Light at the end of the tunnel

If we really are created in the image of God, how can we not contain God's most salient characteristic?

sunrise 88 (photo credit:)
sunrise 88
(photo credit: )
Thank God, I'm finally safely on the other side of the long dark tunnel known as menopause. From this place of freedom and newfound creativity, I'm here to tell you that everything they say is true. While it might be hell to go through, a nice, bright light awaits you at the end. Just hold on. And go easy on yourself during the bumpy ride. In the past few years, people have begun to write and talk about menopause as rebirth, or, as one writer put it, "a beginning of your unique self." Writing in the Virginian Pilot newspaper, Lois Hollis encourages battle weary menopause victims: "In marvelous menopause, creative expression can be yours. Look for your neglected or hidden talents. Take your special interests to heart - and let them bloom." While I was in the throes of a horrific menopause, I didn't believe it when I read that on the other side of menopause, great gifts awaited us, one of them being enhanced creativity. But sure enough, I now feel an urge to write poetry, to photograph, to plant a garden. Margaret Mead calls it "post-menopausal zest." There is something freeing about being in one's 50s - when many of us have finally accepted ourselves for who we are - and perhaps that freedom affords us the space to tap into our creativity. While I once doubted I had even an ounce of creativity in me, I now believe we are all creative. For some, the spark may be buried more deeply than for others, but it's there. After all, if we really are created in the image of God, how can we not contain God's most salient characteristic? And perhaps our hormones, in flux and no longer needed for pregnancy and childbirth, are now free for other creative endeavors. The creative surge is for many accompanied by a spiritual one. "Menopause is a time of connecting to the spiritual legacy that your inner being has been carefully incubating for you to discover," writes Hanna Albert, ND, in "Menopause: A Rite of Passage." Others echo the sentiment that the menopause years can be a time for personal growth. While I was in the middle of menopause and floundering for understanding, I emailed all the middle-aged women I knew asking for insights. Esther Meron, an infant massage instructor from the South, wrote back: "One of the joys of menopause is finding out who you really are - it's fun, you dig deeper - and sometimes you'll find shadows. But you can't appreciate the light if you don't see the shadows." In "Blowing the Fuse" from the book Women of the 14th Moon, edited by Dena Taylor and Amber Covedale Sumrall, Elaine Goldman Gill sums up both the pains of menopause and the pleasures of getting through it: "…The body undergoes changes we do not understand. You don't know what's happening, what will be happening to you. And of course, in our culture you don't even admit you are going through it…. If you get through the door of menopause and continue to face life as a fascinating, though frequently troubling journey, and trust in that journey, your post-menopausal life will be extraordinary in the amount of energy you will have to do whatever you have to do, in the sexual energy you will have, in the serenity you can achieve. It's a marvelous time, one of the best times of my life. In a crazy way, it's something to look forward to. I feel more centered now, more so than at any time in my life." The years after menopause have included many firsts. For the first time in my life, I planted a garden, entered a poetry contest, began writing a play. I'm also making a documentary film, something I thought would have to wait till the next life. And I'm thinking of taking a photography class and I'm trying my hand at embroidery. So if you're having hot flashes and mood swings; if your energy has abandoned you and your brain feels foggy, take heart: Better things are just around the corner. lifeinthefifties@gmail.com