The other day I read something that took a stab at menopausal women. That brought on a hot flash. Aren’t we protected by anti-bullying acts or something? Are we really fair fodder for others questionable sense of humor? Yeah, I guess we are. At least some of us. Not me. I’m never irrational or unrealistic or the proverbial “banshee on wheels”. (Expletive carefully deleted.) I’m as rational and as sane as the Blessed Mother. OK, that’s a lie. Maybe, I have moments that I’d like to forget. . . well, I actually do forget.
So, this evening as I’m slaving over a hot stove and waving a potholder in the air with vigorous abandon in a futile attempt to cool my overheated body, I realize that I have become “the mad woman in the attic.” If you’ve read Jane Eyre, you’ll remember that Rochester’s wife is living in his attic and is as mad as a hatter. She is also responsible for the fire that blinds Rochester so that when Jane Eyre comes back she can have the now blind Rochester all to herself. The mad woman in the attic fixes everything for Jane.
I like Jane Eyre. . .as a character but honestly she is too much of a wimp for me. At least in the beginning. Life and trial is what strengthen her. She’s nothing without the journey. The mad woman in the attic has made that journey. She is the woman who models a real woman’s heart. She might be crazy but being mad about being usurped by the governess seems pretty sane to me. She paces the floor above the unsuspecting Jane. She is the mighty unconscious, the source of passion, emotion and fire. She’s a lot more interesting than plain old Jane. Of course without the balance of reason, the intellect, and social mores, the mad woman is destructive. Within the context of all those things she is a vital part of the psyche and hence society. We need the mad woman.
Now, I know it’s a bit crazy to be thinking about Jane Eyre and mad women while I’m steaming broccoli and waiting for the rice to finish cooking. The heat is to blame. When the heat is on, channeling the mad woman is as natural as breathing. So, is menopause. I posit that the world needs menopausal women more than it can ever know. We have given the world our youth. Our fertility is the source of the next generation! Without us, you are nothing. If you catch a glimpse of our rage, our madness, criticize not for you have not walked the path that has burned the soles of our feet. We have crossed the coals. We are the fire walkers that led the way and then are discarded and scorned not because we are no longer valuable or useful but because our madness frightens you. You can only hope to be as mad one day. And, some day you will be. It might not be as a menopausal woman but don’t kid yourself, men have their own change of life that is no less dramatic. Men are just better with denial. Midlife crisis is everywhere. Look into the eyes of a mad woman and you will see your own reflection.
Male or female: the madness still awaits you. Life may not have cooked or poached or steamed you enough but it will. Some day you will stand in barefoot with scorched soles and look back at a life that evaporated as quickly and quietly as the steam that rises off my broccoli. I preferred youth, pregnancy, fertility but aging is my destiny. It is yours as well. May you rage against it as wildly and as vigorously as mad women everywhere. We are as vital as we ever were maybe more so. Ignore us, demean us, relegate us to the annals of mid-life crisis, jokes and snickers, and you seal your own fate. Celebrate us. Lift us up as the wise women we are and we will pour blessings on to you.
Dinner is ready. I eat like a starving teen. Inside, I still am. I am also the mad woman in the attic. I have never felt so alive or so proud. I light the fire!