Last night I cried because I have under-eye bags and dark circles. Not because of some jarring world event, or a national crisis (like the upcoming U.S. elections); not because my livelihood is in any kind of direct jeopardy, not because I'm worried about where my next meal is coming from (though these days I do worry where my next glass of wine is coming from).
I cried over eye bags and circles. To be fair, also crepe-y skin. And laugh lines. So you can understand.
These didn't just appear one day, of course, but were instead links in a chain of uninspiring events that have developed in recent years. My hair started greying and thinning at the sides of my hairline. To add insult to crotch-kick, the grey hair grows in unmanageably witchy and frizzy: every woman's bane.
The fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead have become more pronounced; my skin, thinner in some areas, has lost its luster and cannot decide if it wants to plague me with zits or suck every ounce of moisture out of me, leaving me like an 8-day-old raisin on the Mojave floor. Add to that my period, which now comes only a few times a year, and when it does, leaves me in agony and the need to sleep like the dead.
My husband gives me the stink-eye when the electric bill arrives because I keep my thermostat at 65 to combat my scorching body temperature. (Sorry, friends and family. But you can put a sweater on -- I can't remove layers of my dermis.) The lowered thermostat has not preserved my waistline, which has gradually increased. I haven't seen my feet in two years.
My brain is cloudy and my memory so muddled that I cannot remember what I am reaching for when I move from the kitchen cupboard to the pantry door, which is exactly two steps away.
Two. Steps. Away. Why am I here again?
There are days where I question everything and spiral car/doughnut-style out in an emotional overreach. Am I contributing to society? Am I living an authentic life? Am I in the right career? Marriage? Clothing color combination?
And my moods? Do I need to explain those? I'm here, doing this, so that should tell you something about my moods. They don't just swing. They seesaw. They don't play well with others. They throw sand in your face for trying to share the plastic shovel and throw you headlong out of the whole damn playground.
Welcome to the Cold War, girlfriend. Welcome to PeRiMeNoPaUsE.
I wish someone would have given me a heads-up, a "what to expect when you're menopause-ing" conversation. My mother is long gone, and between appointments at her plastic surgeon and her salon where a cut and color cost as much as a mortgage payment, she likely left out the conversation of growing older gracefully because she simply didn't subscribe.
I didn't come here to complain.
Wait. Total lie. Yes, I did. But in fairness, I also came here to try to work through this onset of crazy, and share the experience. If you clicked on this this piece, you may have been feeling the same way and I want to feel like someone else gets it (read: has to suffer, too). Draconian, I know. I'm sure that's another sign of impending menopause. Or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Same difference. I blame the damn hormones.
This is total bullshit, I say to myself, as I spackle more concealer on my eye luggage. Then more eye cream. Then more concealer. Then more eye cream, which gets in my eye, so now I look like someone socked me in the face AND poked me in the peeper for the misdeed of turning 45 in March. Then I cry and ruin everything I have just done, which clearly wasn't working anyway.
I wasn't ready for this. Is any woman ready for this? Ready to kiss the last of her youth goodbye in the wake of such a strident mental and corporeal assault? I have been good to this person, this alter ME, and look how she thanks me.
So, just like she has for billions of other women, Peri reared her ugly fat head and caught me right in the kisser. I'm not going to take this crap lying down. Actually, yes I am. I need more sleep. But I am going to do things to circumvent her, notwithstanding the peril of my own well-being. Quite the opposite.
The current state of midlife affairs has made me reconsider the products I use and foods I eat, increase the time my body and mind need to unwind, and has caused a re-evaluation of my life, relationships, and my place in this world (also a symptom of Peri's veritable chokehold).
When I figure out some of those things, I am going to pursue a foundational place of gratitude to carry me through the second chapter of my life. I am going to find beauty where it abides, within and around me, and remember that what is happening to me now is a part of a beautiful and natural order of the universe. I will do my best to focus on everything and everyone else.
And then I'll find some Doritos.
So what's in store as I age? Mid-life crises. Hormone replacement therapy. Vaginal dryness. Brittle bones. Pee-drops when I laugh. The psyche ward on a particularly "off" day. An exorcism. Maybe. But I'll figure out how to make the most of the journey. I'll find a way to sling my arm around Peri and keep moving alongside her.
They say to keep your enemies close.