Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Keeper….Despite Myself.

DWF, w/ 16yo son ISO companion.  Must be able to deal w/ distorted body image issues, broken ovaries, hot flashes and mood swings.  Workaholic and neat freak.  Cannot tolerate dirty carpet.  HPV+
And you wonder why I’m single?  But this, is who I am. Turning the corner towards 50, my life has been filled with all sorts of ups and downs but somehow I remain standing and for the most part happy. 
My journey towards middle age uniqueness began during my 20s when I started taking fertility drugs because I could not get pregnant.  My body would not, could not perform the most basic of functions.   After more miscarriages than I can count, I adopted the most amazing baby from Russia.  But those drugs… patients should really read the warning labels more closely.  So desperate to become a mom, I did what the specialists told me not really asking or caring for that matter, about side effects.  The one I remember hearing about the most:  early onset menopause.  I had no idea what this meant for me, my body and the poor souls who reside under my roof.
Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings.  Already at ten years and counting, my ob/gyn told me that early onset menopause could go on through my fifties until “real” menopause hits!  Yeah!   I have not held a comfortable body temperature in almost 15 years being either too hot or too cold.  I either wear fleece or am stripped down to the bare minimum.  Some days, I do both.  Am I angry that the drugs affected me this way?  Not really.  I did what I needed to in order to move through the process of becoming a mom.  That doesn’t mean I like the added laundry from drenched clothes and sheets, sleepless nights and miserable days but have accepted that this body change represents me.
Another piece of me that I have accepted:  being divorced.  But I am and I’m glad.  More so, I’m free to have a pure relationship with my son, now 16, and a friendship with his father.  It hasn’t been easy rebuilding my life but I have and am accepting of the joys and tribulations of owning a home and serving as both mother and father to a young man.  In fact, I look back and marvel at this young man who has learned self-reliance, resilience, and resourcefulness from me.  Granted, he’s now 16 and “brilliant” but I still even get a little respect.  Not bad for a broken down old mom with an out of whack thermostat.
Finally, I’ve just come to accept that cervical cancer lies dormant in my body waiting for that day when it can rear its ugly head.  Yes, I’m HPV+ and I got extra lucky with not one but two strains of the virus both linked to cancer.  I’m not ashamed by this as most women catch HPV at some point in their life; I just got the strain that doesn’t go away.  A great doctor, lots of vigilance and taking care of myself keeps me safe and prepared for what may lie in the future.  But I hold those same Res traits that my son does, so I’m ready.  Just something else to accept.
So middle-aged and falling apart?  Not through my eyes.  What I see most days is strong, resourceful, funny, dedicated and devoted.  Granted, the mood swings also make me a bit of a whack-a-doodle and incredibly difficult but they eventually pass, I haven’t left any real bodies in their wake and there’s always chocolate to soothe souls (both mine and those I spew upon during an episode).  But this is just who I am.  I accept me for my strengths, quirks and that bit of craziness that exudes from my core.  It’s ok to not be perfect and I can now say that after 40+ years of trying. 
Find the perfection in your quirks.  That’s how I started.  Then learn to accept them as gifts that make you incredibly special and unique.  When you look at yourself in that light, isn’t great to celebrate and accept yourself for who you are?
Cheryl Stahle 


  1. It's nice to encounter someone who is standing strong despite the adversity in their life. Keep up the good influence; I'm sure it's felt by all those around you.

  2. Thanks Anna for the kind comments. I'm still standing--well, only figuratively now due to my recent adventure. But I think I found the heart of my next book. Check it out!