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HOW A DECADE OF CHRONIC PAIN HAS MADE ME A BETTER DOULA & YOGA TEACHER
Wednesday May 20, 2020
- I know firsthand that pain can be invisible, private, and even shameful. On my worst pain days, people say "oh I never would have known, you look so healthy and strong". I see this often with my postpartum clients. On the surface they seem put together and are still managing to do what they need to do, so people assume they're fine that they're "bouncing right back"... When in reality, they're in horrible pain and fearful they'll never have healthy pelvic floor function again.
- I've learned that when you're healing from something big, self-care needs to go far beyond pedicures and wine in the tub (although that can be fun). After about 3 years of pushing myself to the point of constant flare-up and exhaustion, to the point I was unable to be present, let alone enjoy everything I was running around to do, I realized self-care couldn't be my cute side chick anymore. Self-care had to become my lifestyle if I was going to survive.
- It can be tempting to assume what makes me feel better when I'm in pain might make others feel better too. While suggestions can be helpful at times, I find the best thing to do is ask the person directly, "How can I best support your healing?" and listen. Some people want me to dig my elbow into their back and others don't want any physical touch at all. As someone who has been on the receiving end of touch/ hands-on adjustments that caused more pain than relaxation, I know how violating, disorienting and downright uncomfortable that can be.
- The next step that I've had to learn (still learning, tbh) is how to tell people when they've physically hurt me or violated my boundaries, which feels especially challenging when the other person was trying to do something nice for me. This is HUGE in the birth world. How often do strangers approach pregnant women to ask about their due date or touch their bump (without permission), what about getting cornered by the elderly stranger at the grocery store wanting to hold the brand new baby, and how often do birthers feel mistreated by hospital staff? All. The. Time. As your doula, I am absolutely here to advocate for you and tell them off (lol) but I'm also here to empower you to voice your needs, boundaries and boundary violations.
- Finding good medical and non-medical care providers is like finding a good pair of jeans... usually takes awhile, you've got to try them all on, it's very personal and can be brutal, but when you find that right fit... you could wear them for years. Whewww, the experiences I've had with doctors, acupuncturists, therapists, and healers of all kinds over the past decade of living with Fibromyalgia. So many hours I felt I'd wasted sitting in waiting rooms, meeting new doctors or practitioners, hearing their spiel and how they can fix me, just to be left alone and sore once again.
- Not one person, practice or institution has all the answers. This is tricky because a lot of them claim to have the ultimate solution for you. And they might be a piece of your healing puzzle, but it's hard to know for sure, especially in your first meeting. From my personal experiences and my experience with doula and yoga clients, if you close your eyes, breathe deeply and ask your higher power or intuition what to do- you have more answers within than you probably realize. That little voice or inner "knowing" may guide you to a particular doctor or healing modality or perhaps you hear "drink more water and slow down". Whatever comes up or doesn't come up is a message for you to take or leave.
- I want to remind you (and myself) that we are sovereign beings and are much wiser than blanket diagnoses, pharmaceutical commercials and the collective fear that surrounds pain, birth and recovery. Our physical pain is our body's way of communicating with us. If your instinct is to run from the pain, numb it or avoid it all together- I feel you. It's not easy to face discomfort, pain, our deepest wounds without a clear answer or a finish line in sight. What I do know for sure is that you have the capability to heal. It may not be overnight and it may not look like you think it "should", but you can heal. We are capable, resilient and expansive beings and with great pain and darkness comes the birth of something brand new.
In this space,
we welcome all humans preparing or recovering from pregnancy and childbirth.
we celebrate the miracle of conception, the beauty of expansion, and the power of every single birth.
we honor the sacred vulnerability and tenderness of postpartum.
we acknowledge that we are stronger in community.
we celebrate the divine feminine within us all.
we honor both the light and dark that come with the birth of something new.