This is the third in a series of conversations with women in transition. When women claim space for their story, share it and then let it go, they mirror back to other women the messy magnificence of peri/menopause. We will all walk this life transition at some stage; better to share it with another.
In my lounge room, I am sitting with Alice (not her real name) in the first week of March 2020 just before the world changed and COVID restrictions came into force. She started sharing her powerfully transformative, richly textured, visually detailed story of the last five years.
BR: Was there a specific moment in your life, leading up to perimenopause, when you realised something needed to change?
AC: Not really. I subconsciously felt unsettled in my life, in my marriage for about 10 years. I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t want what I thought was the most important thing to end. But something needed to give. I wasn’t completely me.
Two years later, I had a series of spiritual awakenings. After years of Network Spinal Analysis*, I attended a Liquid Crystals workshop and started taking seven crystals that awakened powerful visions in me. Sounds, symbols, visions – especially snakes and kingfishers (a symbol of transformation and calm) – became a more frequent part of my consciousness.
Spirit has always moved through me as a nurse and midwife, but this was extreme! I was a stay at home mum with 4 kids after a career as a nurse and midwife, a very practical person, taking care of everyone’s needs, a Cancerian. Now I was being told I was a healer and being asked to trust my hands.
How did these visions inform you? Did they scare you?
I trusted so much in the guidance that they offered. But I was more scared about going through menopause. In the marriage, I felt intuitively I wouldn’t have space to pay it homage and give myself the care and attention I needed.
In my mid 40’s I had the most incredible vision. Women were chasing me naked along a boardwalk near a river. They caught me, held me down and let the river flow through me. I realised If I was going to change, if I wanted things to change, I needed to surrender and let it flow. It was around that time a bright light was guiding me to practice, train and work in a hands on healing modality.
At what point did your marriage break down and how did that affect you?
It was nearly 5 years ago when I was 48. I felt like I was dying, the part of me I was most attached to, the married part was dying, had to die. I thought that he would finally come to his senses, come back after he saw what he had lost. It was a tough time for both of us, particularly since he was seriously unwell and undergoing treatment.
There was one time when I was walking through the forest close to where I lived, when I saw a large python cleanly cut in half. No one was about, it was not a vision, it was real, in front of me. I understood then, that I would sever my own transformation, I would live a divided life not true to myself if I kept wanting my marriage to work. My ego and identity were completely absorbed in my marriage. Once I decided it was done, I could put healing energy into myself.
Have you experienced any symptoms of perimenopause? Are there any modalities that work for you?
I have and still experience a collection of random symptoms, sleeplessness, low mood, sadness and joint and body pains. I reached out to a herbalist friend of mine, instinctively wanting the vibrational level of herbs to hold me. I took lots of liver herbs, St Mary’s thistle, dandelion, and St John’s wort, red clover, nettle, raspberry leaf and lady’s mantle.
I still take some of these consistently as teas and tinctures. They are so supportive, not subverting perimenopause symptoms but allowing my body to heal itself. I look back, kind of amused by the way I did try things to accelerate healing from the grief and loss but it wasn’t a great outcome (laughing). The herbs have been my safety net.
Looking back how do you feel about that stage of your life, and where you are now?
I feel so, so grateful. It was the worst and best time of my life. Now I can say truthfully I am the happiest I’ve ever been; contented, peaceful, full of courage and strength. It reminds me of when I was fifteen windsurfing, or perhaps as a child, the last time I can remember feeling this free.
For me the whole perimenopause process is out in the open, heard and seen. I don’t hide it. This visibility and the space and time I am giving myself, reinforces that I am on the right path. In relationship, I didn’t see myself as wounded, but I wasn’t sitting in my truth. I couldn’t possibly become whole from this place of resistance. It took a devastating, traumatic event that I felt incapable of dealing with, to really know myself. To know yourself in your fifties is the ultimate power.
*NSA is a form of chiropractic treatment that works on the subtle body