“We each must discern what is sacred to us: what we most value, what we can devote our energies to with passion and joy, what we are willing to risk ourselves for and take a stand for. When we devote our best energies to what we most cherish, when we refuse to let our energies be diverted to further destruction or to serve other people’s ends, we tap into the power that creates the everyday miracles of birth, growth, and change, touch the fires that have not cooled since the beginning of the world, shift the very plates we stand on so that new continents can form. What is sacred to you may be different from what is sacred to me, but I must trust your passion as you must trust mine. When we do, we can remake the world.”
–Starhawk, Dreaming the Dark
What is sacred to you? Where are you devoting your best energies? How are you remaking your world?
I saw the above quote today on Facebook and thought it quite timely for the transition my family is currently going through. The following questions can’t be answered without a bit of back story.
After many years of knowing midwifery is my chosen career, I’ve decided to enroll in college and pursue the Certified Nurse Midwife path. Five years ago, if someone had told me this is the way I’d go, I would have laughed them out of the room. Coming from a staunch home birth midwifery background, I had always imagined I would be a Certified Professional Midwife and work solely with parents choosing home births. Three years ago, I wasn’t so certain but still felt pulled in that direction. I also began building a doula agency at that time, with the intent to have a team of doulas serving the area while I pursued midwifery. I knew it was important to myself and my sense of community service to not leave a hole for families desiring doula care. It’s been a long three years. In many ways, I’ve succeeded in the goal of building an agency. I have, at one time or another, had four other doulas under the SBS umbrella. I also have managed to work with a Certified Lactation Counselor and Prenatal Yoga instructor. The birth classes have been happening on a regular basis, something which I didn’t intend to do at the beginning but have found a delight in.
During these years, I also created (with a lot of help) a non-profit women’s community center. This was way more work than I thought it would be! In many ways, I suppose it is a success too, since it still exists and is available to the community. It has not been easy, and to say I’ve enjoyed every minute would be a lie. I put my family back into debt for this dream, sacrificed a lot of my life energy, and even lost a few friendships over it. It continues to be one of the hardest, most life-changing things I’ve done so far in life.
This past year, I’ve struggled with the weight of these dual responsibilities, costly (if not monetary, then emotionally) mistakes, hard lessons, and of course all the other day-to-day things that go along with being an adult, a wife, a mother, a homeschooler. A few months ago, I came to the realization that if I didn’t change something, I was going to fade away. I was feeling crazy, so crazy in fact that I wondered if I truly was. Mental illness runs in my family, leaving a tiny part of my self always asking, “Is this real, or am I descending into madness?” So many little things, too many to list and too painful to elaborate, piled up until a crescendo hit and I decided that it was time for me to take a step in the future. My future. The future of my family. Not the one I think my community needs (while my brain/heart fights with…Who do you think you are? How the hell do you know what your community actually needs? And who are you to fix it? AND How dare you? Do you not see what you started? You must commit yourself to this, fully and forever. You don’t consider any other way.) Almost daily, I continue this war in my self between my wants/needs/desires and what I think my community needs. Changes have come, ones that allow me the freedom to not be tied here if I don’t want to be, and I don’t know how I feel about that fact. It is both exhilarating and terrifying.
My heart hurts. My soul is tired. I am not fulfilled. What I felt was sacred work has been mocked, talked badly about, dismissed. I feel exposed. Raw. I grieve for the past, even while knowing it can’t be changed, nor would I want it to.
When I saw the above quote, along with accompanying questions, I felt like crying. My sacred work is changing, it has been for a while, and I keep trying to make it go back but it won’t. I don’t feel the same as I did last year at this time, or the year before that, and so on.
Today, I can only answer for today.
What is sacred to you? Sacred is the love I have for my birthing families, one of the few consistent loves of my life. Sacred is the desire to have my family fulfilled where my children are happy to see me and I’m happy to see them. Where I love my husband just as fiercely today as I did on the first day I realized I loved him. Sacred is knowing when to let go, and having the courage to do so. Sacred is hearing my soul speak instead of telling it what I think it should say. Sacred is being scared, and doing it anyway.
Where are you devoting your best energies? Enjoying homework with my children. Cleaning my home. Preparing for another week of transition for all of us.
How are you remaking your world? Looking at each responsibility, each commitment, through the lens of self care. Recognizing that I can not do everything, and that sometimes something has to go. Acknowledging that I am not perfect, which is OKAY. Honoring my mistakes instead of dwelling on them.
It feels good to get this out, instead of swimming in my head. I don’t know if I’ll post this, or take it down at some point, or re-read it a million times in the years ahead as I walk slowly along this windy midwifery path.