My friend Jamie and I have been talking about Harry Potter and our Birthing from Within classes. Even thought about doing a theme based class. So these are some thoughts on that theme:
“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” Dumbledore to Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Pain. Transport. Cesarean. Repeat Cesarean. What is it that is on your mind? Are you afraid to say it? Are you avoiding it so it doesn’t manifest right before your eyes? Will saying it make it real? Has it tried to kill you before? Left a scar or a mark? Infused some its power into you leaving you to struggle?
Chances are the energy it takes to avoid it, gives it power. In fact, one may actually think of that unwished for circumstance at the place they decide to purposefully “shut off” or ” not pay attention.” For many it is on their minds enough to know they don’t want to deal with it. Or maybe some cope by shutting it off limits. But what about facing it head on and figuring out how to deal with it so that it doesn’t have so much power?
It is the boggart in the closet. I just finished Harry Potter and the The Prisoner of Azkaban with my daughter and I wish for her to learn that she too can conjure a powerful patronus in her life either before or after difficult circumstances. Let me explain further for those who aren’t reading the book.
The boggart is just a spirit that likes to hide in wardrobes and cabinets which is more of an annoyance than anything else. When they are disturbed or the object is opened, they scare away the person approaching by assuming the shape of the thing that person fears the most. Now in the book, the students take turns making the boggart look ridiculous and using laughter to make it powerless. Although this may be one strategy for someone, the fact that the students face their fears at all is powerful. But Harry’s fear is much more real and possible and may well manifest again sometime soon. Practicing with this boggart in the closet is the strategy one can use to truly find new tools and possibilities in such a situation so if the situation just happens to manifest, you’ve got resources, even if it isn’t easy. No one said it would be.
Harry’s fear, the dementor which can suck out the happiness from your soul, can represent so many things for us. Fear of a thing that leaves us feeling a loss of soul. An empty shell. Many times parents are told to learn the “best” way to birth. The “right” way. Shit, we all want to do birth right. Birth is important. We all want to be the loving parent and do that “right.” The problem is that it is a myth. There is no one right way to do it as the circumstances are continually changing and life challenges that we don’t foresee come out of no where.
This is where knowing how to send the Patronus Charm comes in handy. This is where our planned external resources may not be the thing that comes through for us, but that inner resources that stem either from happiness or faith or determination or love or even doubt may be the thing that drives this charm. But where is the birth of happiness?
In fact, Brene Brown identifies the root of happiness to be in vulnerability. Harry had to think of a moment in his life where he had felt true happiness. Such a charm was difficult for him with so many situations in his life being hard. But if true happiness goes hand in hand with vulnerability, then what is vulnerability, really? Brene Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. She also says, “Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, and our struggle for worthiness. It appears it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity , belonging and love.”
So how do we prepare for birth? How can we use the boggart in the closet to find that place within ourselves that if we meet that fear of the unknown, that unwished for situation, that place where we are disconnected and confused, how do we set our inner resources into action? How will we be able to claim our birth journey as ours and celebrate it with all that we have? How can we still conjure our patronus charm so that we can stay connected and feel worthy? How can we send our love warrior into action?
We may never know ahead of time what that will be. And the boggart in the closet may not ever appear again. The fears in birth and pregnancy might just be cultural manifestations… or the lady in the grocery store’s fears …or maybe… your intuition. There is no way of truly knowing. But as all who walk a path of unknowing consciously, we think ahead of time. This is similar and different to worrying. Worrying is just practicing the future. However, when one takes on too many scenarios as their own in the form of worrying, it also can bring anxiety. So the task of sorting true worries from others that may have come along but aren’t yours can be difficult. But in the end, exploring what may be yours and finding a container, a place to practice confronting it when you face that boggart in your closet.
This is the work of pregnant preparation. For the mother or her partner. Even for the birth worker. For the love warrior. So that no matter where your journey takes you, planned or unplanned, you have these resources.
And even if you feel lost or wounded by the experience, it still isn’t too late to use your time turner. It still isn’t too late to go back to that moment when the time is right to do some work to reframe it and find your Patronus Charm to work on your birth story and find connection and compassion. Check out Birth Story Medicine for some tools focusing on just this issue.