Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Philosophical Post - or how to deal with Menopausal Wobbles

We had some of the best weather for our long weekend that we’ve had all summer, and it was lovely to have time with Mum and Moll – 3 girls together. I also had time to see a few friends without having to worry about Himself, who was on his Boat Hunt.

But in amongst all this crept my old fear about losing those I am closest to. My mother is incredibly fit and sprightly (mentally and physically) and doesn’t even wear glasses (groan from her daughter who has been myopic since the age of 13). She is always interested in everything and everyone and has a huge army of friends – understandably. At 79, she is also still extremely attractive.

Himself is doing well, his cancer is under control and despite having days when the medication makes him feel exhausted, as well as general ageing, he is feeling well. He plays the cornet still, has resumed his love affair with boats and still thinks about his wife and dog now and then. (A bit more than that to be honest.)

That I should chose a long weekend to delve into mortality is unfortunate but probably because I wasn’t working so had more time to think about it. Anyway, it kept me awake in the small hours, terrified of this huge void called death.

Ageing is no bundle of laughs. And being married to someone 18 years older, I am more aware than some of the frustrations that this can bring. The body’s gradual refusal to do things we could once do easily. But there’s nothing we can do about it, and it is completely natural. It's part of the ongoing process of life. Look at nature - the tumbling, flame coloured leaves of autumn. Crackly winter frosts. The emerald vibrancy of spring. Life goes on.

Luckily I saw a wise friend who knows me very well. When I was a child, she said, I thought that when you died you lay down in a lovely wood on a blanket of leaves and went to sleep. Death is not a void – it’s something peaceful and part of nature. Part of life.

Seeing my worries, she said you must face your fears, not hide from them. You should have a plan, she said. Write it down, then put it to one side - don't dwell on it, but make the most of the time you have. Enjoy your time with your nearest and dearests. Enjoy life but be prepared.

One of the worst things about losing those we love is being left behind. And yet, as my friend said, we only lose their physical presence. We have albums in our heads full of memories, and it is these that we can remember and play over and over again. And we are not alone. Most of us are fortunate enough to have friends and/or family. We have animals and other responsibilities. We have work. We have hobbies that soothe or distract or invigorate us. We meet new friends, lovers, animals, and these don’t replace the old ones but add to our army of supporters. We can learn new things and this adds to our wisdom and enjoyment of life.

I talked to Himself and he said that we need stamina and courage to face our difficulties. I also think we need to know that we are stronger than we might believe. Particularly if you are in the midst of a menopausal wobble, as I was. As Julie Andrews sang: “All I trust I lead my heart to, All I trust becomes my own. I have confidence in confidence alone. Besides which you see I have confidence in me!”

After that musical outburst, the other thing my friend said was, “You’re not alone. But you must believe in something.”

What, I thought? I was brought up C of E but lost faith in God, or perhaps I never quite had it. As a teenager I was unhappy and developed anorexia, then lost several people who meant a lot to me, then my dad died. Perhaps He was looking after me anyway, but I was angry and turned away, felt bitterly let down. Now a part of me would like to believe but doesn’t quite know how. Or what.

But thinking about what my friend said, I wondered - what do I believe in? Friends. Love. Determination. Perseverance. Caring. Justice – but I don’t mean the legal system. I mean a sense of fairness in life that might not be obvious but usually works out in some odd way. Lots of other things, too. Laughter, fun, enjoyment. Helping others, and being helped in return. A good cry with friends. Cuddles. Sunny walks with Moll. The lovely stretched way I feel after yoga. The sense of peace following meditation. The joy of having a good sing.

As a writer I have to be sensitive enough to write about emotions so that others can understand and empathise with them. But I must be tough enough to deal with the multitude of rejections and disappointments that come across a writer’s path. So this made me realise that I believe very strongly in the subconscious.

Not that I really know what that entails, but I do know that while it might contain memories of old fears and worries, it also stores up joys and treasures. Furthermore, it enables me to write. It spurs me to write. Sometimes phrases tap out of my keyboard and I wonder where they came from. I read them and cry, or laugh, and think, did I write that? Perhaps God is in my keyboard, or my subconscious?

This reminds me of the lovely fellow I met when out walking with Moll. Gabriel Fry he was called. A solid fellow with a wonderfully broad smile, intelligent eyes that missed nothing. If my subconscious could be a person it would be him. Full of rich secrets, fun and laughter. An instant supporter who trusted me, laughed with me as if we'd known each other all our lives. Perhaps we had.

Who do you believe in?


Philipa said...

I believe I'm frightened of death because I have two small children. I absolutely want to live untill they are safe and independant. Feeling safe and independant in this socialshit NuLab hell-hole is bad enough as it is without doctors sticking things in you when they don't have to. I thought their mantra was 'first do no harm'?!

Sorry for the rant FP but if you pop by mine you'll guess why..

Flowerpot said...

Phil - thanks for that. Glad for the rant - be my guest. If I had children I'd be terrified.

liz fenwick said...

Thought provoking post especially as dd went into floods of tears as I picked her up from school. I was puzzled but she suddenly was missing dh's mum who died 2003 when she was just 5. I remembered the pain of the loss of my grandfather but I also remember that he has never left me. I have felt him close always.

I don't fear death except when I'm flying - something about that dropping out of the sky thing. I do very much believe in God and that shapes absolutely everything I do and how I think.

This summer we had a child of 17 staying with us who is an atheist. We have known her for years and I never worried that she didn't believe in God. It was the choice of her parents in how they chose to raise her and thus far God hasn't found another way to be allowed in. One evening after she had consumed a bit too much she raise the subject of my faith and how she felt sorry for me. Especially since I was foolish enough to believe in heaven and that death didn't worry me. I bit my tongue and let her vent. I knew I had a gift that I have accepted. I also knew I would rather face death believeing that there is something more and to know I have lived my life acting with God as it's compass is never going to harm me or others in any way.

I also think growing up in an Irish community which accept death very much a part of life that I always knew it was there. My family never hid me from it so even though I have lost many people close to my heart I always accepted that it could happen to anyone of us any day. Therefore I have aleways tried though not suceeded in making the most of the time we are given.

You don't need to tell me about those menopausal moments!

Sorry about the long reply......

Elaine said...

Having experienced both, I do think the menopausal moments are better than the PMS ones!

What do I believe?

I beleive there is soomeone out there looking after me and looking out for me. I beleive what will happen, will happen, regardless of whether I try to stop it happening. I believe we are all here for a reason, though many never realise what that reason is. I believe in destiny...yet also believe there are many paths to that destiny. I believe every one of us has a gift but so many of us don't use it.

And I also believe when the skin and bones are long gone, the rest remains. x

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Right now I'm not afraid of death or oblivion. If I found out I had a terminal illness I'm sure I would be terrified but I *think* I'd be scared of dying before I'm ready rather than of dying itself. Of course I can't know for sure because I've never been in that position, but I've talked with a number of people who are close to death and ready to die, and I've heard many, many stories from the families of people who died when they were ready to die, and I believe that if I am lucky I will die when I'm ready and I won't be afraid.

Interesting comment from Liz. I don't feel sorry for people who believe in a god or gods, now and again I feel slightly envious, but mostly I'm happy that people have different beliefs from each other and on the whole still get along fine. We hear such a lot in the media about the problems caused by religious intolerance that I think we get it out of proportion and forget that in many parts of the world people of different religions and none live happily side by side. The only thing that annoys me is people who try to shove religion down my throat. I've had this from born-again Christians and from Jehovah's Witnesses and I wish they would let me be! I don't think atheism is 'the right way' or 'the best way', but it's my way right now, and while I'm aware that my beliefs may change - many people's do in the course of their lives - I don't think being doorstepped or browbeaten is likely to make that happen. So I would never try to convert anyone to atheism, because I think the world is a richer place for the diversity of people's beliefs and ways of life.

Flowerpot said...

Liz - thank you for such a heartfelt and lovely response. You are a very special person!

Elaine - I go along with a lot of that. It's interesting to see what others think.

Zinnia - I quite agree about letting different faiths get along beside each other. And I hate people trying to shove their beliefs in my face as well. I'd like to have conviction but right now I don't.

Trubes said...

Hello again Flowerpot, As I believe, Woody Allen said, to quote,
'I'm not frightened about dying I just don't want to be around when it happens'.

I, like Pippy used to worry about dying when my 'girls' were little but now they're older and we have 3 Grandchildren ,I still feel their need for me as a Mum and a Grandma.
So I just hope both DT and I last long enough, so they can all come to terms with losing us.
I too, was raised in C of England faith but am a bit of a sceptic now, however, I suppose the basic belief is still there.
I do occasionally make 'guest appearances' at local churches, but, I'm not altogether convinced.
Sacred music inspires me and I particularly love to hear the Liverpool Cathedral Choir singing.

*Menopausal Wobbles Trubes remedy*

Vitamin B6
St. John's Wort.
Healthy diet icluding lots of oily fish and protein.

Oh! and and an understanding partner, family and Boss.


Flowerpot said...

Trubes - thanks for your thoughts and your wobble remedy - I shall make notes! I so agree about some sacred music - wonderful stuff. And about understanding partner, family and Boss!

Akelamalu said...

This was a very philosophical post indeed FP.

Certainly as one gets older one's thoughts turn to death. We realise we are not immortal as we once thought. Thinking about losing our loved ones is is inevitable, but dwelling on it is not advisable.

Your friend gave you good advice, have a plan then got on and enjoy all the time you have left.

What do I believe in? The Universe and everlasting life - somewhere. :)

ChrisH said...

Oh Flowerpot, lots to think about there. I'm broadly in agreement with Zinnia. I was devastated when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - just couldn't bear the thought of his suffering and that I would lose him. The person who eased my fear most was Dad who faced his death without fear and with huge dignity - quite simply he showed me what to do.

As for belief, I try to make the most of each moment in case it's my last.

Oh, and one of my own daughters rang me early one morning this week because she'd had a dream I was dead so there must have been a lot of it about!

Take care, hope you are feeling easier.

Grump said...

Thanks for a lovely post, you should go away in your bonkmobile more often, it inspires you. Lying down in a wood is a lovely analogy. The saying 'Touch Wood' comes from the belief that to be buried next to a tree brings you good luck in the after life.
As to who do I believe in, probably Anon or Bill Posters, they both seem to get their names on everything.
Woof x from Tilly to Mollie

Flowerpot said...

Ak - the universe and everlasting life - somewehre - sounds a good philosophy. And you are so right about not dwelling on things...

Flowerpot said...

Chris - I do feel for you about your Dad but wonderful that he taught you not to be frightened. What a lovely man. I'm feeling a lot better today thanks. Interesting about your daughter - as you say perhaps it's in the ether!

Flowerpot said...

Grump - I never knew that about Touch Wood. Thanks for that. And for your email which was very uplifting. Thanks mate and Woof from Moll to Tilly.

Pat Posner said...

Flowerpot, there's an award for you over at mine.

Flowerpot said...

Pat - thank you so much!

ChrisH said...

And one from me too! I wonder if we sent you the same one!!

Amanda said...

A very thought provoking post, Flowerpot. I keep the belief that there is something else after we die. I don't know what exactly, but I experienced an out of body experience twenty four years ago, and I'm hoping it was a clue that hopefully there is.
As for menopause - it's a curse!!
(Amanda/Annie B)

Flowerpot said...

Chris - yes you both sent me the same one - how lovely!

Amanda/Annie - How fascinating about the out of body experience - anything since?

Amanda said...

No, nothing since I'm afraid. :-(
But I have lots of books on the subject, and it seems I'm not alone as there are lots of people who have had similar experiences! :-)

Flowerpot said...

Amanda - yes I've heard of other people who have experienced teh same as you. Scary or just strange?

Philipa said...

Jesus taught in parables; stories. If you read the King James Bible, which is beautifully written, you might see the magic in those stories. Short stories, fp, that are very powerful.

Flowerpot said...

Thanks Phil - I will do that. Short stories should be full of magic.

Ellee Seymour said...

You are so lucky that your mother is so fit and active. I'm sure you have the same genes which will see you well. I hope the same will apply to Himself.
What a wonderful name Gabriel Fry is, I would love to meet someone like that on one of my walks. What a pity our paths don't cross.
I agree with what Pip says about death. I need to keep going for my sons too, they will always need a mum.

Flowerpot said...

ellee - yes I hope my mum keeps going for a long while yet!