The Empowerment of Menopause

The Empowerment of Menopause

There are so many issues around the feminine embodied experience, which, when looked at from a different perspective, have the potential to deliver previously unimagined freedoms. Our embodied journeys as women also profoundly reflect and represent the embodied journey of the Earth. And at this time when our existence here is so challenged, redefining our bodies as sites of power can only serve the healing of the Earth. Menopause for me has been one of these transformative journeys. 

I became perimenopausal just as I landed what I thought was my dream job as marketing manager for an Indigenous-owned renewable technology company. Fully programmed with all the cultural messaging that my waist-line would thicken, depression and anxiety would deepen, my hair would thin and my libido would disappear, my corporate salary afforded me the privilege of embarking upon a journey through bio-identical hormones to try and hold onto the magical elixir of my youth. Instead, I was initiated into a journey of unpredictable suffering.

The next two years I bled more than I didn’t. Two to three weeks of heavy bleeding, a week or two without, then the cycle would repeat again. A short spell of using bio-identical testosterone put me into such an extreme state of sexual frustration that I needed to masturbate several times a day just to relieve the tension. There was nothing pleasurable about it. I felt raw, dirty, desperate, and deeply depressed. No more hormones for me, and what an insight into the challenges that teenage boys go through, and how much, as a society, we shame them for something that needs guidance and support. 

My dream job had proved to be anything but, as it became clear the company was governed by toxic masculinity, profit-obsessed manipulation and green washing. I was the only woman in upper management and most days I felt insane. My embodied struggles in this context had me feeling like I was drowning in a world I had no control over, with my body as my own worst enemy. As the reality hit home that there was no integrity in the company, my devastation on behalf of the Earth compounded my hormonal misery. What hope did we have in a world where profit ruled at the expense of the Earth’s needs for our gentleness and dedication? How would we ever get ourselves out of this mess?

So much of what I was feeling at that time seemed to represent what I imagined the Earth was feeling. Abused, pillaged, plundered, exploited, carved up, and sold to the highest bidder, no freedom and no sovereignty. With Her youth gone, Her health on a downward spiral, and the wealthiest men in the world planning schemes to move to Mars once Her fertility had been rung dry, like me, I imagined, She was experiencing herself as being on the slippery slope to a bitter end. Hell-o menopause.

My mental health collapsed around this time and I exited the corporate world to embark on a journey of healing. The more widely I read about menopause, the more I came to a deeper wisdom about the challenges implicit in our experience as middle-aged woman, trapped in culture that seeks to dis-empower, manipulate and exploit our fears and insecurities. Interestingly, the symptoms Western women are presenting with at this stage in life’s journey are the same symptoms that men are presenting with in mid-life. And these are all symptoms that have exponentially increased since the second world war, a period of time in which we and the Earth have been increasingly and exponentially exposed to more and more toxins through our air, food, water and the stress in our lives. Perhaps it’s these toxins and the stories we’ve embodied which are causing our greatest suffering? 

A podcast I listened to with a scientist called Zach Bush convinced me that the single most important change I could make for my body and my mental health was to ensure that the majority of the food I was consuming was food grown without chemicals. Our exposure to these toxins, and in particular to glyphosate, keeps our bodies in a chronic state of systemic inflammation which, beyond the physical and mental health issues these are causing, severely compromises the body’s ability to manage important transitional times such as perimenopause, or a man’s shift to mid-life rhythms. 

A dedicated period of detoxing and an on-going commitment to eating food free of poisons and filtering our water led to a return to a normal cycle of bleeding for six months, and then my menstrual cycle completely ceased, with not a single other negative symptom. These days I’m feeling a vitality greater than any I have experienced before. My energy levels are vastly improved, and my sex life is next level amazing – better than it’s ever been. 

It feels like the most empowering shift I made was to consciously and actively choose to resist the cultural messages we are given as to what it is to be a woman in her mid-life. I’ve always been a rule breaker, but my perimenopausal journey showed me how imprisoned I was in cultural programming. Breaking free from this has given me the courage to keep bravely walking my own path and defining my own reality. And I walk this path believing this is the path the Earth is choosing too.

As a young mum, I had no idea where my boundaries needed to be with my partner, with my children, even with my friends. My boundaries were charged with reactivity until perimenopause hit and it forced me to reprogram myself. It took a lot of cleansing, detoxing, therapy, healing, love, and understanding to bring my life into an alignment in which I am increasingly able to feel at home and at peace in my body. There is an entirely different experience of abundance in this compared to the abundance of active fertility.

I have younger friends who are exploring the power of their blood. Rich with stem cells, there are many women these days who are consuming some of their blood each cycle. These are ancient practices steeped in magic, ritual and female empowerment. I have a soul sister who shares some of her blood with me each month. Interestingly, I find myself feeling increasingly in tune with her cycle and some months, I even get a slight blood staining myself. 

I’m not doing this to restart my menstrual cycle, but my connection to my friend’s cycle seems to be guiding me back to remembering my embodied connection to the Earth’s cycles of fertility. There is a sense of peace and safety in this. 

At this time, when the Earth is going through such a powerful healing crisis and everything is on the line as to our survival and the integrity of our ecosystems, the sacred rebel in each of us is being called upon to break all the rules, resist all the old systems and push all the boundaries of what we think we know and what we think we don’t know. 

Contrary to the predominant cultural message of how I should be experiencing my life as a post menopause woman, I have discovered that this is the best stage of my life by far. I feel strong and empowered. I have earned my right to be Queen in my lands. My community in the suburb where we live and the community that grows around my son’s farm is rich and vibrant and nourishing. I am consciously choosing every day to believe in the health, vitality and regenerative capacity of my body as a representation of this raw power in the Earth Herself. The world out there looks increasingly apocalyptic, but in the world I inhabit, we are healing and life feels abundant. Menopause rocks!

By Deborah Oberon

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