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Thursday, September 28, 2006

What are YOUR cycles??

Nothing like jumping back into the blogging world head-first. In thinking about where this blog should go, I’ve decided to not worry about being too opinionated, too bitchy, too…..whatever – I mean, what is the point? If it is your blog, say what you want and if people don’t like it, they can just go to one they do like, right?

Anyway, I’ve noticed some things about myself in my ‘aging’. Some things that have troubled me in my ‘youthful’ past, are finally starting to become clear. Okay, maybe not clear, but somewhat less cloudy. In the past, when I have been overwhelmed, stressed out or feeling down – I have always contributed that to the pressures of having babies, feeling tethered to my children by the tit (yes, I am one of ‘those’ people who nursed forever), feeling like there was no escape, feeling like, “what the hell am I doing?” “I have a college degree for Christ’s sake, is wiping butts and noses all I’m good for?” I rarely saw the light at the end of the tunnel, although I do tend to be a pessimist – a pessimist who is married to the eternal optimist – so fucking annoying.

Then, my children stopped being babies. They could actually get themselves dressed, get their own cereal, turn on the TV by themselves and could run the VCR and DVD player better than I could! Wow. Now what the hell am I going to blame my ‘moods’ on?

After many years of torturing myself and just thinking there was something wrong with me, I eventually learned (with the help of a very great, older friend who had been down this road) to ride the wave that was my cycle. Yes, just like the earth runs in cycles, so do women. We always associate ‘cycle’ with that monthly pain the ass that we have to deal with – and yes, that is part of it – but I find that I am a very cyclical person and the more women I talk to, many of them are too.

This is the cycle of me: two weeks before my period, I am MANIC. By manic, I do not mean off the charts – just very energetic, creative and full of “I have a great idea for a…….business, book, party, etc. This is the week that I have to be careful of. This is the week that I forget how to say “no” because I feel like I can take on the world. However, then the next week comes which I describe as PMS week. Now, I am NOT one of those people that thinks everytime a woman is feeling a little ‘bitchy’ she “must be PMS’ing”. I hate that – it is so dismissive and so…….like a man. Sorry gentlemen, but true.

PMS week is more where the weight of the world starts to rear it’s ugly head, I’m tired, I’m irritable, I’m overwhelmed and it seems like there are just not enough hours in the day. All the things that sounded like such great ideas last week sound incredibly stupid and overwhelming this week. This is the week where I usually beat myself up for being so dumb and not understanding that all the things I volunteered to do were due to being in my Manic Cycle.

Next, comes period week. This is the week where I am exhausted, usually in pain with cramps, feeling ugly, bloated, fat, old and like I would like to have a hysterectomy and be done with this shit already. The older I get, the worse the periods seem to become and since there are no more children in my future, I ask myself – “what is the fucking point of this?” Bring on the mustache and unregulated hormones – it can’t be worse than this!!

Then, low and behold, next comes the Back to Normal Cycle. This is the week where I am back to feeling like myself again. I’m more patient, kind, and ready to tackle all the things I volunteered for back in Manic Cycle. They don’t seem as overwhelming as they used to. This is also the week when I feel like ‘nesting’. I care that the house is clean, that the laundry is caught up and I cook. The women in our family care for our families and nurture our families by feeding them – something I’m destined for and cannot change.

Now, this might sound like crazy town to you – having a different cycle every week. It’s not as cut-and-dry as it sounds. I’m not one person on Sunday and a totally different person on Monday – the weeks kind of bleed into each other and it’s a slower progression. It ends up not being about the different cycles, but about ME recognizing the cycles and learning how to live within them so it makes functioning a little easier.

As all you mothers (and father too, but mostly mothers) know, trying to juggle the tasks at hand can seem insurmountable at times. If your house is anything like mine, it means all of the following: dealing with the kids and all their ‘stuff’ – problems with friends, making sure they are doing their chores, homework, feeding the dog, etc., rides to everywhere under the sun, hygiene (‘did you brush your teeth this week?!), in addition to – general household things like, laundry, dishes, food, appointments (hair, dentist, ortho, vet, car repairs, etc.), paying the bills or better yet, juggling the bills to coincide with paydays. The list could go on and on. The world never stops long enough for you to realize “Oh, wait a minute, I am in my PMS cycle – I can’t deal with any of this right now”. Don’t we wish it was that easy? But life goes on and kids/husbands need you no matter what cycle you happen to be in right now.

So, from my end, it seems like half the battle is realizing what cycle I am in and how that affects the way I deal with things. I know that during my Manic Cycle, I need to ‘tread lightly’ and not sign up for that class I’ve always wanted to take, volunteer to be the Girl Scout Leader for the 2nd grade (which I did last year during one particularly Manic phase and regretted it the rest of the year). I have learned to let people know that I will have to ‘check my schedule’ and get back to them next week. This gives me time to think about what it is I really am up for and whether I really feel like taking this on.

As many women already know out there, learning to say “NO” is not easy. Especially if you have been brought up as a care-taker that wants to help everyone and not disappoint anyone, blah, blah, blah. But once you get in the habit – it is so fucking freeing!! It really ends up feeling so good. You never knew you could have that kind of freedom. “You mean I can actually say no and not feel guilty?” Wow – a whole new world has opened up.

Age has taught me that all those years when I didn’t have anything under control and felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails that it was really just me trying to be the perfect mother, wife, friend, volunteer, daughter, sister……….there is no such thing. The more you are trying to do – the less you are getting done and let’s face it – the less fun you are to be around. Why in the hell do they not give a class on this shit BEFORE we get married and have children?? Why are so many mothers having trouble dealing with babies, small children and husbands? Why are so many mothers on anti-depressants and dealing with post-partum depression? Because we are trying to be everything to everyone and feeling like failures when things don’t pan out or if we aren’t completely overjoyed with our lives and this new little bundle of joy! What kind of a woman isn’t totally thrilled with this great life that they have? Because it is hard, that is why. Maybe if I had known a little more about my cycles and the way my body/mind work together and against each other I could have been a little more easy on myself and not expected as much.

Why does it take aging to make us realize all of this? I would be interested to know what other women feel – do you or have you had similar experiences? Talk to me Internet and let me know if I am even close, will you?

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