Discover more from True North by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Menopause, Relationships, and the Holidays
The holidays are a crucible for relationship meltdowns. Loved ones with differing expectations, familial patterns, and needs get together to create a “Hallmark moment.” Even in the best of circumstances, this can be a set up for dysfunction and stress. At midlife, it can be even tougher. In fact, relationship crises are a common “side effect” of menopause.
Problems in a relationship at midlife are often attributed to hormonal shifts during perimenopause. What is rarely acknowledged or understood is that these hormone-driven changes affect the brain uncovering a woman’s hidden wisdom and the courage to voice it. If the woman remains silent for the sake of keeping the peace at home or work, or if she holds herself back from pursuing her creative urges and desires, the result can be one or more of the “big three” diseases of postmenopausal women: heart disease, depression, and breast cancer.
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On the other hand, when you choose to honor your body’s wisdom and to express what lies within you, it’s a good idea to prepare for some boat rocking, which may put long-established relationships—including your marriage and your relationships with family members and friends—in upheaval.
How To Stay True to Yourself During This Holiday Season and Beyond
Change makes people uncomfortable. Even changing your hairstyle can be enough to stir the pot sometimes. Here are few ways to stay true to who you are (and keep your sanity) during family holidays and events:
Expect resistance. See your holiday gathering as the Petri dish it is. Remind yourself that it’s OK not to be the good girl who sees to everyone’s needs except her own. This goes for any pattern you’re trying to break.
Grieve and let go. When you end or update a relationship or dynamic that has been around for a long time, you may feel sad. That’s ok. Simply allow yourself to grieve and then let go. By doing so, you’ll be protecting your health for years to come.
Laugh. Bringing humor into a situation almost always eases tension.
Distance yourself. If being around family members or joining in on a certain tradition is too stressful or emotional, give yourself permission to distance yourself. This may even mean skipping an event you have always attended.
Navigating the COVID Holiday Season
Right now, it is as if the entire planet is in perimenopause and relationship crises are everywhere. Never before has there been so much division in families and between friends. And increasingly, when we take a stand in regard to the Covid narrative we create a line in the sand that, in many cases, cannot be crossed or reconciled.
For example, I do not believe that health or safety is being achieved through the experimental jab. And I have found that when it comes to some family members and friends who believe in the injections, no amount of discussion or scientific discourse will change their minds.
This holiday season, here are 3 things to consider:
Define your boundaries. Decide what your boundaries are and lovingly stick by them BEFORE you attend family holidays. For example, if a loved one requires you to get an injection or be tested (with a test the even the CDC has declared worthless by the way), ask yourself how far you are willing to go to appease their fear. Only you know what is truly right for you.
Recently, one of my friends went to a Thanksgiving meal hosted by someone who has been terrified of COVID for months. The host required a negative test. My friend found a rapid test at a nearby Walgreens and presented the results so that her host felt “safe”. Their gathering was loving and uplifting. Another friend, however, was told by her daughter-in-law, that she wouldn’t be able to see her grandchildren without being “up to date” on a number of different inoculations. This friend decided it was not worth the personal risk to her own health. She shared her position in a firm, but loving manner and decided not to spend the holidays with her grandchildren.
Decide what topics are off-limits. There are no shortages of polarizing topics right now. So, one way to ensure harmony at your family gathering is to agree on a list of topics that will be off limits during your time together. For example, maybe you choose not to talk about politics and vaccine mandates. Or perhaps there is a subject that is personal, such as your relationship status, that you do not want family members asking about. You can say, “I’m excited to be with the family for the holidays as long as we agree that any discussion regarding my love life is off limits.” Get everyone to agree to the off-limit topics in advance and enjoy your time together.
Allow yourself to be disowned. We are experiencing a new time here on planet Earth. (Actually, we are on a new planet altogether.) There is no going back to the way things were. And there has never been a more crucial time to remain true to yourself. In fact, it could save your life. If being true to yourself means your family members will no longer accept you, then it is time to allow yourself to be “disowned”. Remember, relationships built on love and respect do not include coercion, control, and criticism. If your family relations are saturated with these, it is time to re-think them. You will find your soul tribe. Then you will finally be free.