I cried at a movie trailer last week. You know, those two minute movie previews you’re subjected to in the theater before the real movie starts?
And I am not talking about having dewy eyes or a little sniffle. I’m saying that, less than 15 seconds into this preview, tears were welling up, and a few seconds after that, they were pouring down my cheeks. I tried to stop it – told myself how stupid it was – tried to think about something funny to stem the tide – but it was no use. So then I tried to at least hide what was happening by lowering my head. But when Hubby glanced over, he couldn’t miss the tears that were now running down my neck and into my décolletage. And he started snickering. Which made me giggle. But I still kept crying those big crocodile tears, laughing harder all the while. Mind you, this was a trailer for “War Horse” – a Spielberg movie about, you guessed it, a horse in a war. One shot of the horse snorting majestically, and I was reduced to tears. Yes, I love horses, but this was stupid.
You might think that I was shocked by my inappropriate and spontaneous emotional reaction, but I wasn’t. I’m used to them these days. And so is my husband.
Hormonal mood swings are nothing new for me, but they used to at least be so predictable. Hubby and I both knew that I was more likely to burst into tears over some imagined insult during that “time of month.” Or perhaps break into hysterical laughter that I couldn’t stop. Those few days every month often had me dancing on the edge of some form of hysteria, and opened the possibility that in the middle of the calmest, most normal conversation, my tone would abruptly change and I’d be lashing out verbally or stomping off to the next room in a huff.
As I explained to Hubby when I’d see his confusion, it truly wasn’t something I could control. I hear the sharp words and sudden anger in my voice and literally wonder where the heck it came from. It’s like being possessed. It’s not a fun feeling. But it was reliably predictable. Watching the calendar helped, because if I knew when to expect those over-reactions, I was able to control them more successfully.
But now that I’m in my 50s, all bets are off. There is no predicting. My period shows up whenever, which means my hormones ebb and flow whenever, too. There is no “time of month” anymore, because I can go two or three months without having any actual period, but with multiple hormone surges showing up at random times.
This makes for some interesting scenarios – like sobbing in the theater… over a preview. It leads to totally irrational anger and responses to the anger. I’m serious – I’ve had drivers cut me off on the highway, and I’ve actually considered ramming them as a possible response. Of course I wouldn’t actually do that, but the idea that it is now one of the possible options running through my head (alongside flipping them the bird, honking the horn, giving a dirty look, etc.), is a shock.
I remember my mother bursting into tears and sobbing over spilling a can of tuna fish into a basket of laundry when I was a young girl. That’s not a happy thing to have happen, but it certainly didn’t warrant the anger and frustration and anguish that she displayed. But now that I’m about the same age she was at the time, I understand it completely. I can see myself having the same exact reaction.
A woman gave me the wrong change the other day, and, while I didn’t think I was angry about it, and it’s not something that would normally make me angry in the first place, I caught myself saying “I gave you a ten dollar bill” in a suddenly sharp and forceful tone that clearly said “you stupid idiot”. I closed my eyes for a second and took a breath – then I smiled extra wide and thanked her profusely when she corrected the simple and harmless mistake, trying to make up for my nasty tone. But I have no doubt that she muttered “bitch” under her breath as I walked away. And who could blame her?
Remember those old western movies and TV shows from our youth that always seemed to have a story line revolving around nitroglycerin? It seems like someone was always taking a wagon past the Ponderosa or the Big Valley ranch with a tiny bottle of innocent-looking nitro that was at dramatic risk of exploding if it was dropped or jostled too much. Yeah, well, that’s what menopausal hormones feel like. Everything’s innocent and calm, and then BAM!!! – hormones gone wild.
Since my periods have been totally random for 2 or 3 years now, with no sign of stopping permanently anytime soon, I’m guessing my hormones are going to be raging for a while longer.
Maybe I should have cards printed up that I can hand to innocent bystanders that say “I’m sorry for the over-reaction you just experienced – I’m mid-menopausal and I can no longer control or predict my hormonal responses. It’s not your fault – but it’s not mine, either.”
My poor husband. I know he loves me, and while he tries to be understanding, there are times when my wildly fluctuating moods frustrate and, even worse, hurt him. I hate that. So I continue to drink soy milk and whatever else might help, and I wait for these hormones that have been with me since my teens to just move on. I’m too old to be this hysterical. Hopefully I can manage to keep myself in Hubby’s good graces (and out of jail!!) while I work my way through this interesting part of the aging process.