Last summer, the man I was in love with drew me a flow chart.
One line represented him. The other line represented me.
His line rose or fell a bit, nothing dramatic, what you might call “stoic and steady.”
My line spiked and dipped, spiked and dipped, spiked and dipped. All over the place.
What you might call “dramatic, erratic, crazy.”
When a woman’s ovaries stop producing a hormone known as “estrogen,” she may experience any and all of the following.
“Mood swings.” In other words, moments of elation followed by crying jags followed by fits of rage. Good times. No joke, actually.
Here is the truth.
I am a sensitive person. I am a writer. I am a sponge. I also spend a lot of time in my head. Create narratives. Fill-in-the-blanks. Small to big picture. I imagine multiple sides to any story. Empathize with a wide array of people. Nothing is black-and-white. Or simple.
I have, in the past, taken medication for anxiety and depression. I have, in the past, spoken with a shrink. I did this because I didn’t know how to feel about my son’s father.
My therapist suggested I write him a letter. Then send it.
This letter required me to put myself in his place. This letter involved an apology. I had given birth to a child I wanted. He didn’t want to become a father. As a result, he felt helpless. Angry. Resentful. Scared. I was sorry I had done that to him.
Over the years, I have taken several “personality” and/or “color” tests designed to reveal how I approach the world. Last summer, I took another, this time with the purpose of revealing my approach to teaching. Blue? Green? Orange? Yellow?
I was an equal split. Blue. Green. Emotional. Practical.
I blamed the mood swings and fatigue on stress. Mainly professional and financial.
I blamed the stress on me.
I am the kind of person, I think, push through. I am the kind of person, I think, you can fix this. I am the kind of person, I think, what? You’re going to QUIT now, you wimp?
The man I was in love with insisted happiness was a state of mind. You are what you think. Happiness is all in your attitude and perspective. I agree.
As a woman, you hit fifty, and you know.
This world fetishizes youth and demonizes aging.
You are past your prime. Hope you are in a safe and secure place. Hope you have your shit together. A game plan. A life partner who has got your back and loves you.
One morning, I woke and didn’t give a shit about anything.
All I could do was cry.
I showed up at my doctor’s office who asked, “How are you?”
I cried. And cried. And cried.
He suggested I might be menopausal.
I got a hold of myself, wiped my face and sniffled, then said, “I thought I was crazy.”
I quit a job I loved around the time I broke up with a man I loved. Major life changes. I felt alone. Heartbroken. Terrified. Insecure. Overwhelmed. Just very alone.
The blood test reveals where you are on the menopausal scale. I scored “23.”
Pretty high, actually.
My doctor prescribed 0.5 mg of Estradiol, generic for Estrace, which is estrogen, which my ovaries have stopped pumping into my body. Three weeks after I started the estrogen, I felt better. Three months later, I almost feel normal again.
Speaking with a shrink feels like squeezing pus out of a wound. Like flushing a toilet backwards. Messy. Scary. I am writing letters to someone else now.
In addition to teaching this semester, I am also taking a philosophy class called, “The Examined Life.” We started Tuesday with a discussion about “Mindfulness.”
What is that? Mainly, four things.
1.) Living in the here-and-now.
2.) One thing at a time.
3.) Remaining open.
4.) Suspending judgement.
My goal is to take it easier on myself. No one is tougher on me than me. I am cruel to myself, actually, and I know where this comes from. I have a picture.
No one has ever apologized to this girl.
Give her a hug, hold her hand, have her back.
Say, I love you.