It’s been a while since, my face and neck going an incandescent shade of crimson, I felt the need to strip down to my cotton lacy vest (mmm, yes, natural fibres) in the middle of a supermarket, whatever the season, and press my body as much as I could against the fridge sections of dairy, milk and meat. As a veggie that was awkward, but cooling down was essential. Once the wild fires had passed, I’d cover up again until the next time….
I naively started off thinking it would be a ‘mini pause’. My health was good, and I’d tried to take care of myself all my life.
I remember the stats that one out of four women experiences nothing (like a friend who couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about), two have a range of average symptoms and one has extreme symptoms.
I soon found myself in the ranks of the latter.
The menopause is undoubtedly an intensely individual experience that should be honoured and supported whatever the woman’s choices are to best manage this transition.
Me, I went with it and read Dr Christiane Northrup’s work and Lesley Kenton’s – anything I could find about what was happening and how to manage it. I also learnt what herbal remedies my ancestors used, and took them.
I felt I was shedding the accumulated weight of years of worries, expectations and conditioning.
I danced 5 Rhythms weekly with devotion and exercised as often as I could, my body enjoyed it, why not?
I kept writing, even though I was a full-time carer of a very special daughter with complex needs, herself going through adolescence. Why does nature do that: two women going through profound changes in the same household?
And one of the poems I wrote then waited until Cherry gave it a home in the wonderful Menopause anthology.
I am proud to be included alongside the work of so many women’s voices, whose experiences enrich the overdue conversation we need to have about the menopause.
We need to go beyond the narrative of becoming invisible – unless a woman wishes that for herself, then I respect her choice.
But there are as many ways of stepping into our non-reproductive years as each woman is unique.
Let’s question the medicalised narrative of women’s health at every stage.
Let’s share our experiences and break the taboo, the silence, the shame.
Let’s support those women who are approaching the threshold to feel more confident stepping into this rich territory, which is an integral part of being a woman, as it has been for as long as we have been on earth.
Let’s relegate the questionable and freely spouted narrative of this youth-obsessed Western culture of older women being sad and past it.
Whatever your unique life experiences, if you are willing to share, we are all the richer for learning about them, as we understand more about ourselves and each other.
If not, I totally respect your need for privacy.
I say these are traditionally our wisdom years and we need to reclaim them.
I say for some women, our best years are yet to come.
If you are approaching this powerful time, I am welcoming you in.
If you have already experienced it, I honour you.
Marina Sánchez has a poem Wild Fires in Menopause: the Anthology
We have events on 6/10/23 1pm Online, 14/10/23 5.30pm Brixton Village Studios, 18/10/23 7pm online, 25/10/23 7.30pm Juno Books Sheffield, and more to come… ALL DETAILS
Marina is an award-winning poet and translator, widely published in literary journals. She is of Indigenous Mexican & Spanish origins, living in London. Her poems have been placed in national and international competitions and then anthologised. Her first pamphlet Dragon Child (Acumen, 2014), was Book of the Month in the poetry kit website. Her poems have been included in Un Nuevo Sol, the first UK Latinx anthology (flipped eye, 2019). Her second pamphlet Mexica Mix was one of the winners of the 2020 Verve competition.