It crept up on me slowly, with the stealth of a navy seal crossing a deserted midnight beach, dodging the illumination of a brilliant Summer moon. Barely noticeable at first, it leapt, grabbed and tumbled me in the surf, filling my eyes and choking my throat with salty tears before I even realized what was happening.
“It's too soon, I'm not ready...I have years left yet...this only happens when you are old...”
Acting as though dark glasses and trench coats could hide the truth of our quest we set out to find a fix. "Can I help you ladies?" (Damn the efficiency of the American customer service ethos) "Ummm, where do you keep the, ummm, woman’s.... umm ... supplements...?”
“Oh, that would be over here...” (No option but to follow irritatingly young, perky, fertile, sales assistant).
There we were, two otherwise gorgeous and fabulous 40-somethings, one desperate to smother her inner emerging granny, the other leading the charge for a "natural" solution, acting more like two guilty schoolgirls surreptitiously selecting our first tampons, lurking in the anonymity of towering store shelves.
It is hard to describe, the helplessness you feel as the dark cloud veils your reality, tears and despair peppered with flashes of anger and resentment - uncharacteristic for this usually sunny disposition. And then it passes, as quickly and silently as it came. As if some cosmic hypnotherapist has me under his spell and can control my mood and reality with a mere snap of his fleshy, evil fingers.
There is now little doubt (with the clarity of a Monday morning quarterback) that I have been in denial for months. The signs have been there - sudden blushing accompanied by stripping, obsessive thermostat correction, moments I dismissed as irrelevant. The creeping reduction in visual clarity and the accompanying increase in girth - my metabolism now mimicking that of a bear in hibernation.
Unfortunately the terrifying disposition of a large grizzly unexpectedly woken from deep hibernation is a little harder to ignore.
How is it that I was not better prepared, why does this seem like an ugly secret? It is not within my power to control, and every woman must walk across this bed of fire at some point. The cruelty of the timing does strike me, whilst some women are still contemplating a 40-something pregnancy; I am releasing my only child into adulthood, and relinquishing my biological ability to create life simultaneously. I am officially barren Karen.
Not that any of this bothers me. As soon as I can find an effective means of silencing my suddenly-psycho-bitch alter ego, life will return again to "normal" or at least a new "normal".
Which brings us back to our position now seated on the cold linoleum floor between the health food store’s shelves, staring at an endless array of supplements and creams. We could easily have been transported to the world of Harry Potter, wishing Hermione would concoct some magical lotion or potion with the graceful wave of her beautiful wand.
Instead we were approached by a large, bearded giant more closely resembling Hagrid - "Are you ladies finding what you are looking for?" Our response in unison (accompanied by downward glance) – “YES, thanks...”
Not to be dismissed our gentle 40-something giant (with sympathetic eyes) stood tall, looked away as he walked past us and pointed "well this one is very good..." and then he was gone.
Thus one product was selected from the seemingly limitless offerings of help and symptom relief. All require attentive application and or ingestion, multiple times per day. Searching for a silver lining, this Sudoku-esque puzzle of dates and doses synchronized with rising tides and phases of the moon will no doubt help to keep my brain function at optimal levels.
Illuminated by the light of this new moon, saddled with a new and unexpected backpack, sexy-librarian glasses and a hand full of magic beans, I continue to stand at the vortex, staring out at the crossroads with a clearer sense of the journey ahead…
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