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.
Globalisation and colonialism are permanent fixtures in my life. Living in Observatory, Cape Town I live in one of the oldest human settlements in the world. Quite literally the birthplace of the village and where hunter-gathers walked out of the bush to settle down. No agriculture, just a whole load of land to forage and some cattle to tend too. Fast forward a few thousand years and the culture and history has been all but obliterated by development, all as a result of the expansion of empire, first the Portuguese, then The Dutch and lastly the Britsh. The Khoi San seems to be a tribe lost in time to the trauma of colonialism and development. Even now what are protected Khoi San sites are under threat of development for the ever-present threat of the land developer. You see the land isn’t automatically protected and communities are not automatically awarded a say in how their place should be developed or not. Even when that land is the site of the oldest village in the world. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Add the strain of apartheid and the pressure to create ’employment’ and the unresolved trauma of the capitalist system that has been largely enforced on the world. It’s a global challenge and here I am as The life Doula sitting right at the centre of it. We all are.
As an immigrant to South Africa, I have been reluctant to take my place at the council table. There are so many more voices that need to be heard than mine. There is so much more healing that has to happen in front of mine and there is so much more growth that has to happen in front of mine. I take a back seat wherever I can and I think very carefully about what I have to offer. Where I offer it. Why I offer it and if indeed it is appropriate at all, given that I am in essence a colonialist. Only here as the result of privilege and the legacy of empire and of course love. I am a love migrant after all chasing the dream of a happily ever after.
Yet the Amazon is on fire and it feels like your rolling the dice on who you want to share the apocalypse with rather than the rest of your life. It’s not just the Amazon it’s everywhere. From Scottish Land Reform, Standing Rock, Botswana, Aboriginal tribes of Australia or protecting Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The challenge is global and there is nowhere left to run. We have gone full circle and land management, rewilding and human connection all lie at the centre of the solution.
Greta Thurnberg is crossing the ocean in a racing yacht to spread the message of being Earthbound. Yet here in Observatory tens of people arrive everyday soaring in with lofty ideas of ascensions and personal expansion, transplanting their own trauma on a place that has enough of its own. No matter where you are the human journey at this point in time appears to be the same. What we can’t fix we run from. That strategy isn’t working anymore and I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. About how my ‘business’ fits into this. That increasingly I seem to be moving backwards and forwards through my own timeline as much as anybody else. That I am deeply excited for the next 15 years of human evolution and yet so much of the progress lies in unlocking human trauma and healing humans. While recreating sacred cycles and circles. Moving backwards and forwards through time, recalibrating the past, changing the future. Getting to grips with systematic trauma. It’s real. We are the challenge. We are the cause. We are most certainly the cure. We can be human again. And although it’s a bit of a pun in the mindfulness game. Our challenge is to be here now.
This is the work of The Life Doula upskilling humaness witnessing the circles and the cycles and most importantly making the circle bigger while standing in its centre.
I have lists of good ideas, half drafted, that never landed. When I sat down to write about the idea I became stuck. The words never came. The idea never flowed and imagination never took me on the adventure I was hoping for. Since the New Moon in Leo at the beginning of August magic is manifesting. Ascension journeys have been both palpable and tangible within my friend group and clients. While the trauma trap plays havoc with others. Heart Chakras have literally been popping. Thinking has been made redundant, as we feel our way into the next paradigm. Manifesting everything we can touch with our hearts. Has this been happening for you?
The Aquarian full moon invites us to gain an overview. For me, my crown chakra has blasted open in ways I’ve never experienced before. My sleep cycles seem to be filled with dreams and revelation of other worlds. Imagination seems to be key in focusing on new pathways of being. That we need to go beyond ourselves and somehow we can’t think our way there. Only feel it. We have to imagine it, touch it with our hearts and breath in the colours as frequency. Bright, crystal clear, tangible. That what ever we can conceive we can achieve. We need a compelling future, to strive towards.
Trauma steals all of the above from us, as we rerun the past so that it becomes concurrent with our future. Trauma is tricksy like that. The nightmare is the dream. The dream becomes the reality. How do we forget when we live it daily. How do we breathe in something new when the past takes up all the space in our heads? How do feel something different when the expansion of love impels us with the swords of pain? Yes as the Three of Swords would suggest in the Tarot. The new paradigm calls. What if we can’t feel our ways there? It feels like the separation of heaven and hell. A thin line we dance and create ourselves.
I’ve been fortunate enough to suffer from severe depression in my own life. A regular Eyore, defeatest, lost, hopeless and even hapless. Where existential crisis of the human experience was tangibly pointless, heavy, a dead end. Now I seem to live in the polarity of that. The connectedness of it all. Then I considered triggers. Where synchronicity is now magical through the lense of trauma thier bombshells and an explosion into hell. The human experience is complex. Signs and symbols are gateways of meaning that we use to tell stories. Deeply personal ones. It may be a news flash to some that we are in charge of those meanings. We get to decide. The water in the tap can be something to be grateful for or it can be mass poison used for mind control. Our feelings dictates how we integrate the information that has been given to us. Trauma is a human hell that we can’t think our way out of. Where we flow and synchronise our pain back to us. Yup life can be that cruel. In these situations, we humans with the abilty to use connection for good need to learn the ebb of love. That there are some places that it can’t reach even if it can be felt. That’s why when we truly love we have to learn how to sit with people in the dark because the only thing they’ve ever loved are monsters.
The world is a mess. I stopped paying attention to the news a very long time ago. The point of my official disengagement was when Trump got elected. Though every so often Brexit gets the better of me and climate change alarms me. Then I remember how much of it is true anyway? What do ‘they’ want us to believe now? This has been something I’ve been playing with for a while. As a radical curator, I used to often think about news and global events in terms of a real-time existence. What is actually affecting me, in my now? What is real to me at this moment? This physicality, this moment, this day, this environment. It’s something that I have done my best to adopt over the last ten years. That the things that are upsetting us are constructs. When the things that we can impact with our attention are real and immediate. That’s how I got really into community building. That community building is the best panacea that I know, along with conversation and a good nights sleep. That in isolation most humans live within the reach of terror, with anxiety and depression as intimate friends. May we could only pick up the phone and call anxiety and depression? What do you think they would say? The things we have to reach into and delve in to face our own challenges.
For the largest part of my life, I felt isolated, removed from the collective. The more isolated I felt, the more isolated I became. That my inner landscape was reflected in the world outside of me or was it the other way round. I didn’t fit. Why is that? I don’t tolerate hypocrosy well.
That common sense dictated that our approach to our local environments were deeply flawed. That what we were taught in school and what we were expected to aspire to was contradictory. That although I was expected to have moral value I was to be squashed questioning the value systems of authority. That no big company I have ever worked for has been able to hold to its values. That NGO’s swim in emotional toxicity of the unresolved trauma of the people that run them. All along the watchtower people will sacrifice everything for financial security and a stable home. Imagine that. That those are the two pillars that keep people chained to dying broken system. That nobody wants to swim the moat if it means giving up emotional safety.
There it is humans are hard-wired for safety. Yet empirical structures have managed to isolate us completely in our search for that. That seperated they can control us through isolation and distance. It’s the basic principle of divide and rule. What if you realised we are all bordering on terrified? As dogma attached to exponential economic growth can increasingly be identified as a concern for human society and our only home planet Earth. One has to wonder when will we stop eating the poisoned fruit. Where do we realise our financial security is important and our emotional safety is a valuable resource. That self-healing can only fully be achieved in conjunction with a supportive community of people on the same mission.
For the first time in a very long time, I was off in search of wisdom outside of myself. Where I thought the answers might come from someone else other than me. This was a process that I started a few months back when I decided to undertake some Family Constellation work. During this process, I was fortunate enough to meet a pretty elusive creature in the realms of healers. A land healer who came with a massive piece of selenite, who low and behold had lived in Cornwall and learned her craft from an Englishman who was living there. Oh, the irony. Why are we all so busy trying so hard to fix somewhere other than here?
It was after this session that some strange channelling happened. (I’ve already told some strange things were going on in my life). We were talking about land healing, systemic trauma and the return of the light (that’s a thing) and how all the work that we do is directly connected to healing the Earth, when somehow Credo Mutwa came up and next minute he seemed to be talking to me (Yup I was channelling). That created the beginnings of last weeks mini-adventure and an intention was set that I/we might actually go to see him. As people within the group had already met and had contact with him.
Two weeks that intention was manifested at literally sonic speed that started with a phone call to one of my healer friends, who had continued to express an interest in going. The intention was set. Phone calls were made and from nowhere it was a potential fantasie to go. You see not everybody gets to see Credo, only those who are invited too. That’s what they say anyway. In the meantime, I felt like I was being energetically checked out. Yup, I’m beginning to really believe that that is a thing.
So just like that, we hit the road and never looked back. Then of course as always, it hit me. Narratives, language, the imaginary lines of state and the brokeness of us all. Including me.
What you really need to know is that South Africa is a complicated place. Far more complicated than most people can ever imagine and a road trip is just the kind of adventure that brings that right back to the fore again. For the most part I am lost in a sea of “white” people who live in fear, who have no insight into their own systemic trauma, of not fully belonging and spend a lot of their time writing off “Africans” for not being able to to pick up their own rubbish and the ongoing dialogue of plastic pollution, their poor education and of course underlying threatening nature when in uncontained groups. You think I’m kidding maybe? I’m not. It’s something you might term as “Systemic Racism” which is really just a way of talking about trauma in relation to race. Do you want to know one of the most fucked up things about South Africa or in fact racism? Is that race isn’t really a thing? In fact, skin colour strangely is not representative in any way of a cultural group. This is the fuck up of identity politics. Instead, people go around talking about “Africans” as if that is somehow definitive. Like white South African’s are actually European. It’s a weird idea, as many of them have never been to Europe.
Yet here we are off to expropriate wisdom from Credo Mutwa because we are unable to find it for ourselves.
In recent weeks I’ve recently started thinking about the idea of skin shaming as a term. It’s so much more accurate. There can be no dividing lines between humans. All humans are supposedly genetically 10% Khoi San, we are all from here in Observatory where I write this blog from. The oldest human settlement in the world. Yes, that. We are all one tribe.
Then for the 50 millionth times, I had to doggedly explain the impacts of trauma. That sometimes I thank my lucky stars that I am and “Indigent White” (another new term I’ve been figuring out) that understand how complex it is to be a bastard Scot, (Half English, Half Scottish) never mind anything else. Then I have to remember all the traumas of the empire. All the way back to the crucifixion and before that the idea that we have to use our own children as a human sacrifice to know god (Just a couple of ideas embodied in religious (Empire) abuse). The land grabs, the displacement, the exile, the colonialism, the oppression of culture, the loss of language, the forced labour, the concentration camps, the industrial revolution, the enforced education and removal of children. That very few people to this day have got smart to the idea of divide and rule. That very few people are able to see through the lens of their own systemic prejudices (even me), that often revolve around the importance of hierarchies and of course the fawning effect it incurs (which can now easily be attributed as a trauma response). For me, my trauma response has always been the railing against the existence of them. As I fall further and further down the rabbit hole of trauma. I’m single-handedly teaching myself not to be a human granade. How to remove myself, protect myself and love myself in the face of the insurmountable odds of all the traumatised people that engulf me. We are all fucked up we are all traumatised. Now its something many of us openly admit. Then you have to wonder what if we weren’t what if we all knew love, intimately? What if we all felt joy daily? What if we all were able to see another’s pain as our own.
So you’re probably wondering about Credo? A lot more happened on a life time scale than you might imagine for an impromptu visit with South Africa’s last Sanusi. I read that again and realise how strange it was to think that this meeting and the events round it might be ordinary. Personally, I’m more intrigued about Virginia his wife and why she uses an English name instead of her own? and why I didn’t write down the spelling of her real name so I could write it here unbastardised, honoured and witnessed. None of us are untouched by trauma, especially the great ones. It runs through us like great tsunamis of wisdom if we could only stay afloat in its torrents.
I keep going on about how the last 2 years have brought forth radical transformation in my life. Without telling you what is going on. Nor am I going to share here and there is a reason for this. Sharing isn’t always safe and it’s a privilege to hear my story, it’s going to be gritty and chewy and eyewatering when we get there, and still, I’m not there. I’m not ready to share and you know what that is totally ok.
In the meantime what I am truly finding out is how hard it is to actually share who you are and that people shouldn’t feel entitled to all of you. Yet they do. Like in my previous blog post when I talked about basically being utilised to do the admin work for community activism when it would have been far more beneficial to be put to work doing what I actually do. Which is healing trauma.
I can’t even begin to tell you how long it’s taken me to get here to the whole trauma thing. It’s an origin story of note, that probably started ten years ago. That started with a friend of mine called Cait where we sadly concluded that more people were suffering from trauma than we might even be able to identify. That back then we had no idea how we might tackle the epidemic. That we didn’t know what all the answers were. All we knew really was that people were suffering, even ourselves. We knew that symptoms of trauma tended to isolate people and that most people had no clue what to do when their friends and family were in crisis. That we were more likely to ostracise them for their behaviour, rather than include them out of love. That diagnosis was woefully unable to define the true human story behind the tears, the tantrums, the self-medicating, and the withdrawal. That even Eeyore deserved to be invited to the party. Yet what if the symptoms were more pernicious? What if the behaviours were more troublesome and asked people to question everything that we knew and understood? That the school systems was fucked and equated to child abuse. The corporate working world was nothing more than wage slavery, that made us complicit in a planetary tragedy. That governance was built on nothing more the imaginary lines in the sand and maximised on the idea of human separateness. That modern medicine was looking to kill us. That communities were deliberately under threat from the sickness of greed. That it all felt vapid and soulless and no one had the depth of character or will to dive into another’s pain, because they were totally unable to face their own.
Yet here I am tens years on and I’ve garnered some answers, secure attachment, trust, nurturance, time, and the old fashioned idea of succour. Succour, we even have a word for it, long since forgotten. We know how to heal ourselves, it all boils down to human connection, inclusiveness and of course love.
I fucking swear this post is hard to write. When this external landscape becomes an emotional environment. Maybe because I’m about to break through the eco-warrior sound barrier like a fucking boss (who doesn’t actually want any power). For fuck sake, how is exactly you go about proclaiming your non-whiteness when you are in fact white? Whatever the fuck that might that look like? Having thought about that for a bit……The horrific truth of that, is, being Scottish who was surrounded by people growing up that wanted to be tanned. It looks a lot like Trump. That’s given me a chuckle.
Sitting here in the Rainbow Nation that I’m actually trying to figure out if your skin colour should preclude you from contributing to conversations regarding equality? It’s a discussion that has nothing to do with my South African experience of course. It is one that has been presented to me online. Where my main theme over the last few days has been that words matter. Everyone is valuable. Which is deeply embedded in my own personal work.
I’d also really appreciate it if someone could just send me all the quotes about the overriding power of love to be found in The Bible, The Quaran, The Tora or any other religious or spiritual text. So that I no longer have to scramble for the words that unite us.
Social Media algorithms shelter me from the far right, a lot of Muslims and probably even more Christians, as well as a lot of people of colour. Controversially, I choose my friends because I like them, share interests with them, and enjoy their online content. Yup being alive is awkward uncomfortable and at times painful. Should politically correctness dictate how I live my private life? Should I curate my social group on the basis of being representative. I invited you to the Braii because I really needed someone of your ethnicity to make up the group. Braaing in and of itself is a controversial act with regard to our collective futures, should you want to bring food politics to the party. I’m personally having a hard time navigating it all. Internally and externally I am doing my best to figure it out. Step in Marie Forleo where everything is figureoutable.
I lose my cool and if I was feeling safer maybe I’d share some of my worst moments and why, or even the very long journey to the conclusion that only love is the answer. I struggle with that too. I struggle with Englishness, the class divide, inequality, The Union Jack, The Union Jack as my flag, austerity, (I’ve managed to get over the Tories and Margaret Thatcher, except when someone is totally ignorant to their motives, that’s something to add) ignorance, my whiteness, bloodline trauma, other people’s trauma, my own divisiveness, my own outbursts. While waiting for Brexit outcomes. All this when I’m doing all the work I can to be tolerant, inclusive, sensitive, aware, responsive (I’m not necessarily a believer in the idea of calm). All emotions are valid, everything can be rationalised. The deeper truths live in the ever-increasing work of getting to understand ourselves better. Loving ourselves better. Getting deep down in the awkwardness of our own being. You are the cause of your own discomfort. The occasional emotional health novice that thought hurting/killing you would help them feel slightly less terrified. If that doesn’t do it there is always a Cyclone to put things into perspective. Acts of God, Climate Change and all that. If you believe in them.