Over the past three years or so, the Change has been really creeping up on me. Often depicted as a demon possessor, I find that perimenopause is more of the unconscious will slowly seeping to the surface.
I admit the prospect of the Change terrified me, having seen it take over my own mother, who, during her menopausal stretch, was often reduced to either a sobbing mess, or prodded into resentment much like a rage. It seemed to me that she manifested the worst of the classic symptoms of menopause, all of her repressed emotions transformed into what appeared to be a mental illness. Though I didn’t understand her pain, I did know that I wanted to avoid repeating her experience.
The first solid physical symptoms came to me about six months ago, in the form of mild hot flashes, which were easily remedied by daily exercise and drinking soy milk.
But I didn’t realize that the emotional symptoms had already been present in me for almost a decade. Among these characteristics, was included an inability to keep my big trap shut. Moreover, the filter that had once softened words or kept opinion mute in dicey situations, was in serious need of repair.
An example: Instead of playing it safe when it came to dealing with my mother and her passive/aggressive tendencies, I faced up to her bad habits by listing 13 pages of fact sheets designed to record the history of our mother/daughter relationship. And then mailed them to her. Basically, I pointed out that I was in no way prepared to continue accepting her rude one-liners. Imagine poking at a lion in a cage with a big stick, and then running away to hide on the other side of a wall; presumably out of sight is out of mind. But the lion remembers, and eventually, like perimenopause, will catch up with the stick-poker. Mom poked a lot with that big stick, and I responded by showing my teeth.
Last night I went along to a gig with my husband, Clifford, who plays in a big band. Of all places, the gig was scheduled inside the hall of an LDS (Mormon) church.
To understand my dilemma, I’ll give a little background. Politically, I’m a patchwork of different ideals – some conservative (because I am self-employed and pay my own insurance, tax, quarterlies, etc.), some progressive (pro-choice, pro gay marriage), some socially conscious (many of the poor need society’s help, through no fault of their own), and even Libertarian (I am glad to lend assistance, but I shouldn’t be compelled by any political party to be guilted into doing so).
Also, I have a bad habit as of late of being highly opinionated, and curiously uninhibited about sharing these opinions with total strangers. And yes, I have placed myself in some awkward situations by voicing my opinions (such as the retired Correctional Officer in Susanville, who now knows how I feel about the State Department of Corrections and the powerful lobbying arm of their union). You see, even this is going to get me into trouble…
When Prop 8 hit California in 2008, designed to exclude gay people from marrying their beloved partners, I was incensed. When I knew the Mormon church was behind a bulk of the funding for the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign (along with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization – gee, who’d ever guess?), I built up some resentment toward these patriarchal theocracies that are constitutionally separated from the State. Why they would presume to tell gay people, including my own son, that they are incapable of falling in love and getting married, only proves the homophobic streak that runs through some people who are governed by religion instead of by spirituality. My husband declined his membership with the K of C simply because they helped the Mormon church in funding the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign. Gay son or no gay son, neither of us appreciates mean-spirited people, and the preaching of a hatred-philosophy.
So, last night, to spare others of my lack of a filter, I deliberately brought my own chair, and set it up stage right of the big band. Although I don’t believe in the hatred that accompanied “Yes on Prop 8”, I do recognize the rights of others to perpetuate their narrow ideals, and also their right to avoid being targeted by my big mouth. What do I do? As carefully as I could be, I joined a conversation Clifford was having with another band member before the performance. They were talking music theory, and then, Clifford made the mistake of joking with me about how I should stay away from the hall, by then, seething with friendly Mormons. My reply?
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to offend anyone with my liberal politics, or mention my gay son, or ask for a cup of coffee.”
The band mate just laughed at me. Because…he is Mormon. And then he admitted that he occasionally enjoys a glass of good red wine.
I conclude, aside from the backward patriarchy that funded “Yes on Prop 8”, that there are probably a lot of Mormons who don’t agree with their church, just as there are a lot of Catholics who use birth control, and a lot of vegetarians who slip up, and eat that poor chicken anyway. In essence, the black and white of religion does not readily complement the gray shades of human nature.
As for me, perhaps I should go back to the days when I used to talk loudly inside of my own head, but keep my mouth closed. Yeah. Only that won’t stop me from writing it all down.