Menopause or Martial Arts

Even as a child, I loved sleep – snuggling down and drifting away. As an adult, I love sleep even more. It is in much shorter supply, so I enjoy every extra moment, and there is usually fresh coffee when I wake up. In addition, I have always felt better – calmer, happier, more centered – when I wake up, even from a nap. Recently, the mood elevation is not longer true. I have been waking up tired and angry and feeling hopeless.

The anger has been hard to deal with – I am just not an angry person usually. Don’t get me wrong – I have a temper and have never believed that it is better to hold it in and pretend – but my anger has always been of the flash variety. It has always taken a lot to make me angry because I can usually see the humor or feel the other person’s trauma. When I got angry, my temper would flare, and then it would be gone very quickly. In fact, when my daughter was a teenager, she complained. She would do something teenaged, I would be furious, she would gear up for the big sullen rebellion against the angry parent, only to find that I had totally moved on and wanted to have lunch, shop, etc.

Lately, my anger is no longer a flash. It has felt like a continuous low boil that manifests unexpectedly in a flood of heartbroken tears or furious words. I know why I’m angry. I’m angry that the other woman is still attempting to insinuate herself into my life. I’m angry that my husband is NOW working to heal our marriage – things that I asked him to do twenty months ago when it would have prevented twenty months of pain and confusion. Unfortunately, recognizing the problem does not help me handle it. After a couple of weeks of attempting to work through this on my own without success, I decided that, since I am 50, it must be menopause. I searched for menopause symptoms online, and sure enough, mood swings are a part of hormonal change, so suddenly life made more sense.

So, off I went to my doctor earlier this week. He is a lovely man with a very relaxed manner who has managed my daughter’s continual medical disasters with a deft mixture of reassurance and information overload. The more questions we ask the happier he is. I knew he would be delighted to advise me about the changes I could expect, the steps I needed to take to stay healthy, and how I could best manage my feelings. He took a complete history, looked at my most recent lab results, asked a few more questions, and then earnestly recommended martial arts.

ย I almost fell out of my chair, and then burst out laughing. As it turns out, he was actually serious. I am not in menopause or even perimenopause. He is aware of the infidelity, since his office performed the STD testing last summer. He went on to explain that I am angry because I am in a difficult situation through no fault of my own – a situation that I cannot fix. Even divorce would not “fix” the way I feel. He recognized clearly the anger I was feeling and the impact it was having on me. He went on to say that he felt strongly that it was necessary for me to find an outlet for my anger instead of burying it.

I was aware that he had divorced his wife last year, and that it had been complicated because she was not only his wife and the mother of his two children, but also his partner in a flourishing medical practice. When the divorce was final, he moved his medical practice to the other side of town, and my family moved with him. It all seemed very civilized. He went on to say, however, that the divorce had been very difficult, and managing his anger would have required massive doses of Lexapro if he had not been doing Taekwondo. He went on to say that he is actually not as good as he was at this time last year because his anger has dissipated.

So, when I left his office he gave me a prescription for a mild antidepressant to get me over the hump in dealing with the anger, and he extracted a promise that I would immediately begin some form of vigorous exercise, preferably a form of martial arts since the combination of discipline and controlled violence would be most beneficial.

Honestly, just the image of me in the belted tunic and pants, attempting to kick over my head made me laugh out loud, so I left his office feeling better than I have in weeks. I am a pudgy 50 year old bookworm whose idea of enjoyable exercise is antique shopping. I followed up the visit with lunch with my best friend, who has known me and my habits for 20 years. When I told her the story, the level of laughter that ensued should have resulted in our removal from the restaurant.

She then went home and told the stress and exercise story to her black belt husband (who also found it hilarious), and was overheard by her 14 year old son, who promptly posted the following message on my Facebook page:

  • R G You might not be able to physically kick somebody in the head, but you would learn forms, stretches, punches and blocks. you would also learn some simple techniques to disable an attacker with a very small amount of energy. It would be good exercise, and you would learn how to defend yourself. I think you should do it. 1 person likes this

While I appreciated the advice and his earnest tone, it led to other comments.

  • T K .Just picture trying to kick somebody else in the head, it’s very relaxing.
  • P B There isn’t an aggressive bone in your body. ha ha!1 person likes this.
  • T K it’s awesome. and don’t listen to RG, you can kick somebody in the head if you want to. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  No, listen to him or you’ll pull muscles in very unpleasant places!
  • T KI can still kick somebody in the head, for what it’s worth.
  • R G I think it is a good idea, but it is your decision. 1 person likes this.
  • R G I believe after some training you could kick someone in the head. Just make sure you are limbered up, I have made the mistake of not doing that before.
  • T K yeah, it’s no fun to pull those muscles
  • ME OK, I actually laughed out loud sitting alone in my office…I hope no one heard me ๐Ÿ™‚ 1 person likes this.
  • P H Maybe we can enter you in a UFC fight. I’d pay to see that. ๐Ÿ™‚ 1 person likes this.
  • PB I would drive MILES to see that! 1 person likes this.

OK – how could I hold on to stress when my friends, their children, and former students were so entertained with the idea of me engaged in martial arts? I went home felling calmer than I had in days, turned on the news and almost choked on my iced tea. One of the lead stories concerned the opening of a Twitter account by the Papacy. Yes, the Pope tweets. Not only that, but the news clip showed Benedict XVI holding his IPad and posting a tweet. My world actually shifted for a moment.

My stress level is currently GREATLY reduced – if the mental image of me engaged in martial arts is not enough to induce laughter, the image of the leader of one of the most reactionary organizations in the world, God’s representative on earth, tweeting is enough to do so. Of course, in my head the tweeting pope is Innocent III or Gregory VII.


8 comments on “Menopause or Martial Arts

  1. bye2mrwrong says:

    I like the martial arts idea. My therapist recommended I let out the anger by writing letters. To him, to her, to anyone I resented, hated, was mad at (never intended to be sent out). Just write down exactly how I feel when I feel it. No scaling it down. No embellishment. I could even curse if I wanted.

    As for antidepressants. I dont know if they’re the right thing to do. Isnt it a bit of a contridiction to ask you to let out your feelings while at the same time numbing them?! I feel that antidepressants numb you, when actually you should be feeling. But then again i’m not a doctor. Just a thought.

  2. Devon says:

    So far, just the idea of me doing martial arts has been enough to greatly relieve any stress I might feel ๐Ÿ™‚ I have tried the angry writing, and my therapist also recommended the “just what you feel” writing – but I just can’t do it…I automatically edit, editorialize, and explain…which actually does help me place my feelings in perspective, but is not useful as a venting mechanism.

    I completely agree with you about the antidepressants – I do not think you should need to take drugs to deal with your life IN THE LONG TERM. I do see a need sometimes in the short term just to be able to function and get some distance, but I don’t think medicine solves the problem – and neither did my doctor. The feelings still have to be processed. I would rather walk and laugh and process now, than take a pill and process later.

    The situation is different for those who have a chemical imbalance. My daughter has chronic depression and will be on an anti-depressant for the rest of her life. Her feelings are sometimes completely unrelated to anything happening in her life.

  3. Caroline says:

    My doctor has kept me off anti-depressants – which I’m very grateful for.

    I hope the counselling is helping

    Best wishes


  4. Catherine says:

    First of all, I think your anger is justifiable. I understand trying to work through it, but I don’t want you to feel like it is something to be ashamed of. We all go through this. It is part of your healing. I hope you do try the martial arts, or anything else that you think may help you. Take good care of yourself right now – it’s so important to give yourself the respect you deserve.

    • Devon says:

      I laughed really hard at the idea, but I am actually considering the martial arts idea. I know that anger is justified, but I really do not like the out of control feeling.

  5. Foolish Woman says:

    I found your blog via Looking for Buddha Again.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post and it made me smile on what has been a rotten day so far (non-infidelity related).

    I kept two blogs to help me deal with my husband’s infidelity.
    In the public one, the acts of editing, editorialising and explaining actually helped me sort things out in my own mind and this, in turn, has helped me come to terms with everything that happened.
    In the private one, I just vented my feelings without worrying about spelling, logic, typos, fairness or syntax. It was a kind of emotional diarrhoea and highly therapeutic for that. I haven’t needed to use it recently but the occasional look back allows me to see how far I’ve come.

    Whether the therapy is martial arts or writing – or something completely different – doesn’t really matter. The main thing is to be able to let off steam safely and to know that it’s normal and justified to have those feelings.

    More power to your kicking foot!

    • Devon says:

      I actually have tried the emotional spilling, but unsuccessfully. I think I have just spent too many years reading student journals and correcting personal essays to be able to let go. I have not actually tried kicking over my head, but I have tried a little boxing with a bag – mostly, it just makes me laugh.

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