Perimenopause: Longing For The Red Tent

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Here is the pain again… in all its spiral curves, dips and dives – plunging me into a dark unrecognizable place which has no identifying landmarks. Looking into the mirror, my waist seems to mimic my fuzzy brain, both going flaccid overnight. Just moments away from making peace with my body, out of nowhere a hormonal hell has stepped in, taken over, and apparently sideswiped the person who was once me. I am exhausted. Who does this body belong to? It couldn’t be mine. Do I really look this gray and achromatic?

What’s this!  A bold splash of liquid crimson. Blood clots, the size of Texas, are pouring out of me. I’ve never seen so much red in one place. Suddenly I’m wondering if I should call 911. My body appears to belong to someone else -some desperate stranger bleeding to death. Am I going to bleed to death? I have no recollection of anyone actually dying from their own menses, yet maybe I’ll be the first…Woman done in by her own blood.

Red Tent
Image: fotografar via Flickr

In and out of the bathroom every hour, I finally decide to ditch the tampons, because what is the point of having one up you if you can’t tell from moment to moment whether you will make it to the bathroom - your ever growing, larger ass covered by a Scarlet Banner:  Look over here! It’s me, your eggs. And, we’re dying…in our own red sea.

I have loved being a woman. I’ve embraced the feminine. I’ve reveled in the ways of womanly intuition. I know my woman’s worth, have done some running with the wolves, nurtured the wild woman within me, and healed my inner child.  Yet nothing has prepared me for this. Life is suddenly unwieldy, and I am unsure of how things work within the circumference of my own body.

Perimenopause, you’ve hijacked my uterus!

My breasts are so tender it hurts to hug my small children – reminding me of how it felt to be pregnant. Reminding me of the children I didn’t have. Here come the tears. Deep breath, deep breath…O.K…Breath caught! Back in control, I grasp onto the very real blessing of the children I do have, which gets me thinking of what this would be like if I had never had children. Would it be a relief, this end of fruitful possibility? Or, would it be a horror of grief - thinking of the children who were not meant to be? The secrets pouring out in bits and pieces … tissue and blood.

The HOT FLASHES are like an orgasm on crystal meth. I am hot and cold and hot again. I could have been a stripper with the speed and skill I now have to get out of my clothes.  Whipping off shirts, pants, socks…anything that suffocates. The burning fire racing across my face and neck and feet and chest will surely make me explode. And, uh, it was tragic, really. She exploded. Just like that. She just went up. She just was like a flash of green light... And that was it. Nothing was left.

I awaken in the night with the covers thrown off and globs of moisture between my breasts. My body is getting carried away without me, and I seem to have missed the middle of the night dalliance.  My breasts have changed into bulbous beacons -having gone through a transformative augmentation without a trip to Beverly Hills. Too bad, because my desire for sex? Low. Lower. Lowest…ever. My sexuality is sleeping through this season. The clearly marked Do Not Disturb sign hangs often from my closed face. No words need be spoken. I am tuned out. Unreachable. Just too bloody tired…

Perhaps all this blood is a Last Hurrah before the Finish!  The Grand Finale ending to my womanly courses. I just wish I had that Red Tent to go to – a place where other women are experiencing the same thing. But, by having my children late, I’ve surrounded myself with younger friends. Friends who are still giving birth, dripping with mama’s milk, and swabbing Desitin on their babies’ tender bottoms. Dear, sweet, wonderful friends, yet friends who are in a different place.

I want the Red Tent to be real - a safe haven to gather, a sanctuary full of laughter and raucous irony, where I can commiserate with other women over my “new normal.” A matriarchy where women are honored in all of their many life stages. I need the warm comfort of the elders; the wise women who have gone through this, and who can share their own stories. Women who tell me it will be OK. That this is temporary. That I just need to take a looong…deep breath, and honor my body in all its metamorphoses. Yes, a place where the women cackle and gulp tea spiked with whiskey…


JCK is the author of Motherscribe. She can also be found on the HUFFPOST or @motherscribe on Twitter.


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