On My Big, Grand Non-Binary Menopause
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Content note: This post is about being happy about queer menopause. It also contains reference to being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. At one point, which I've marked with language, I describe a difficult childhood memory around the onset of periods.
I'm just a few months into my menopause. Yes, I've traipsed through a jungle of hot flashes, and have arrived at the place where I've stopped having periods. That's right! Periods no more. (And if anyone needs a load of free pads, I'm the person to come to.)
And you know what? I'm loving it.
Looking back, I remember my own mother being devastated by her menopause. "You don't understand what it's like," she told me, when I was sixteen. "What I'm going through is so very cruel. It's the cruelest thing that can happen to a woman." (Many things, according to Mum, were the "cruelest thing that can happen to a woman," so this wasn't as dramatic as it sounds!) Truth was, I didn't feel like a woman—and now I know why. I'm non-binary. And my periods have always been hard, not only because of the sense that I shouldn't be having them, but also because they were painful and heavy. My periods made me feel separate from my body. They made me depressed.
As a CSA survivor, I'm used to feeling separate. When I was just a kid, everything outside of me felt oddly fake. This, of course, was dissociation, though at the time, I thought everyone must experience these feelings. Lost, I used to spin around really fast, just trying to catch a glimpse of the "real world" behind me—the one that was surely smothered by the illusion of this world. How could I trust what was outside of me? I was certain there was another world that was being kept from me.
At present, I can say that if there is a better world, my menopause is part of it. I feel strangely, curiously alive. People will tell me, "It only gets worse," and "You have no idea what's coming." Me, I'm living in the present. No longer will I spin around super-fast, to see if my world is real.
But I will share a difficult memory:
The day I started my periods, my mother insisted on checking that I wasn't mistaken. I wanted to shout, "I do know what blood looks like, you know!" Later, at the dinner table, to my deep chagrin, she also announced to my father that "Star became a woman today." I wished the earth would suck me down into it. And if I was a woman, why didn't I feel like one? It still gives me the shivers to remember.
As for menopause, we're taught to hate this time in our lives, but so far, I'm enamored. I don't hold to any misogynistic myths about childbirth being a creative obligation for a person who is AFAB, or, worse still, some messed up measure of worth.
No, I feel the sun on my face. Even hot flashes are welcome in my otherwise too-cold body. I'm in the queer jungle, enjoying the birdsong. I'm more fertile than ever—capable of every sort of love.
Love yourself, queerly dear,
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