I was not looking forward to the girl’s night in which my pregnant friend invited us to watch Ricki Lake’s The Business of Being Born. This was during a time in my life before I accepted my state of childlessness, so I knew it would be a provocative evening on more than one level. But I was curious. And I’m a good friend. So I showed up.
The impact of the film for me was not in all the ruthlessly comprehensive information about why the state of birthing in this country is so brutally twisted, but instead, a lesser plot-line in which the film’s star midwife finally goes through labor herself.
You would think that after witnessing so many women in the sheer agony of childbirth, the midwife would be prepared. But this tough, very contained woman tantrum-ing around her ceremonial home-birth apartment and threatening to go to the hospital for drugs, reminded me that no amount of theory or witnessing can prepare you for actual experience. It was flat out comical to watch her dramatic flailing, a posse of doulas repeatedly restraining her from trudging out, semi-dialated, into the winter cold, in search of an epidural.No amount of theory or witnessing can prepare you for actual experience. Click To Tweet
What struck me to the core was what she shared in the post-labor interview a few months later: that in her first midwife job after giving birth herself, she found herself to be totally ineffective. Now that she understood firsthand how painful labor actually was, when she went back to work “fresh off the boat”, she forgot how to be there for her client. Instead, she found herself identifying with the client’s pain, compassionately uttering, “I know, I know, it hurts . . . ” a stance that shore her of her ability to direct and support the mother back to focus and determination.
This interview relaxed me. It made me forgive the cobbler for not putting shoes on his children. It allowed me to forgive myself for being the unmarried marriage (relationship) consultant. I had never considered that my choices may have in some way actually served my work — by not being submerged in the suffering of the wrong relationship, am I actually better able to help clients stay vital and alert through the long haul?
We each have our inconsistencies. We each have inner conflicts and at times behave hypocritically, even as we are skilled and diligent and well-intentioned. What saves me (and I hope you, dear reader) from falling into the snake pit of my competency issues (or any tar pit of shame, really) is the knowledge that[tweetherder] being a truly authentic human being is a very complex endeavor[/tweetherder]. It is not cut and dried. It is not linear and tidy. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes to becoming a fully developed person or a powerful leader or a good partner. The fabric of our experiences are rich and multi-layered, and the road to fulfillment requires that we unearth sometimes seemingly contrasting parts of ourselves.
And amidst it all, we must remember that we are supremely worthy of love.
The type of love that makes us real.