Battles with our bodies

Relaxing body control

You may feel like you’ve been in a battle for control over your body for your whole life. The number of things that we are powerless against can feel overwhelming at times. Our genetically inherited build. Our hormones and menstruation – too frequent, too infrequent, to light, too heavy. Our bodies as sexual objects – too fat, too thin, too ugly, too sexual. Our bodies during maternity – bump too big, too small, breasts producing too much milk, not enough.

And then perimenopause. Our moods are too anxious, too weepy, too angry, too horny. Our skin too oily, too dry. Our libido too high or low. The list of the ways in which we judge our bodies continues. And through all this time, we try to control it – through medication, restricting our intake of certain foods, through spending money on “fixes” or through sheer willpower.

This feeling of having a wrong and “out of control” body can be intensified several fold during perimenopause. We may feel wild and out of control trying to regulate our temperature. Our nights can be as disturbed as often as having a newborn, when we wake up with soaking wet sheets as a result of night sweats. Or our days disrupted when we have to duck out of a meeting because the room is unbearably hot and we’re having a hot flush/flash.

We might also experience joint pain, headaches and dry eyes. Our libido and sexual responsiveness may change, and even if we do want sex it may be painful as reduced oestrogen can lead to vaginal dryness and atrophy. If we do decide to take hormone replacement therapy, we may experience side effects with that too.

So here we are, going through life trying to work, maybe care for children or our parents, maintain our social life and family life and suddenly our bodies, which we may have tried to control for years through exercise, contraception, diets etc, are now screaming at us to be heard. And, unlike before, they won’t let us ignore them. So what can we do in the face of all this physical change and overwhelm? How do we deal with a body whose changes are affecting every area of our lives?

In the next post we’ll look at ways to be with our bodies that don’t involve trying to fight what we might now come to see as a losing battle.

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