Initially I wrote this for my HelloCervix blog, but since many perimenopausal women might identify with some of this, I decided to share it here….
Now, this doesn’t come easy. I was raised a good catholic girl and talking about this stuff is really hard! Yeh I can talk about wombs and bleeding til the cows come home- but sex, now that’s a different story!
But I can’t talk about my cervical healing and my perimenopause journey without taking about sex- they go together eh?
So I just want you to know this is uncomfortable for me, it’s still a taboo- and putting it out there on the internet feels like a BIG privacy breach. But it’s OK, I’ve run this past my husband (not my mother!). We’re all safe in my Circle
I used to have a very casual attitude to sex, as a rebellion to my ‘catholic upbringing’. I was a ‘ladette” back in the 90’s, my feminist movement was to be as good as a man, so I would drink them under the table and take them home for a shag. What I really wanted and needed was intimacy, which didn’t happen for me until I removed alcohol from the equation. And then the vulnerability, guilt and shame came rising up.
In my addiction recovery I had to learn a lot of new ways of being, and sober sex was one of them.
What I also learned in my recovery was I’m highly sensitive – this was quite an ironic discovery since my mum and others had told me my whole life “you’re too sensitive” and I had a son diagnosed with a “sensory integration disorder” = in other words- HSP. But i’d never realised this until I read the HSP book and ticked all the boxes! But it made sense, I find the world overwhelming and drink and drugs numbed me so I could cope. So along with feeling totally raw without the fix of drugs or booze, I was rebirthing myself as a sensitive woman, living without any crutches.
I learned a lot of self help tools fast- support circles, meditation and prayer, reiki, journalling, yoga were all part of my daily life.
And I met an amazing man, a beautiful sensitive man, who totally accepted me- skeletons out of the closet and all.
So of course he is part of my healing journey.
For the first time in my life I had someone I could be completely me with, talk about everything and anything and we had the best sex life and intimacy i’d ever experienced.
13 years later…add 2 small children, perimenopause and an extremely stressful life into the mix- things weren’t so good. My stress levels were so high , the perimenopause symptoms of insomnia and anxiety were ‘killing me’- and I knew if I stayed I would “get sick”- scary what we manifest eh?
I was angry and resentful, we weren’t connected- on any level and I just couldn’t see how we could reconnect. I walked out. There was still love, but no common interests except our children, and just too many conflicts. No GROWTH. We’d barely been intimate in a year.
10 months later I’m diagnosed with cancer, and I ask him for support- which is a big thing as part of that support involves him having to move house so we can release a property investment. He says yes. He says yes to supporting me, helping me with the children- he says yes- with no real knowing what this means for US. Because I don’t know either.
All I know is I have cancer and I need to heal it and I need help. And She is “CLOSED FOR HEALING”.
So we begin, we begin rebuilding our marriage, rebuilding our friendship, our relationship and rediscovering intimacy…here comes the sex bit!
In the previous year and most of break up bit I’d felt totally unsexual- I was identifying with the ‘dried up’ part of menopause, and embraced it. For me the journey of menopause is about rediscovering yourself- who needs sex as a distraction? I’m on a deep journey to myself here- I just don’t need that!
In my journalling and cycle charting I noticed I was only ovulating every few months, I’m still bleeding- irregularly, but the non ovulation was an interesting discovery. And then when a month came along with ovulation- BAM- horny as hell. I was even eyeing up the milk man….watching a lot of eye candy on TV- Peaky Blinders and Outlanders, and masturbating a fair bit! I discovered the Ayurvedic technique of Abhyanga (self body massage to aid relaxation and it soothes menopause symptoms) and in this self exploration I was discovering the pleasure that comes from just touching and playing.
So here we are, rebuilding our relationship but I’m ‘closed for healing’ down there, so we need to find other ways to be intimate, and that has been the most beautiful healing experience. Because we all know that with penetration there’s a ‘goal’ pressure- and while orgasms are good, and when you have kids sometimes a ‘quickie’ is all that is manageable, the pleasure of touch, slow, gentle touch is better.
THIS IS THE LESSON OF THE CERVIX……and an interesting lesson in perimenopause!!
When women are fully turned on the cervix moves up and out of the way to allow penetration – which doesn’t necessarily mean penetration needs to happen, but it shows she’s ready. And She is me- what I like she likes!
Interestingly this is also the lesson for the menopausal woman, she wants a partner who will meet her in her power, meet her in her vulnerability, meet her in her all-ness. Even if this ‘allness’ includes a lack of sexuality- at the moment. We need a willingness from men to find other ways to be intimate in relationship because we need intimacy, it softens and opens us to love.
I’m witnessing many women breaking up with partners who just aren’t stepping up for them in the way they need to be met. But, I’m not sure it’s the mens fault, I think they need to be told what we need!
I’m also seeing amazing relationships in women who are completely present in their perimenopause /menopause journey sharing deeply with their partners what they are going through (BIG CHANGES!!) and being totally supported by their men! So I’m learning from this- clear communication in relationships is vital, stating your needs, taking time out, not being guilt tripped for taking time out, asking for support, asking for intimacy to be different…. I’ve certainly had to do all of that in my healing journey.
And it hasn’t been easy, I know my husband has been angry about having to change, having to witness and hold my anger and my grief without being able to ‘fix it’- because thats what men like to do. But he cant fix this, we have to just be, be with whatever arises next and he’s in this with me, riding the waves together, finding our way, together.