Sunday 21 July 2019. Day 190: ‘I currently want to stab my husband in the head!’. Just one of the recent comments I’ve seen on a social media menopause forum. The menopause impostor makes the sweetest of us turn into creatures we don’t recognise and the slightest wrong action or clumsy comment from our nearest and dearest, can cause a full blown row. Husbands and partners bear the brunt of this and sadly, many relationships are pushed to their limits and they don’t survive the menopause years.
So, your other half has left you, but you’re still an (attractive?) young looking 50 something who still wants someone to think you’re gorgeous and fun to be with, who is happy to just give you a hug when it’s been a particularly bad day and will share a bag of popcorn with you on a Friday night watching Rocketman at the cinema.
Those of you who follow my blog will know a little of the demise of my relationship with my partner of 7 years. It would be easy and possibly convenient to say that this was caused by the arrival of the menopause. However, as the weeks turn into months, I now realise that it was a far from healthy relationship and him walking away into the arms of another (possibly peri woman?!) actually did me a huge favour. Yes, the menopause was a huge factor in that it highlighted his complete lack of empathy towards my symptoms, but ultimately, we were just not suited to each others emotional selves.
So where does that leave me? Single is where it leaves me and actually that’s no bad thing because quite frankly, who wants to date this hot flushed mess with a not so sexy HRT patch stuck to her bum?!
And so on a day when I least expect it, let alone looking for it, I literally bump into a guy from my youth. No fireworks, no eyes meeting across a crowded room (granted it was my old school’s jubilee celebrations and it was pretty busy); it was simply a big smile of recognition and a massive warm hug of old friendship. A few days later, a text inviting me to join him for a drink ‘to celebrate my 50th birthday’ which just happened to be the following day. To be clear, this was not a date; it was two old school friends catching up on each other’s lives. We talked of our failed marriages, our children, our jobs and our memories of each other as 15 year olds. It was a lovely evening but I was clear that I was not looking for a relationship because the menopause is making me loopy and my ex has left mental scars that are going to take a while to fade.
A week or so later, and he invites me to join him to see a film ‘as friends’. ‘Great’ I think, then low and behold, I get home from work on the pre-arranged evening and I burst into tears. My anxiety has gone through the roof and I feel like I’m about to jump off a cliff. ‘It’s just the cinema with an old friend’ says my youngest (Little Blue) and she talks me away from the cliff and runs me a bath. The evening turns out to be one of the loveliest evenings I’ve had in a long time and I feel spoilt and looked after.
Two months and countless dinners, walks and chilled evenings later, we’re still ‘just friends’; okay, maybe with some benefits but it’s all I need for now. At least I think it’s all I need for now. I still get ridiculously anxious and that’s really starting to piss me off. The confident, outgoing and slightly crazy me (funny crazy before you say otherwise!) has turned into this self-doubting and self-deprecating mess.
My biggest problem with whatever this relationship is that we have, is that there is no frame of reference for him. He hasn’t seen me walk into a room like I own it; he hasn’t seen me confidently wear my little black dress; he hasn’t seen me do my crazy Bohemian Rhapsody rendition whilst cooking dinner. He sees a woman who weeps because she’s doubting herself; a woman who rebuffs his compliments because she feels ugly and tired all the time; a woman who is anxious about walking into a bar for a drink because her confidence is on the floor. He doesn’t see me, the previous me; the me I want to be again. How is he ever going to find me let alone see me if I am lost in this menopause fog?
The reality is that he likes me. He liked me when I was 15 and he still likes me now. Granted, he hasn’t known the me from the time between school and now, but he does think I’m a breath of fresh air because I say it as it is and I’m articulate. It’s just me that doesn’t like me much right now, and all these negative thoughts and feelings I have are due to my menopausal body reacting like that of a drug addict who’s had her oestrogen fix removed and is going cold turkey and is subsequently in free-fall.
I wonder if the women whose partners have successfully navigated the menopause years with empathy and understanding are the lucky ones. After all, the love of their life has weathered the storm and they have arrived at their new phase of life together. How many of these women though struggled with the loss of who they once were and accepted who they are now. How many men mourned the loss of their vibrant, sexy, confident lover? I think it’s quite simple; they have a lifetime of loving each other and they stuck by the vows they made. The journey will have been far from easy but these women are loved and accepted for who they were, who they are and who they will be.
Until next time lovelies, I will attempt to dust off that little black dress and wear it with sass whilst singing along to darling Freddie.
50 year old mum and grandma juggling children, grandchildren, love, work, and the menopause!