The Violent Birth of The Awareness Baby

LouisaPower & Privilege, What The Matriarch Sees

Anais Nin changes the world from inside out.
One particular winter solstice five years ago saw me chanting om, a small carefully crafted shiva in my hand at the stone circle in Avebury, sincerely hoping that the ascension to a new world was nigh. We called that ascension the age of light–the birth of homo luminous–and by that we referred to the indigenous peoples’ prophecy which spoke of a great transformation. The earth could not sustain humanity as the parasite it had become. The white people with me spoke mainly of love and sustainable ecological practices. Not to undermine the importance of sustainability, but we had an unaware focus. It was an indigenous legend, a fact we conveniently glossed over. Because it is ever more apparent is that the age of light is about equality for intersectional people. And that means dismantling the privilege which has empowered white folk to the detriment of all others, including the earth.

We had no inkling of what that birth would look like and how it would change our world. But we didn’t think it would look like this, because chanting om with your mates was fun, loving and joyful. The changes would be easy and graceful, and the birth of homo luminous didn’t sound painful. We ignored the fact that birth is often painful and violent for both the mother and child. At the time although I didn’t realise it, that stone shiva planted a seed of awareness in my brain and once there, the conclusion was as predictable as birth is to pregnancy.

There’s been a huge shift in awareness for many people over the last years. It’s affected pop culture, journalism, the economy and far more. Discussions are reaching new people. It’s affected so many of us at a personal level, that we are seeing the consequences both good and bad on global politics. Awareness doesn’t mean though that things have changed. It just means we’re starting to see reality without the veil. That chasm of comfortable ignorance we experienced whilst we were living with the veil, erased intersectional history. Trump wants to make America great again, Theresa May wants to take Britain out of Europe. What they mean is that they want to return to a simpler more ignorant time, one where white people could exploit others–be parasites–without accountability. Abort the awareness baby. Abort.

When I wrote the piece on homo luminous, it was full of naive optimism which I notably chose to end with a quote from Martin Luther King. The symbolism was there if I’d had the eyes to see it. The following year I wrote about post natal anxiety, child rearing, the job market and love. I wrote pieces which barely scratched the surface of our reality. Ironically it was my most popular year as a blogger because my white audience related to what I wrote. My articles whilst controversial, were resonant and didn’t provoke deep discomfort. They didn’t hold us accountable, they talked of our experiences with our eyes. My thinking was embryonic, I was in that early glow of pregnancy and my white friends still spoke to me about my writing, interested in what I had to say but only if it confirmed what their world view.

In 2014 I delved into abuse, alcoholism, and cancer. I wrote about adoption, authenticity and cultural difference. They were all related but I hadn’t yet connected the dots. My awareness child was growing but it was fragmented. My friends asked me why I had to be so introspective. They considered me selfish and self-absorbed. They might as well have said–why must we look at ourselves? But I had a baby growing, she was part of me, I wanted her and I thought about her non-stop.

In 2015, I wrote about changing my stance on non-violence. Violence is part of our humanity and advocating non-violence to the exclusion of anything else is to deny our humanity. Ignoring that violence exists is also erasure of what we and our ancestors have perpetrated. For me, it was like early labour, that time when you can still smile in between the contractions. Still it was a shock how much it hurt; awareness hurts. Intersectional folk had told me, but I hadn’t understood. I could still smile, because I didn’t yet know and understand the extent of the pain and violence in our world. I wrote about assuming power and responsibility for our power. It included not taking other people’s power; not taking up intersectional space. I started to stand against beliefs I thought were wrong as my awareness child moved down inside me. It also saw the handover of my website Postmodern Woman to an intersectional leader because I learned that although I had indeed experienced compounded trauma, I was still privileged and benefited from that privilege in a way that supported me. It was a privilege inaccessible to many people of colour.

Thus in 2016, I started to write about the intersect of trauma and privilege, to a much smaller audience. By that point only a very few of my white friends commented on my blog or followed my awareness pregnancy. They couldn’t stand the unbearable reality of how much pain white people had inflicted and continue to inflict both consciously and unconsciously. They turned away from discussions of race because it meant they had experience the pain of looking at themselves, something I had practiced for four years in preparation for the birth.

So I was in active labour and screaming. I referenced appropriation, ableism and ethics. I was reaching the outer edges of my pain and moved to a place where I spoke about my aware child’s world more than my own. The two worst offenders of white supremacy, Britain and America, crystallized that pain, and the new me crowned. It was the horrendous ring of fire, and broken I pushed myself out.

We’re not even halfway through February in 2017. I’ve written sixteen articles so far on fascism, privilege, and violence. And I’m only just born.

The journey I’ve taken so far, has required enormous self-care of my own unaware pain and suffering. In the beginning I looked to others for help. It hurt, why shouldn’t they help take away my pain? But no one else could do it for me, nor should they have to. It was a lesson in responsibility and I had to own my shit. I understand–but don’t excuse–why many people choose not to look at their own pain, preferring the comfort of ignorance, the focus on their own experience. I’ve been there. I even consider it a necessary path. After all, even when you’re in the golden glow of pregnancy, you don’t want to think about or can’t comprehend that final part, the part that’s necessary to meet your awareness child. Your homo luminous.

Awareness babies are a little like regular babies in that they take everything they want from the host. The power of my unaware self was diminished as it fed my aware self. Perhaps that’s what’s so fearsome for many, they know that their current selves will never be the same again, they will be damaged. And rightly so. All my experience of trauma has nourished my awareness baby. She has taken it, made it her own. She has weighted it in perspective, privilege and intersectionality to create herself in my image, only better. I treasure her. I nurture her. I love her. We’ve still a long way to go but already it was all worth it. And when my white friends complain about my constant preoccupation with her, I realise in sorrow that we stand across a deep divide from one another. I can be the doula, but they must want the child. They must do the pushing. They must experience the pain. And until then we remain divided because I have given birth to my aware self, and they have not.