Monday, May 15, 2006

I did a brave thing

Okay, for me it was a brave thing. It is part of a shift of identity, so not brave in that the sense I worked on conquering my slight fear of heights, or claustrophobia, which is a more intense fear. Nope, nothing like that.

I edited my books. More specifically I edited my collection of birth related books. As part of finally working on my office, I sat down with myself and the dozens of books, most of which had been lovingly chosen to support my work with families. After about nine years of this work, there were about a small bookcase worth, not as many as some, but a considerable portion of my collection of books. What this means is that I am growing to accept that I have expanded out of that role, that by going to graduate school, I made a committment to working with families in new ways. I cannot imagine saying I will never go to another birth, that feels so final, so so sad. Part of what has made this so hard is the last birth I attended, almost a year ago, was so hard for me. In a way it broke the last thread of patience I had for the work. This is very hard to accept, I would have liked to go out so differently. Maybe that's part of why I cannot say I won't go to another birth.

I loved the work, I really did. In working on my office, I found a journal, mostly empty, but covered the period of when I started doula work. The hope, the passion that were on those pages felt so hopeful, so naive, and so brave. I would like to think I maintained a lot of that through my career. I think I did. Mostly. I felt brave everytime. I felt scared everytime. I could swear there were many moments at births where the earth stood still just to watch. That is what I miss the most, I think. It's hard to say what about being part of this moment I will miss the most. I suspect there are lots of "mosts" for me.

The thought that I could be "broken" in my spirit is perhaps the hardest piece for me. My faith in people was messed with so much, my values not shared, my soul given each time. I wish I knew why I couldn't be fed more, in the end, by the work. It sounds funny to call it work, it was in that it was a job that paid some bills, but it was so much more than that. There are many women who find being a doula is a calling, I can't say that. I also find it hard to call it a career, a job, or work. Maybe there isn't a word that sums it up for me. I found honour in the process, in being invited (regardless of getting paid it
is an invitation), in being a witness. Being a doula is one of the most invigorating and exhausting things I think one can do for work, for passion, whatever the word.

I just thought of the buddhist phrase, "right livelihood". That's closer for me, given
my studies and interpretation of the buddhism. It fit but ultimately the things I saw, experienced, and struggled with, meant it no longer could fit me for where I am, on my path toward not exactly enlightment, but an ever growing sense of evolved, being at something like peace. I yearned for those moments. That incredible sense of peace, of all being right in the universe, when the world stood still during a birth. It felt, I imagine, like the high some people get from drugs. There was a birth I went to about a year ago, maybe even a year ago today, had that moment. I ran on that for days. I can still run on it, when I really embrace the memory. Maybe if I had more of those to feed my soul I could have kept doing it the work, or could have left it with more grace than I feel I have had. Maybe this post will help release some of the bitterness so that I can still draw on the moments, and there were many really, that did fed me. I hope so.

5 comments:

snot said...

you know what stinks about you going through your books is that i just did the same thing last weekend with my entire collection of birth, pregnancy, midwifery, doula and childcare books...

before i moved to california in 94 i was a home-birthing midwife and over the years then and all the way to current day i continued to buy books that were related to those interests...

well in that collection were brand spanking new books like Varney's and Holistic Midwifery and the collection easily was worth thousands of dollars...

well i am preparing for the inevitable with my condition (i have terminal cancer with only a relatively short time left) and my children did not want the books so we gave them away for only the cost of postage...

so, unfortunately, they are all gone now but some midwifery student or student doula could really have loaded up on quite a collection of reference materials...

anyway...sorry to have rambled...i have been reading you for some time and i just wanted to pop in and comment...take care...

melissa

Jennie said...

I think this is incredibly brave. And scary. Hooray for you!

Wyatt's Mom said...

This is indeed brave and very flyladish of you. When I grow up, I want to do that too. For now I'll hold on to all of my collections. [hush now little southpark keychains. you're safe for now]

Ruthie said...

Wow, that is so amazing! I know that it took a lot for you to do that. I truly admire your bravery and integrity! And I miss you too. :-)

wen said...

i understand.

in fact, i did that twice recently, first when i was decluttering about 8 or so months ago, and then again when i moved.

i parted with some of my academic books and boxed up the rest.

i then decided to part with another lot (as i'm not in academe anymore) and painstakingly wrote out the titles and authors and found links to online bookstores with prices and descriptions of them. i was going to send around an e-mail to the ucsc grad students and offer the books for $3 each (or $25 for 10), because i know they are expensive, even used, and that my copies were in excellent condition. i would have loved, as a grad student, for someone to sell me their books for less than the cost of a used paperback.

but alas, they got put out at my garage sale (sold for 50 cents or a dollar) and then the leftovers (which i assume was most of them) were donated to goodwill. it was a mix up, and, well, that's okay.

i still have a handful of boxes of academic books at t's house. i will probably let most of those go by the end of the summer.

it's hard, this letting go...

books, as an academic, have defined my interests and roles. i'm still interested in much of what those books have to say. i just don't have room to keep them!

many of them were special orders, or other "hard to find" volumes. i can't just get them out of the library when i need them. (some are at academic libraries, of course).

yet, i know it's right to let them go. to free up the energy attached with a path i'm no longer on.

it sounds like that's what you are doing as well by letting go of your doula books.

i read a couple of things that helped me with the transition. one said that your bookshelf should reflect who you are and who you are becoming rather than who you have been.

the other asked *why* you need to have 100 volumes on the subject. do you really need or enjoy them or are they to show your mastery of the field?

thanks for sharing your thoughts about getting rid of your books (and what that brought up for you).