I’ve never been pregnant, which of course means I have never given birth to a child. I was going to say that I’ve never been through childbirth, but that isn’t really true. After all, I went through my own birth, though I don’t remember anything about that.

As I understand it, childbirth is many things.

  • First, it’s a process, a process of transformation, an exceptional and even miraculous transformation.
  • Next, it is ridiculously variable. I have spoken with friends who have given birth and collectively, a broad range of experiences and emotions emerge: exhilarating, frightening, even terrifying, chaotic, joyous, painful messy, gooey, long, frustrating, exciting and thrilling. In some cases, the process is even life-threatening for either the mother or the baby or both.
  • When a woman goes through the process, there is an astounding feeling of accomplishment and even pride. I recall one friend who told me on her daughter’s ninth birthday that after her daughter was born, how proud she felt. How she looked at that little baby and felt, “Look what I did. I created that!” And I remember the look of continued reverence that showed on her face.
  • if everything goes well with the process, the new baby emerges healthy, and the woman has something she would never want to give up. Whether the woman keeps the baby or gives the baby for adoption, her life is forever changed, and she knows it.
  • Tragically, in some cases, the process does not go well mother and / or the baby, which can lead to tremendous grief or loss and trauma. Long-term Impact may last a lifetime.
  • Afterwards, the woman remembers the events of the process, even that there was pain and chaos and perhaps even craziness, yet she isn’t still in that pain. It isn’t a chronic condition.
  • Ultimately childbirth is a significantly transformational process which changes a woman’s life forever.

What I just described isn’t unlike my transformational journey in 1998 — though there are obviously some glaring differences.

  • My transformational experience was much more abstract. Though I didn’t know it at the time, a decent description of what I was dealing with was the content of my shadow exploding and my ego structure collapsing and imploding. Ego, Shadow, and trauma are of course abstract and do not show up on things like X-rays, MRIs or biological tests.
  • Ultimately, I was waking up to the abusive systems and dynamics that I had become enmeshed in. I also woke up to my toxic enabling and codependent relationship with those systems and other people involved. Since the abuse was verbal instead of physical, it was also more abstract and subtle. Each individual event could be rationalized given the context. Yet damage was still done and those systems were not healthy in any way, shape, or form. Drat. None of that shows up in concrete physical form either.

Instead of the professionals evaluating my surroundings or even trying to assess the toxicity around me, I was assessed on my behavior and description of my thoughts while in the process. That is why I rejected the pathologizing label based on “illness” and “disorder.” If you don’t collect important information, it is highly likely that your conclusion is wrong.

My experience was an eruption, not unlike when the water breaks during a birthing process. When the water breaks, that is a sign of the next stages of the birth process.

At some point, there is no going back to earlier stages of the process. You must go through the remaining stages.

When I woke up to my own contribution to the unhealthy environments around me, there was no focus to help me through the process. Instead, I had a “disorder” and every effort was made to manipulate, coerce, and dominate (abuse) me back into the very same role that broke me open in the first place. As the person in that process, the attempts to manipulate, threaten, and shove me back into those abusive structures and systems was absolutely absurd. Even “crazy.”

Sure in the process or pregnancy, there are times when the birthing process starts too soon, so efforts are made to prevent the birth process from continuing. However, once the birth process has proceeded far enough along, the response by the doctors isn’t to try to shove that baby back into the womb. And I am pretty sure that if a doctor or midwife tried to do that, the mother would express some rather strong emotion about it. And she would be justified in doing so.

At some point, the rest of the birth process needs to happen.

Since 1998, I have considered March 28, 1998, to be my “spiritual birthday.” That is the anniversary of the crisis point in Banff, when I was sobbing on my knees next to the hotel bed, convinced that I would die in a plane crash the next day. And that is the night that I felt the miracle of my friends’ souls there with me, pressing up against my shoulders and back, supporting me, with Nikos even “coaching” me — telling me, insisting to me that I could do it. I could get out of it.

Since 1998, I have always honored my birthday, sometimes by going out to dinner or buying a special treat of ice cream or cake. Sometimes, I simply take a few moments and reflect on my journey and I thank Nikos and Kerin for being there when I needed their help.

It’s only been since 2020 that I have researched and learned more about spiritual awakening and spiritual emergencies. Apparently, some people go through the awakening process with minimal trauma and pain — that is, nothing like my own process.

I guess mine was a type of “breech spiritual birth.” Regardless, it was a beautiful journey, despite the pain. Though it would have been a lot easier had I been able to find people in the field who could have recognized that what I was experiencing was not an illness or disorder, but was rather a healthy and even beneficial process for my own mind, soul, and probably even body.

From what I can tell, there is still considerable misunderstanding related to this process.