What happened after my life blew up at 46...
Part 1 of a series on the toughest parts of the peri/menopause transition
*THIS MIGHT BE HARD TO READ AND IT’S INTENSELY PERSONAL*
When people speak about perimenopause and suicide, and they are lately, a lot, I am deeply invested. I feel this is something I can write about, because this is something I know about personally. At a point deep in my perimenopause, I wanted nothing more than to leave this earth, due to my own psychology and a series of external events, fluctuating hormones, and a total and complete spiritual collapse. I just couldn’t figure out how. Thank goodness for that, and for Muslim countries, and friends, and cats that sit on you and purr after midnight, just when you think the world has forsaken you. And the tiniest flickers of light that appear, just when you thought they were gone forever.
My life fell apart six years ago this month, as I was 46 turning 47. Even as I type these words I started crying a little out of allegiance to my past self, because it.was.so.bad.
I still can’t really talk about that time without going into too much depth, because when you hit that kind of terrible, horrible, no-good bottom, there are too many strings stretching back into too many things to come up with a concise explanatory paragraph.
Suffice it to say that 25 years of mostly singledom – by choice, but also by heartbreak – filled with lots of love, fun and adventure and success, but also intense loneliness and years of pain and doubt, met middle age. Tied up in there was anxious and avoidant attachment I was unaware of, trauma I had only scratched the surface in dealing with, a lifetime of workaholism and being the worst of internal taskmasters, a deep lack of self-worth and certainty that something was wrong with me, increasingly problematic binge drinking, decades of ever-worsening gut issues beginning to wreak havoc, decades of high highs and low lows, and a deeply rooted, internalized and cruel ageism toward myself. All that collided with three very hard external circumstances: rat, tat, tat.
No one died. But if I can boil down the whole f*ck stew of that time, it would be betrayal, job loss and a biggest of broken hearts, all within an 9-month period. It felt like first being hit in the gut with a baseball bat, getting up and taking some tentative, hopeful steps, then tripping and falling flat on my face in front of a huge audience with no trousers on, followed by being pushed out of a speeding car and tumbling down an embankment and falling into a very large pit. By the end of it, my spirit was broken. I had always hoped to marry and have children, or at least marry and have the kind of relationship I’d seen other people have. And here I was, living out my worst nightmare: jobless, single, old and humiliated, staring down my 47th birthday.
It was godawful. I lost faith in myself, in the world and in most people. I woke every morning for months what felt like cinder blocks on my chest. For the better part of a year, I had a refrain running through my head: ‘I don’t want to be here; how can I not be here, why doesn’t anyone care about how bad I feel, how can I get out of this’.
Every single day was a lonely, tortured brawl, from morning to night.
I turn 53 this month. I think that is cause for celebration, and a rare Hotflash inc sale:
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