We are all shape-shifters and magical reinventors… Who would deduce the dragonfly from the larva, the iris from the bud, the lawyer from the infant?… Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves.
I look in the mirror and see dots, lines and marks on my neck, breasts and face that haven’t been there previously. The sides of my jawline seem to be drooping, and my legs look looser, with thin red blood vessels appearing in new formations on my thighs. Change is in the air.
Fortunately so is Love.
I can’t resist it, don’t want to pretend it isn’t happening. I am not the same being I was a year or two or ten ago. Over the past year, I have lost a part of me that I don’t necessarily wish was back. I am no longer a bleeding woman. That experience is gone from my life forever. I never again have to worry about PMS or decide whether to wear cloth pads or tampons. Not this menopausual woman.
Although if this morning’s post-breakfast hot-flash is an indication, I am still not all the way through.
I love this writing. I love that it allows me to be with the reality of my experience, to acknowledge the changes. Wow, where did these red spots come from? Who am I becoming?
How will I keep accepting that being in the mirror as she keeps on changing?
I grew up looking in mirrors. I wonder who invented the mirror and who decided we needed to look into one in the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room and even, or especially in the mall when we are shopping for clothes. My partner knows me so well. He says that I never miss an opportunity to look in a mirror when I pass one by.
As an adolescent girl growing up in Montreal, Saturdays were spent with friends at the mall, whether the Rockland Centre, Cavendish or Place Vertu. I remember all the different feelings I had as we walked from store to store. In one mirror I looked great, another I looked horrible.
During a recent photo shoot for a magazine article in which my business was being featured, I spent a whole afternoon delivering poses for the heartfelt, genius photographer Shari Macdonald. When she later showed me the photos, I felt a sense of awe and amazement. All those different looks I saw in the mirror, when I was a young girl of 13 and 14, or that I still witness as a crone woman of 45, they were there in the photos. Even more fascinating was noticing which ones I liked and which ones Shari liked.
Beauty really is in the EYE of the Beholder.
In the spring of 2007, I attended a weeklong meditation retreat at Hollyhock which was devoted to the practice of metta, or lovingkindness in Pali language. It had already been a while that I had been using that word in a new way. Instead of thinking of the changes my body had started to go through as “menopause,” I had been calling it “mettapause”. I was determined to practice compassion and gentleness with myself for the shift that was upon me.
I keep practicing this gentleness, moment to moment, as I learn to be with the stubborn strain in my hips and the wrinkles under my lower lashes. I am a mettapausal woman.
Let yourself be the woman, or man, who is changing. Honour your changes in as many ways as you can. Write about them, talk about them with friends, celebrate them with partners and children. Especially, allow yourself to be a “caravan of selves” as Diane Ackerman so marvellously names the mutableness of our experience.