Bathing in the Blood of Virgins…

Real Menopause looks like...

What The Hell?!!

Every few months or so, I look like this for about 5-8 days. Picture it in your head, but in your head, replace the blood with hormones…then add the blood again. Then fall to your knees and thank all the gods of the known world that you aren’t a member of my family, who would desperately like to be absent from these moments. I can tell you I’d like to be absent from these moments myself, but, other than some short separations from reality, it appears I’m not allowed to be, because this is the way that my body has decided to stop having babies. Apparently, no one told it that the doctor and I took care of that over 7 years ago.

Welcome to the End of life as we know it the beginning of perimenopause. For some women, perimenopause comes lightly, without much of a ripple in the serene pool that is their female journey. To others, it hits like the uglier, meaner older brother of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Welcome to madness. Welcome to your new, starring role as Lady MacBeth for an eight-day run! Welcome! (Now is a really good time to just start saying, “What the Hell?!!” because you’ll be saying it a lot). You and your family are going to love this!

I have always had my glorious journeys through the land of PMS, but previously it was mainly confined to random bouts of hormonally driven weeping, sitting around eating potato chips and Ben & Jerry’s, and a few irrational accusations and a slight hysteria over how I suddenly have nothing to wear. It was never this…this total, split-second transformation into a demon from the garden of hell, who sits on the chests of her babies and sucks away their souls. WTF man?!

I was tipped off to the fact that this month was one of the months where the curtain would be going up when I spun out of control and once again found myself beginning to resemble Lady MacBeth more than my regular waking self (some might argue the difference is slight). The trouble is, these days she’s there before I know it. I mean, my emotional mood swings have now attained the kind of speed and velocity previously only known to the makers of the Bugatti Veyron. I can now go from 0 – to rage in 2.7 seconds. What the Hell?!!

I have read too that it is genetic to some degree. (I can recall that my mothers journey through this land was, what’s the right phrase, oh yeah, Scary as Hell). I even remember praying a year or so ago, “please don’t let me get as crazy as my mom was. Please, not that…” And then I went back to my task of making wild accusations, shining bright spotlights into the eyes of my children and demanding to know what they really think of me as a mother. I can only hope the The Golf Pro is coaching them through it with whispered advice like, “Freeze! Maybe she won’t see you. Don’t move. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t make eye contact! They see it as a challenge and she might charge!” I hope he is helping them learn the 28 day calender. I hope they learn to be more in tune to their sisters, future girlfriends and wives in some way.

Also, I begin to fear with real cause that I may have timed this absolutely perfectly, so that my hormonal madness will coincide with the hormonal surges of three teenagers. Go Me, right? Or rather, oh dear God, what am I going to do? This has to be one of those unspoken, widespread events that is connected to a new generation of women who are delaying having kids until their 30’s and even their 40’s nowadays, but I don’t hear that much about it. Where’s the sisterhood?! I can’t be the only one to find themselves in this position. (…annnnnnd cue the crickets)

The thing is, I hate myself as Lady MacBeth. It ruins my hair and skin, the stage lighting is harsh, and it has changed my metabolism for the worst. But more than all that, it steals me from my children because my focus has to leave them and turn to the management of my own out of control madness. It takes me away from my role as a therapeutic parent, away from the years of hard won patience and affection and empathy I’ve fought to give them, and worst of all, it steals my sense of humor. Unforgivable for me, as it is my chief coping mechanism. I don’t want this to be the person they assume their mother is, but I don’t know how they can render any other portrait. They have no context for the arc of my life outside their own. For all they know, I’ve always been this crazy (shut-up Madilyn).

Is there a bight side to all this early exposure they are getting to the Classics? I hope so. I hope there is an upside to the fact that every couple of months they get to experience both Shakespeare’s and all the Greek Tragedies compressed into a week long festival of bloodletting and baby-eating protagonists right there in their own home. Perhaps if they are ever required to read Medea in high school they won’t need the Cliff Notes, they can just roll their eyes at the idea…”Puh-leaze…Been there!”

This last time, in an effort to give them some insight into what was happening, I chose a child to sit down with and try to explain it in a way they might be able to relate to. I began by comparing it to the teenage hormones we’ve talked to them about. The ones that we’ve told them are going to make them kind of insane. The ones that are coming their way.  The child looked at me and said “So,  you’re going to blame the hormones?” And that’s when I looked at my child and wondered if it was part of the madness that made me choose a boy first to try and explain this to.

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5 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Madilyn

    Bravo! Crazy has found its voice. And it’s funny.
    Women who have PMS to the extent you do will from
    this day forward be known as “the others”.

    January 9th, 2011

  2. Colonial Boy

    Hey, no fair chucking the whole male gender into the crosshairs here! Some of us possess a degree of understanding in this area- some of us have been through it in our own family situations, and the GOOD news is that it DOES end after a while. Timing here is not so easy to determine, but it DOESN’T continue for ever. As for the genetic thing, that doesn’t mean a lot… or so I’m told by “periodically” reliable sources. ;-)
    (That WAS an attempt at humour- please take it that way… pleeeez???)

    January 9th, 2011

  3. Sharon

    My mother breezed through menopause without batting an eyelash. I hope I have a predominance of her genes. Of course, I have various abnormal growths that will probably complicate this matter, but hope springs eternal.

    My husband once dismissed a daughter’s bizarre behavior as, “She’s having her period, after all.” I snapped, “I have a freaking brain tumor and I don’t behave that way!” There is a (large) chance that my husband “gets” it better than I do.

    January 9th, 2011

  4. Katharine

    When I hit this stage will you shove this in front of me so I can read it and laugh and cry at the same time? I hear it calling my name ever so slightly, just around the bend and behind the bushes. If yesterday was any forthcoming episode this house is going to explode! God save the Queen!!!

    January 10th, 2011

  5. Pam

    No, no…Lady MacBeth came with “Motherhood” :) Want to see a mom cringe? Spin out of control due to hormones and economic reasons in front of your mother….or ask my mom about Christmas 2009. My parents and children still wince at the memory!

    January 11th, 2011

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