Thursday, March 19, 2009
Yesterday I spent the entire day giving myself and my house back to spring. I took all the plants which I'd brought inside to avoid freezing back out and I fed them all some Miracle Gro and I washed all the sheets and blankets and old tablecloths I've been using to cover up the ones I didn't bring in when it froze. I hung them on the line and then folded them up and put them away until next winter.
I planted a row of blue potatoes and I weeded in the garden and I checked the progress of what we've planted. The peas are about to make that leap up to the fence where they will climb as high as it goes and then bend over backwards to offer us their sweet, crisp pods.
I swept the hallway and picked a huge bouquet of azaleas, dogwood, honeysuckle, fern frond and ivy to set on the old chest in the hallway. I dug up some sago palm pups to give to Kathleen and I swept the porches.
I made venison white bean chili from the dried beans on up and then put it in the crock pot to simmer for the rest of the day. I cleaned off the top of the refrigerator.
And all day long, I had such hope in my heart.
I felt like myself for the first time in forever and ever and ever.
Such a subtle thing. I can't even describe it beyond that- I felt like myself.
Back when I was going through menopause a few years ago, I tried taking some phyto-estrogen supplements from the New Leaf with rather disastrous and bloody results so I quit taking them. The other day, while I was in the cabinet where I keep my vitamins, I reached for the bottle where a few were left and took one. The daily dosage is four, so one? I've been having hot flashes that remind me of what it is that I do like about winter and I thought what the hell?
Three days later, after taking one a day, here I am again. And instead of having about two hot flashes an hour, I think I had two all day. I have been sleeping better the last few nights than I have in forever.
Is it possible?
I've always said that hormones were the strongest drugs there are. I remember those days of having PMS and wanting to rip heads off of whoever crossed my path. Those weepy, angry days of knowing without a doubt that it was all just hormones, but a hell of emotions nonetheless. I remember those days around the time of ovulation when I would find myself putting my silver bracelets on for no particular reason, when I would look in the mirror and be so glad I was a woman, when I would welcome my husband home with particular coyness and warmth.
Then the pregnancy hormones and then the breastfeeding hormones and then, the rapid decrease in all the hormones when I began to approach fifty and the grief I went through at first, knowing myself as I do, obsessed with bags and baskets and bowls- I am a womb-centered woman. And if I have no functioning womb- who in god's name am I?
The babies left home, one by one. The aging process began in earnest for me. The skin, the texture of my very flesh. I have felt so old, so old, so very, very old and weary.
Every woman goes through the many changes that women go through differently. Some women find every day of their pregnancies to be a sort of queasy, fatigued challenge while some women feel better than they ever have in their lives. Lily, my daughter, has taken on a bloom that makes her radiate with life force, makes her more beautiful than she's ever been as her baby grows inside her.
Some women don't have PMS. Some women murder their spouses under its influence.
Some women pass through menopause as easily as an opium dream, coming out the other end of the process feeling stronger and more sure of themselves and their places in the world than they ever have in their lives.
Some women do not but have hot flashes for years, sleep disturbances, emotional changes that bring them to their knees.
That would be me.
I have fought taking artificial hormones. It just seems so wrong to daily ingest something made from the urine of pregnant mares and besides, they have been linked to some pretty serious illnesses. I am tough. I can deal.
But I am tired.
And if one of these soy-based pills a day can make me feel the way I've felt the last few days, then I will take one.
And if it's all in my mind, then I am say- good- because it's my mind that's the problem.
Who knows? Perhaps all of this is just spring or perhaps its the natural passing of depression which, as they say, is a self-limiting disease. You either get through it or you kill yourself and either way, it does go.
All I know is that for the first time in so long I can't remember, I can think about the future and working in the garden doesn't seem like an exercise in futility. I am not just going through the motions here. I am reveling in the motions.
I think of all the things I've tried to make myself believe for so long without success and suddenly, I have sparks of that belief I've been searching for: that I am worthy of this life, that I do have talents, that I am a person who has a purpose, that I will be a good grandmother, the wife my husband deserves, a person deserving of friendship.
Well. We shall see.
Meanwhile, I am going to go to the New Leaf and get a new bottle of those pills. Why not?
I am not looking for eternal youth here.
I am only looking for myself.
And even if I've only found her for a day or two, it's a quiet joyful blessing to be reminded she's still here. Functioning womb or not, aging flesh or not, graying hair or not.
I can plant, I can act, I can write, I can cook, I can love.
Perhaps I can even still dance.
We shall see. We shall see.