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Confessions of an almost 49 year old mom: Sweaty, Single & Sober
I don’t know about you, but I just can’t ever fall in love with the feeling of waking up drenched in my own sweat. For me it’s always a bizarre feeling: slowly, heavily coming into my awareness out of a sleep so deep that I fight it. This intense, other worldly sleep is so precious because many of my nights are spent waking easily and often, or tossing and turning and daring myself not to look at the clock. So when I have the hint of coming to conscious awareness out of this kind of thick and gooey sleep there is a part of me that resists, even though the heat my body is producing is close to painful.
I have no idea what time it was when I came to realize that I was laying in a pool of my own sweat. It might have been 1:37 or 3:14 or 5:46, but whatever time it was found me groggy, then awake, then flinging myself out of bed and peeling the drenched clothes from my body. Letting them fall with a plop onto the floor and walking, naked and still sweating, into the bathroom and standing in front of the open window and fanning myself.
I had been through a couple of years of intense night sweats, and they had faded away to give me several years of cooler, albeit restless nights of sleep. This is the second night sweat party in as many weeks.
As a single mom, there are many times I feel grateful to not have a partner to have to consider. I am never more happy to be single, however, than during a very early morning night sweat extravaganza where I can easily slide into the other DRY and COOL side of the bed. Complete with a fresh pillow and sheets that barely see any action whatsoever. On this night I slid, gratefully, into “the other side” and sighed happily as my core temperature had dropped to a manageable number. But then the questions: Why was this happening again? How do I know when it’s coming and how do I stop it. When will it END????
And this is just one of the joys of midlife and perimenopause. Let’s not leave out the delightfully surprising periods, or the bizarrely long eyebrow hairs that spring up overnight. Nor shall we forget the mental fogginess or uncontrollable rage that descends and devours anyone unlucky enough to be in close proximity to us in those moments.
And yet, during all this unraveling during midlife, I can also sense an awakening. The knowing that when this all ends I will be a stronger, clearer, and a more real version of myself than perhaps ever before. I feel like no one is ever going to make me feel smaller than I allow them to. I will never again capitulate to any situation that doesn’t worship who I am becoming. This includes my own stories I tell myself that regularly attempt to hold me back and shut me down.
The gift of midlife is that we see that we are mere mortals. We don’t have endless years to screw around feel shitty, or waste time pretending anymore. And so we get to work. We experiment a lot: with diets, therapists, exercises, meditation, journaling, spiritual work, support teams, anything we think might alleviate the low level anxiety, depression, worry, numbing, addiction or whatever might be holding us back. Whatever might be keeping us in the process of unraveling and away from the awakening.
For me, it’s been a deep dive into all of it. The latest round has been in the arena of my physical health. First I realized I was gaining weight at an alarming pace. I had to wrestle with the self hatred of squeezing into uncomfortably tight jeans and strapping on circulation cutting bras every day. There is nothing wrong with being any size, but I’m very short and I was uncomfortable in my skin. I realized I was numbing out with the following: food, tv, and alcohol. Now listen, I was never “in danger”. I was always functioning fully and prospering by all standards. But I felt nervous about how often and how much I was drinking. And it didn’t make the bras or the jeans any more comfortable.
Looking back on journals from the past, the shame of over indulging was evident. This was clearly something to deal with. But honestly, I didn’t know who I would be if I didn’t drink. Would I lose friends? Would I still get invited to stuff? How would I date sober? (I mean…c’mon!) Turns out, I didn’t lose friends, I still got invited to all the stuff, and dating is just as uncomfortable without the 2 drink minimum and I keep a clearer head.
For me, cutting out alcohol completely has allowed me to make better choices. It’s allowed me to eat healthier food as I don’t have to soak up the one too many glasses of wine from the night before. I also have more energy, I get up earlier and have committed to meditation and journaling instead of just talking about doing it. For me, my true nature is way brighter and happier as a sober person. There are moments that are less fun, for sure. Moments I see everyone getting the blissful relief of a wine buzz and I feel the craving like an actual hook in my skin. But it passes way faster than I would have thought, and I soothe myself with thoughts of a hangover free morning.
The best part about my sobriety, however, is that I don’t get to numb the discomfort as easily. Sadness hits more readily. Loneliness falls like a curtain sometimes. Fear sneaks up and punches me in the throat while I’m not looking. And although that seems like it would be an absolutely spectacular reason TO drink, I see it as a gift. Because at long last I know that these old friends would show up anyway. And if I was avoiding them they’d hang around and take up residence at a low frequency that would be ever-present in the background of my life. They would prevent me from taking risks, from expanding into the brightest version of myself. Sober me opens the door wide open and invites it all in. The uncomfortable feelings run in, mess up my house quickly and intensely, wreak a little havoc, and then they LEAVE. After I’ve cleaned up the mess there is a freshness and vitality so sweet and loving that I am always grateful for their visit.
I don’t think every woman in midlife needs to stop drinking. For me it was important and it’s been an important step in my journey to myself. But I do think every woman in midlife needs to take a really honest look at where she is numbing herself and shutting herself down. For some it might be overworking. For others it’s over eating, shopping, binging on tv, the cellphone, social media, excessive exercise, perfectionism, too much pot, or simply doing too damn much. And for many, it is alcohol. We are all living with a whole lotta fear that usually boils down to: I am not enough.
You are enough. You are. I am. We all are. We are enough when we are handling our lives like a fucking boss and we are enough when we are hiding in our closets sobbing into a pillow. We are enough if we are eating right and exercising daily and when we are stuffing our faces with ice cream and laying around in our “yoga” pants. My favorite buddhist quote is “You are perfect just as you are. And you could use some improvement.” Yes and yes.
The journey of midlife is arduous. Rarely have I met a woman in her late 50’s or 60’s who is like “I loved middle age, I wish I could go back and do menopause all over again!”. It’s a tough and painful journey at times, but I am sick and tired of it all being just torture. There is so much sweetness, so much fun, and most importantly, so much growth and reclamation of power available to all of us. Best tips for thriving it:
find a tribe,
get a support team
take a real good look at your numbing devices.
It’s wonderful to know what to do to change your life for the better, it takes a whole other level of courage and moxie to take action and change. But, from one single, sweaty & sober mom (formally known as the wine queen) if I can do it, so can you.
Need a Midlife Rescue?
I’ve dedicated myself to helping women just like you get clarity and direction so they can live the life they’ve always dreamed of and one of the most powerful ways to accomplish this is with my Midlife Rescue Session, a free one-on-one chat to help you remember your power and reclaim your voice. To grab your spot right now, click here.