A Wellbeing Economy sounds like the perfect solution to the anti-human system that I keep going on about. The only thing is though how much would we have to decolonise ourselves in order to make it work. Only the other day I was involved in a discussion that looked at the impacts of the free food market and how it might impact food producers in the long run. As availability of free food might impact the need for food consumption. For some reason it made me think of the French’s appetite for very freshly baked bread and how that particular corner of the market may never be undermined by late free food. Maybe there in lies the answer or at least part of it. The desire for fresh produce. After all, fish does tend to go off. I’m still worried about all those cold climate Vegans though. Who am I to judge? I’m not a permaculture specialist. I just wonder where all the soya and chickpeas come from. I’m sure somebody somewhere is going to give me a super intelligible answer.
I was listening to a really interesting radio show (How retro!) yesterday that was and examination of the Scottish Highland Clearances. It was a rather nuanced exploration tha looked at forced displacement and emigration as a result of the changing economic needs of society. When actually it was rather about the greed of the land owners within a feudal society. It was rather fascinating as it suggested that the uprising of the highlander or lack thereof came out of a deepening confusion of clan fealty. For me as an aforementioned splitter it’s hard to imagine that people would put such trust to a man of power, even your own kin. It’s a bit mental isn’t it. That basically you were made destitute and homeless by your own kin.
Anyways I wonder how all of that might work now. It’s had to imagine a world without hierarchical structures. Or even a world that agrees to a slow down of the economy for planetary welfare. Well I say that, that’s what we thought and knew only a few months ago. Yet here we are at the edge of The Great Pause, sitting a very different possibility of human and planetary existence. Who exactly is going back to work and why? Why have the government chosen to bail so many of us out? How are people surviving within the greatest known economic depression. Who is going to be the new Hitler and is there going to be a global war. Will it be based on a conspiracy theory or something that actually happened? Will the unmasked menace of white privilege finally wipe itself out with it’s own self-interested approach to life.
Five months ago I might have been writing about the possibility of a four day week and more localised work solutions and even mused on my own work practices (which allow time for emotional integration) .
Now when I think about the Wellbeing Economy it’s almost impossible to ignore that we might be collapsing into it. That I collapsed into it many moons ago after refusing to opt in to burn out culture. Things should take as long as they take. That’s the healer in me. Maybe even the creative. That the creative and the healer and instriabley link. Maybe that should be the basis of the Wellbeing Economy how creative and healers can work together to tell all the accountant to fuck off.
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Is Generational Healing confusing you? Why exactly are people out marching for equality 150 or so years after slavery? Trauma is inter-generational. The inequalities and injustice of slavery have never been fully healed. Why did slave owners get compensation? Yet the newly freed slaves didn’t? And why has this never been addressed? Ah I think you’ll find it’s something called systemic racism. Just because you ignore something it doesn’t mean it goes away. So here we are witnessing a nation demanding the generational healing it should have received 150 years ago.
I work with systemic trauma. Maybe this is a good opportunity to explain exactly what that means. I believe that overall we live in an anti-human system. If your looking for references why not ask your nearest essential worker about their day to day lives? You can ask a woman what it is like to feel silenced? You can ask a person of colour what it is like to live in their body? (Ask for consent for the conversation first and remember enthusiastic consent is the only form of consent that is acceptable) You can ask an immigrant what it is like to be treated as ‘foreign’. Speak to a disabled person what it is like to be discarded or for the old to be abandoned. These individual stories are important, relevant and pivotal at this time. And Yes Black Live Matter.
If you preference the book of an academic or a well respected figured over the personal stories of your locally marginalised ask yourself why? Why do we trust the published, the legitimised over our neighbours and friends? Published and legitimised by who? and what? Why do we value the opinion of a Oxford Don over a Cape Flats Builder? Where does your reasoning come from? In what way have you been prejudiced in your thinking and why?
You’re carrying the weight of institutions and ideas that you have never actively consented to be part of.
Even if something can be reasoned does it mean it’s justified?
Ideas of race are non-scientific invented by the powers that be in order to keep us separate. Our institutions and governments are built on a race based fantasy. You inherited these systems and you have been forced to accept them as your own. Paradoxically even though the system is based on unconscious bias the impacts of non-scientific belief systems are very real and have measurable impacts on the demographics affected. Systemic racism demands that you believe that people of colour are inherently disadvantaged as result of ‘race’ rather than by systemic racisim. The system is of course narcissistic in it’s characteristic gaslighting of it’s participants with lies and propaganda. It is the most extreme tool of oppression. The idea that any human is superior or lessor based on any physical attributes, belief, creed or ability is of course anti-human.
That is why systems of governance are very much about keeping you stuck, as we wage war within ourselves and against each other. Information overload is designed to bamboozle you. To stop you from taking any concerted action about most things.
All my personal questioning has led me to the understanding of collective systemic trauma that affects everyone in the system. Yet negatively impacts the quality of life of those marginalised by the system. The privileged have a responsibility go on a decolonisation journey to understand how our choices impact everyone in society.
We can’t reason with the unreasonable. So for me the far deeper question is what do you feel about it instead? Is whats happening out there on the street inhumane? Is what happening to you and your family unjust? Are you finding it hard to survive in anti-human society? Are you bamboozled by the cognitive dissonance of what is presented and what is actually happening? Have you found a way to reconcile that?
In my work all I ever do is listen to stories, powerful deeply unique stories. There is no one size fits all solution to systemic trauma because it is all so deeply personal. How I was treated in school is very different to how you were and so we draw different conclusions.
I wonder what would happen if we listened to each others stories. Personally I feel that the systemic racism that occurs across the western world is abhorrent and that the best solution that I have is to continue to discuss and explore systemic trauma in response to that. I care about people of colour or whatever politically correct term, we are using this this month to identify people, people who are actually more than capable of identifying themselves.
You see experience has endlessly taught me that I don’t get to pick someones descriptive, pronoun or identity. When it comes to the classification of people we are only every following guidelines and ultimately how someone chooses to identify is down to them. If you really want to talk about race, you can ask someone how they self-identify. You might find that they don’t even identify with colour. Lets face it I’m a white person that wouldn’t use white a my first descriptive, that’s white privilege at work in case you didn’t get the memo. You see white identity is normalised inside the white system this = whiteness.
In the last few weeks I have been on the most extraordinary journey with The Red Tent Doulas. All based in birthing and story. I never knew that birth stories could be quite so powerful if shared with intention. What is more generationally healing than a story about birth? Your own birth. The birth of a movement or a nation? What are our origin stories? That tell us who we are and the ways in which we were brought into this world? What’s your birth story? You might be very surprised at what you find here. It’s not sugarplum fairies and the stork. Did you know that in the UK a black women is 5 times more likely to die in childbirth that a white woman? That’s 3 times higher than the US’s known statistics on the matter.
Isn’t it interesting this is a uprising starts with death and a grown man’s cries for his mama. What would it take to heal this injustice for one family? What would it take for this injustice to be healed for all families dealt the same brutal state orchestrated execution. What would it take for us to heal all the people involved in those stories? What would it take for the trauma not to be catching? Could we heal a community? Could we heal a nation? What would it take to heal three continents that the story triangulates round? Only to find that we’d excluded all the places in the world where slavery and colonialism have co-existed for millennia. This affects everybody and we can only heal together. We can only heal in community. Where it is safe. Where we feel safe, heard and loved. The answer is in listening to stories.
In the healing circuits we say continually that healing is non-linear. I believe the only reason for this is that we have not been allowed to heal. That our emotions have been disregarded as non-fact. That our humaness has been denied in order for us to fit into a system that values our profit making abilities more than our innate human gifts. We have to change everything about ourselves to undo this reality as it stands at this moment. I’m asking you step beyond individualised trauma here.
I’m asking you to build a bridge between the relational, the generational and systemic. That the way that we relate to people how we treat one another gets passed on. We are all equal we are all valuable and we are all worthy of each others love and respect. To step out of this we have to move beyond our own pain. As someone with privilege I need to use all the skills I have to minimise harm and utilise the resources I have to support those who are highly vulnerable at the hands of the oppressor. Which happens to be, me, someone who is complicit in an oppressive system. Yup don’t look away now. The problem is you. We are complicit in a system that is designed to traumatise.
I have to admit that when I set out this heading I was more focused on a climate emergency, than a global pandemic or indeed the continuing questions of decolonisation that systemic trauma is always posing.
Yes WTF? I was taking a very privileged stance as they might say. My privilege affords me the right to take a ‘wider view’ to consider the big questions. Do you know why? Because I don’t live my life in abject terror on most days. Fight, flight does stuff to your brain. It’s called trauma.
Yet at the same time, I’m still interested in root cause, you see. The root cause is trauma and trauma in my experience is largely systemic. For me trauma is the question of our generation. That is why I’m always talking about it. It affects everything and my hashtags might teach you.
The earth is not the issue, a global pandemic is not the issue, nor is race. It’s the way that we relate to each other and the world at large that needs to change. It’s why I am interested in the oppressor. I’m interested in a deep examination of self. How to use that personal power to fall out of the system, redirect my attention and create the new.
Systemic oppression is complicated if you are witnessing it through the lens of trauma. We’ve been taught to believe that feelings don’t matter. That only objective facts matter. Except objective facts aren’t human or humane. This is an inherited tool of oppression. It’s been passed down through the generations. It’s one of many. If we don’t care how people feel we don’t care about people.
It’s for that reason that the killing of George Floyd is so powerful it’s an objective fact that he was murdered on film by an organisation that is intended to protect him. We can’t argue with it. It’s truth. Yet at the same time, we aren’t taking the same heed of what ‘isn’t’ happening in the UK, Israel, The Yemen, Brazil or even South Africa. Our social media is biased, or news platforms limited. We are all bound up in systems of oppression. We are all oppressed. That is what the powers that be don’t want you to know. It’s divide and rule all the way.
We need to come together to debase systemic abuse on all fronts, on all levels, in all nations. That until we take control of our own trauma it’s almost impossible to take care of the people we need to help most. I’m ready to be torn down in flames over this. Fuck like really. Decolonisation work is scary. The reason that it is scary is because there is so much trauma involved. You say the wrong thing you hit a nerve and a whole situation explodes. I’ve been there. I’ve been there plenty and still, I need to learn more so I have to ask more questions. Read more books and wonder what is actually going on. Really it’s trauma. The questions that we need to ask is how is our trauma preventing us from acting?
In recent months I have come to a conclusion, even though I’m writing now, even though I am centralising myself and even though I don’t understand everything and I will never get it all right. Oppressors need to be quiet. Unless of course, we are speaking to oppressors about oppression. We need to be able to hold space for the oppressed. We need to do some deep listening if anything is going to change.
The challenge that we face is that we seem to think that emotions aren’t’ real. That rage isn’t justified. Everybody’s rage is justified and it’s the result of not being heard. Black Lives Matter.
We are all fucking traumatised, have been traumatised and there is just no way round that. Life happens we get told shit by our primary 2 teacher and it sticks with us for life. Unless you’ve been working at the challenge or have a remarkably put together family, you are more than likely quite fucked up and even if you aren’t that’s probably traumatising on its own. Guess what nobody can ‘fix’ it except you.
You literally have to be the change that you want to see in the world and commit to it if you ever hope to make any significant difference in how you feel. It is still ok to be radically flawsome in all of that too.
Trauma is real and many of us are dealing with its impacts every single day. For a long time, maybe a decade I’ve known that trauma lies at the centre of almost every life disruption. That we are living in societies and systems that spend most of there time gaslighting us then act surprised about trauma. All Trump and Boris are doing is making it very clear that both our governmental systems and our leaders are very unwell. You’d be insane to heed either of them. Yet here we are having conversations about bleach and staying alert hopefully to stories about drinking bleach. We are living in extreme times in every way. There are nearly 35,000 dead in the UK and the government keep telling us they are doing a good job. Did I mention the gaslighting? If we were in a personal relationship like the one we have with the state, we would have all been institutionalised years ago. There is a reason why the Scots are known to be aggressive. We don’t like being lied to.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg as to a whole host of things that have been de-humanising us over time. A baby is born and your back at work after 3 months. Bereavement is treated as an inconvenience rather than a personal tragedy. Cardboard boxes are deemed an appropriate disposal method for a human life.
Work-life to has now been radically altered, maybe never to be the same again as people move away from the traditional job and god forbid the idea of the commute (Cause that was healthy). Interdependence seems to be the word of the year. As the anti-human agenda of the, capitalist system truly begins to sink in. Capitalism is a crock of shit that is designed to keep us stuck on the hamster wheel of hell for all eternity. Where is the life in that?
Beyond this and natural disasters, humans can be truly ghastly to one another. Religious wars, Colonialism, Capitalism, Genocide and then there’s just day to day murder and torture. Never mind the minor issue of global poverty and inequality that drive the whole negative cycle. People feel shit they do shit things in desperate attempt to go to better places or something as simple as safety. It’s remarkable that in the times that we are living in that adrenalin fatigue is a real illness and we aren’t even running away from lions. We are simply working so hard that we aren’t able to look after ourselves. That even with all our improvements, we are burning out trying to keep up with an unreasonable system that treats us as human-robot there to fuel production and profits.
Off the factory floor, the impacts are massive; breaking down families, breaking down tribes, polluting communities and driving us to social and planetary emergency. As a species, we have been through a lot. In the last century, we have developed technologies that are capable of bringing armageddon in the haze of perpetual war.
All of this stops when we begin to take control of our trauma. Hurt people hurt people. We need to heal our hurts rather than inflicting them externally. It’s all about truth and reconciliation.
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.
What the fuck is that? It’s can only be best described as a nuanced version of self-care. Something beyond #nurturance and slightly less demanding than radical self-love. Yeah I know us radical disrupters are on it. Some of us are doing our best to not capitalise on your and indeed our misfortunes. The world’s is fuck. We have a global movement rebelling against our own extinction that makes Greenpeace look incredibly PC. This is what it has come to the 6th Mass Extinction and yes we are here. I’m not denying it. In fact the creation The Life Doula centres at the very heart of Eco-Anxiety, as it has now been coined. I’ve spent thousands of hours of my life staring at the ceiling not just thinking what am I going to do with my life? but How the fuck do we fix this shit show? As well as trying to figure out what my specific role in this particular clusterburach might be?
I’ve dreamed up and imagined it all from free driving lessons for high school students (So mid-nineties I know) to the idea of planting a billion trees. My deepest regret may well be what I could have been doing it in the meantime.
Yet as I look back over thing the power of observation and my relentless quest for knowledge seems to be finally paying off.
Yet I’ve been watching closely and experiencing deeply the human process. As a species, we often seem to come up with grand solutions – like flavour of the time veganism. For multiple reason veganism (could be) deeply beneficial. Yet, on the other hand, what are huge swathes of mono-cultures doing for biodiversity and indeed food miles really doing for the planet and it’s people? I come from Scotland and if we know that locally sourced food is often the best choice I wonder how fond I truly am of turnip. I know it’s not as simple as that. I have absolutely no doubt that there is a militant Scottish Vegan out there living their best life on only locally sourced food, hand foraged from within a 4-mile radius (please contact me I’d love to speak to you).
My main source of interest, however, has been human life at its very essence. Who we are, what we do, what we believe, how we live and a result. Family dynamics, family systems and community dynamics and how this all interplays with land ownership, development and the institutions and corporations that we interact with to control manage and even coordinate these things. Even all those well-meaning grassroots organisations started by hippies. Most things in our world are spectacularly out of balance (I’m a Libra I should definitely know) That even the best-intentioned of us make long term decision that are detrimental for the collective in favour of our own personal gain and even survival (things like getting in your car). Where doing the right thing is at a small very irrational war with our personal ego and even trauma.
I wrote most of this little over 3 weeks ago and how times have literally changed…the journey inward is finally in vogue along with our very clear and apparently systemic trauma (would anybody like to go back to working in an office?).
So I’ve thought about activism a lot and I’m confident in my decision. For me it’s all about personal activism. Which in all honesty can look like a lot of things? Largely though it’s taking the decision to no longer engage in The Toxic System,. Yes, it’s difficult, complicated and even messy but guess what that is exactly where we have ended up here in The Great Pause. In, fact I’m not asking you to do anything. In fact, doing nothing might be the best thing you can do as The Nap Ministry so beautifully demonstrate.
Even before The Great Pause, this whole article was written in deep praise and awe of all the anxious and depressed bedridden people out there, who have been forced to live lives of isolation. In some way, it is farse turned tragedy that all of a sudden the economically unproductive have become to focus on our collective care, now that we have time on our hands. For want of a better term, the decolonising of time has been at the core of my work for years. Yes, it’s complex, messy and difficult. Yet unless we value time and the power that it gives us to connect and all the riches it holds here in this 3D reality what do any of us really know about life anyway?
Yes that is me. I’m fucked up too. I’m traumatised too. No I don’t have all the answers and even if I did I wouldn’t tell them to you anyway. Yup it’s fucked up being fucked up.
All those marketers say to tell your story, make yourself vulnerable and as a Systemic Trauma Specialist I say bollocks to that. You know why? Because I’m trauma-informed. We tell our stories in the hope of being heard. That people will both consider and validate our experiences, views or opinions and the truth is they don’t always. The internet is not a safe place. It’s not safe for women. Yet here we are asked to bare all in the hope of attracting, a following, a tribe, a crowd, a mob. All this when we actually have a word for trolling.
We have to be brave to tell our stories to be unheard, ignored, overlooked, criticised, mocked, ridiculed and even humiliated then carry on telling them anyway. You see we need to be partway to healed with a minuscule droplet of self-belief in order to survive the process. This is what it really means to be a Self Healer. It’s having to go against the mob when you are at your most vulnerable. You have to take on those arrows of misfortune and pull them out your back one by one. While everybody is shouting die.
Of course I believe in the best of humanity and that is because I have learned from the worst. I’ve learned from the property developers, the business leaders, the corporate managers, educators, and even the well-meaning exactly how cruel the world can be. People with power prescribe how they are going to help people, largely by deciding who is the most deserving, because they have the power to do so. Abuse of power is rife and most of us have given up our divine sovereignty for a monthly paycheck. We are employed doing things that go against our values or even common sense inflicting undue pain on our immediate and planetary communities.
This is what it really means to be a self healer it’s to pick up your pain and stop inflicting it on anybody else. It’s all about mitigating your trauma and recognising that trauma is largely systemic. When I fully understood this, that I couldn’t consume my way out of it, my only choice was to take what measures I could to detox from a toxic system. That I had to change everything that I believed conscious and subconscious. That I had to dig through all the ways that I had been programmed for somebody else’s benefit. That I had to claim my own humanity for my own sanity. That I had to be kind to myself, supportive of myself because love is the revolution.