Deepening into Autumn Woman

Rachael CrowMenopause, Menstrual Health, Musings

Menopause is one of the most amazing, challenging, life affirming rites of passage women go through in their lives- some women sail through it while others suffer terribly. I wanted to be prepared and step into this phase of my life with awareness and clarity so I’ve been gathering information for almost 5 years now.

My initiations in life have been rather premature- I was one of the first to start my periods at school, I left home at 16 and I was a teen mum- 2 children by 20 and a single parent- one child had special needs, so life wasn’t very rosy…..I married in my 30’s and had a second family, birthing my fourth child at 42…so I’m one of those women (like a lot of us these days) heading towards menopause while parenting small children…and oh, that’s not a great mix!

I also identify as HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and am a recovered addict.

I have a daily practice of journalling, menstrual cycle awareness, my recovery programme and holding an awareness of my sensitivities as I’m affected by my inner seasons, the moon phases, the outer seasons in nature, the solstices, equinoxes and planetary alignments!

Since my late thirties I’ve lived with my husband and our 2 youngest in the countryside in Wales….throughout my life I had craved nature and the simplicity of country living. City life was too full on (hence my numbing with alcohol and drugs to cope) and I just knew my soul needed trees, rivers, hills, mountains and clear starry skies with bright moons to thrive. So I whittled down my work (I was self employed so it wasn’t too hard) and prepared for “The Good Life”!

Things started simple, living in a caravan with our third child, both of us working part time, plenty of time for relaxation, growing food, walks and beach trips…then we conceived our fourth child- not planned (take note women in their 40’s…your cycle changes!).

So things changed, we rented a house, we both had to step up to working a bit more to pay higher rent and bills….there was still the dream of a simpler life, for my husband that meant buying some land and building our home, growing our own food…..and I was happy to go along with that!

But as my son neared his first birthday, I found myself wanting more, wanting to get back to work- and do work that was my passion! I started up a local Red Tent and put out some of my workshops.

Around this time an opportunity arose to buy a house with quite a lot of land- but we needed other folk to join us to cover the finances- and the idea came- lets start a community!

Looking back…I was cycling again, and breastfeeding, so I think the oxytocin was keeping me sociable and happy, so I followed the idea that community is the way forward. I still believe that…many, many elders believe it too…interestingly the elders who have been saying it to me over the years all live alone! There’s something in that! But for people who are highly sensitive, community life can be at worst traumatic, at best a place to really learn communication and boundaries!

I must admit though- I had niggling doubts- I’d visited lots of communities when my older children had been little- and I’d struggled. It was hard for me to be around people a lot, life in a community was very over stimulating. But I would over ride these doubts thinking that I would just ‘carry on as normal’ and my husband could ‘do the community bit’. In hindsight, I should have listened to those niggles…always, always follow your gut, listen to your instincts!

Well, here I stand, 3 years later, peri-menopausal, and realising I’ve been living the most stressful life I have ever lived. Six months ago I had a break down- or break through as I prefer to say!

The February full moon (which was also an eclipse) brought real clarity and a reality check for me, it was time to really look at the situation; was it working, where my husband and I still on the same page, and how could we move forward?

I also began to look back over my cycle charts and saw a pre- menstrual pattern of a need to ‘get out of here’…at the time I had thought these strong feelings were coming from a need to let go and drop into my womb temple but I had an awakening- not this was my inner truth coming out, I don’t want to live here anymore! And I don’t want to live like this anymore!

This life has been too much for me…I can’t do all the meetings (patriarchal business meetings…no, that’s not me…that’s why I’m self employed!), I can’t be around the people here, I don’t have time for the extra work living in a community brings- because on the positive side- my business is thriving, my workshops are fully booked- the things that fill my passion are flowing- but the lifestyle isn’t!

Our community meetings are always when I’m pre-menstrual or on my moon time, I’m so open and vulnerable at these times that I simply can’t attend- or if I do I come away feeling emotionally and energetically attacked. I’ve stepped in to the role of the ‘crazy woman’ of the group as I’m constantly opposing things that at the core of my being I know are wrong- but they see things very differently to me! I’m a spanner in the works, a cog that just wont budge!

My breakthrough was a huge reality check- simply- this isn’t working! In the last 3 years I’ve changed…and I continue to change as I head towards menopause, I tried to explain to my husband “I feel like a caterpillar in its cocoon- I’m mush, and one day I’ll be a butterfly, but I don’t know when that will be!” But I do know that my mushy self needs certain things to be OK…privacy, my own home, my own space to ‘be’ in peace, a bath (yes, I’ve lived without one for 6 years, I need one! I want long epsom salt baths!), some trees and green around me, and quiet, lots of quiet! My poor husband is so confused and who knows if my marriage will survive this- stats show that 60% women initiate divorce in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s!

The stress of this life has upped my menopausal symptoms- migraines, insomnia, night sweats, hot flushes…but I’m happy to say that all of these have calmed down since making the decision to resign from the community, separate from my husband, move in to a beautiful house (with a hearth and a bath!) which is surrounded by trees, a river and some sacred stones- what more could I want?

The things that have kept me sane the last few years-

Having someone who totally ‘gets me’ to talk to- and for me that’s a wonderful friend who is cycle literate, understands addiction and is a sensitive..I really think if it hadn’t been for her, affirming my truth- I would have been heading for the mental hospital. Thank you Amber, who can support you too…see her beautiful website Seasons Of A Woman.

A good homeopath  who understands cycles, seasons of a womans life and being sensitive! Thank you Clare

TRE – Total Release Exercises

Reading the book- Owning It, Your Bullshit Free Guide to Living with Anxiety

Soothing herb teas 

(see the book The Menopausal Years for lots of herbal recommendations)

This Works Sleep Spray

Woman Essence Tincture

Lady Care Magnet

Rescue Remedy– having it in your pocket to take for moments of anxiety

Putting a few drops of lavender and vetiver oil on a scarf during the day/pillow at night, both are calming.

Having the voices of my ‘teachers’ speaking sense about this phase of womens lives, in books, on YouTube, iTunes etc- one particular ‘tape’ that’s been playing in my brain was Alexandra Popes voice from her Menopause Training “don’t burn your bridges”… I’m choosing consciously to not burn my bridges, but to walk away with my head held high.  (I recommend watching these YouTube videos on menopause- Menopause and Beyond, The Autumn Woman, and reading The Wisdom of Menopause)

Knowledge of my cycle and the inner phases (see my blog about the 5 chambers of menopause – we also cycle though these chambers at each Moon Time so in theory we are practicing for the stages of menopause- hence the Native American saying- At menarche a woman meets her power,
during her menstruating years she practices her power, at menopause she becomes her power. So if you are still bleeding, take time to drop in to these chambers!)

My recovery meetings- being with like minded people who are wired like me.

My Red Tent women, especially the elders who have also affirmed me and supported me immensely (offering their homes at retreat spaces and giving me baths! You know who you are!)

Journalling through it all, knowing myself deeply, sitting with the shadow, facing myself with honesty.

Keeping in close contact with my spiritual practice, my guides and the land.

My work– especially with girls- I just want them to have such awareness of themselves!

Time in nature- alone!

Moon Time quiet time.

I know I’m no where near through it yet…peri menopause can last up to 12 years…I’ve got a way to go. I’m committed to my inner journey, un-numbed, conscious and sane!

(C) Rachael Crow August 2017 all rights reserved