Liz: The Dirty Little Secret My Mama Never Told Me
As a child I learned so much from the time I spent talking, sharing and dreaming with my mother. What I didn’t glean in those moments, I learned by observation.
I learned that I probably wouldn’t grow up to be a fairy princess, but very likely would become a teacher or nurse as well as a mother (I was, after all, a child of the 50s). I dreamed of meeting a wonderful man and having a big, beautiful wedding that would lead to a cute little house with perfect little children of my own. In our chats, I painted a fanciful image of the happily-ever-after that awaited me when I became a grownup. And because that was the fulfillment of a woman’s aspirations back then, my mother allowed me to carry the illusion into adulthood. And so I did. And in many ways that fantasy became my adult reality.
But, there was a dirty little secret that my mother never shared. Perhaps she didn’t want to burst my bubble. Or, maybe, when HER happily-ever-after got interrupted by “the change of life” (menopause!) she thought she was alone. And how could she know any differently—her mother had failed to share the secret as well.
I remember it well...the first time I experienced hot flashes, or what I called “my own private summer.” It was a bit embarrassing to strip off every possible layer in the middle of the office just to cool off. Thankfully, those moments were fleeting and sporadic. I’d think, “This isn’t so bad…no wonder my mom never mentioned it.”
What began as a few hot flashes gradually became the full-blown reality that my mind and body were forever changing. Nightly, my sleep was fitful and interrupted as I went from a deep peaceful snooze to wide-eyed anxiety that made my mind race. My hands began to ache, my skin lost its glow, and I couldn’t remember why I went into a room. Worst of all, the plug had been pulled on my libido! My mind was filled with desire for the man that I love, but my body screamed, “Please don’t make me do this!” as dryness added pain to what used to be the pleasure of sex.
These changes did not happen overnight, so it took some time for me to recognize and embrace my new reality. Menopause had happened. Life had taken on a new normal.
And, did I say embrace? NO! Even accept is too strong a word. I was attempting to adjust to the fact that this was normal, all the while thinking, “Mom, why didn’t you tell me?” I still saw myself as young and healthy, and the march of time heralded by menopause was not what my dreams were made of. Could happily-ever-after only be for fairy princesses? Did my mom’s generation just accept life’s challenges and not talk about things like hot flashes and lost libido?
Well…I’m not from that generation. I’m a baby boomer—the generation that is never satisfied with the status quo. And I found a “magic pellet” of sorts that has revived my fairytale fantasies and re-invigorated my body in ways I’d never dreamed.
Read Part 2 of Liz’s story to learn about the life-changing solution to her menopause symptoms.