There is a popular way of describing the ages of womanhood that lays the entire arc of a woman's life out in 3 parts: Maiden, Mother, Crone. However, this handy division entirely misses one of the most significant stages of a woman's life, and (potentially) one of the most enjoyable ones. And perhaps it skips it because we, as a society, are a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of a woman who is powerful and complete on her own, not defined by who she is appealing to, or taking care of.
That stage is 'Queen'.
(I feel this should be punctuated by a collective gasp and a sudden knowing look appearing on all our faces, so if you could just...you know...do that while you read that would be super great.)
It is supposed to fall directly between Mother and Crone, and it encompasses the period of time in which a woman is past the child bearing age, but not yet actually ancient. You didn't know it was there, did you? Nope, we've handily forgotten it, and are supposed to take solace from the fact that crones are friendly and wise, except for when they are jealous of young maidens and try to poison them with apples.
(noooo maiden, don't do it! Your queendom awaits you...you just have to get through the years of PMS, cramps and unsolicited opinions of your appearance first. What do you mean, the apple looks quite good?)
Am I the only one that always felt a little dismayed that right after motherhood we apparently leap recklessly straight to old and wizened? Does that even make sense? Women don't do that. We don't just stop having periods and then immediately shrink wrap ourselves in shawls and sit on rocking chairs so as better to impart our croaky wisdom. OK, sometimes I DO do that. But mostly, on a good day, I am relieved to be mostly done with the pressures and pitfalls of my youth and the exhaustion of early motherhood. I am glad to know myself better, to care less what others think, and to have more time to devote to my own (trivial or not) pursuits.
So I was really happy to learn about this lost stage of womanhood (from a fellow queen, no less, in a bit of a secret handshake way) when I entered perimenopause. Finally I had something to look forward to that matched more of what I felt inside: confidence born of overcoming obstacles, self composure in the face of most of the things that used to bother me, and a fairly empty bucket of f--ks left to give. Sign me up for my coronation please, good sirs!
And then came the physical and emotional reality of what it takes to fully enter the majestic realms of Queen-dom. The hot flushes - yes, your body may burn with a fiery intensity, but I wasn't prepared for the utter fury that would wash over me when someone (cough *husband* cough) did the smallest thing wrong. I didn't fully realise that I would probably never sleep well through the night for years to come, or that I would start to put on weight and never, apparently, stop. I was prepared for my periods to be unstable and erratic...I was less prepared for my emotions to be that way too.
Becoming a queen, just like the transition from maiden to mother, is intense and demanding for many of us. Our adult bodies, which we've become quite familiar with over the last 20 to 30 years, are suddenly new again. Doing their own thing. Going rogue. We are along for the ride and strangely un-celebrated by everyone around us. There are no parties to mark this odd, halting transition, no gifts. There should really be gifts. There are only slightly wary family members trying to steer around us, and too many clothes on our hecking bodies. Good god, is no one else HOT IN HERE?!
Fortunately there is something I wish I'd known about sooner that you can consider a gift to yourself as you undergo the 'change', as it's affectionately known. That gift is hypnotherapy. It's gentle - no drugs, chemicals or artificial hormones needed - and yet it's astonishingly powerful, having been clinically proven to be as effective at treating hot flushes as HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).
As strange as it sounds, we can learn to control our body's temperature thermostat. In fact, The North American Menopause Society recommends hypnotherapy as a non-hormonal treatment for menopausal symptoms. And an article in the British Medical Journal states:' The NAMS guideline recommends hypnosis for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms, based on randomised controlled trials including women with and without a history of breast cancer demonstrating a statistically significant reduction in the frequency of subjective and objective vasomotor symptoms'. (BMJ 2017;359:5101)
And it's not only helpful for hot flushes. Hypnotherapy can also help us learn to:
- sleep better
- find the motivation to make healthy choices around eating and exercising
- maintain or regain our libido
- reduce our stress, anxiety and general urge to smite people to smithereens.
The team at Clear Minds have put together a package of sessions that aim to help woman experiencing perimenopause and menopause symptoms to feel so much better, both physically and emotionally. You can check it out here:
I no longer believe that this has to be a difficult and uncomfortable time in our lives. If we find effective ways to manage the results of this huge life transition then perhaps we can look forward to becoming the queens we were always meant to be without having to behead too many fools along the way?
(I said perhaps.)