The Up Side of Menopause

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A book I just finished reading had one line in it that made me think: “She was, I realized, the kind of girl I would have avoided in high school, a girl so frankly herself and so uninterested in pleasing others she seemed almost menopausal.” (The Actress, by Elizabeth Sims, pg. 102.)

It’s not that I haven’t thought of menopause this way before. I have. That doesn’t mean that I like being menopausal–my skin has lost its elasticity, I’ve gained weight I can’t get rid of, and I’m lucky now if people think I’m under 50 (I always used to look younger than I really was–and that’s still true, I guess. It’s just that I’m 57 now, so “younger” is a lot older than it used to be.)

And yet that line grabbed me, because I recognized its kernel of truth. I truly don’t care as much as I used to what people think of me. Note that I wrote “as much.” I still care. I’d still like to be thought of as young, but that day is rapidly passing. It won’t be that long before I’m 60. When do the terms “senior citizen” and “elderly” start to apply? At one time I would have thought that 60 qualified. Now that I’m almost there, I say hogwash.

And yet I sort of look forward to the day when I no longer feel a need to look sexy, when makeup will only make me look artificial, when no one will expect me to be fit and trim. The closer that day gets to be, the less likely I am to feel like I have to be a certain way. I already care less than I used to if people like me–life’s too short to worry about things like that. That’s a wisdom borne of living long enough to see how short life really is. And I can tell you, it’s really freeing.

If I had one word of advice for younger women it would be: “Someday you’re not going to care what people think of you and it will be a good thing. Why not start being that way now?”

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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