If this doesn’t read well, please note that it was basically a free writing kind of post. I sat down 17 minutes ago and just typed and thought.
I touched on this a bit in my post about periods. Within the feminist, women embracing, self development, personal growth type of areas, there is a line of thinking which focuses on menstruation and childbirth. I am not at all saying this is wrong. These are important things to embrace and both have been significantly damaged by the patriarchy. The idea that menstruation is dirty, for example, or that child birth should be a clean and medicalised affair. We have removed the idea of child birth from the idea of sex when surely the two are too heavily intertwined for that.
Anyway, these lines of thinking embrace and celebrate these aspects of life. They do not necessarily disparage those who are women and do not experience one or both. There are some people who do that but on the whole, the approach is one of celebration what some women do experience, not isolating those who do not.
I do fully understand the importance of child birth and the need to reclaim it. A very natural and vital process which has been removed from the sphere of the body somehow. But this post is not about that.
As a society we don’t really have rites of passages these days. Possibly leaving home, getting a home, getting married and having children are the closest I can think of. For women, if we were to look at possible points in life for rites of passage, I imagine most people would go straight to the first time a young women bleeds and then to childbirth. Neither of these are celebrated and neither of them are something all women will experience. Not all women have periods and not all women have give birth.
I have written a lot about periods but in summary, I have them and am trying to stop them. In terms of childbirth, firstly I cannot get pregnant through natural means, secondly being pregnant would potentially worsen my health and thirdly, I cannot look after a child.
So I will not experience this rite of passage. As I was reading an article about childbirth as a transformative and important experience, I started to wonder about myself. What have I birthed? What can I birth?
And actually, the answer was easy for me. I have birthed myself. The last few years have been intensely powerful and transformative for me. And probably in ways that giving birth to a child would not have been. I have found and owned and continue to seek myself.
I believe the birthing of myself began with deep depression, followed by anorexia and through it a loss of myself. I disappeared, literally and metaphorically. And that, whilst a horrific experience, gave me a blank canvas. A place to start rebuilding. There are a variety of things which make up my day to day and my sense of self that I don’t think I would have found, or refound, without that experience. In many senses, I died and was reborn. I had to work hard for this. And I still have to work hard. But I have learnt to parent myself. To encourage myself and draw me out of my shell.
I may not have given birth to a baby, but I have birthed myself and I continue to nurture myself, this precious being that I put my heart and soul into healing.