Catherine Dean

Finding gratitude under strange circumstances

Being the daughter of a mother with narcissistic traits, as well as being bullied at school, is quite a melting pot of troubles. I was physically and mentally bullied at school. Teachers and parents were no help. In fact, the way they dealt with me made me feel like I deserved it, I did something wrong. Add to this the fact that in my mothers eyes I was not good enough. The reasons for my deficiencies varied from day to day. Weight, clothing, studies, career choices. The list was endless. She made me feel worthless. To this day she still tries to undermine my confidence.

As a child I was not allowed to show any emotions. Being happy about something was being smug. Feeling sad? Not allowed. Socks needed to be pulled and teeth gritted. Not all emotional display was banned. Displeasure was mother’s default mode. When provoked, she could out-tantrum a three year old toddler. Her temper was legendary as was the hardness of her hand. She readily dealt out corporal punishment for the slightest infringement of her rules.

I couldn’t wait to leave home. University provided the perfect opportunity to escape. I met life-long friends there and discovered that my upbringing was far from normal. As a young woman I vowed I would never be like my mother, never treat any child I might have the way I was mistreated.
It is because of that vow that I have two kids who readily share their ups and downs without fear of ridicule. They know they are loved no matter what. Unconditional love. We have fun together. Emotions and feelings are expressed freely. Of course they have tested the boundaries. This is part of life as a family. My parenting skills are always under scrutiny from mother. Meh! (She hates this expression!) Her way totally sucked. Mine is not perfect but seems to work for us and that’s what matters.

So what has all this to do with affecting ones menopause? Well the trouble with bottling up feelings and emotions (as taught by mother) is that eventually there will be a reckoning. Mine came at the start of perimenopause. In my last blog, I said I would write about the connection between my childhood experiences and my menopausal symptoms. So here goes.
All the horrible, scary symptoms I experienced were from unprocessed feelings and emotions from childhood. As a very logical, proof-driven person, I found it hard to understand. Fortunately I was introduced to a wonderful woman who totally understood what I was going through and why I was terrified. This was my leap of faith. This lovely lady was a psychologist.

Turns out my poor body had been trying to get my attention to care for it and nurture it. The more I ignored my feelings and bottled my emotions the more extreme my symptoms became. With the help of Dr Siskin, I faced my childhood issues and learned to speak ‘me’. I think it’s easier to learn Klingon than ‘me’. Instead of being scared of every physical symptom, and heaven knows there’s plenty of them during the change, I learned to read them. It took me around two years of therapy to get there but I did, and so can any of us if we choose to. I found additional  help by reading books by Louise Hay, Dr Christiane Northrup, and Susun Weed.

And there you have it. The short version. I’ve shifted from empirical scientist to spiritual adventurer and I’ve never been happier. Earlier this week I reached an important milestone in my life. I’ve not had a period for over a year now so that makes me postmenopausal. I have plans to celebrate my third age, second spring, cronehood. I have no plans to go quietly, with decorum. Life is for living so let me at it!