I wrote a post in 2018 about being 53 and still menstruating, and every month when Sam looks at the top ten most read posts on the blog, it shows up. (Well, along with one on upskirt shots that clearly isn’t being search from a feminist lens. But that’s another story).
For a while now, I’ve basked in the pride of being a Menstruator Emeritus, having periods well into my mid-50s. But my reign with this particular sash is coming to an end: I’m turning 56 in three weeks, and I haven’t had a period since September. That doesn’t mean I won’t have another one, but it’s definitely a signal that things have changed.
What I have had is constant hot flashes, disrupted sleep, and a special kind of aphasia where I can’t remember names. (I had to google the name of our previous provincial premier the other day, the first out queer premier in Canada, a woman whose farewell convention I went to last March, a woman I almost named my cat after). I wake up with sweat dripping down my back. I invested in two expensive Dyson fans, one in my bedroom and one next to my desk. I’m the woman in bare feet and tank tops deep into a Canadian winter. I am still having steady, weird cramps related to changing hormones.
So, true to form, I’m going to do a little inquiry into menopause and what it means at this moment in history. This is the start of a series over the next few weeks, structured around the ideas in this book: The Slow Moon Climbs. In it, Susan Mattern argues that menopause has historically been seen as a powerful, transitional time to a new phase of life. When we medicalize it, we pathologize it. There’s a good discussion of the book on this CBC Ideas podcast.
I’m going to read the book (the publisher gave me a review copy), and write about it one chapter at a time. (It’s a LONG book, and the first chapter seems to be all about Genghis Khan). I’m going to explore other books about power in post-menopausal life, like Women Rowing North and The Last Gift of Time.
A lot of the writing about post-menopausal life presumes a traditional earlier life of marriage, cis-femaleness wifehood, motherhood, and looks at one’s 50s and 60s as a reprieve from those roles. That’s not my experience and nt my life story. But I do think this is about a new space in life. I want to look closely at what does it mean to shape middle and older age with meaning, with intention, with continued fitness and strength. Like these folks at the Feisty Menopause podcast, whose motto is “it’s time to hit play, not pause.”
Most of all, I will explore what it means to me. I made a comment to a friend that if I’d known September might be my last period, I might have done something ritualistic. I joked about “burying the last tampon,” and I didn’t exactly mean it, but I felt a kind of loss that I hadn’t marked this moment.
So I’m investigating.
What do you want to know about menopause? What are you experiencing? What are you afraid of? What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to exploring with you!
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is spending a lot of time in barefoot inversions in Toronto right now. This series will be tagged #makingmeaningofmenopause