From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Wanted: One Inner Crone

Having stumbled my way into menstruation at the tender age of eleven, I had hoped to march into an early menopause. I figured twenty-five, thirty years tops, from start to finish. No such luck.

After almost forty years of checking the calendar on a monthly basis, I’ve had it. I’m more than ready to cast off the moon goddess and her cyclical visitations of fertility and embrace my inner crone.

Instead of obsessing about mundane things like lipstick shades, the numbers on the bathroom scale, and what to make for dinner, I will be transformed into a wise and caring earth goddess. I will shower the world with love and understanding. I will be one with nature. Not having to deal with monthly bloating and cravings would also be nice.

Unfortunately, my recalcitrant crone is not ready to embrace me back.

A few times over the last two years, she’s danced into my life, only to glide out again three months later, leaving me once more to reach into the medicine cabinet for a tampon and circle another date on the calendar. I remain stranded in the purgatory of perimenopause, while my friends continue their journey into wisdom without me.

I’ve read dozens of books on menopause. I’ve increased my intake of soy to make the transition easier. I’ve even allowed the gray hairs to inch—okay, gallop—their way forward. What more does my tardy crone want?

In the meantime, she teases me with symptoms. Hot flashes ripple through my body and leave me breathless and sweating, with no gorgeous hunk in sight.

Lust I could handle. A malfunctioning internal thermometer renders me ridiculous, a radiator with no off button. I stand in front of the open refrigerator, waiting for its cooling breeze to return my body to some sense of normalcy, as I idly nibble on whatever leftovers have not evolved into new life forms.

Mood swings make getting up in the morning an adventure. I never know which one of me will climb out of bed—the good twin or the evil twin. My family and longtime friends point out that my middle name was always “moody,” but I think they’re just jealous that I have a built-in excuse for being miserable.

As a career cynic, I’m embarrassed to find myself crying at corny commercials or maudlin Hallmark cards. My prankster crone taunts me with meno “pauses,” irritating lapses in memory that strike without rhyme or reason. I walk out of a room intent on retrieving an item, and a minute later I am reduced to wondering what I wanted. I prowl around the house, hoping the sight of something will trigger my memory. It doesn’t.

Desperate, I bought a book on how to improve my memory, but my crafty crone descended long enough to hide the book. It’s probably next to my missing ginkgo biloba pills, billed as an ancient Chinese memory enhancer—but only if I can find them.

Even if I could remember what I wanted, I probably couldn’t find the right word for it. Yes, I am slowly losing my nouns, stolen, no doubt, by my tight-lipped crone. I am reduced to describing common objects as thingamajigs or whatchamacallits or doohickeys. Pointing to objects in my own house is frustrating, but when I have to do it at work, it’s humiliating.

UGH! I’m an English as a Second Language teacher and freelance writer. Words were my specialty. Now they’re my nemesis. Luckily, my students are used to fumbling for words in English, and they sit patiently while I struggle to dredge up the right expression. And several other teachers are in the same thingamajig I’m in. That doohickey that floats on water, what is it?—boat!—they’re in the same boat I’m in. So they nod sympathetically when I flounder.

Editors aren’t quite as understanding. I find myself writing articles and putting Xs in places where I can’t think of the term I want. Soon the Xs will outnumber the words.

As I sit on the couch, sobbing over some stupid made-for-TV movie, a chocolate bar in one hand and a XXXXXXXX (to be filled in later, I hope) in the other, I wonder what else I can do to entice my treacherous crone. Buy a nicer couch? Eat imported chocolate? Install a satellite dish so I can watch better movies?

If my inner crone doesn’t show up soon and turn me into a wise, compassionate, and loving woman, I’m going to wring her wrinkled little neck.

Harriet Cooper

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