On Pause

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I put the pause in menopause.

I don’t claim to be the only one: the word has that syllable in it for a reason.

Menopause is a developmental phase that has been around (I’m guessing?) since Eve. At a certain point, the hormones that buoy life force, tank. My brother-in-law says this doesn’t happen to women only. He and countless men experience andropause, also called viropause, which is known as the male menopause. It’s no accident that all these terms contain “pause.”

It’s time to pause. In other words, chill the f*ck out.

The recent results of a hormonal blood test validate what I’ve been experiencing, which has been the full-body instinct to push Pause.

“You’re officially old!” My friend Santosh congratulated me. This is good news in his culture.  He’s from Nepal, where he told me that women in my phase ritualistically get to hand over all their cooking and cleaning duties to their daughter-in-law(s). The job for menopausal women is to enter a deep spiritual journey; to chant, do yoga, sit in the sun in the afternoons. I think Santosh also said something about playing with the babies, too, the grandchildren. But I was stuck on the not cooking and cleaning thing.

“So that’s why I can barely drag myself to the grocery store,” I said.  After decades of bopping down the produce and dairy aisles three times a week, I now have to muster up resolve to go to Whole Foods as if I am gearing up to ascend from Mount Everest base camp.

Santosh and I went on to contrast his culture to ours. How here, when we are in our fifties, we are considered nowhere near the time to downshift. This is when we are expected to keep improving, to get a trainer so our body can look twenty, shoot up our faces with Botox and fillers, and crank out our masterpiece, churn out the magnus opus, wow ourselves and our world by reaching the apex of our career.

When I am coaching people, it is consistently clear to me that how they are feeling has deep wisdom to it. That their instincts are worth honoring. Yet, what I see people doing so often is resisting. Resisting how they feel, resisting what their intuition and body are telling them, resisting what is actually their life. I am no different. I spent much of 2018 trying to coax myself into feeling the ole’ get up and go (when I most certainly didn’t), into being who and how I used to be. It took a blood test for me to say: Oh. Oh, now I get it: the instinct to push Pause was right on schedule.

The instinct to push Pause was and is honorable, as in: worth honoring. On a daily basis. And perhaps in a bigger overarching way as well, which I have yet to fathom—but the prospect thrills me. (Or, rather, lures. Thrill currently requires too much energy.) Let’s just say the prospect lures me.

In what direction are your instincts luring you right now?  And how might that be worth honoring?

 

16 thoughts on “On Pause”

  1. Great essay, yet again!! Thanks so much.

    My Instincts are telling me to get back on a bicycle for a (an undetermined) while! For me I don’t feel like it is about male menopause or trying to continue to be what I ‘was’ but the celebration of immersion into spirit!

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  2. Hi Hilary, thank you for taking the time (pause) to write about this! As a woman in her 40’s who has already gone through menopause (early), I resonated with and appreciated your articulation of the competing pulls — to pause and reflect, perhaps to do something different with the pace of my life — and the more socially acceptable pull to keep on truckin’ and haulin’ ass to do more, better, faster all the time. Its exhausting! And just seeing that pull out there in black and white was helpful for me today. Taking the time to even think about finding more balance, space, and peace is part of the process. Thank you for this point of reflection in my day today. Much Love to you, Anne

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    1. Thank you so much for your rich comment. I think the instinct to pause, whether menopausal or not, is so useful–particularly because the autopilot of this culture is to (as you say) haul ass. We could haul our asses right up to our death beds and have missed out on a lot of sensual presence…

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  3. Hi Hilary. I loved this. Is nopuse an option🤤 I am so sorry to miss next Tues at the Marriott. I am leading our book club discussion of Little Fires Everywhere. I highly recommend it. Hope to reunite in the fall. Miss you! L Carol

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  4. Wow. Really resonates. Been on pause for 4 years since my mom got sick. Feeling like I lost my mojo. Just want to feel balance. Peace. Do yoga. Hike. Hang with friends. Drink wine. Talk about our pain our plans. Not interested in a career. Trying to find plan b but knowing that it is not quite time yet. Another year and then out of commercials. Getting rid of our PA Place in July and a new era is on the horizon. CANT WAIT TO SEE TOU NEXT MONTH.

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    1. I love this reflection: are we supposed to have “mojo” all the time? Do we even WANT all that mojo and all that comes with it anymore? Maybe hanging with friends and drinking wine IS plan b? I don’t have the answers at the moment but am liking the question…

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