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Wednesday
Nov012006

Raw

There is a Sex in the City episode that takes the girls into a raw food restaurant where they blech the food, but Samantha, the insatiable sex kitten, ends up meeting the man that finally stands with her toe to toe. Much, much later, at the very end of the series, when Sam has cancer and is stripped of everything she knows, including her own sexuality, Smith remains with her, covering her rawness with his love and devotion, not caring about her lack of hair, appetite, sexual desire or even that she keeps trying to shove him out of her life; he remains close, loving her. Loving her.

Each of us finds our raw places throughout our lives. For some of us it is during our births when we are so vulnerable and open - our vaginas, our rectums, our mouths, our eyes, our noses - every orifice oozing fluid as loved ones and, very often, strangers, watch with awe (or indifference).

Some of us are raw when we are raped and everything we know was ripped from us when we least expected it. We thought we were safe, yet someone came and shoved their penis/hand/instrument inside of us and took our power and left us with shame and fear and a shivering huddled mass crumpled on the floor.

Some of us find our raw places purposefully in therapy. We gently lift the cloaks we've used to cover the wounds all those years ago - or, on the contrary, some rip the bandages off fast and furiously and just watch as the skin oozes blood knowing the new flesh won't have anything to do with that old crap the ripped flesh represents.

Others of us just plug along and get raw off and on for a variety of non-descript reasons. Living on welfare here, son's in jail there, sister's a whackie bo-bo, perhaps mom died when you were 7 and it just never found any resolution in your life. Who's to know what makes some of us more raw than others and then, looking at the Smith Jarrod side, how do we heal from our raw-ness? How do we cover our raw places? Do we artificially cover them with alcohol, food, cleaning, shopping or drugs and allow that to suffice? Do we live a life on medication and believe that is helping or is that another way of simply smothering the pain? Is there ever re-growing the burnt flesh or is it forever scarred and pulled tight and shiny, a reminder of the excruciating pain of the moment of terror that caused the rawness in the first place?

I am raw.

I have not been able to write because I am so raw I simply have not been able to put my words out there to be seen/heard. The very difficult births, the wedding of my child, the precariousness of my own mental health, the incredibly sad near-death of my business are all pushing me to the most raw place I have been in a very long time. Since last November, probably. Or longer.

But, the last few weeks of raw-ness have been a time of growth and a time where I am being forced to see where I can lick my own wounds, put salve on my own pain and move to where the fire isn't quite so hot under my feet. I am used to my partner taking on a lot of my healing for me, but she is so busy making money so I can keep practicing midwifery, I can't bug her with my trivial emotional issues. I have to stand on my own this time. I've cried enough on her shoulder already. And on my apprentice's. It is time to stand on my own and stop being a baby about everything.

I've written before (long ago, in the old blog) about how hard it is to have a business and I am telling you again: NEVER own your own business. It is THE hardest, least rewarding, MOST painful, MOST obnoxious, MOST expensive endeavor one can ever attempt in this universe. Unless you have BUCKETLOADS of money you can toss to the wind without concern, make that SHIPLOADS of money, I HIGHLY discourage you from thinking a business other than a one-woman midwifery practice will be easy or fun or profitable. Please don't sit on any high horses and think, "You didn't try X Y or Z," or "You didn't try hard enough," or "You just didn't know what you were doing," or anything mean like that because 18 hour days times 3.5 years and over 1.5 million dollars (you read that right), I believe, constitutes trying hard enough.

In the last month, an exodus has occurred and I am left with a bare-bones staff, including leaving me as the only midwife. I have never been the only midwife at my office and it feels especially weird. I feel exposed. Every chart is mine now. (They were before, but this is different, somehow.)

Because of the exodus, I am in the position of needing to find money for the office to keep going to find it bloody fast or we are going to lose the business. And it would be a mess of untold proportions. I would still be a midwife, but... just take my word for it, it would be a huge mess to untangle with insurance payments out, 9 offices of furniture to tend to... just a lot of crap to deal with.

Nice that y'all like my photography. I really appreciate it. Off and on over the years, I've been paid to take pics of people, including births. Some good money at times, too. I am not a schooled photographer, but I am pretty good without knowing the math parts of F-stops and shutter speeds and all that stuff. (I actually understand ISO... how is beyond me, which gives me hope I will eventually get the rest.)

I thought I could do some crazy themed fat girl topless dancing or do some photograpy with a natural bent and the photography won out.

So, in the weeks since I have been quiet and absent, I have been reading voraciously (and sleeping and staring at walls thinking and processing) about photographing kids and having a photo studio and learning how to use my Canon D20 better and better for the entire endeavor. I've approached trusted clients who are THRILLED with my idea and who want me to do their pictures and who are going to help me set up the studio with drapes and props and such. I'm going to focus on pregnant women and attachment families, with a focus on nurslings since there aren't many photographers out there who are comfortable photographing a nursing toddler - much less a pregnant woman nursing a toddler! The props I am going to have are things like baby slings, cloth diapers, wooden toys, things we'd find in our attachment parenting homes - books, natural toys... things like that. I don't want to make a Sears Portrait Studio type of picture, you know? I want pics of kids whining, crying, suckling while smiling, pulling mom's other nipple while mom laughs... dad playing with the baby's toes as the baby nurses. All these things I want and can see.

I want to save my business. Or at least die trying.

Please, if you pray or visualize or think positive thoughts for people. Please do so for my business. She needs help NOW. It is dire. I don't ask for help often and am not asking for anything but thoughts and love. That's all. I need help to cover her raw-ness. My raw-ness.

My heart hurts because I am so close to losing something I have worked so very hard for and because so many will laugh about if the doors close. I don't want to be laughed at. I want to keep standing proud. I want to keep changing, transforming, growing. Trying. Working.

I need to live.

If I repeat it enough, perhaps my psyche will hear me?

I hope so.

I sincerely hope so.

Reader Comments (15)

My heart just aches......

What can I do to help? I'm serious, can you use any practical help? billing, answering phones, stuffing mail?

Sending all the positive energy I can your way....

November 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOpening Pandora

i started reading your blog when i was pregnant with my first. it was one of the most helpful resources i had in preparing for my sons birth, because you are a real person; you believed in my ability to birth...as a woman...with a face and feelings and not just another name in the ob ward. i don't know you other than your blog but i have developed a huge respect for you. i believe you can do this and you will deffinately be in my prayers. smile, because you are loved by someone far away who hopes/knows that you make it through the rawness.

November 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Stretching my arms all the way from Nawlins to give precious Barbwife a big hug.

Every time I snuggle my baby I think of you.

November 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNOLABarb

Barb,
I hope that you find all you need to make your business succeed. You are such an inspiration. I wish I could soothe your wounds, wrap you in comfort and make it all better. Sending lots of love, support, abundance and hope!
With love,
Wendi

November 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWendi

. . . i'm sitting here quietly in the presense of the pain that is flowing through your world right now, knowing that something is being burned away from your living so that something else can have the space and fertilizer needed to grow . . . and i also know that you are strong and smart and beautiful and that you will make your way through this time of transition with grace and style and power and humor and truth . . . even as you make your way through frozen patches and firey places and perhaps flail and cry and sit in your chair looking out the window wondering how you are going to pull it all off . . . and you may not yet know how, but you know the very next step and then the next will make itself known and you will keep walking and the next part of your adventure will be well underway . . . many many hugs making their way to you . . .

November 2, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkate

I will pray/visualize/send good thoughts your way.

I will also try not to be unproductively angry at the state of affairs that makes it so difficult for you and others like you (us) to practice your craft. On a very visceral level it makes me ill. But, that's not particularly helpful, so I will set that aside to fuel fires in later fights, and what comes your way will be far more positive in nature.

I hope for you to find happiness and balance again, and to grow un-raw.

November 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarahScott

This may not help now, but I'd like to tell you anyway: Just remember, the true worth of a business (or a person) is in the work it does, what it gives. Sometimes we forget that, because financial worries become so overwhelming, and unfortunately, society often values people by what they receive in money, rather than what they give in return. From what I see, your business/calling stands among the finest in the world. While the financial side seems impossible, you have the honor of doing your vocation out of love. It hurts so much because you care, because you *aren't* in it for the money. Money comes and goes, but the women and families you have helped - that doesn't fade.

Wishing you the best, hoping to hear more about how you'll proceed, whether it is midwifery or photography that will give families cherished pictures and memories, I'm sure it will contribute to the good of the world.

Blessed be, and keep writing. It helps when nothing else does (take it from one who knows)!

November 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterThe MSILF

Oh, yes, I will be sending good thoughts your way. And telling you to remember that your practice is operating in a hostile culture, one that makes it harder to practice compassionately and harder for clients to even know you exist. And harder to get paid properly, and...etc. I don't know what all your business troubles were, but I am sure at least some of them stem from those things, over which you have no control. Don't blame yourself for the steepness of the mountain.

Just like mountain climbing, too, sometimes you have to backtrack and zigzag and go back down over the ground you've so painstakingly climbed. And it hurts.

And I just wanted to tell you that though I'm not your patient, your blog--and your stories--have made a tremendous difference in my life, in healing from my c/sec and my abuse at the hospital's hands. And I suspect you have lurking readers who feel the same.

Good thoughts, good thoughts !

November 2, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

You are in my thoughts and held in my heart. You helped me find my strength when I really needed it just by believing in me. Now I want you to know, I believe in you.

November 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl Q

Praying for you Barb sweetie! I know raw but I still believe that it's always darkest before the dawn. Here's to your dawn!!

Kya Rose

November 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOcean

love.

November 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterM

Miscarriage made me raw...it's been two years and I am still obsessive about my "private" area. They've all been there, the doctors, nurses, the metal instruments, the laminaria, the suction...my baby who died inside. Everyone saw him but me, saw him in his state of raw death. The knowledge of this makes it harder somehow, the knowledge that I was sleeping while his body left my body. I was probably sleeping when his soul left too. At any rate, I didn't know the moment he left, the moment my heart was made raw. Two years later I still have a little scab I pick at, but it's getting better...day by day.

I hope you find healing. Blessings to you!
Dawn Lewis

November 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJawndoejah

I will be praying. I believe that your writing and your photography will be therapy--but you already know that...

Hh

I am RAW lately too. It seems so dark sometimes but I KNOW I will make it through this just like I 've made it through all other times that left me feeling like this. Hang in there - it will get better.

November 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEllen B

Delurking to tell you that I love reading your words and I really hope that things get better for you very soon.

November 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterThea

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