Happy Birth-Day

Today the book has gone live ~ paperback / kindle/ e-book. The online launch party that has been happening all day on the Facebook online launch party is a really incredible experience~ having never held a virtual party before it has been interesting. But I have felt an overwhelming sense of connection and community through the internet today. Meeting old friends and making new ones.

I wanted to share some of the book here with you so have decided to post the prologue to the book, which it a journal that begins on the 14th February. So here are the very first pages. I hope they give you a taste:

~ Prologue to A Doula’s Journey~

“My name is Joy. As a child my name felt heavy. I wanted to become ordinary, to be able to melt into a crowd. But I always stood out. I couldn’t help it. I was tall and my hair was like a beacon calling for attention. I didn’t like my name. I couldn’t identify with it. The lightness that surrounded the word and the feeling of celebration seemed to tease me. My name followed me around like a shadow. All my life I had been asking myself, ‘What is Joy?’ But nothing prepared me for when I finally experienced it. It was unlike anything I could have imagined. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Often we need to go back in order to understand where we are and where we are going.

These pages are the daily musings of my journal. My life has not been an easy one. It’s been complicated. Yet writing down this inner world seems to help keep things in order, like a trail of breadcrumbs while I wander off into a dark forest that is full of hungry wolves. Maybe the breadcrumbs will help me find my way out again or maybe they will just help to curb the appetite of the wolves I see out of the corner of my eye. I don’t have a map. Maybe someone else does, but who could possibly know where it is I have to go in order to recover those parts of me that are lost?

Feeling incomplete became natural for me while I was growing up, like living without an arm. But I somehow found a way to carry on despite the inner wounds. Other senses came to compensate for that huge empty hole that threatened to consume me should I look too long into its depths. I learnt to run. I learnt not to ask too many questions. I learnt that knowledge can be a dangerous thing in the wrong hands and that survival meant keeping my head down. I kept watching out of the corner of my eye in order to make sure those wolves didn’t come too close. That was long ago now.

There did come a time in my life when everything was alright. This happiness crept up on me and it felt good. It felt like I knew what I was doing. Life had a purpose bigger than just my own personal needs. It all started with the birth of a baby. I lived alone and babies were the last thing on my mind as I sat in the studio overlooking the crashing waves of the sea. In the studio I used the past as fuel to create works of art. My parents had given me something to work from, a deep well of emotions that could be wielded like a sword to carve out my creativity. I could either wield it or be cut to shreds. So I developed the capacity to delve deep into myself and fish out creativity like the fisherman I watched working from their boats. The baby was my best friend’s and the feeling I experienced was light and buoyant. But it wasn’t joy. My happiness was bound to pleasure and the need for positive reward.

My shadows still felt heavy and cumbersome. How could I have thought that after that I could be a Doula and help people transition into life as a family when my own story was such a mess? I felt like a fraud pretending that I knew what a healthy family was like.

My father was absent from the moment I arrived in the world. He left without a backward glance. Did he even look at me once? What did I do in those first minutes of life to cause such a thing to happen? Mother says my father died crossing the road. That’s when she’s feeling exceptionally cheerful. At other times I remember hearing the stories of him being a sailor who had a wife in every port or a criminal on the run from the law. Depending on what she was drinking, a different story might slide out of her mouth, sneaking its way past the cigarette constantly sealed in her lips to hit me full force in the chest. In time I learnt to duck and the story would sail past me to disappear into the ether along with the thousands of other lies thrown in my direction.

Truth was not a word I knew until I was twelve and Grandpa told me, ‘The truth my girl, is that without green plants, life on earth just wouldn’t be here.’ That was before he was found clutching his heart, belly up on the ground among the plants he loved so much.

‘Truth Grandpa, what’s that?’ The innocence of my question still strikes me. What is truth? I know now that it is different for different people. But he spoke of simple truths, of food chains and sunlight, of rainfall and soil composition. We didn’t really go in for philosophical discussion about the essential nature of truth. We talked about plants.

So my journal begins the day it all happened, the day I held a new-born baby in my arms. She was just seconds old and made me realize that maybe there was more to life than painting. Little did I know then how that tiny babe would begin a chain reaction that would set my whole world on fire. How the old demons were there, lurking beneath the apparently calm surface waiting for such an opportunity as this to emerge and let it rip. With so many unanswered questions there was only so long that I could ignore the gnawing sensations and set out to look for answers.

Deep inside me I knew that there must be another way, a way to heal my past in order to move on with my life. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to make others happy as well. It is a beautiful world that we live in. I looked out of my window and saw the sun reflecting off the blue sea like a thousand jewels and felt the light in my heart waiting to be set free. I just wasn’t sure how to make this happen, how to be freed from my own cage. This is my story of freedom. ”


About Hazel Acland Tree

Women's circle facilitator Childbirth educator Doula Writer
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