Sometimes I wish I had been born of another culture, a culture of eyes wide open, a culture of hearts wide open.
They say to resist ‘what is’ is to cause your own suffering. Am I suffering? No. But I certainly do ask the question: what if?
Would I be further along in my life journey if, as a child, my sensitivity had been celebrated by my culture, rather than shunned? Would I have saved myself years of healing from the innocent unconsciousness of those around me? Because of a rigid cultural narrative, those who have loved me have accidentally hurt me. I shudder to remember those who have held me in their lives as an insignificant supporting character.
I hope humanity soon understands that the world they see is a choice, rather than a given. I hope the beautiful little soft girls of the world are one day celebrated for the depth and gorgeous attention to detail they bring the world. How shameful that they haven’t been, thus far.
Am I angry that I was brought up starved of female role models? Am I angry that not even my Mother knew how to teach me to truly grow into womanhood? How could she? All she knew was what the western world was. Hardened. Money hungry. Black and white.
There is an aspect of me that is angry. But a bigger part of me understands. There is no one to be angry with. We have all been brought up in boxes. Every single one of us, and when you’re inside of a box (we call them cultures) you truly cannot see there is another way. Another way to see, another way to be. And if you cannot see or be, you cannot teach. You cannot change.
I hope enough eyes are opening, now, to the beauty of individuality.
A brief note before my story begins. A note to the mothers, a note to the fathers. To those who have birthed live children, and those whose young ones were taken too soon. This story— my story, our story—may be distressing to some, particularly those who’ve experienced the birth of a sweet babe, born sleeping.
If this is you, darling human, please feel free to leave this post here, taking all my love and comfort with you. To those who wish to stay, thank you for holding my heart during these moments. It is a gift to share the depths of my humanity. It is a gift to know my heart has been seen, held and loved.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
I’ve asked if my baby has died and no one is saying a thing.
The midwife moves the doppler across my stomach as I stare at the wall lit by dim orange light (my favourite kind.) There is no sound, no heart beat. There are no voices. There is silence, loud as thunder.
I ask again. Has my baby died? Still, no one says a thing. There are three midwives there. Not one of them has said a thing.
My body begins to push, and once again I am taken by the strength of the contractions. If my baby has died, I think, then I need them to take this pain away. But it’s too late for pain relief, I know that. I’m already pushing. I am on my own, no matter what is happening here.
There is a stillness in the room that wasn’t there before, and I know it is the feeling of sorrow. My sister is across the room, and so is my husband; the sadness is theirs and mine, and maybe the midwives’, mixed together with an odd cocktail of hope and confusion. Is the baby alive? Why on earth won’t they say anything?
Finally I am asked to change positions. They want me to push. Finally they have found a heart beat. A little slow, they carefully tell me, but a heart beat, thank goodness. I will need to give a great big push, they say, and I am okay with that because the midwife has said the only words I have wanted to hear. ‘Brooke. Your baby is okay.’
At least two minutes.
That is how long I thought the very worst.
Now, we move on.
As I breathe between contractions— between pushes—my eyes fall upon the midwife’s necklace, a butterfly on a thin, silver chain. It makes me think of the angel chain in my sisters hand, the one I’ve given her to hold, so Nan can be with me. It had been Nan’s right before she died. I had given it to her. Now it was mine.
And there is the stillness again. In the butterfly, in the thought of my Nan’s chain.
Another moment divine.
I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl, that night.
She is perfect, and was so from the moment she was born.
But I will never forget those moments of indescribable togetherness and comfort.
Was there a divine presence in the room? I’ll never know.
I am authentically myself when I am not at all myself, and it is magical, beautiful, wonderful.
What do I mean by this? Well, I’m not sure. It’s a little too obscure to understand or explain, but I’m certain you’ve felt it. I’m certain you’ll know what I mean when I tell you.
I’ve been reading the BFG to my son. He’s seven, and the best, and so naturally I want to give him the most beautiful experiences life has to offer. Reading is one of those experiences, and the magic of Roald Dahl is…well, it’s magic. There’s no real way to capture that feeling, for me.
And when I read this beautiful story to him, I so often find myself transformed. Every night I become the BFG. I put on my unusually accurate english accent and off I go. I am the BFG (or am I Roald Dahl, it’s hard to really say.)
It’s what I loved so much about acting. Embodying and expressing energies that are not my own is so intoxicating I could easily become addicted to the very thing. The deep booming cutesy tone that flies from my mouth every time the BFG speaks to Sophie: it fills my whole body, it resonates down to the bone.
I so love it.
I so love being authentically me, without being me at all.
I’ve changed. My goodness I’ve changed. And although the change has been gradual, I am living a version of my internal life I have never lived before.
It all has to do with my heart, and maybe (probably, absolutely) hormones. You see, the thing is, empathy for humans has always come easily to me. But now, empathy is changing the way I see the entire universe.
Once, I would have seen a cut flower and been very pleased to have been given such a lovely thing. Now, I feel for the flower. It has been cut to make me happy, and yet it is dying in my hands. Is this the way the world was meant to be?
Once, I would have read a book, held the pages close to my face and inhaled. Oh, the smell. It would have brought me such pleasure. Now, I think of the trees and all the animals who’ve lost homes because of the glorious romantic story I’ve called books. Is this the way the world was meant to be?
Once, I would have seen a spider on the wall and swatted it, killing it instantly. Now, I deliver it outside and onto a bush (if I can). I think of my children and wonder how I would feel If someone swatted one of them just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Killing for convenience? Is this the way the world was meant to be?
And lastly, I would have gotten a pet and loved it as my own child. Those innocent, melty puppy eyes, how they would capture my heart and soul. Now, I connect to the primal core of its mother, and I hate myself. Taking her baby (or the baby of any living being, without permission) to meet my own needs. Is this the way the world was meant to be?
I am not at all saying that anyone who has a pet, kills spiders or reads books is doing ‘wrong’. I am one of you. I do these things, too. All I’m saying is: I see this world anew.
And because of this, I fear I see too much to go back.
They were beautiful as they moved, delicate in the way they twisted and rolled within the fabric. I’d never noticed them do that before. And just like that I’d found a way to enjoy a chore.
As I continued to fold, I paid attention to the creases and the folds. How sweet it was to fold the shirt in a perfect square. To run my hands over the smooth surface of the garment. Another new way to enjoy a chore.
I now have perfectly folded clothes, packed away in perfectly tidy draws and it makes me feel oddly at peace.I have opened the draws several times today, just so I can see all the loveliness again. Does that make me a little mad?
I found a way to spark joy, as Marie Kondo would say, and it reminded me to ‘spark joy’ in more aspects of my life than just the laundry.
Like here, for example. On this blog. In this post.
I might wish you a beautiful weekend. And you might actually have one.