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Getting Goopy

by Ferida Wolff

 

I have always had the tendency to be sentimental. Show me a kitten and I get goopy, reverting to preverbal cooing. Let someone tell me about a problem and I well up with emotion. I get choked up listening to toasts, tear at inspirational stories, and can be counted on to cry at weddings, baby namings, award dinners, gallery openings, and anniversary parties. This all before the unpredictable mood shifts of midlife. Now my goop quotient is even higher.

I can’t venture into a card shop without breaking down at least once in the store. I can keep the whole greeting card industry in business by myself.

But it isn’t just my natural goopiness that has been amped up since I went into menopause. My whole range of emotions has taken a quantum leap into expression. I find myself getting upset over the strangest things. The trivial and the profound are mixed together and one is as likely as the other to get me started.

My heart hurt the other day over a spaghetti sauce stain on my kitchen placemat. It seemed like just one thing too many to bear in this tough world of soldiers dying, impossible gas prices, and icecaps melting. Even as I recognized the ridiculous juxtaposition of topics, I still thought my heart might break unless I immediately removed the offending stain.

It is obvious that I am being hypersensitive, a condition that often causes me embarrassment. I know I am helpful, nice most of the time, reasonably smart, and relatively cheerful, but let someone tell me that I am any of those things and tears cloud my eyes. I dissolved when a neighbor thanked me for helping her and told me I was kind. Gratitude washed over me. I felt as if the Pope had blessed me, and had to restrain myself from kissing my neighbor’s hand.

Little comments that I might once have ignored or laughed about have me raging. I get incensed when anything is said about the laundry. My husband’s request for clean socks can send me into a major snit. He doesn’t understand my sudden outbursts and looks at me as if I have lost my mind. Maybe I have. I certainly have been losing my temper.

I know this emotional irritability is part of the menopausal profile but it doesn’t make it pleasant. It requires too much energy.

And yet…

I can see where there is value to this craziness. I think that the extremes allow women to ease up on the reins we bind ourselves with as our careers are developing, our children are growing, and our lives become intertwined with so many obligations. Menopause helps us give expression to the richness of emotion that lies within us.

There is depth in our hearts that is waiting to be discovered. Anger expressed as rage is powerful. Love expressed as compassion is equally intense. Happiness expressed as joy is energizing.

I read that crones, the wise women we are growing into as we transition through midlife, welcome the sensitivity. It increases our ability to empathize. It helps us to embrace our wholeness.

That thought gives me breathing space within the turmoil. It also gives me the courage to do what a woman must do. Like brave the racks of greeting cards in a gift shop to look for that special birthday card for my friend. There were funny cards and serious ones, cards that made fun of aging and cards that reached for the spiritual. I chose two; the first card made me laugh out loud and the second was the goopiest one I could find. I cried all the way to the counter.

The clerk looked concerned as I rummaged through my purse in search of a tissue.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

I dabbed at my tears with the back of my hand because I had used up all my tissues while peering in the pet shop window at the poor little homeless puppies who were chasing each others’ tails, and the kittens who were huddled in a sleeping ball.

“I’m fine,” I answered with a shuddering sigh. “Just fine.”

And I am.


Ferida Wolff has been exploring the terrain of the self for over thirty years. She has an MS in Education and holds a certificate in Holistic Studies. As a teacher of Hatha Yoga, she helped her students focus on and listen to their inner messages.

Ferida is the author of 16 books for children as well as the adult book The Adventures of Swamp Woman: Menopause Essays on the Edge. She can be reached at feridawolff@msn.com or through her website www.feridawolff.com

 

©2008 Ferida Wolff for SeniorWomenWeb
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