Menopause is teaching me about the benefits of disengaging. I’m not talking about disappearing, but more about learning how to engage with more of the real me. Or so my older women friends tell me. It’s brand new territory for me.
An engaging, some say magnetic quality to my personality has taken a lead role for most of my life, and it has exhausted me.
As I round the final corner of my forty-ninth year, I’m looking forward to heaving a sigh of relief, exhaling the unrealistic expectations I’ve come to impose on myself.
I was conditioned to respond to others with unremitting love and care, which is not unusual for those of us in the healing arts. Women especially, have repressed the less loving parts of themselves. These parts went underground when well meaning but wounded parents sometimes, unwittingly, signaled to us that expressing the full spectrum of our feelings and responding with anything other than love was unacceptable. Even if that love was not real love, even if saying ‘No!’ can be from a place of love.
Naturally, all parents are wounded. So what’s occurred is that many children with sensitivities and healing gifts never learned how to keep their own energy in balance, so as to grow into fuller, multidimensional humans.
I have historically tended to react to others’ needs with formidable compassion and fanfare. Most of the time, I genuinely care. But genuine is impossible to maintain 24/7. So I developed my ‘Love Mask’. It’s deeply ingrained. Leading with my Love Mask is unsustainable. It will need to be transmuted, because after all these years, anything I do that doesn’t revitalize me just leaves me weak. My body has spoken!
If I want to be free of my old patterns of behavior, I’ll have to depart from the well-worn grooves. Sooner or later we all must let go of the illusion of control.
Paradoxically, I’ll have to pull my energy in, to bring my focus to myself. I’m not proposing narcissism as much as placing myself outside of people’s problems. I don’t have to provide answers, insights or advice for others. I can let myself off the hook.
I’ll have to allow myself to be less important (less narcissistic), less essential to the healing, the problem solving, or the clever conversation. I’ll have to take myself less seriously!
As I become more present to myself, and by really beginning to embody the belief that I deserve to be happy, I won’t have to aggrandize myself for others, even those who come to me for my ‘powers’ of healing and wisdom.
Honoring my own life force will help me to respect others’ chance to grow. How could I rob them of their soul’s very substance by presuming to know what they should do?
‘The trouble with youth, is that it is wasted on the young’, said Oscar Wilde.
What I could manage with my Love Mask at 20, 30, and 40, is no longer possible. I can’t be involved with others in this crippling way. It’s a miracle I didn’t become seriously ill, or have a mental breakdown, though I’ve felt dangerously close to those edges at times! I was experiencing Menopause as a wasteland, a place I wanted to leave, but it turns out that this experience was hiding a gift. When I finally fell to my knees in surrender, Grace began to make an appearance. I think of Grace as my ‘Higher Self. She shows up in those moments when I’m able to grasp that this is the only way she can get my attention. The insomnia, the hot flashes, the chronic pain, the grief, is slowly releasing the real me. So in honor of turning 50 this fall, I’m going to celebrate my freedom!
Catriona O’Curry is a consultant based in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, Bob. They like to travel to Seattle, B.C. and Europe in the summers.