From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Menopause Strikes Fear

I hear and I forget.

I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.


At the tender age of fifty, I was in my fifth year of hot flashes, hormonal highs and lows, and suffering from a general lack of patience with everything from traffic to my beloved cocker spaniel. I had opted to “ride it out” without the help of hormone replacement therapy.

For the hot flashes, I’d peel off clothing until I was often walking around the house in my underwear—it was impossible to wait until I’d reached the bedroom to disrobe because I was on fire. On the high swings, I found humor in everything. The lows would bring tears and woes. The Atlanta area traffic drove me close to road rage. At this point, my husband, who thought he ought to do something to improve life, suggested we sell our home in Atlanta and buy another with acreage in a less populated area of Georgia. We chose a neighborhood in the foothills of North Georgia, where all the houses had huge, heavily wooded lots. You had to work to find the driveways, and it was a long walk to all of the houses. It seemed the perfect place to “get Mama through this menopause stuff.”

The first week in our new home was wonderful! The trees swayed in loud breezes, birds sang, and squirrels scampered noisily up and down the tree trunks. When I left the house, there were no traffic jams, no construction zones, and few fender benders to turn what should have been a five-minute trip to the grocery store into a five-hour venture. I could walk throughout the house bundled like a snowperson or in my birthday suit; there was no one to see me except God, my husband, and the dog. Then we were discovered.

Our first caller was a local minister inviting us to attend his church. He was clearly taken aback by my scant apparel and must have spread the word throughout the community because preachers and deacons from every denomination were ringing our doorbell three times a day by the end of the week.

Then the salesmen came. Every hour, our peace was interrupted by people who noticed we needed our grass cut, our pine straw replenished, our gutters cleaned, our windows washed. Men with trucks loaded with grandfather clocks came, and then others with refrigerated trucks selling meat came. There was no end—people started coming at sunup and were still selling late into the evening. We’d never had that many intrusions in our bustling Atlanta neighborhood, and worse yet, I had to stay fully clothed at all times.

Enough was enough! We installed a five-foot picket fence around the entire property, but it didn’t slow the sales pitches down a bit. Then we placed a large “No Soliciting” sign at the gate to no avail. Next, we replaced the no soliciting sign with a huge “Warning, Guard Dog on Duty, Enter at Your Own Risk” sign. That one did slow the salesmen as they watched for a biting dog, but they still dashed for the safety of our front porch to ring the doorbell. “Lady,” they’d say, “we just finished selling our clocks at the tradeshow and have a few left over. One of them would look good right over there,” or “Ma’am, we’ve got an extra side of beef on the truck, and we’ll sell it to you for a special price so we don’t have to take it back to the plant” or “Miss, we don’t think that church you’re attending has a good plan for your afterlife.” It went on and on!

Totally frustrated and desperate for the peace and quiet we longed for, I hastily hand-lettered another sign to post by the gate. It read, “CRANKY, MENOPAUSAL WOMAN ANSWERS DOORBELL!” No one came to the door.

Ah, menopause. Finally, a word that strikes fear in the hearts of all men!

Sherrin Newsome Willis

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