Spiritual stretchmarks, newborn coffee, I’ve been keenly listening to words this week, specifically the pairing of words, these two pairs stuck with me on the tip of my tongue. It seems perfectly fitting; I facilitated a workshop on menopause this afternoon. I didn’t provide any answers on how to “fix “ this life passage but instead offered ways to reframe the conversation, that is what we have the power to change. How do we respond to a life process that millions of women before us have also experienced? How do we choose to deal with this hormonal upheaval from a place of power?
We were an intimate group of three, and with intimacy, if the conditions are right, trust can build quickly.
“Have you taken any restorative yoga classes before?”
This simple question unleashed a beautiful, stark, no holes barred- state of physical conditions. One minute in, we were rolling; no need for introductions. Some life passages are celebrated and some not so much. Puberty, pregnancy, and what’s happening now. Personal stories, different but similar stories repeated through new words, with the common theme of having to navigate alone, not only the present but past moments, we recognize and realize we’ve weathered similar roads before and we can do it again. We are strong enough to do it again; the beautiful thing is we don’t have to. We’ve learned from our younger selves. Otherwise why would be here on a Saturday afternoon?
Here we are doing the “alone” together. One thing I love about asana practice in a group, you are on your mat, and I am on mine, but our mats are ten inches apart. I can’t feel your “hot flashes” your cramps, or other physical conditions, but I’m here with you, sister of mine feeling my own, and I’ll hold space for you, and I can stretch out my arm, you can offer me support, and I can do the same.
When I struggle with waking up at 4:38 am reaching my hand out patting my sheet to find a fresh spot with my eyes still closed; finding it and pulling my body from the damp stain where I lay to a little oasis that feels cooler to touch. I know I’m not the only woman who’s doing some version of this, trying to find the “cool spot” that will bring relief.
My island is connected to yours and we link together, open links that support like soft armor. This tribe is big.
I liked the feeling of helping a sister out, of offering a tampon to a stranger in a restaurant bathroom in my twenties- seeing her panic vanish and her grateful smile as she takes what’s offered from my hand.
I’ve got a rant of complaints a list of dislikes that is longer than I care to admit
My body is out of control
Hot then cold then hot
Annoyed that I can’t deny my biological clock, can’t deny I’m middle aged
Tire around my middle
Facing the unknown
And I laugh at my list in class; it’s much longer than anyone else’s, as I share, I’m amused seeing the words – how good it feels to write them down and out. It’s not any different I imagine then what a pregnant woman has felt, (I skipped that step), it’s not any different from how I felt as a pubescent 8th grader. Similar words are found on the others’ list. Our bodies are going to do their own thing, just as they did before, light, heavy, regular, irregular, crampy, bloated, on time, late, puberty wasn’t easy for any of us. Change is messy; the seed has to crack for the tree to grow.
We name it and release it, the energy of the words lessen, we smile and share more anecdotes witness to the process. We take our restorative poses, being still for minutes at a time, trusting our bodies to relax and let go, which they do as we breathe, I feel my kindness and compassion grow towards my sisters and what they are feeling and towards my own body and what’s happening.
We pull cards at the end, I didn’t take a photo of the card M pulled, but the gist was “take something dark and let it be radiant.” A perfect message for the three of us, that’s what we can do for ourselves, for all of us.
Stretchmarks only appear when we grow too fast- we have to be stretched to grow. Finding the correct speed, it’s nice to know you can ask your sisters.
We’ve got this. Together.