(This piece has taken several days to write and publish... just so you know... yesterday might have been several days ago.)
Isn't this Autumn?
The leaves are supposed to change? Things slow down? Moms bake bread and cook things in crock pots as the kids scribble on the wet from all the condensation between the heat inside and cold outside? Isn't this that season?
So, I suppose it is appropriate that I, too, might be shedding something - looking inside (ha!) more and seeing what stays and what goes.
I might have mentioned that I do my spring cleaning in the fall. I always have. I don't know why or what the pull is, but I have always done it and just shrug and clean out the closets and drawers, spruce up the place with new fake flowers, buy new pillows, rearrange the house (or office) - doing a whole slew of spring-like activities is what happens for me in the fall and this fall is/was no exception.
With the photography needing to help my business in a substantial financial way, I made many changes in the office to accommodate the in-house studio that is nearly complete. I still need clients to help me with props and backdrops and such, but the major expenses have been expended.
Yesterday was my first big professional photo shoot. I lined up several families for a Thanksgiving Weekend Special to do their Holiday Photos so they can do cards or pictures or whatever they are wanting to do with them... a mere $30 for 5 medium-sized JPGs. I limited the time to 20 minutes per family and ended up photographing 8 different family groupings.
It was delightful!
I had everything from nursing babies to sullen teenagers that I made smile. beaming smile
I am so, so pleased with the pictures, I just think I should live on the beach and take photos always there. Some of the photos look like I plopped people on a stool with a backdrop of a fake beach and some real sand under their hands it was so beautiful (the day). I really did a great job with what I was given (the day and the people) and I learned a lot, too, so I was glad of that.
I learned to look beyond where I think people can go - that most people can go further than I can physically (like climbing rocks). Rocks make a fantastic sitting stool for people! With the backdrop of the ocean? Oh, my... just loverly.
So, all these photo opportunities. I am taking practice opportunities with family and friends because I am getting nervous about this being paid to do this even though I know I am good at it. Where does this lack of confidence come in? How many times do I have to see the great results before I believe in myself? It's rather annoying. And in these practice sessions, I get two family members saying to me - on two separate days -
"So, are you done with school now? Are you just going to be a midwife-photographer now?"
And the inquiries came so fast on the heels of each other I hadn't even a moment to consider the question, but when I did, I was rather stunned because I hadn't even thought at all about not continuing in school - just that I was not going for a few months to help save the business from drowning. But... what an interesting concept.
What an interesting concept, indeed.
I'd have to mull it over some.
I get this crap a lot about how I flit around from one project to another and never settle into one thing. One minute I am a midwife and the next I want to be a therapist and then I want to be a photographer and then I want to be a writer and then I want to be a blah blah blah. Happily (and blessedly) my partner believes in me and believes that all of what I do revolves neatly into a ball towards the business (the overall business) and my midwifery fits in nicely as well. She thinks that I complement midwifery with my skills and isn't hesitant to support me when I want to try new things.
She also had to tell her naysaying family members that I was trapped by 200 pounds of fat for over 30 years and I have only had 5 years to be 20 years old and have the energy to try new things and even that has been hampered by illness and they could just be quiet because if they counted how many jobs she had since she was 20, they would surely count more than the 3-4 focus changes I have had in 5 years.
My partner said she has gladly handed over the money to start my photography business, even when it was hard financially because she thinks it would be a greater emotional benefit for me than school or being a therapist at the moment. She said she supports me no matter what I do, but thinks she sees me coming to that conclusion on my own and I began to cry (of course).
I told her I'd been talking in therapy about how I just didn't think I had what it took to be a therapist. It takes an ENORMOUS amount of courage to write that here. And it has taken days and days to actually get it published and even blogger itself went out a couple of times that I tried publishing it which I thought was not-so-amusingly telling. I kept thinking, "I'll have to change my whole Bio thingie over there on the side! Who will I be? Who am I? What will my focus be? Will I make any impact anymore? Am I destined to be a nothing now? I thought I was going to be some great impact-maker... and now look at me... a nothing. A nothing. A nothing."
That's the kind of crap that plays in my head. Not loud, but kind of a low hissing noise, like a mosquito buzzing.
Since the three September births - forevermore known as The 3 Births - I have been working in therapy with my psychiatrist trying to figure out an entire gamut of my skills and abilities. Am I able to cope with the loss of a woman's birth plan without feeling like a failure myself? Do I have to feel a woman's cesarean deep in my own pubic area? Why, when a woman isolates after a painful birth experience, is it a direct hit on my heart instead of my realistic acknowledgement of her needing to cocoon?
Compassionate detachment, my psychiatrist says, is a term and experience she learned in medical school that helps her every day. She says it is so hard, she knows, to not get caught up in others' lives and some professions are more apt to entwine with others' spirits than others - midwifery being one - but that it is important to remember whose life is whose and where the responsibilities lie.
I tried to remember the word ("detachment") through the weeks from one visit to the next with my psychiatrist and could not for the life of me. I could remember the concept, but not the actual word itself. I remembered it was kind of long, but... what was it? When I saw her and told her I couldn't remember it, she laughed and said, "Now isn't that telling?" Embarrassed, I nodded and admitted that I supposed it was.
I still struggle with the word, but have forced myself to memorize it and am even writing it (which helps me memorize things even more) - am writing it here today, too, see?
The camera allows me delightful detaching from people while also connecting in a different way. I can interact, but have the body of the camera and the lens inbetween us and I am not in charge of their lives and their souls and their psyches. Sure, I touch their spirits and see through into the windows of their souls, but if the disk gets corrupted, I can't imagine going to prison over it. Or crying for 6 weeks. Or needing a change of medications because of it. I would crap and reschedule the shoot and do it again and move on. Hopefully it wasn't a birth I did - which would be really horrible if the disk corrupted, but who of us doesn't know 20 people who didn't get their birth on tape/film/image because of a dead battery or no film or a full card?
I've written and thought. Written and thought some more. The more I think, the better I feel about not finishing the trail towards becoming a therapist. It feels healing, somehow. It feels like relief to not think about carrying so many women's burdens around inside of me. I just don't think I can do it.
Yet, I'd promised so many women I would. That I was doing just that. I had to call my dear friend with whom I bounce many of my birth rape/birth abuse/mental health issues/school issues off of (she was horribly birth abused by a midwife) and ask if I would be disappointing her if I didn't finish school - quitting school might have been what I said, actually. Would I be letting down the birth abused community? Who would speak for the women? (Don't I sound so amazingly self-centered? I need so much more therapy!)
My friend was so loving and kind, said very similar words that my apprentice had also said to me - but I had to hear them from a birth abused woman who was rooting me on towards the degree in Psychology. They both told me that I was nothing without me first. If I wasn't enjoying myself, I wasn't going to have anything for anyone. I couldn't do anything out of obligation or feeling sorry for anyone; it had to remain out of passion - which I thought I was doing until this week!
And my long-distance friend gently told me I could pass the torch. My apprentice smilingly said I could light someone's candle - they both said that I could still bear witness to women's reality and the pain they have experienced at the hands of midwives... that I can stand and say in any court that midwives and doctors and nurses do, in fact, abuse women in the name of "care" or "healthcare" and that women are not lying when they say what was done to them in the hospital or their home births. That I still have value as a "midwife for birth abused women" even if I don't have those letters after my name and don't write lengthy articles in fancy psychiatric magazines that someone will read and pay attention to. But maybe I will be quoted in one of those articles. Maybe someone will hear me and say something, do something, move some mountain because of my realization of my own admissions of guilt and shame in abusing women in my midwifery past. I can only hope.
So, for the first time today. I said it outloud.
I am not going to finish school. I am not going to become a therapist. I can't do it. I don't have what it takes. I have what it takes to be a midwife and a photographer. I can handle that level of intimacy and stress - and love and grandness! But thinking about adding more... my heart just lifts knowing I can let go of taking care of all those people filled with anguish and sorrow.
My own life has been filled - is filled - with enough of my own anguish and sorrow. Dealing with my own bipolar disorder is struggle enough some days. The thought of working on another's on a day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year basis exhausts me.
I don't know why I didn't think of it this way before. I just didn't. No one ever pointed it out, either. Maybe because I sound so sure and clear when I speak no one wants to or thinks to question what the hell I might be thinking when I am planning something so grandiose as a Finishing School for the Psyche.
What the hell was I thinking? I was in the hospital in 2006. I could have found my way there at least twice more if I'd have tried hard enough. I know there are plenty of mentally ill therapists out there and I know I'd be a damn good therapist, but I think my history of being in therapy and mental illness is just going to have to serve me as augmenting my being a damn great midwife.
I could keep writing and this feels like I am justifying, justifying, justifying... and I am not wanting to do that. I haven't written in so long, I wanted to explain some of what has been going on and why I have been so quiet.
I suspect I won't be so quiet again for awhile. Let's hope not anyway. laughing smile
I do have so many things to say.