Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Sheltering from the Storm.

I suddenly realised why I stopped writing the blog. It’s because of the bloody, buggery menopause.

As I write that sentence I feel fear. I want at once to go into my head. If I can run away into my intellect, I shall be safe. I was going to do a whole tangent on the word ‘menopause’ and all its cultural associations. (Which would, of course, be so fucking fascinating that you would all fall off your chairs in delight.)

I’m not going to do that. I’m going to stay with the emotion, which is so big it makes the Titanic look like a rowing boat. It’s vast, roiling, boiling rage. It’s anger so great I don’t know what to call it. There is no good word in the English language. It’s in every atom of my body and it’s all around me, as if the whole world is made up of red fury. It’s pushing at me and pulling at me and punching me and kicking me. It’s at everything: life, death, betrayal, muddle, unfairness, stupidity, selfishness. It’s at all human failings, most especially my own.

It came out of nowhere. Although I think perhaps it has been cooking for some time. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but I know it comes from somewhere. It started to grumble when yet another fucking doorknob fell off yet another door yesterday, and I had to make a ghastly telephone call I did not want to make, and my huge, brilliant idea that was going to change the world started to reveal itself as a very small idea that would need the kind of work that Sisyphus knew, as he pushed his stupid boulder up his stupid hill. 

It got grumbling because someone did something hurtful, a hurt that came on top of a whole lot of other hurts. It started stretching and sniffing the air because I am being, as always, absolutely useless with logistics and any kind of organisation and I’m fifty-one years old and when will I ever learn to make schedules and manage time and not be in a goofy mess? 

It received a voltage jolt when I spilt some water on my precious computer and the poor machine began wailing at me with agonised siren noises and even though I managed to rescue it, one of the shift keys now produces weird, hieroglyphic symbols instead of capital letters. (The other shift key, amazingly, still works, so I’m teaching myself to use my right hand for upper case, which means that instead of typing at ninety words a minute I’m having to stop and think and hobble along like a lame carthorse.) 

What the menopause does is take all the daily darts and stings and makes them into something huge. There is no perspective. A careless word, a tiny slight, a fleeting act of unkindness - all become the End of Everything. I want to tell everyone and everything to fuck off. Then I start behaving badly, and so, along with the undifferentiated rage, there is shame. Shame is the worst fucking party crasher in the world. It barges in, changes the music, eats all the food, spills drink on the carpet, and gets off with your boyfriend. 

I run around the internet, being all bluebirds and butterflies, because I’m trying to dedicate myself to positive thinking and gratitude and all the rest of the bollocks. I write little lines of inspiration and post adorable dog pictures and tell stories about the red mare. I scatter the pictures and posts of others with hearts and compliments, because the world is so dark and the news is so bad and I want to try and spread the love. And inside, I feel like the stupidest, angriest, crappiest person in the world because my hormones have gone bonkers and I can’t seem to go to bed at reasonable hour. 

I miss my mother so much it feels like someone is stabbing me with knives.

So that’s why I stopped the blog, because I did not want to be that person. I did not want to be the wailing person. I admire stoicism, and perseverance, and that grand, British, self-deprecating sense of humour. I like people who get on with it and don’t make a fuss. I loathe drama. (I adored drama when I was younger, and indulged in it often. Now I hate it with a deep disdain.) I wanted to be a ray of sunshine and I couldn’t be a ray of sunshine any more. That was not fair on the poor Dear Readers, who have enough troubles of their own.

I wanted to share beauty and truth, not fury and confusion.

The hormones don’t storm every day. There are mornings when the waters are calm and limpid and a light breeze gentles the land and it is clear sailing. It’s not so bad, I think, as I gaze at the horizon. And then the typhoon hits and the black clouds blot out the sun and waves as big as houses hurl me about a lost ocean. 

I am not waving, but drowning.

The irrational voices are the only ones that can shout loud enough to be heard over the tumult. They yell that I am a failure and a fraud, that nobody else gets this, that I don’t have the right stuff. And then, for a moment, the wind drops and I can hear the quiet, rational voices. They say I am a flawed human being, trying like everybody is trying; that everyone gets this, at one time or another; that maybe the right stuff is there, if I can dig hard enough for it. They say: you are not alone. They say: all humans have to sail a stormy sea, from time to time. They say: keep paddling, and you will stay afloat. 

They say: this too shall pass. They say, because they have been reading the magnificent Brené Brown: it’s good to be vulnerable, to show your true self in all its incarnations. They say: sunlight is the best disinfectant.

And then the dear old universe took a hand. Just as I wrote that last paragraph, the telephone rang. The steady voice of a writing friend came down the line.

‘Ah,’ I cried, before I even said hello. ‘The voice of sanity.’

The Voice of Sanity sounded slightly surprised, but he went with it. And he utterly was that voice: funny, understanding, wise, generous, empathetic and, at the end, suddenly and violently fascinating. 

The rage and shame could not stand up to that much human warmth. They slunk away into the shadows, vanquished by something as simple as a kind man. 

Shall I publish them anyway? I’ve got them off my chest by writing them down. I don’t have to tell you about them. You know them well enough for yourselves. I could press the delete button.

I think I shall publish and be damned. Because life can’t be all bluebirds and butterflies and I believe it’s somehow important to write the crappy parts from time to time. Not all day or every day, but sometimes. So that I can say I am not alone and you can say you are not alone. The storms blow into every human life, but the lovely thing is that they do blow out again. And the ship goes sailing on.


  1. Remember, nothing is permanent, pervasive or personal.. Journey on

  2. Menopause and Trump tweets and Brexit uncertainty. They lead to unbalanced personal and public systems. It's endemic. We need to hang on and ride out the storms.

  3. Hang in there, living well is the best revenge, you will survive though it may not feel that way on a day to day basis. Look forward to your blog.

  4. I'll add one more item to he list you laughed at: breathe, meditate, HRT.

  5. You are not alone. Hope getting it off your chest does make you feel better.

  6. No, you are not alone. And it IS good to write about it, and to publish it, so that others know they are not alone.

    I truly do think that for women in menopause, with decreasing estrogen which lets the testosterone have its way with us, that we get a glimpse of the emotions men live with every day.

    When I get rage-ey (which isn't all that often but it does happen), and when I am by myself, I end up either crying or going for a walk at a frightful pace. Both help, but the very best thing is, as you have written, talking to a good friend.

  7. You are not alone, and reading this, I cringe, remembering myself experiencing that flash flood of emotions: rage, fear bordering on paranoia, guilt, loathing (of self and others), sorrow, then sudden calmness, making me question my sanity, because wasn't I CRAZED just a moment ago? Wasn't I??

    Thank GOD I am past menopause. It didn't end all at once, but it did end. I still have an occasional hot flash, not a great deal of fun when the days are already 110 degrees, but in cooler weather they are a kind of super power.

    And anyway, that's enough rambling from me tonight. I'm really sorry you are dealing with ALL OF THE THINGS right now. It's a lot. But you seem like a very capable woman in spite of what you sometimes write about yourself. Menopause ends. The crazies retreat. You've got this! :-)

  8. The way you describe rage and frustration and being annoyed with yourself sounds a lot like how I feel when I'm most anxious. Wishing you calm waters.

  9. I really appreciate your professional approach.These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.


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