Trying Hard

February 22nd, 2023

The kids are finally asleep, and at 10pm I am brewing a jar of tulsi tea, which my acupuncturist recommended for the things that ail me. It’s a dried herb I’ve been carrying around for two weeks in my purse in a ziplock bag, and now, when I pour boiling water over it, it turns bright green, vibrant with chlorophyll and nutrients… if not flavor.

It smells okay, a little bit like a mowed hayfield full of clover. It reminds me of honeybees.

I take a sip. Not great. I ask Jon if he wants to try it. He is a vegetarian and loves tea in general. 

He takes a small sip and then makes a horrible face. Outraged, he asks “I mean, how long could you possibly keep that up for?”

I laugh, because prior to this, I was talking a nightly dose of ashwagandha in warm water, which is exactly like sipping hot mud.

“Seriously?!” he continues. “Who peddles this stuff???”

It’s been said a million times, and I will say it again right here. Women are tougher than men. I know that’s a very sexist and stereotyping statement, and for that I apologize, It’s just that it’s so often true.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I am going through perimenopause, which means I don’t sleep, I am full of rage, and everything hurts. Every week, I submit to having about 20 needles inserted into my body, from the sensitive cartilaginous part of my upper ear to my foot bones. I then lie that way for a half hour or so, with nothing to distract me from the sensation of my meridians being stimulated.

Being someone who does not chill out easily, I have to entertain myself during this acupuncture sesh, but there is not a ton to do when you’re lying inert on a table with tiny needles sticking out of all your parts. Sometimes, I find patterns in the play of light on the ceiling and squint my eyes, pretending I’m staring at a snowy tundra from high above, waiting for beavers to swim out into the fjords. Or I play memory games with myself. What was the name of that one actor in that movie with the thing?

Memory is another fun thing. I don’t know if it’s perimenopause or stress or the lack of sleep for eight straight years or what, but my memory is complete shit. This morning I went to put half and half in my coffee and could not find the half and half in the fridge. Where it usually sits, there was a suspicious mason jar of white liquid that rang no bell whatsoever. 

After several minutes of whining to Jon “Where is the half and half?” and hypothesizing that someone must have spilled it and not told me (majorly punishable offense), a slow, distant memory began to sneak in. 

It was like a far off dream, but yes… slowly I remembered something about accidentally throwing out the carton lid, rummaging around in the trash in vain, and subsequently deciding to put the remainder of the cream in a glass jar with a lid to keep it fresh. This happened yesterday.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I am also reading a book that my acupuncturist recommended called Hormone Intelligence. I don’t usually read self-help books, and I roll my eyes at a lot of the language in this one. But I did the math, and figured out that if I read nine pages a night, I will finish it in one month. (Every night, I read my nine pages, and then I read a novel as a consolation.) 


Last night, I got to a section about how to get more sleep during perimenopause. Reading the tips out loud to Jon as he watched endless motorcycle videos, I rolled my eyes. I already do all of these things — the lack of screens in bed, the A+ nighttime routine, the warm shower with essential oils, the no alcohol, the melatonin, the caffeine moratorium after noon, the blah, the blah, the blah.

Every older woman I talk to who is willing to fess up about menopause tells me that basically yea, it’s gonna suck — for a long time! — and then it will be over. When I ask them to describe their main symptom during menopause I get a lot of answers:

“Incessant hot flashes that ruined my life”

“I stopped sleeping”

“Mainly just fury”

I think one of the things that makes menopause so hard to wrap your mind around is that it’s a little different for everyone. It’s a bit of a misfits club, but at the same time, there’s a profound unity to going through it, knowing that it’s a rite of passage most women will endure in some way.

I know women who barely noticed perimenopause until it was over. I have friends who are fighting the reality of it fiercely. I also have friends who parted ways with their uteruses and, in some cases, ovaries, early on and endured a very different experience of menopause than the one I’m reading about in this book. And of course, I have friends who are women, but never had a uterus to begin with. 

It’s a far flung sisterhood full of rich experience — a lot of it bad and painful! — but what doesn’t kill us… well, eventually it will probably kill us. But in the meantime, we are perhaps stronger.


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One Response to “Trying Hard”

  1. leslie g. says:

    There it is. You’ve named the beast that so many of us are…well, battling-for lack of a better word.

    The fury.

    The sadness.

    The heat.

    The unexplainable aches and pains.

    The loss of memory.

    In sisterhood, we are powerful. In sisterhood, we are a force.

    Here we come…ready or not!!

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