Again, I am on a healing journey.
My burnout + exhaustion + panic attacks from the last six weeks dissipate, but do not disappear.
I feel like I’m on a mildly broken swing – most of the time, I am happily suspended in the air. And then something happens, I get triggered, and the swing bottoms out, hitting the sand beneath – hard.
I snap at a midwife after a pretty negative birth class on all the things that can go wrong – a class that ends in the “Grief Room” (for parents who’ve just had a termination or stillborn… uhhhh yeah).
I feel overwrought and anxious that I’m on a train that I can’t control.
I want to build a fortress so no one can ever laugh again at any of my birth plans.
I sit silent and blinking back tears when a midwife whispers in a birth class about another woman’s plans for her birth – she rolls her eyes about the plans, and says weiiiiiiiiiiird. And the whole class guffaws with laughter as though it is the oddest, most awful thing on earth. And it’s a plan that some of my friends have done with their births, and it was something I planned for my own.
I feel alone and unsupported – like I’m carving a whole new path. As the first of my little tribe of friends to give birth, I don’t know what to do. I just have a vague sense that I can’t do it the normal way.
I feel indoctrinated by the Crowd of Normal. All the Normal people who live unconsciously. All the Normal people who think I’m weird. I search for pregnant mamas in our classes who actually get me – who are wanting something different – who believe in something different – but there is only a sea of Normal. The Normal that I don’t fit into. The Normal I was never born to fit into, and the Normal I have no interest in fitting into. A Leopard cannot change her spots, and a Goddess Leonie cannot change herself into the Normal. I don’t want to be a normal mama. I don’t want to be a normal person. I don’t want to meet up with other mums for coffee to bitch about our husbands. I don’t drink coffee, gossiping bores me, I’m not married and I still think Chris is the most beautiful man in the world. I’ve been feeling trapped on a train that is headed to Normal Station… when all I want to be is me – lights blazing, loving joyfully, living sacredly. I’m so, so scared of losing myself in the Normal.
I think spiteful thoughts about the maternity-store woman who insists I try on maternity singlets that are two sizes too small because it will make my boobs “perkier.”
I clench my fists and jaw over that crappy life thing that’s been happening since Christmas – and is only just being fixed now.
I want to pop a blood vessel when someone tells me again a birth story that feels more scary than empowering.
I cry when things don’t go right.
I want to have a panic attack every time someone tells me I can’t feel stressed because it affects Little Mermaid.
And then… our sweet Little Mermaid dances her way upside-down-right-way-up into breech for the moment.
Most of the time, I’m a happy gliding ducky… until something happens.
And then Leonie turns into a sobbing monster who wants to write long sad stories about how hard-hard-hard things are right now, how awful things are, and how nothing – nothing – seems to be going right now.
There has to be a better way.
I reach out again for help.
I find an acupuncturist who specialises in helping Little Breech Mermaids swim down into the depths again.
He listens to my pulse with his hands, and tells me:
I can feel your stress in your pulse. We will fix this too.
And I believe in him.
My love takes me to a Jungian psychotherapist with a large bowl of rose quartz crystals beside her.
She has kind eyes, and reminds us of Nan – our ninety year old elderwoman who listens with kindness.
She tells me stories of calling the angels around a birthing woman, and whispers:
Leonie, you don’t have to be normal. You can make your birth and life how you like it.
And she asks me why I feel so triggered and anxious, and a light bulb goes off in my head.
I see all the times throughout school I’d been called weeeeeeeiiird by the Sea of Normal, and how I’d since created a life surrounded by wonderful, spirited, understanding souls. And how this act of pregnancy had thrown me out of that sweet circle of safety I’d created – leaving me feeling like I was battling the high school crowds again, defending who I am.
Do you think, she says, you could come from your place of power instead? So you don’t take things so personally? So you don’t feel knocked off your perch everytime you feel judged?
Instead, you’d just be a woman living her truth, joyful again in her own life, doing what she wants to do, being how she wants to be.
And I glimpse that might just be possible.
She had given me the gift of a vision I can walk towards.
In the morning, I rise.
Go give thanks to Great Spirit,
says a voice inside me.
I set off for the western mountain near here, walking up it with three incense sticks, hands in my pockets, stopping every few moments to let my belly settle and my back stretch.
At the top of the mountain, there is a wise old tree surrounded by a natural forming stone circle.
I bow my head as I walk up to it, asking the tree, the stone circle, the earth angels if I may enter.
They welcome me.
I ask my guides to be with me.
I step into the circle, and nestle beneath the tree, removing my shoes and leaning my back up against her rough bark.
Immediately, I feel held by her branch arms.
Immediately, I feel surrounded by the ancients, my elders, my teachers.
I want to cry. It is a relief to find them again after feeling oh-so alone.
And here they are, on the mountain, waiting for me to come and speak with them again.
I light the three incense sticks of Nag Champa – one for me, one for my love, one for Little Mermaid. Three souls who have chosen each other to walk their journeys with.
I dig the sticks into the earth, let the smoke waft over me.
I let my eyes swim and fade, and I breathe.
I close my eyes until the morning light awakens the spirit in me.
When I open them again, I look out over the valley, over the suburb, the wide green sheep farms leading up to the next mountain range.
Suddenly, the mountains are not ordinary Canberra mountains anymore – I see them light up and gloam like the mountains at home, like the hills of Avalon.
And the mountains weave their magic, and I hear the voice:
You are a wise woman, walking your wise woman path Leonie. You must remember this.
You worry that you do not know what to do – that this is your first time. Remember the wise woman way, and remember you have done this before, over and over.
You have learned so many gifts and know so much wisdom and tools from your journey. Use these, now and always.
Motherhood and birthing is not separate from your spiritual journey. Why would you separate them?
You can be a shamaness when you give birth. You can be a wise woman when you mother.
All these things are woven together. You are not alone. When you became pregnant, we did not leave you to experience this life thing. It is not a separate journey from your spiritual path. It is all a part.
We need you to be a wise woman now. We need you to blaze your light on your path ahead.
Women tell you their birth stories filled with pain because they have a wound. They did not know the path of the wise woman way when they birthed. They did not know. We need women to be able to know the wise woman way if they want it. You can help in bringing this to those who need it.
But for now, plait your hair and lace feathers through it, like you always have done. Stand on the top of the mountain, staff in hand, and see how the mountains glow.
Remember again this world is filled with light, with spirit, with wisdom, with joy… that birthing and mamahood is a part of this.
We are not asking you to be different from who you are… we are asking you to remember who are you are, deep down in your cells – the woman of power, presence, knowing and radiance.
Bring this into your journey now. You belong here.
And I see the future unfold before me. The Leonie who had forgotten she could be a Goddess, and walk her medicine path, even as she birthed and became a mother. The Leonie who remembered the courageous, brave, light-filled soul inside her. The Leonie who knew again that she felt lost when all she needed was to bring her soul’s sacred work back into her life.
And I saw that I was meant to be here, right here and now, beneath the sage toned mountains of Canberra. And that one day soon, I would live again beneath the deep blue mountains of Proserpine, the town named after a Goddess, creating our retreat, teaching other women the path of the wise woman too.
I’d been worrying about the outcomes of my life and my birth. I was afraid of having a cesarean if Little Mermaid didn’t become un-breech. I was terrified of being transferred to the hospital. I was afraid of not reading All The Books beforehand. I was afraid of not applying all the concepts of ecstatic birthing and attachment parenting correctly. I was afraid of not getting breastfeeding right. I was afraid of not knowing all the herbal healing remedies I might need. I was afraid that I might not be calm. I was afraid I might not have prepared hard enough, or meditated long enough before Birthing Day came.
I had a ginormous score card of my performance, and was so ready to judge myself.
And I see that that fear of Getting It All Wrong – it came from that place of feeling lost, alone, and grasping at all straws.
It came from a place that didn’t believe that in my cells and in my soul, there lived the wisdom that I needed.
Now I see that my real fear… was losing myself.
As soon as I remembered I could be a wise woman and a goddess, as I birthed and as I became a mama… things began to make sense again.
It didn’t matter if I ticked all the boxes anymore. It didn’t matter how Little Mermaid chose to come into the world. It didn’t matter what the Sea of Normal were doing, and what they thought of me. There was no score card. There was only a woman, walking her own sacred path.
All that mattered was that I had me again… me and the way I choose to walk the path of my life.
I was no longer lost. I was no longer alone.
Inside me, there lives a wise woman. She has lived many times before. She shows me the way.
She teaches me the path of courage, healing, joy and knowing.
I place my hand inside hers.
I turn and face the wind.
The light glows warm on my face.
My waxing-moon belly rolls like the ocean, bearing the fruit of a new goddess, and a new life.
My legs are strong. They know this land.
I can be a goddess. I can be a wise woman.
Because that is who I am.
Now that I have found my self again,
I am home.