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.
I heard the news this week that a good friend of mine had finally secured some land for growing willows where they could live out the end of there days as a basket weaver. It’s a delightful story I’m sure you’ll agree. I congratulated them on their commitment to the revolution, that includes many key elements like slow the fuck down, stay local, grow your own food and do you know your neighbours? Forcing us to aks the much bigger question like do you like where you are?
It’s been a question many of us have been asking as we chose to travel the world looking for better places to be all without taking on the full consequences of our actions. That includes me. Honestly, I was well into my twenties before I realise the impact or air travel on our environment or even seriously started to consider where my food came from. Back then it was all about food miles and now it’s all about community resilience. Here we are at the end of capitalism and many of us are still living in a bubble where we have very deliberately chosen not to engage with collective responsibility. As we jet set from one global conference to another, barely conscious of the communities we live in and how they might function in a period of systemic collapse.
Systems collapse is here and for me it’s exciting. It’s the real stuff of life. The imagined structures of the world are exactly that, imagined. There are no effective borders for air born illness. We live in a planetary system. We know we can’t eat money. It certainly can’t cure Covid 19 and yet we worship this imaginary substance, that is nothing more than a digital commodity, that has no other purpose than control what people can or can’t do. Imagine if everything was free. Imagine if living was free. What would we be doing then? Most of us would be resting. Most of us would be in deep recovery after centuries of abuse. If our worth wasn’t caught up in money or the idea of productivity. A very different world is now emerging where community resilience is key. More than that where human connection is at the forefront of how we interact. How are many of us going to live if we actually have to stop? What is going to come up for us? That we are isolated? That we are alone? That it’s uncomfortable? That we need to make changes to our lives that doesn’t involve chasing down a mystical cash cow. What if you just did what you love? What if just if you believed that rest was resistance and it’s powerful? What if we just change how we thought about everything even ourselves. what if we didn’t have to call it fancy things like systemic change or human-centred design? What if we deeply took on board how interconnected and interdependent things are. So that when we have global emergencies governments didn’t have the power to make decisions that might condemn us all to death with on decision. It’s too much power for any one person to have. These are decisions that need to be taken collectively and we must all play our part.
There is more than one life doula out there. I might not be able to say exactly what they do or how they do it but it’s certainly a thing. More recently I came towards the idea that the best way to really describe a Life Doula is as a Trauma Doula. Life can be very traumatic you know? The number one cure for trauma a secure attachment and that is the core of my work. I will literally sit with you in the dark, you can cry on me, snot up my favourite clothes and I will be very happy to be of service. Yes, I do appropriate hugging and holding. It’s all part of the healing process.
Not only that this year, yes 2020 I’ve finally been able to reach out to both Birth and Death Doula’s who get it. That makes me happy because have felt tribeless as I push towards the kind of care I know the traumatised deserve. I’ve been claimed and that makes me feel like I have a tribe. It’s better than that though, I have found The Red Tent Doulas and am going to be training with them this year as both a birth doula and a death doula. Which makes me very very excited. What makes me most excited is the Alexandra Wilson who is also of Sacred Circles described “Doula work is like a trojan horse” that the work of the doula does much to bring into question current systemic approaches to life as we currently understand it. Doula work asks us to step away from the idea that we are human robots and take us back to both our origin stories and end stories. That we all belong and that in the process of being born, living and dying we are all far more deeply connected than we might like to acknowledge.
Healing both our lives and for me at least acknowledging our life-cycles is a very important part of our innate sovereignty as humans. You see the work that I do has hashtags for days. All of is important because all of us are important. We are living lives in defiance of our very nature. It’s why we are sicker, unhappier and yet at the same time healthier than ever. A return to some form of understanding of our sacredness can do us every kind of good as long as it is not informed by dogma. There is no right or wrong way to do things. No right or wrong way to be. Even no choice, is a choice but to be careering along with no connection to your greater being is something other. We were not intended to live like this. Being a Doula is taking ourselves to a very basic understanding of the deep value of life. That as human bodies we are witness to something, profound and unique. That we only have one of. That only we know. That only we get to live. Doula’s honour that process. We honour life. We want to use our lives to honour you in your deepest vulnerability. We are here in service, for the love of humanity.
So in my process of processing the term, Ego Death comes up. First of all, I do not in any way shape or form claim to be egoless. What I can say is that I’m stepping into me every deeper and exploring the inner landscape of shame in ways I’ve never been able to before. Maybe its because I’m turning 40 this year. Maybe it’s because I’m changing my approach.
Two things have happened to me recently one is getting a message from my Mother (who I’m currently estranged from) the other is having to get in touch with my old art college about course transcripts. Both have been triggering. Both have made me investigate my emotional landscape a little deeper. Even as I start to write about about it my anxiety rises and my self-harm ideation emerges and I very literally have to right now go deep into some somatic experiencing. I can feel the tingling of my skin the tightening of my chest and the emergence of ego as it’s rage and anger filled rant starts to emerge in my mind and I’m already getting up to the cup of tea and Instagram scrolling distraction therapy to not go there to deep. So I can stay here with you. You see I don’t think I talk about this part much. The fight. The fight to be here, to stay present, to keep going. T function while feeling and why the idea of ‘normal’ screams systemic abuse at me and makes me feel incredibly unsafe. You see for some of us and I’d like to think the growing part of the population that is becoming truer. The trauma levels are too high. The greenwashing, gaslighting bullshit is too toxic and I have to train hard to be able to deal with any of it. I know I am not alone.
Yet when I am out there posting my at-home selfies that don’t cater for outward appearances I feel like a failure. Like OMG seriously Kimberley again? You haven’t brushed your hair. How is anybody going to relate to this really? This must be so off-putting and then I realise that that is how most women feel all day, every night. That the pressure of appearance is crushing them, even when they have it all done. The hair, the make-up. The panic of office wear that has long left my life was a major liberation. I know for a lot of people that kind of freedom isn’t even on their radar. That I literally live a life of privilege every single day at home in a warm house with and internet connection in my pyjamas. You see and that’s when I think about it. That even the idea of self-care can be crushing. I mean I do brush my hair and teeth and I do do my four-step skincare most days. It’s just that because I work from home I don’t have to do those things immediately when I get up. Then some fab idea comes up and now I just hop online. Then even though I may be feeling good on the inside confident about what I’m saying my appearance doesn’t match my words. It poses big questions that although self-care might be for us what is it about ‘presentability’ that might be toxic. That people can’t see us as ourselves, at home in our pyjamas and does that work differently for men? So on that now I’m off to wash my face and grab some tea. To think about this a bit more.
Which takes me back to the thing I found triggering and why they interest me. One I’m deep diving more and more into trauma recovery and the causes of systemic trauma which means a lot of deep diving for me personally. You see for me the personal informs the professional. I recently read somewhere (which I can’t remember) that they were thinking about naming CPTSD as a systemic disease. I’m not sure exactly what that means, except for me personally. So many things can be triggers if we are even slightly aware of the interconnectivity of everything how you connect with yourself is directly driven by how you were brought up and the family system you were or were not born into, will inform how you interact with the world.
Recently I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I am not ready to expose all yet. What I can say is that despite my trauma I do know that my family system made me into a change maker. You know why? Because I am playing out a polarity and using it to resolve my own trauma, for which I am very grateful. It’s also allowing me to individuate in ways that I never imagined or managed. I’m learning so much about myself and my somatic experiencing about my family I’m quite simply shocked at the bodily feelings that come up for me. Like a few paragraphs before tears just started flowing down my face. It was purely a bodily response, a release.
The whole art school thing…well that. What I realise that through that horrific (Yes I do mean that) educational experience I would never have learned our understood exactly what it is to be complicit. How Systemic Abuse can be branded to look safe and how if we aren’t directly affected by Systemic Abuse we will still use corporate power to propel us personally and professionally even if we are well-meaning hippies.
So Ego Death…. what is it? Right now for me, it’s ending the idea of who you think you are or what you present to the world. I’m a lady that works in her pyjamas and old jumpers that don’t brush her hair until or wash her face until she is leaving the house. The weight of that truly feels enormous. Ego death isn’t anything to be afraid of. Most of us have already embraced it in some form or another when we donned our first uniform.
They say that “Life is a choice”. That we are our choices, and that all we have to do is choose something else to make major life change. I have to say I’ve figured this out much later in life than I would like to admit to, it is the small things that build stability and actually they are the massive things. In the days where we’re sold quick fixes via ten step programmes that will transform our lives in 5 days. Changing one thing can seem minimalist.
This morning I rose late, it was an active choice one of the benefits of working for yourself. In fact Monday is my lazy work day. I brush my teeth, I wash my face, stay in my pyjamas, I switch on my laptop and work from the couch. It’s part of my personal self-care routine. I work less and that’s what I want, 4 full days a week max and I like it that way. It means I have time for me. Lazy Monday gives me a work day without masks where there is no pretending or being polite. It is in essence and day of hermitage. Where my own emotional landscape is my priority.
A massive part of my self-nurturance journey is sleep, it’s always been sleep, if you remove it my world falls apart rapidly. I become cranky, irritable and unreasonable. A toddler heading for tantrum territory. Sleeping and snoozing sometimes in the middle of the afternoon is one of my own keys to emotional filing. If I am disturbed or perturbed it’s my first go to solution. Napping can almost instantly transform your outlook. Its been a learnt process. I often feel that it is one of my greatest indulgences, especially in a society that suffers from chronic sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is one of the greatest healing crisis facing the western world. Beyond this many of us have lost our ability to dream and find the imagery that helps us process our waking worlds. If I sleep without dreaming my emotional filing systems is failing I feel bereft, disconnected. I can’t process my days. I can’t find the symbolism that helps me interpret my life.
We have also undermined the importance of rest. Meditation and yoga are prescribed as cure alls, as they may well be. As we hope to live energised and tireless lives these are the snappy tools for productivity. However if we are still and take time to rest we create the opportunity to delve into life and appreciate it for what it really is an endless chain of fleeting moments strung together for our entertainment.
As I travel through my own journey and envision a smooth tarmacadam surface that takes me through the dream like landscape of my own life. I often wonder about those people who have the perfect routine, that eat clean, are happy with their organic fair trade chardonnay and bio degradable yoga mat. Of course that’s what I aspire to too and if I was ready to sink deep to the early morning fog of clarity that waking yoga brings I’d be there in a moment.