Right up until this week the primary focus of my work as The Life Doula has aways been Emotional Labour. Louiza Doran very kindly reminded me of. Emotional Labour is largely the work or women and is the internal unpaid work we have to do in order for The System to function effectively. In addition to this Emotional Labour is our way to embody our collective wisdom, it also the way in which we navigate our own trauma; release and mitigate it on behalf of the collective. I was first introduced to Emotional Labour via a friend Natalie Swan, who had been reading Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown (which I still haven’t read yet due to the clusterburach that was 2019). Part of that Emotional Labour has been the slow-moving realisation that there just hasn’t been the language or terminology to explain what I do. Which left me somewhat forlorn and frustrated in my slow diligent movement forward through life. I’ve been delighted to discover that the language that I am looking for is that of decolonisation. And beyond this I discovered a knew word this week epistemic – relating to knowledge or the degree of it’s validation.
Mental & Emotional health have been colonised by the limited insight of science that is bound up in matter. The only way I have been able to explain The Life Doula being “that you wouldn’t leave someone in labour. Why would you leave someone in emotional pain?”
In the process of becoming The Life Doula I have had to unlearn and challenge much of what I have been told is true. That one-hour sessions are optimum so that clients don’t learn dependency. That offering too much value undermines the financial stability of your business. The thing is I’m interested in healing. In ways that only The Great Pause could highlight. Our world is fucked because we failed to pay proper attention or take due care. That all of my work and the approach that I take is painstakingly considered through the teaching of my own healing journey. Now the science is catching up with my own theory and I find that I have allies in the shared work of trauma healing. To my disbelief, I stand on the precipice of being an educator nor just a dessentor.
You see the informal healing culture of the west is covert, as it has needed to be to survive. “You’ll be needing a cup of tea” is short form code for you’ll be needing a long chat and some ritual connection. We have always known how to heal each other. It’s that our wisdom has been removed from us in favour of the linear precision of the surgeon’s knife. We would rather have things cut out of us than gently resolve our inner wars through presence of mind.
Our healing challenges are now systemic. That we have outsourced our intuition, sovereignty and our ability to heal; to people that have no connection to us. Our being, our lives, our place. That somehow the human spirit and body is one miraculous generic creation that can be ‘fixed’. I think not. This is why I am a doula, not a coach. I’m not interested in your productivity, functionality or civilisation. I’m interested in the jagged edges of your soul and how they cut you to ribbons at night, silently in the dark where your screams consume you. Maybe this can be best described as your Emotional Labour. Now we long for something else beyond the pain of oppression, repression and survival. We long to be heard honoured and cared for. These radical ideas of worth are the decolonisation of a species. The decolonisation of a planet. Where the forced extraction economies of Mother Gaia may be coming to an end, it’s all very symbolic.
One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned this year is that you can’t have true love without respect. Which seem very pertinent as I start my Birth Doula training. You can’t extract a baby and the creation of one under force isn’t recommended. All creativity stems from vulnerability both sex and birth are representative of this act. The truth is you can’t achieve human life through human individuation, nor can you achieve optimum human status without the support of community. It is our human connections that make us capable of bearing human life, as well as bearing the wait of pregnancy. Like everything birth and birthing are a process. Where it is once again hard to know where is begins and ends. Where thresholds are crossed both literally and metaphysically, a baby is born, just as the mother is birthed. Birthing is painful, life is painful. It is also exquisite, miraculous, beautiful and extraordinary as The Great Pause is amplifying that stillness, waiting and gestation all hold purpose. Nothing is conceived fully formed. Where would the fun be in that anyway? We have to honour what emerges.
I started out this year following a theme of rebirth returning to Scotland after several years abroad. What occurs to me now is that I am deep in a birthing process; is that I am only now creating a life, a practice and knowing that I conceived years ago. That I was not ready to bear. The deep truth that I was not ready to bear being me and all the very real things that I would have to lose in order to find respect aka love. That the birthing process is one of love, protection and care that cannot be commodified and doesn’t belong in a system that wishes to do so. That my real work is birthing the sacred in all of us where birth, death and trauma are inextricably linked. Where the light meets the dark and the shadows create the sparkles.