“I can’t facilitate in person“
After 3 years of facilitating the Nurturing Birth Distance Course online and loving every second, this is what I told myself as I sat in front of the eager eyes of the new participants on my first Expansive ‘in-person’ course. All eyes were on me … and goodness I felt it. My heart raced, senses prickled, adrenaline shot up, I seemed to forget everything and then thought. Nope. Not again.
I won’t lie, it didn’t totally surprise me, but what did surprise me was how I didn’t get up and leave. You see, I’m a runner/flight being. If things become too stretchy or uncomfortable, if I don’t connect with people, if the energy is off, if my senses are flipping out due to sound/lighting/smells, if I feel overwhelmed or over my capacity regarding what I can manage my kneejerk reaction is to back away, block, delete, withdraw.
Retreating into a quiet world where the pressure is off is a self-protection mechanism. I have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and sensory issues and I’m pretty grateful for what my body is trying to do in those moments, but I can also challenge it. The key is, I can challenge it if I have the right people around me.
When Sophie asked me to facilitate for Nurturing Birth I was both extremely excited but also incredibly worried. I’ve managed myself and my doula work in a way I can regulate, moderate and manage what I do day-to-day according to how I feel. The pressure is alleviated as I know my own expectations. But working within a team? Wow, that’s a different kettle of fish! It activated my system no end, so I knew I needed to be transparent, I knew I needed to tell Sophie about part of me that hardly anyone knew … and, I won’t lie, it freaked the crap out of me. But I did it anyway… as I knew that I’d work better, she’d understand expectations and we could support each other. Transparency, expectations, boundaries – it’s what us doulas are all about right?!
The reason I could tell Sophie? Because I trusted her. The level of safety and non-judgement I knew I’d feel wasn’t something I questioned … but still, it was a huge thing to ‘out’. Showing my vulnerability that I’d kept masked and protected forever actually felt good to release and it also meant I knew we could move forward in a way that was most productive for us all. It meant there was acceptance and unquestioning support and in turn brought a change of dynamic within the team. Being wholehearted, not hiding or masking or trying to be something I’m not, embracing all I am and speaking my truth to others … well it can’t really be explained or put into words. It’s not to say I don’t still struggle with all the things. I do, I’m just at ease knowing I can show up as I am and that space is held for me.
Opening up about my neurodivergence has set us all on a journey to make our courses and offerings as accessible as possible, to make Nurturing Birth the best it can be for those who want to join and for people to know they are welcome to show up just as they are. It’s work-in-progress but we are here, for you, no matter what your challenges are.
If you would like to sound me out about the Nurturing Birth course and the support we are able to offer then I am more than happy to provide a confidential space – do email me on [email protected]. Alternatively, check out mine and Nurturing Birth Mentor Victoria White’s page @neurodivergentbirth. Even better why not join one of our workshops!