The menopause seems to have finally made its way into the public domain. Well, if TV, magazines and social media are anything to go by. Suddenly, it’s getting talked about a lot. Or perhaps it just seems like a lot when it’s a discussion that has been silenced for hundreds of years. There is still, in truth, a distinct sense that you do not talk about menstruation. About it starting, stopping, or any of the stuff that might happen in between.
And yet, I have always felt the need to talk openly about the cycle that has quite literally shaped three-quarters of my life. It has changed my body and ways of being in the world on a week-by-week basis. But, even now, as a woman in my 40s, I will be tentative about who I share that with, even among women. Why?
As Stella Duffy said when I met with her over Zoom to record Conversations: ‘We live in a culture that has told us to hide all evidence of our periods.’ It was an inspirational conversation about embodied postmenopause, existentialism
and Buddhism. I recommend having a listen to the podcast at Thresholds online.
Stella also points out the negativity of the current menopause debate, recognising that ‘…while the discussion absolutely had to swing this way…’, it has painted a bleak picture in the process. I recognise this. My 40- something friends and I regularly sit in a huddle and wonder what awaits us.
Even as I write all this, I am aware of an imagined reader on my shoulder, maybe lots of them, making disgusted faces and ushering me out of the room with fingers to their lips. I carry the collective shame around this. And I recognise the need to keep working on that because it should be possible to speak freely. Certainly, in the therapy room, but outside of it too.
And it’s a discussion that needs to be far wider than just the white, cisgender version.
Nina Kuypers talks about her work to raise awareness of black women’s experiences of menopause.
Emma Palmer offers an honest and intimate portrayal of what it is like to live with the constant changes that menstruating (and transitioning to stopping menstruating) bring, and asks how we reclaim and make visible the menopause.
What would it take for a true societal shift to take place around this? For ageing to be celebrated? And, is this a spiritual question?
How do we start to honour the values associated with age? If there’s a person who can shed some light on how to recognise and name a value, it’s Bridget Belgrave. The international Nonviolent Communication trainer shares her fascinating journey.
I realise that this is just the start of a discussion about menopause. And that it is part of something much wider about what ageing and transition look like in us all. If you’d like to write about these topics (or any other), either from a personal spiritual or practitioner perspective, please do get in touch.
Amy McCormack, Editor