1995: Menopause Questions

From my journal for September 12, 1995

I was wondering if I’m doing the part of menopause that involves letting go of worldly accomplishments.  I see that I have been trying to push myself to be creative, imagining that I could make up for the lost years.  But I can’t, and I need to accept that.  I would be in a very different place, artistically, I would have learned a lot of skills, developed themes, markets, audiences, collaborators…   who knows what I might have done.

September 14

I have been feeling apprehensive about my health, and in fact the feeling that my life is meaningless resembles what I would imagine I would feel if I were diagnosed with a fatal illness — if I had six weeks to live, what’s the point of typing journal?  thinking about books to be written? seasonal pageants?  I’d probably continue to write in here, and walk the dog and do yoga, in an effort to reduce stress and keep my mind clear.  I don’t know what else I’d do.  Long term projects would vanish, and I’d be asking what is most important to me? just as I am now.

O yes, I don’t know if I ever managed to write out specifically my thought that this particular menopause crisis is about letting go of those long-term projects.  Long-term projects belong to an earlier time of life, when one can count on having energy and time to carry them out.  And the idea of a “career,” of a natural progression that peaks at some point, of a coherent body of work, I see that I’ve been trying to reclaim that expectation and it doesn’t make sense.  I see that I don’t have to give up my long term projects, but I do have to give up any expectation of ever finishing them.  Long term projects have to be of the sort that’s like the dollhouse, where the process itself is fun to do, where it can be laid aside for long periods of time and picked up again, where the ability to do it doesn’t not depend on being able to build momentum.    Reading through July was painful because of the number of projects that I was working on that are now in limbo.  I haven’t painted the doll house in weeks, more than a month, I think.  The teal rayon dress stopped with the bodice sewn together.  I haven’t drawn or painted, I haven’t even been writing Nika’s morning pages.  That all seems like another life.  And the “five books” — that project belongs to another person.  It astonishes me to think that I still have, somewhere, the packets I intended to send to publishers last February.  It now seems like there’s no point in that at all.

I never finished the teal rayon dress, don’t remember what I did with the doll house — I think I put it down in the woods, somewhere near the trail.  I haven’t even mentioned Neskaya, a long-term project, that won’t actually start until a year from now, and is certainly a critical part of my vocation.

What happened to the “five books” project is that it ended when I discovered that my motive was to “prove that I deserve to live, even though my parents were disappointed in me.” I never actually wrote that in my journal, all I wrote was about the loss of the project.  I completely forgot that I made up “packets to send to publishers.” So astonishing to revisit this critical part of my life and see what I actually wrote. Makes me wonder what else is missing.

Interestingly, this blog, not even envisioned at that time, turns out to be exactly the right thing for me to be doing. It doesn’t take a lot of energy, I only have to do it when I want to, have energy, have a topic. And there’s lots of raw material!

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