There were many times throughout my menopause transition where I felt the opposite of a beautiful butterfly. It was often confusing, frustrating and really hard. I felt like my entire existence and sense of self was being thrown into utter chaos, amid crazily fluctuating hormones, sleepless nights, sweats and mood swings. I was also determined to fight this natural biological process, and not allow it to ‘change’ me.
Mostly, I now realise a lot of this was really about my naivety, the fear of change and the fear of getting ‘old’.
Time, education and a whole lot of self work and reflection has allowed me to now view this important life stage as a beautiful transformation – much like the making of a butterfly.
The metamorphosis of a butterfly involves the caterpillar receiving an internal signal that it’s time for change and then the spinning of its cocoon begins. The caterpillar willingly enters the dark and allows its own natural process to break its old self down, evolving, and changing. It stays there long enough to fully transform and then begins the process of strengthening its wings to return to the world in full glory, freedom and beauty.
When we view menopause in a similar way, maybe it can change the way we view this incredibly complex but beautiful time of life?
Menopause is finally having its moment and definitely becoming viewed as a normal part of life (as it should!), however there is also much talk about menopause being a ‘hormone deficiency’ or biological failure. There is still a lot of fear circulating society that paints menopause in a bad light from the outset.
But why? Much like a caterpillar naturally transforming into a butterfly, our bodies are designed to experience menopause. Every single woman who lives old enough (if their ovaries were not removed prior to puberty), will transition through menopause. Unless you go through surgical menopause, the natural change in hormone levels is actually a sign of female health. Menopause = Health.
In the same way that a caterpillar and butterfly have exactly the same DNA but are very different creatures, we experience a metamorphosis at times of hormonal change throughout our life span. These changes transform us into a different version of ourselves through a series of interlinked events, culminating in a body that works with different set of biological pathways.
Like other times of hormonal change for a woman such as puberty and if you have given birth, pregnancy, menopause is not a simple process. Although wonderous, it’s also complex and can be challenging to navigate – both physically and mentally. Simply, it takes time for our bodies to adjust – time, many of us are unwilling to give.
With our sometimes fast paced lives and the determination to fight the ageing process, heightened levels of anxiety and stress can make the transition even more challenging. We are encouraged to minimise any disruption to our busy lives, rather than get curious about what our body is telling us. Often, we are resistant to re-evaluating certain parts of our lifestyle that are no longer serving our new biology. I definitely was. (Note – I say all this while acknowledging that we are all unique and it’s not so black and white.)
What changed for me?
I eventually took a new approach. I gave up the fight and decided to go with the flow (not always of course but overall I became much more accepting and curious). I went deep into my cocoon and tried to view each issue I was experiencing as my body requesting me to make healthy changes to create more balance. I also changed my attitude toward menopause – viewing it as an opportunity to reinvent myself in this next stage of life.
It took time and effort but now 2+ years post menopause, I feel like all the pieces of my hormonal and life puzzle are re-forming to create a beautiful new picture of my very own version of a butterfly.
When we view our menopause transition as the incredible transformation that it is, we may also be able to see ourselves like a butterfly. First, we must undergo a metamorphosis. Then, we break free, take flight and become our true, authentic and most beautiful selves.