Article by: Belinda Fraley Huesman
My mother and I never talked about “the change” nor did any other women in our family. We stayed silent even though menopause loomed as a change for the worse, as some women were deemed to have lost their mental capacities and gone “crazy.” Did they really? Unfortunately, our family was not unique. Many women are ill-informed and misinformed about the mystery of menopause. What I know for sure is that the wisdom we carry is needed in order to change the stigma surrounding menopause.
My mother had a full hysterectomy at the age of 36 and I had one at the age of 37. It was what you did back then when you had female issues and I didn’t question the soundness of the reasoning. As a result, I have been on some type of hormone therapy, both synthetic and bio-identical, for almost 20 years and feel I have experienced peri- and post-menopause due to my early, surgical menopause. This is my story and my opinion on what the wisdom of menopause means to me.
Today I feel good, walk about four times per week and try to do some form of weight-bearing exercise at least three times per week. I fondly remember hearing my Mom say that she had to “take” exercise like it was a pill. Unfortunately, she passed from lung cancer at the tender age of 54. I also remember her suffering from depression and now wonder if that was due to her early onset, surgical menopause.
By 2025, 1.1 billion women worldwide will be post-menopausal, according to the North American Menopause Society. It’s not our mother’s or grandmother’s menopause wisdom that we need to catch up on to correct misinformation: It’s the lack of understanding of the experience from a woman's point of view, both physically and emotionally, and the lack of comprehensive health policies regarding women in the workplace.
I thought a good place to start would be the meaning itself of wisdom, so I researched it. Here is what came up with as definitions of wisdom:
- the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.
- the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
- the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period
- comprehensive knowledge that is put into practice.
I believe that the wisdom of menopause includes the meanings above regarding capacity, both emotionally and mentally, along with the specific and unique experiences we as women carry in the fullness of our lives. All of which then adds to the total of what we offer in the time we have left to bring value, satisfaction, and purpose to our lives and the lives of others.
Menopause is as unique for each woman as each woman is unique. As a writer, not a health expert, I am merely relaying my story and thoughts as it pertains to wisdom. I hope it gives you pause to consider your beliefs about menopause. Since the word “pause” is a part of the word “menopause,” meaning to cease from menstruating, ending our childbirth years, it is unfortunate that there has been so much misinformation regarding what it actually is. It has been shrouded in falsehoods and interpreted from a patriarchal view. That needs to change, and I believe only through the wisdom of women.
It's upsetting, especially in the United States, to think that some look at menopause as a time when a woman’s usefulness is over. This is due, in part, to our youth-obsessed society, perpetuated by social media and rampant ageism in some industries. However, women in menopause bring so much more to themselves and the world, and wisdom itself recognizes this. It is time to fully start this conversation and transform the perception one wise woman at a time.
This opportunity for transformation is both societal and financial: Forbes states that menopause is the next big opportunity and that it is a $600 billion business just due to the Vasomotor Symptoms of menopause alone. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/reenitadas/2019/07/24/menopaus e-unveils-itself-as-the-next-big-opportunity-in-femtech/?sh=3fce 718a6535) Certainly, our ideas about menopause need a makeover, and maybe a new definition globally.
Could the symptoms women experience during menopause be the storm before the calm? That menopause is a perfect storm that is birthed from the accumulation of a lifetime of knowledge, all designed to point us to our true north for our individual corner of the world?
While the physical symptoms can be alleviated in a variety of ways that depend upon the personal decisions and the quality of life a woman wants to have, could it be that our society has been trying to silence something deeper? Some women find a sudden clarity, passion, talent, purpose, and authenticity calling them after the storm ends, and suddenly there is a new path for them to follow.
This is what I experienced myself and believe that “calm after the storm” brings the true wisdom of menopause: An undeniable knowing, and confidence in purpose. Let’s face it, we gain wisdom from every single life lesson and the memories which live within us after navigating a life filled with love, loss, anger, control, money, power, and self-doubt. We have progressed from every facet of every relationship in every phase of life.
I imagine that clarity will become even more precise as we acknowledge the length and breadth of our days and move into the future. Truly, after the perfect storm which helped you birth yourself again, don’t you see the rainbow? Let’s lighten it up, and then let’s get on with it. These revelations need to be passed down to our daughters and granddaughters to stem the sea of misinformation and silence, that has shrouded menopause in mystery.
The wisdom of this phase of a woman's life is glorious in all its challenges. No one said life was easy. As I said, this is my opinion only and I am glad I am here to write it. Others, like my mother, were not fortunate enough to live out their days to enjoy the gift of wisdom menopause ushers in. Let’s change the definition together and the world will benefit.©
BioBelinda Fraley Huesman is The Menopause Outlaw, a motivational singer-songwriter using the power of story and song to encourage women to own their God-given talents and live their purpose; https://www.the menopauseoutlaw.com She is founder and CEO of Menopause Outlaws LLC, and The M.O. Network, https://themonetwork.org a digital community to empower women to age fearlessly and defy boundaries. She is the author of an inspirational children’s book, “Wings,” currently available on Amazon. She is partially responsible for “Loretta’s Law,” the 2010 Maryland Uniform Power of Attorney Act. She has been recognized as a 2018 CEO of the Year by The Daily Record of Baltimore and one of the "Women Who Make a Difference," in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.