I can’t even tell you how fabulous it is to watch my sexual energy ebb. Glory be, I have time again – to think, to breathe, to drink my morning coffee unmolested. All those years, worrying about looking good while being sweaty and pleasing somebody else – all gone, quietly and blissfully replaced by another force of nature: the urge to live big and deep while we still have time. And pawing around with another human between the sheets just seems, well, stupid.
While so much is written about the horrors of hot flashes and mood swings no one tells you the best news about menopause – you actually get to put the men on pause. Truth is, they stop wanting to get laid as well but of course meds were invented to address this, by – wait for it – male scientists, no doubt in their sixties.
For the love of God, people, it is FABULOUS to not have that twitchy urge to merge any more. Liberation beyond imagining. When I think of the time and energy I spent on sex… dang, I could have run the world and made millions. After 50, sex is annoying (often annoying well before then) and it’s supposed to be that way. Nature is brilliant, right? She always gives us what we need, and takes away what we don’t. There’s no point in using energy to be naked and bumping around when you can’t reproduce anymore and time’s a-wasting in your life. We get to collect ourselves, reinvent who we are without all that sexual nonsense. It’s a joyful time; kick off those damn high heels and get barefoot – you and your fat belly.
Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of fun in my heyday and am very appreciative of it all. I did not miss the Sex Bus on this trip and I’m pretty sure I used up my allotment and maybe some of yours as well. It’s just that when nature readjusts your hormones and that paunchy guy doesn’t look so appealing, you should rejoice in your newfound freedom instead of trying to suck in your gut and get rid of laugh lines. You know why we look like rectangles after 50, why this belly appears and the waist vanishes? Because we’re not supposed to be attracting seeds to make babies. Procreation would be dangerous and unnatural, because God knows you have to be young to raise kids, they so wear your ass out. Becoming a true broad after 50, we should be grateful for elastic waistbands and saggy necks. We’re fading into the background to support the next generation of women through the trying times of marriage and babies. We’re the crones, girlfriends, and we can’t expend valuable resources trying to look sexy. It’s plain dumb.
There are so many women who just don’t care about sex, even way before menopause, but we’re not allowed to talk about it. It’s verboten for a woman of any age to say this is a stupid waste of my time and energy and good luck finding any man who would fess up to that. But I personally know plenty of women who would rather curl up with a book than a guy, or spend time thinking about love rather than trying to “make” it. When you hit your fifties, you realize you don’t “make” love – love makes you, and it is everywhere. The idea of connecting intimately with one other human is replaced by the notion of universal connection with everyone and everything. Spirituality blooms, if you let it, while gravity lowers your belly, eyelids, and sexual appetite. I’m telling you, it’s like being let out of jail. Free at last from the compulsion to physically connect, we are wildly liberated to embrace everything else, and the world is big indeed. Words almost fail me at how happy I am that I couldn’t care less about sex any more.
I had a husband who insisted we watch an AARP video about “Sex After Fifty.” It was gross. Shoot, I don’t want to see wrinkly old people in a hot tub trying to get laid. It was kinda pathetic, really. And sex in any body of water is a pain in the ass because it doesn’t work all that well. Why would AARP feel compelled to create a video to tell us how to do something that nature doesn’t really support any more? Why can’t we just love the fact that it’s over, rejoice in watching younger people do their thing while we take our place on the wisdom dais, teaching eager young ‘uns what life is really about? And it’s not about sex.
It’s about the deep gratitude of every single small thing, from a babbling baby to a babbling brook, all the wonders of every precious day rolled out in front of us without the veil of worry about who needs to get laid or when we’re going to fit it in (so to speak). Intimacy, it seems, is all about the eyes and the heart. Other organs – once thought so vital (and in fact necessary for survival of the species) – fade in importance as the spirit expands. When I was deciding how to handle my breast cancer diagnosis my brother Tony, who is a surgeon, said to me: I always asked my women patients, where does your sexuality truly lie? And that helped them figure a course.
My sexuality still lies in my brains, in my intelligence, my ability to see clearly and deeply. My breasts served me well and I had little problem parting with diseased tissue. I even threw a party for my boobs – Ta Ta to My Ta Tas – and really don’t miss them at all. Ironically, after experiencing cancer my intimacy with the world increased a hundredfold. Sex almost seems more like exclusivity, a way to build a barrier to other people and experiences. Without that worry or limitation (yes, sex is limiting), I get to love everyone and everything and there is not a sexual experience that comes close to this reality. My heart and happiness are bigger than ever. My cup runneth over.
And so, my sweet sisters and brothers, don’t buy the bullshit around sex in old age. When you feel your libido ebbing, don’t run to the drug store for lubricating cream or take hormones that hurt your body so someone else can continue to pretend that he or she wants sex too. Just go with that flow (and be glad the “other” flow is over for good…) and watch how big your heart becomes. Being honest about your sex drive, or lack of it, is crucial to allowing yourself every healing you need, every moment you want, every truth you know deep down about yourself.
Hello Buddha belly, bye-bye libido. Thanks for the memories. Bring on the wisdom.