Have you ever watched The Golden Girls? If not, you really missed out on some exceptional comedic television. I highly recommend (re)watching it. If you’re over 40, it’s totally relatable now (which makes it even funnier).
There’s an episode* where Blanche (the hyper-sexual Golden Girl) thinks she’s pregnant and her life is over because having a baby (at her age, no less) will make her less desirable to men. Then, of course, she finds out it’s menopause and instead of being relieved, she’s sent into a baffling (and rather hilarious) pit of despair deeper than the first one she hurled herself into. Blanche was proud of her youthful beauty and confident in herself and her sexuality despite her senior status. Pregnancy, though not welcomed, was a sign of youth and vitality. Menopause meant she was… (gulp)… old.
Let’s face it, when it comes to age, women have been dealt a crap hand! Too many of us set ourselves up for the Blanche-styled freak-out in our twenties. Between ages 25 and 29, you dread every nanosecond that ticks closer to 30 while simultaneously stalking and snuffing out gray hairs like a vigilante sniper. Only to rinse and repeat between the ages of 30 and 40. Like Blanche, some women think aging equals unattractive and undesirable. Once menopause is stamped in the life passport, there’s nowhere left to go but six feet under. It just chaffs my hide that such simple things have been sold to us as something to fear. So... we dye. We nip and tuck. We strive for skinny versus healthy. We deny. We lie.
We make ourselves miserable in a vain effort to make ourselves feel better about societal beliefs involuntarily engraved in our psyche that are simply not true. So, let’s talk about what IS true...
Menopause Does NOT Make You “Old!"
I saw this on Pinterest one day: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” My guess is none of us would say something like 90. For me, 90 is old. My grandmother didn’t start "acting old” until she turned 90. And it wasn’t until she started acting old that I really acknowledged her age. I have it on good authority that she hit the “pause” button a good 30 or 40 years prior. That one monkey didn’t stop her show.
The concept of age is way more mental than it is physical. Want proof? Think of all the guys in your "era" that still act under legal drinking age. See what I mean?
As the saying goes… “You are as young as you feel.” How you feel is a choice. Do you feel 90? I didn’t think so.
You Are NOT Your Menopause!
“My life is over… I’m not a real woman anymore,” Blanche dramatically confessed to her psychiatrist. To which he replied with a few witty sentences that I will summarize in two words: Says who?
Menopause is the end of many things… but it’s not the end of everything. Menopause doesn’t stop us from being anything except a biological mother. All the things that make us the women we are do not cease to exist when menopause kicks in. We are not defined by our hot flashes and our mood swings. With a positive attitude, a sense of humor, and maybe just a touch of sass, we can actually make them a part of our charm.
The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes
Full disclosure, I am currently dancing on the cusp of peri-menopause and do not want to diminish the very real mental, emotional, and physical changes women experience during this stage of life and I mean no disrespect to anyone going through it now. I get it’s not always easy nor pleasant and no two women experience the exact same thing. At the same time, I strongly believe that how we emotionally and mentally approach the ideas of aging and menopause can go a long way in helping us cope with the not-so-fun symptoms and side-effects. Our actions are a direct result of what we think. If we think “washed up,” “old maid, “ or “hag” when we look in the mirror, that is the reflection we will show to the world.
We are more than our number of years on earth. We are more than crow’s feet and laugh lines. We are more than our silver streaks.
As Blanche’s doctor suggests to her, we, too, must focus on all the other things that make us awesome. Start with simply acknowledging the truth of who you are...
If you were fun… you’re still fun… so be fun!
If you were beautiful… you’re still beautiful… so be beautiful!
If you were active and full of life… you can still be active and full of life… so be active and full of life!
If you were sexy… you're still sexy… so be sexy!
The remainder of John O’Donohue’s “You are as young as you feel” quote is as follows:
“If you begin to feel the warmth of your soul, there will be a youthfulness in you that no one will be able to take away from you.”
I’d like to add… “Not even menopause!"
(*The Golden Girls S2:E1 - “End of the Curse” can be seen on Hulu)
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