Here’s a brief story of my birth and an exploration of how this experience has functioned as a primary imprint or template for how I live, create and birth things:
I was born in hospital, with an epidural and forceps. My mum felt unmet and unsupported by the midwives on duty and deeply grateful when her obstetrician came along and offered help in the form of an epidural. I felt cold and alone when the energetic connection between my mum and I was severed as the epidural kicked in. I know I was deeply loved and welcomed by my parents.
This entry into the world has meant that being in deep/close relationship with anyone feels risky, to a large extent. When’s the shit going to hit the fan, I wonder? When will this amiable closeness transmute into painful distance? This is the pattern of relating I learned at birth, and continue to re-enact, to a large extent.
I was a shy, sensitive child. It’s often felt safer to do things on my own, and when I’m triggered, I usually retreat emotionally (feel ‘cold’). The work of aligning my vision and needs with someone else’s can at times feel hopeless.
I also hate feeling rushed! So when I’m birthing things, it’s important to feel on my own timelines. That said, I’m noticing I often leave things to the last minute, using an external deadline to push me into action. (forceps birth)
When it came to birthing my first-born child, I knew I couldn’t do such a big thing on my own, but birthing in hospital felt too risky. I knew I wouldn’t get the help and spaciousness I needed. My daughter’s birth was a journey in following my instincts and calling in the kindred support I needed to dive deeply into such a vulnerable collaborative space.
My two other births were awesomely positive ripples from the first birth! I felt very safe, supported and connected to myself and my family and midwives, with one of my midwives being present to the births of all three children at home.
Ha, interestingly as I write that, I remember I had a whole journey around feeling connected and disconnected with my mother, throughout all three births – she was present as midwife for my first birth, not present at all for the second birth, and present looking after the two older kids for the third birth – my own birth playing out again. The ongoing question: how can we work together? How much distance does there need to be between us for both of us to feel comfortable and relaxed? Can I trust the distant/numb/separate ‘second phase’, knowing we will come together again?
I can see how working alone has often felt safer and less complicated. I bear witness to how vulnerable I can feel at times, working with other people (my husband, dear friends, etc.). I avoid intimacy at times. The risk of staying in connection is that I will lose it unexpectedly (epidural), and encounter that coldness once again. This is a Sacred Wound, and hitting this perceived ‘you’re-on-your-own’ feeling is so often a trigger into a wordless, preverbal pain.
In a parallel dynamic, I am also hypersensitive to group dynamics and the possibility for people to feel hurt or impacted by the actions of others. Much of my work centres around building connection – to Self through awareness and non-judgment, fundamentally, but also within groups. Creating loving groups in which we can feel safe enough to be our true selves – both vulnerable and fearful, as well as shining and visionary – is part of my Life’s Work!
For years, I have been blessed to have been part of women’s circles where it has been safe to bring the whole of myself, to have opportunities to ‘lean into’ intimacy and connection. Fundamentally, these spaces and beloveds have taught me about staying in connection with myself regardless of how particular relationships are feeling or how others are acting.
What I am noticing is that I feel safe to stay in relationship when there is room to be a deeply-feeling person, nothing ‘numbed out’. In my childhood, there was little room for my tears and anger. I never could numb out very well, nor was ever really tempted to use drink/drugs/whatever to do so. I retreated to process these emotions on my own, initiating many times over, and to this day, my own ‘second stage exile’.
Slowly my tolerance for that cold, alone feeling is increasing… but it’s very slow! Such an old deep wound, a trip-wire buried deep within. If I stay with the inexplicable grief of feeling so suddenly alone and bereft, I am on the right track, though it is so easy to arc up into anger as a defence mechanism.
These days I honour my deep-feeling nature as an invaluable part of my approach to life and my creativity – a constant inspiration! And I am calling in more and more collaboration – so very necessary and joyful! Collaboration that feels more possible and vibrant in light of my increased self-awareness about the fears I bring to these relationships.
So in terms of bringing this consciousness to the What Lies Beneath creative process, I will be watching for any sense of external ‘pressure to perform’, not wanting that to shut down my creativity to the point that I need help (forceps!).
I will allow myself to create slowly, with meaning and full-feeling.
I will make sure I nourish my body along the way, and pause for many cups of tea!
I will relish any acts of collaboration, remembering that it is safe to work together with others, and that even when this doesn’t feel true or when there are clashes of needs or values, I provide safety for myself and others by staying in connection with myself.
And, I will take time for myself in the week in between the two workshops, because I really am nourished by time alone, introvert that I am.
I will do my bit to create a space where all emotions are not judged but rather welcomed for the valuable information they offer.
I will bring all my embodied trust of the birth process to this experience – I really am excited and trusting of this collective pregnancy and birth! I am also open to any ‘crises of confidence’ as evidence that we are birthing something big and amazing, providing valuable information for our process.
Hope these reflections spark your own musings on your own birth!
(Many thanks to Jane Hardwicke Collings for bringing this birth-imprint awareness into my life, and to my mother, for being brave enough to be with me in this ongoing, tender dynamic of perceived connection and disconnection.)
Write the story of your own birth.
(perhaps you want to clarify details with your parents?)
Write the stories of your ‘visits to the birth altar’ (children, miscarriages, abortions), if any.
(every pregnancy results in a birth)
What are the stories of other ‘births’ of projects, businesses, events, artworks, etc?
Can you see how your birth has impacted how you birth things?
Can you see how your birth has affected how you live, how you approach this creative act called Life?
What are the common themes?
A woman called Robyn Fernance has written a book called Being Born: How Your Birth Affects Your Learning, Performance, Lifestyle and Relationships, which runs though many different birth scenarios and their potential impact. (Ccaesarean, big baby, ‘wrong’ sex, cord around the neck, held back, induced, premature, unwanted, twins, ‘easy’ and ‘fast’ births, etc.). Well worth a peek.
Another tool to bear witness to our creative/birthing patterns is the Lunar Solar Journal, a monthly and seasonal invitation I’ve created to reflect on our lives using a map based on the cycles of Moon and Sun. We record our experiences on the page in the context of these ceaseless waves of ascent and descent, birth and death, creation and disintegration, using this information to ‘flow’ more gracefully with Life and to live with intention, practising a form of soul-gardening…
Much love to all, and go gently! These are deep places to explore within oneself, and it’s worth being tender, with yourself and others…