Accepting Yourself and Respecting Yourself: They’re Both a Good Idea
I’ve been thinking about this blog topic for a while now. It began one morning when I woke up with an old Staples Singers song popular during the 70s, bouncing around in my head. At first, I was singing, “accept yourself.” But when I looked it up, I realized it was actually, “respect yourself,” which is good too. Accepting yourself and respecting yourself are both good ideas.
You’ve probably noticed this is a common theme in many of my blog posts. That is because I’ve come to the conclusion that menopause is not primarily a physical change. Yes, I know that physical changes occur in menopause. But, I’ve long since decided that menopause should be more accurately described as a profound life change that, incidentally, just happens to include a few hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
Menopause is often called the second adolescence – and for good reason. The same generalized anxiety about one’s existence and place in the universe that is present during puberty, is also present during menopause. In some ways though, I think it’s much more profound in menopause than it is in adolescence.
Whether we realize it or not, we expect that once the self-defining, soul-searching work of adolescence is done, it’s done once and for all. Once women reach menopause, however, many find out this is just not the case. Those “who am I” and “where do I fit in the universe” questions that we ask when we are teenagers, come full circle again in menopause.
I realize that my penchant for philosophical, self-reflection is showing once again. But the truth is, many women who reach menopause are going through this. They just don’t talk about it. Though I’m certain they would like to. Finding your way through menopause is like stumbling through a fun house with the lights off for a lot of women. Except it’s not much fun.
Coming to terms with the change of menopause – getting older, losing one’s fertility, questioning one’s role in the family, in society at large, evaluating your worth as a woman, even issues of mortality – ultimately requires acceptance. Without question, much is lost in menopause. But, much is also gained.
In order to appreciate that which is gained, we must accept the change, accept who we are now, and let go of who we were in the past. It is work, I know, sometimes really hard work. But as Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
It takes an enormous amount of courage to examine one’s life. While you may feel small at times, or unequal to the task, the rewards are great if you don’t shy away. Not the least which are self acceptance and self respect. Not too shabby if you ask me.