Motherhood meets menopause: Accepting your ambivalence

Journey Book -- Embracing Your Ambivalence

The following exercise has proven highly effective for the women in my support groups who are grappling with issues of ambivalence. It is designed to help you get comfortable with the fact that there are several voices inside of you that are clamoring for equal airtime. Some of these voices are ones with whom you are familiar. Others may be ones you are repressing because of the pressures and responsibilities of motherhood. All of them need to be heard and accepted if you hope to successfully reconcile your dual identities of individual and mother.

Pick two of the distinct parts of you that are seeking resolution and reconciliation. Wild woman and devoted mother? Solitary world traveler and neighborhood carpooler? Now imagine that each one of these characters has come alive and has invited you into her home. Visit with each one separately. Write a description of each character and note the specifics of each personality. What are they wearing? Is one dressed in lace and a low-cut dress and the other in jeans? Does one plan for the future and one live in the moment? Is one’s refrigerator empty except for wine and cheese? What do they do for entertainment? Work? Are they married or single? What kind of music do they listen to, and who are their friends? What would the ideal vacation be for each of them? How do they prefer to spend their time? Give your imagination free rein as you flesh out the various tastes, styles, and, most important, needs that are coexisting inside of you. It is a safe first step toward embracing your ambivalence without judgment or censorship, and restoring those parts of yourself that may have been suppressed, denied, or forbidden. (Thanks to Deena Metzger and her wonderful book, Writing for Your Life, for the inspiration for this exercise.)

Read more from Hot Flashes, Warm Bottles: Learning to set limits.

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