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Marrying George Clooney:
Confessions from a Midlife Crisis

Marrying George Clooney Excerpted from Marrying George Clooney: Confessions from a Midlife Crisis by Amy Ferris, by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright© 2009.



Imagine this scenario if you will: You’re in the Holland or Lincoln Tunnel—all of a sudden, without a warning, all the lights go out, including all the headlights on all the cars. You’re stuck. There’s no going forward; there’s no going backward. Complete and utter darkness. And you know in your soul that others are going through the exact same thing—but no one, not one person, gets out of their car. Doors are locked. Windows are rolled up. Seat belts are tightened. Everyone just sits, looking straight ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting. For. A. Light. To. Flicker. At. The. End. Of. The. Tunnel.

Welcome to menopause.
Exit 36B on the highway called Life.

Perhaps this is a good time for me to rattle off some of the symptoms of my personal menopausal journey. This journey, by the way, began with one step. While I don’t consider myself “an exercise type o’ gal,” I have been spinning almost nonstop for the past few years. I have been depressed, anxious, forgetful, lost in a fog, angry, and resentful, with an emphasis on angry. I have been filled with tremendous hope and, in the next unexpected moment, filled with the exact amount of despair. I have cried uncontrollably from my gut, and I have laughed from the depths of my soul. I have felt like throwing my life away, as in literally jumping off a bridge. I have witnessed my body grow one full size while sleeping soundly; I have been able to pull and form my new love handles into the same animal-like shapes that I was once able to create out of balloons. I could continue, but I think you get the idea.

In the midst of this fresh hell,
I decided to quit smoking. I’m not sure if it was an act of courage or just simply self-destructive behavior. After thirty-two years of smoking, I wanted to stop filling my lungs with tar and nicotine, even though, simultaneously, I was looking for that perfect bridge. For whatever reason, the “clean panty theory” played over in my mind. I could actually hear my mother (and I believe all mothers) saying, “Don’t forget to wear clean panties in case you get into an accident. You may need to be rushed to the hospital.” I simply substituted “clean panties” with “clean lungs.” Dare anyone find me with dirty lungs after I took the plunge off a bridge.

So, I quit smoking. Much to my husband’s grand delight, not to mention that of my friends and family, I decided to divorce the one constant that kept me from experiencing my feelings fully. Every time I would feel anxious, sad, depressed, nervous, bitter, resentful, fearful, and hopeless, I would light up—and almost instantaneously, those feelings would dissolve. Well, actually, in truth they didn’t dissolve—they were simply pushed down to the subterranean level of suppression where they had lived and thrived for my entire adult life. Oh, were they in for a treat! They were about to experience sunlight for the first time.

So, not only were my hormones doing a ferocious dance, now my suppressed, discarded feelings were vying for attention. This is the point in the story where I get to introduce my husband. Please raise your hand if any of you have turned into the devil doll on a dime. You know what I’m talking about—that moment when your husband (or wife or partner) says or does something trivial, innocuous, a casual throwaway, and without a moment’s hesitation you respond by burning a hole in their heart with your tongue. And it’s all downhill from there. The only word that comes to mind to describe my behavior is vile. The only word to describe my husband’s reaction is stunned, although I have a feeling that a psychiatrist (not even necessarily a good one) would say that Ken was scared to death of my irrational and unpredictable behavior and staying as far away from me as humanly possible.

Along with herbs—black cohosh, peony, passionflower, and a dab of progesterone cream twice a day, I decided to go back to weekly acupuncture treatments. Kathleen, my acupuncturist, said, and I’m quoting, “I feel a deep seismic shift occurring inside of you, Amy.”

Uh huh. So in other words, a 10.5 right on the fault line. Most everyone who knows me knows I am a Buddhist, a practicing Buddhist for over thirty-five years. One of the exquisite tenets of Buddhism is embracing and honoring the “whole” of our lives. Not just bits and pieces, not just “the good” or “the nice” but every inch—head to toe. Buddhism also encourages and teaches that one can find—through inner resolve—the enlightened side to anything.

FYI: My mother is not a Buddhist.

Along with weight gain and mental anguish, insomnia is yet another “side dish” accompanying menopause.
So, late one night while unable to sleep and tossing a coin—heads, Ambien; tails, Ambien—it occurred to me that it was time for me to put into practice what I deeply believe: to (a) truly embrace and love every single part of me—not just the good and kind and generous but the bad and unattractive and mentally unstable, and to (b) find the enlightened side. My mother couldn’t deal with my feelings, wanting me to ignore them, suppress them, hide them, but it was my obligation and responsibility to acknowledge and hold dear the privilege of my very own life.

Every single woman I know, without exception, has experienced or will experience some deep inner turmoil or upheaval because of menopause. It is a part of being a woman. Period. I have known women of great equilibrium to wobble horrifically because they were in the process of dealing with this huge change of life. The good news: Most women credit this hell as the single most profound experience that has enabled them to uncover their own greatness. I can definitely embrace that.

And here’s the enlightened side: Menopause is just like couture fashion. Some of it is just really ugly.

Welcome to my world. . . .

* * *

Excerpted from Marrying George Clooney: Confessions from a Midlife Crisis by Amy Ferris, by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright© 2009.

* * *
Amy Ferris Amy Ferris is an author, a screenwriter, and an editor. She is on the advisory board of the Women’s Media Center, the Executive Board of Directors at Peters Valley Arts Education & Craft Center, and the Advisory Board of The Women’s Educational Center. She is a passionate champion for any and all things women-related. She lives in Pennsylvania with her delightful husband, Ken, and...yes, she is wide awake at 3:00 AM. For more info on Amy, or the book, go to www.marryinggeorgeclooney.com.

Picture by Ken Ferris

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