The Queen of My Self

By Rosanne Barr 

More than a few times recently, as a verified old woman, when I’ve been tempted to view life as a swirling, chaotic rush from the womb to the tomb, I’m brought to my senses by the unshakable feeling that something sure as hell seems to know what it’s doing.

Just as the acceptance of rot and death sets in, the funnier things get. When all is done and said, my body, not my mind, was truly my destiny after all. ROFLMFAO.

Sooner or later, we’re all made aware of the über-politics of the body. The real deal that’s never stopped churning away down in the engine room is the physical reality of our marvelous, mysterious, meat-puppet bodies in all their accident-waiting-to-happen splendor. Of course, splendor isn’t the word that leaps to mind when the average hapless 12- or 13-year-old hears and feels that first all-consuming full-body “uh oh” that marks what the happy-talkers love to romanticize with commencement-speech rhetoric as “the entry to womanhood” or some other shiny, sugared-up BS. Maybe they mean well, and figure that such a euphemism sounds so much better than “40 years of blood, sweat, and depression bordering on occasional madness.”

Of course, again at the back end of the long road that is the tyranny of reproductive biology, the colorful language folk start up with their whiny crap about feeling less like a woman. Hey, for starters, we only get old if we’re lucky! Can we let the logic of that sink in, sisters? Yeah, you’re not going to be taking home any more little bundles of joy from the hospital, and maybe you won’t be getting quite as many lascivious glances from the males of the species (if you were ever the type to get lots of those), but guess what? You’re free, goddesses! No more “time of the month” or “curse,” no more “on the rag” with all its attendant hassles, no more “riding the cotton pony”… in fact, take a minute to stand in the winner’s circle as the cotton pony is led out to pasture, for good.

Menopause is the victory lap over the curse of being born female!

You can bet that a realist like moi isn’t here to take up your time pretending that menopause is a walk in the park. I’ve heard that close to a third of women find menopause to be, at worst, a temporary and fairly inconsequential passage. To those women, I’d like to say: congratulations, and I hate you! My experience was a raw and often torturous ordeal. And about the only two factors on the upside were the just-mentioned no-more-periods, and also the chance to occasionally pitch a major, flaming bitchfest without being (or needing to be) sure that it was my biological transition and not just me being myself in high gear.

Sometimes, as the months whip past now, like telephone poles from the window of a bullet train, I continue to realize how much of my life I spent firmly under the thumb of Mother Nature, that inscrutable Boss Lady. I can still hear my biological clock ticking, but it’s a calmer rhythm. Without being one of those happy-talking, sugar-coating types I can’t stand, I just have to say it’s so much easier living on this side of menopause, even with my high-mileage body.

On the far side of that long passage, I’m sailing on much calmer seas. I’m not exclusively under the flag of any of the titles that womanhood bestows on those who choose (or are pushed into) the familiar roles: mother, grandmother, wife. Although I am, of course, a mother and a grandmother, which is a stone-cold blast.

My family is close, but I have more me time—there, I said that too! And what do I do with some of the time I don’t spend being whipped around by the desperate process of staving off the appearance of aging and all the rest of the crap we’re sold 24/7? For one thing, I meditate, and for another, I think. Let me elaborate (after I meditate, and then think for a bit). Ah, OK, I’m in full Crone mode now.


Depending on who’s defining the word “crone,” it can be a really wonderful gem of language. Crone got saddled with the role of synonym for hag, an old grizzled woman who’s often bitchy at best, malicious at worst: the sinister, old, gossipy type who sometimes had magical or supernatural associations. Luckily, intelligent women, and some men, have begun returning the word to its rightful definition: an experienced, mature woman who’s arrived on the north shore of the raging seas of this largely corrupt planet.

We’ve run the gauntlet and we stand, battered, bruised, and perhaps even worse, some of us, but we’re consciously here and mostly intact.

And, with a little luck, we have some time to affect things. Some sources cite Crone as the third stage of goddess formation: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Well, I like the goddess part, but I don’t mean to insult or diminish women who aren’t mothers. In fact—after holding the world up to the light and subjecting it to a quick exam I call “Do the math!”—I’m here to say, we could use a lot more women who don’t become mothers of their own offspring, but instead Mother the world in a more expansive way—and help to alleviate some of the misery and need of countless millions of people who are here already.


But, let’s get past the idea of things we have to do, breathe a sigh of relief, and remember that there’s probably more time to do things we want to do. Form or nurture a few good and real friendships, and silently observe the world. You don’t need a young athletic body or piles of money to read some of the world’s great books; or to soak up brilliant music and art; or to grow something beautiful (and edible?) in a little garden spot. May your uterus remain relatively undisturbed during these, your glorious turban years!



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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™


The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to


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