bodies. And we’re tired. What if you tried to hold off a car rolling down a hill? You likely wouldn’t be successful and you’d get rolled over in the process. If you just stepped aside and accepted what was going to happen you’d save a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It’s the same thing with menopause. Our bodies want to be loved and we’re the primary person to do that. We may have grown humans in our bodies, climbed mountains, risen in our careers – whether in or out of the house. We have put our arms around others to comfort them, loved on others…but we’re failing to do that for ourselves. We fight what we need and it’s a fight against ourselves.

So if we’re in the midst of a rite of passage, why don’t we lean in? Accept what’s happening. The struggles we might be facing in the midst of the transition are ones we’re bringing on ourselves. Stop the battle. We need to love ourselves, our bodies and not abandon them during this time of transition. Know that this process is taking us to another phase in our lives.

If you’ve stuck through this post and are not in this phase, I encourage you to look at what you may be going through in life. Are you fighting an unnecessary battle? What do you really need right now? Listen to yourself, your body, your inner voice and follow it. Today, let’s choose to love ourselves as we are. We’re here for a reason…lean in to learn what that reason is. Be brave.

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