Who am I writing for now? careful, friend. Funny how yesterday you wrote that piece and today you find it harder than ever to follow your own advice, which was supposedly intended for yourself. can’t get the voices out of your head. in some ways the life coaches and scientists are right — you don’t say a goal into the world before achieving it. Same perhaps goes with publishing “advice to self.” The saying of it somehow tricks your brain into thinking you’ve achieved it and then you don’t actually feel like doing it anymore — at all. Here I am completely writing for an audience. But not just any audience. That’s the important thing. It’s for you.
The funny thing is that all those gurus and self-help artists I first started listening to and nodding at and understanding in theory were saying all these things — know your audience, curate what you share, find your own voice — and they all made sense in theory but I was like yeah, yeah, yeah… but HOW?!?! How do I pick an audience, how do I find my tribe, how do I “find my voice” — or more like, how do I actually expose my real voice, because if people know what it is, they will, like, hate my guts and think I’m an idjiot with a capital id?
okay I exhausted myself there. I don’t half to publish this. Or I do “half.” I can be quiet now. Sometimes I need to purge those urges to write for an audience in order to find space. I truly, truly don’t have to publish this. aw crap here comes that urge again. Well, go with it…
that’s what I learned, or try to learn, in the four times I laboured through childbirth. I was one to try to master the pain. I thought I could control it, I thought I could read the eff out of it, should I swear there I don’t know, am I writing for an audience or not, oh dear oh dear get back to the program, I had the shivers when I was talking about childbirth, let’s get back to the god shivers…
I was the one to try to master the pain. I thought I could control it, I thought I could read the fuck out of it, I thought I could learn hypnobirthing and childbirth without fear and unassisted childbirth and the emergency handguide and natural pregnancy book and healing hands and the thinking woman’s guide to childbirth and most of all ina may’s guide (sacred text which truly is the godsend, though I did not understand exactly to what spiritual level at that time), and I thought I could master it all and have the perfect two hour labour resulting in a pain free, scream-free, smiling, peaceful water birth, every time.
But the fear was overwhelming. It paralyzed me and clenched my muscles and the big light-bulb-shaped sac of my uterus was clenched at the bottom because I was scared of everything, you know like scared of pooping at the wrong time, and I was terrified from those awful movies we’d seen at the government childbirth class, the one that was filmed of a good and natural birth but was far too much information to be seeing from the “back end,” from the alleyways, so to speak, I just could not un-see that boulder-sized head coming out of an opening that normally I could not even see,
no matter how much I stared into a hand mirror at the strange folds of skin and poked around looking for it, and I could not un-see that doctor seeing that most private place, a total stranger, dressed in something that may as well have been army fatigues, except thin poly-coton, I intensely dislike thin poly-coton, it doesn’t create natural effects, you can’t dye it either by the way, or rather you can but the dyes don’t really take, it’s a hospital effect they make; why the hell am I talking about fibres the uniforms don’t matter it’s the people inside them, the people inside them are amazing and unique and individual but they are bound by their uniform to act in certain ways it is destroying
sometimes I trip out on a phrase like that, I loose my train of thought, it’s like the engine slowed and then I have to keep it chugging somehow, what am I saying does that make any sense
anyway the point I’m trying to make is that in childbirth, I thought reading about getting past fear would help me conquer fear but the truth is it opens the mind to the possibility, which is the important first step, but perhaps the most important missing thing from my challenging childbirths (I still refuse to use the word painful most of the time, because it’s not pain like having an injury which you know is bad, it’s the kind of pain like when you’re running up a mountain for a few hours with a beautiful vista at the end, yet you’ve never run before, almost nothing can prepare you for it, trust me I practiced squatting and exercising and yoga and speed-walking and even running and nothing could prepare me for it, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise though
it’s like running up a mountain for a few hours and you’ve never run before, and there is something chasing you, something like a rabid animal, it’s the animal of fear, it could take any shape, it could be the shape of an episiotomy or a ripped vulva or a pair of forceps or a vacuum suction or a doctor holding a baby in the air and smacking it or lying it on a cold table and poking at it
or a mask on a doctor’s face or disapproval or disappointment or someone taking your baby away or someone switching your baby or someone not letting you hold your baby the way you want to our someone telling you to be quiet or someone saying they know that YOU will never groan like that other woman did or someone telling you
someone telling you
someone telling you.
the fear was transformed, for me, one time, like this: my midwife listened to me cry, as I hovered there, in this strange but amazing rented pool in our living room, she listened to my cry and complain about all the things I can’t say here, and she held my hand, she was sitting in a chair outside the pool, and she held my hand and she nodded and listened and her eyes were just vast, vast pools of nothingness but in a good way, i mean there was no judgement there, she just *heard* me, this god-tapped with-woman did, with every fibre of her being, she took it all in like a star imploding, everything went into her understanding, and she took it all in, and she said it was okay but not out loud, or maybe aloud I don’t remember, it didn’t matter, there was no longer any matter, she’d taken it all in, away from me, just every fibre of her being said that what i was doing was right and good and even this awful caterwauling was okay, nothing could be wrong, and after that I returned to work and had my baby.
And that is what it’s like to write, as well. For me, at least. I act as my own midwife — or rather, I access god and tell it all to her, through these words; in other words, you are my midwife
Image: process end-shot by njl @ bloomwords
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. If you wish to contribute and/or show appreciation, please recommend/like and/or comment — or send email via the contact page. Thank you so much for reading. ❤︎