Interesting Conversations (10-Minute Read)

Middle age caucasian couple facing each other having a conversation
Connie Pretula Headshot

Connie Pretula

Connie Pretula is an inspiring health coach and Menopause Navigator to mature women, using a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

December 12, 2023

How are you? I’m asking that in all sincerity and interest. It’s become so common to say good thank you and carry on. Feel free to respond as I am truly interested.

Three weeks ago, when I sent my last email, I indicated I would be emailing once a month but with a longer format.

I received mixed feedback, some loved it and some said they would miss my weekly email as they looked forward to reading it and receiving the insights.

I realized that I missed writing my email so I’ve decided to go to a bi-weekly schedule. The length will depend on how much I have to share about the topic.

Over the last few weeks, I have attended a few networking events which are always an opportunity to meet new people. I’ve also been out with friends for brunch and dinner with some very interesting topics of conversation.

There has been a common theme lately, and this is meant with no disrespect, how little some men understand about women’s health and bodies. I’m sure men feel the same at times but often, women take interest in other people’s health over their own.

A man that I met at one of the networking events took an interest in what I do, helping women live their best lives as they are transitioning through the various stages of menopause. He asked for my business card and said he would follow up.

He called the next day stating he is interested in my viewpoint and a potential collaboration on a book he is writing. I’m starting to be cautious of those conversations as many times it means, I want your knowledge and time for free and I will mention you in the…insert whatever they are creating.

As the conversation went on, he then asked me “why do women feel they have the right to be bitchy when they have their period” Insert some type of sound effect and look that is not pleasant, perhaps a needle being dragged off a vinyl record and the frustrated face or exploding brain emoji.

I realize men do not know what it is like to have a hormonal headache, menstrual cramps, or ovulation pain. Add in the hormonal changes that can cause us to not even recognize ourselves, tender breasts, sleep disruption, feeling bloated from head to toe, stomach upset, and any other symptom I have missed that a woman can experience.

I asked him if he understands what women go through each month which can start with their very first period and continue until they are postmenopausal. He replied by saying that he has had a number of health challenges and he has never taken his challenges out on anyone by being in a bad mood.

I proceeded to explain that what women experience has been dismissed by the medical system since the beginning of time. Or, we are sent away with birth control pills or very strong painkillers, I was in the latter group. I had very bad menstrual cramps, to the point that I could not move. Every medical doctor gave me painkillers, first, it was codeine which caused me to go into a cold sweat and have an out-of-body experience in math class when I was around 14 or 15. I was told if I didn’t take those, I had to just deal with it so I did. When I was 18, I was given the birth control pill which helped with the pain but of course, causes many other issues. In my 30s, I was given Naproxen which eventually destroyed my digestive system. I’ve spent the last 12 years repairing and supporting it.

Enough about me, back to my response to him. Even after I told him everything women face and all of the symptoms that are ignored, he still didn’t understand. He felt women just like to be bitchy when they have their period. Needless to say, I ended the conversation.

I was so frustrated from the conversation that I called my dear friend Martin McDermott, who is like a brother to me and I am so grateful for his friendship. I shared the conversation with him and I’m so glad he is open-minded and happy to listen when I need to process something like that.

Realty is, women’s health was not included in medical health studies until a policy was established in 1986 by the NIH (National Institute for Health). In recent years, there are more studies that include women but there is still an imbalance and a long way to go.

It is easy to blame these types of conversations on patriarchal control, I find that simply stating, unless you have lived in the other person’s body, you will not understand what they are experiencing, female or male. My hope is, he will let what I shared sink in and in the future not judge the person by how they are showing up but try to understand what may be the underlying issue that is not apparent.

The other interesting conversation was with a man who is interested in getting to know me on a more personal level. He asked whether I was on any dating apps and when was the last time I was on a date.

I shared that after my last bad date in November 2021, I have had no desire to be on a dating app. He then asked how I meet men to go on dates, I shared that I have not been on a date for over two years. His reaction was a deer in the headlights look. He was very surprised I have not been on a date in two years. I also knew the other question that was going through his mind, that I have not had sex in over 2 years. At the same time, I don’t need to explain or justify why I’ve made the decisions I’ve made.

When I reflect on the last 4 years since my mom’s passing, there were times I looked for something to escape the deep sadness I was feeling, dating apps were one of the escapes. When I made the decision to not go back on a dating app, I knew I needed to focus on me and being alone.

I recently saw this quote “Belonging is being part of something bigger than yourself. But it’s also the courage to stand alone, and to belong to yourself above all else.” – Dr. Brené Brown.

About 14 years ago when I was still living in Winnipeg, I was attending a church called The Meeting Place. I loved the sermons as they dealt with the issues we face as a society today. One of the sermons talked about how we can easily avoid being in silence. The TV can be on or the radio, the pastor encouraged us to turn off the sound for a few hours and preferably a day. I decided to take on the challenge.

At the time, I wasn’t working, I was in the process of finding a new position, and I was also living alone, the silence was deafening and uncomfortable. I stuck with it for the day and then another and another. It wasn’t long before I started to appreciate the silence and still do to this day.

A friend of mine came over to visit one day and she asked why it was so quiet in my place, I shared the challenge with her and she said she wasn’t sure she could do it.

Being alone can be very scary, some might even use the word terrifying. Being alone in silence can be even more unnerving. The voice in our head or memories from our past can start to come in and can take us down a path we don’t want to go.

I have been down that path many times. The strangest thought can bring me to think about something from the past and I stop and think, how did I get here?

I believe I have shared previously, going through the initial stages of grief during the lockdowns and restrictions of the pandemic was both positive and very difficult. I had to learn how to work through the grief on my own and I experienced some very dark moments.

I learned how to enjoy being on my own and my own company. I now laugh at myself and my quirks. I also learned, I never have to settle and be in a relationship to avoid being alone.

Because of what I experienced, I view relationships and love completely differently, I view life differently.

As far as the sexual part, there is so much focus on particular acts and orgasm, what about connecting on a deeper level, feeling the other person’s energy?

How I share my body, even a hug, has become very sacred to me, I do not feel obligated to anyone.

As the conversation continued, he questioned whether I want to have a relationship and whether I was interested in sex. He said that he typically doesn’t date women over 50 because they are not interested in sex. I told him I am looking for a relationship and I’m a very sensual woman. Being on a dating app and going on multiple dates shouldn’t be the marker of whether I am relationship-oriented and whether I’m interested in sex.

I took time to learn who I am in the silence and in the loneliness, and I don’t need to settle to purely have companionship.

Taking time to explore our own sensuality and feel our own energy is a level of vulnerability many people are not comfortable with. If we do, when a person comes along that we want to explore a relationship with, it opens us up to connect on a far deeper level, potentially way beyond what we’ve ever experienced in our past. Personally, that is what I am looking for and I am prepared to continue my life as is.

So if you have made it to this point, you might be asking what this has to do with menopause. Perhaps not directly related to menopause but definitely related to the pressure a woman over 50 might feel.

Men can procreate until late in life so some of their sexual programming is related to that. Because sex has been a subject that is rarely discussed, few men have had an opportunity or know where they can explore a deeper connection beyond the act itself.

Once women start the transition through menopause, they are trying to understand what is happening to their bodies and why the act of sex now hurts. How do they talk about this with their partner? This is when women want to connect on an emotional level.

Neither side knows how to bring up the topic, the man feels rejected and unloved. The woman feels misunderstood and lonely. This is where the drift can start to happen, many relationships struggle, and some end during this time.

For my male readers, know that the woman in your life is not rejecting you, she is feeling very lost and rarely gets the support she needs from the medical system.

For my female readers, he does care and wants to know how he can support you but has no idea how to ask or what to ask. Think about when we ask our male partners how we look in an outfit…they are damned if they say beautiful and they know they are damned if they say anything other than that.

The years after 50 can be an amazing time of life. Finally reaching the point when the kids are hopefully independent and on their own. Potentially getting ready to retire so you can have more time and yet you may feel like you hardly know the person you are with.

Having these types of conversations are best done at a time when you can both be completely present. If you are terrified to do this on your own, there are great coaches who can lead you through these discussions. One such coach is my dear friend Amy Color here in Vancouver BC, she always recommends starting with a huddle. You can search her name or click here to go to her website

Well, I’ve done it again, I’m over 2000 words so this is a good time to end my blog. It felt so good to write again!

I hope you enjoyed the topic and found it helpful or at least food for thought.

Now that I will be doing these every two weeks, my next blog will be the day after Christmas which is Boxing Day for us Canadians and a few others around the world.

However you celebrate or simply enjoy the days off, and whether you are alone or in a relationship, I hope you find a moment to explore some silence. I’d love to hear what it was like, click here to send me an email.

Have a great two weeks and thank you for reading my words.

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