This episode is absolutely massive, and you’re going to want to take some freakin’ notes people! We’re talking birth, sex, and death. We’re talking about all the ways these three things are held hostage, feelings squashed, surrounded in shame, pushed into the background, not discussed publicly, or not discussed at all, period. I’m breaking down why we’re having no honest, meaningful conversations about birth, sex or death, and how significant our suffering is as a result.
When I first started in Doula work, there was quite literally no conversation around sex and death, intersectionality, any discussion around the milestones, the events, the thresholds, the catalysts in terms of the mainstream Doula Training that was available to me at the time. It was very much a safe Doula Training, and therefore very safe Doula conversation.
Today I share with you what full spectrum doula work looks like for me. I discuss why the hard conversations are so important, why you must know and love yourself before you can even think about holding space for another, and why you need to cut the bullshi$, and work on your self. Immediately. This is an emergency.
— SOME TOPICS WE COVER: —
- We’re all born with an acute awareness of the human experience, it’s up to us as individuals as to how much of this awareness we take with us through into adulthood
- Children have a unique ability to see things as they are and receive the information as it is
- Having the “tough” conversations with your children around sex, birth and death, to inform them, arm them with knowledge and allow them to feel powerful instead of powerless
- Respecting your own bodily autonomy
- Getting out of the “good girl” mentality – this only fosters shame and guilt
- The important conversations that you need to be having with your children, right now
- How our society is so divorced from our own feelings
- Working as a doula means more than just knowing birth, you need to be proficient in tge ways of sex and sensuality
- Bringing humanity back to the human experience
- Every single thing on earth is in a cycle of ebb and flow
- The importance of holding space for another person, especially in sex, birth, and death
- How birth, sex and death are riddled with taboo
- Why we are so afraid of pain, and truly feeling our feelings
— FULL TRANSCRIPT —
Angel Phoenix Arsenal: Things are getting spicy around here and I want you to get a hold of that burn, fuego baby, it is raining dollar signs and all you have got to do to be a part of it is head on over to Apple podcast and leave me a five-star rating and a gleaming review, but only if you are absolutely loving every inch of this series, because authenticity is all I want in my vibration and I do not support faking of any kind when it comes to pleasure.
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When I first started in Doula work, there was quite literally no conversation around sex and death, intersectionality, any discussion around the milestones, the events, the thresholds, the catalysts in terms of the mainstream Doula Training that was available to me at the time. There was no conversations about money. It wasn't really a feminist topic. It was very much a very safe Doula Training, and therefore very safe Doula conversation.
I hope that if I create anything, and all it does, and the only purpose it serves is to give you something that is challenging the status quo, and gives you as perhaps a passionate birth nerd who has zero intention of working in this line of work, or somebody who is serving as a level of Sherpa or confidant or coach across all of these catalysts, something that is just really remarkable and layered and dynamic, then my work really feels like I've amounted to something. That's really all I've been aiming to do in the last few years is create something that I hadn't found that wasn't available to me and that I just worked so feverishly to allow the same level of self-actualization as a Doula and as a person to myself.
I'm going to give you a little bit of an introduction as to who I am. My name is Angel Phoenix Arsenal. Previously, I was known as Angela Gallo. Only recently, I made the decision to change my name and really reclaim my personal power by embodying a name that actually felt like me that did not have any attachment to past trauma or past sadness or past frustration, something that felt like my identity, my true identity, something that felt like I was honoring the women who had come before me, including my mother and my grandmother.
Now, I go by Angel Phoenix. Feel free to call me Ange, everyone still calls me Ange. That was very much intentional, but I just want you to bear in mind that I'm no longer going by Angela, I had never had any intention of working in Doula work per se. This is work that found me and it was essentially the pregnancy and birth of my daughter that introduced me to all of this from the get-go.
Now, that being said, from a very, very, very young age, I have always been fascinated by sex and death, always. That might sound macabre and it might sound very strange, but these are parts of me that I very much squashed because everyone around me told me that that was, "Oh, we're not going to go there and that is taboo. No, no, no, that is terrible and that's terrifying, and what are people going to think of you." It really caused me to crush and suffocate the parts of me that were absolutely seeing the vital importance of those experiences on the spectrum of the human experience, which of course I've only come to learn as I went into Doula work and birth work.
Thing is funny, in hindsight, is how the universe knew that I was already going to be in a place to receive the information and share the information around sex and death. It was really that I needed to learn what I learned about birth and about rebirth as a woman, as a person, as a business owner, as a lover and all of those things in order to amalgamate them and turn them into the trifecta that I'm using now.
I went to a career day for high school, and I was going to a career day for high school. I don't know if anyone's done this before, but essentially you fill in this little questionnaire and they asked you a couple of things and they say, "Well, you're best suited to go do this thing at the car wash, or you're best suited to do this thing and this blah, blah, blah." Naturally, none of those things suited me. The black sheep in me was like, "Nope, I am not having a part in that. Thank you very much." I must have been all of 14 years old.
Ever since I was young, I was very passionate about a few select things, sex which is not something you talk about anyone when you're a kid, so I wasn't going to talk about that. Extrasensory perception, which is what I did my science experiments on every single year. If anybody knows what extrasensory perception is, please Google it. You're going to have a huge giggle, and essentially all things; death, ghosts, spirits, souls, all of it.
I went to my guidance counselor, and I said, "All right, Mr. Guidance Counsellor, I actually want to go and--" It's just so funny saying it out loud, because I could just imagine my guidance counselor, "I would like to go and spend a day with a thanatologist." and he said, "Excuse me, what's a thanatologist?" I was like, "Oh, you know, it's actually it's the person who embalms the bodies and it's the individual who works in the morgue and da, da, da. it's the person who celebrates the life of that person by really honoring them through that embalming process and creating an aesthetic for them so that da, da, da." This is like a young teenager saying this and he almost rolled over on his chair.
First of all, nobody in that school had ever wanted to go for a day with a thanatologist, but I did, and I went there and something about that felt so just absurdly intriguing to me. All of it, all of it, all of it. Now because I was very clairsentient and clairvoyant at the time, truth be told, the only reason I didn't go through with it is because I was genuinely scared about not being able to be around the presence of perhaps lingering energy or spirits or entities or whatever you want to call them. I actually left that behind, but I seriously consider that as a career.
Anyways, I went to do this day and then since then, this has been a real silent obsession with mine. That's much like sex went un-nurtured, and so what ended up happening is I grew up with two very distinct fears and lingering shame around sex and death, but specifically for me growing up as an Italian Catholic child, who was stifled from the get-go to fit in some kind of mold and be that Mambo Italiano, perfect little girl and all the kind of thing, I truly mean that I felt like an alien in my own body. I did not understand why no one around me wanted to have these conversations.
When your body-- right? So as humans, I'm talking about biological imperative and spiritual imperative, you're actually born with an acute awareness of the human experience. This is why children you often hear things about their ability to see and be present and understand things in a way that we don't because they don't have that crippling fear and that shame.
They're very much innocent and they're coming through and they're understanding this and they're able to see things, and so as that infant and that child grows up, we pummel they're not naivety but their eagerness to see the human experience for what it is. This is where you really start to see the menstrual shame, the sexual shame, and of course the avoidance of death at all costs until someone they know dies.
The irony in this is that many parents will tell you, "I am doing this to protect my child. They are not ready to hear this information," and yet, everybody is so eager to tell their kids about the Easter Bunny and Santa and all of these characters that don't even fucking exist. We're willing to let them believe in this reality until it suits us until we want them to grow up quickly instead of actually believing that children have a very unique ability to see things as they are and receive the information as it is in order to actually create an emotional landscape where they can thrive. Then, spoiler fucking alert, they are exactly the kinds of individuals who move into gestation, birth, and parenting with a completely different lens. They're seeing people who move into death with a profoundly different lens.
For me, everything that I am realizing comes down to every which way that you either harbor that shame or stay stuck in that fear or are told to resent the thing or avoid the thing when it comes to birth, death and sex, is the exact thing that has created an almost impossibility of birth defying the odds of actually birthing and dying in a way that feels not just ethical, I'm talking about enjoyable and pleasurable, and so rewinding back to sex and rewinding back to the ways that we see death and we see the process and cycle of life is huge.
Even when the Lion King came out in the cycle of life and all this kind of stuff, and these conversations are knocking into my head, but nobody wants to have the conversation about death with me, but Disney is shoving it down my throat. In fact, I actually as a highly sensitive person, was so shook from movies like Bambi and the Lion King, because nobody had the conversations with death about me and they were leaving it up to Disney to parent me about romance and about death in a way that was sheltered and digestible for a child, which of course left me to my own devices, and of course set me up for so much in the future.
This is the kind of conversation that I want you to start really thinking about and going back and really reflecting like, "Holy good Jolly, like--" so until someone is about to lose their virginity, I hate that word, so about to have sex or they are on deathbed, nobody will actually prepare them with the conversation that creates the emotional landscape in order for them to actually enjoy that experience, and feel truly empowered in their decision-making process and honor and respect their own bodily autonomy.
I was 14 when my friend was murdered. This was the first experience that I had with death, and then this set the tone for everything that happens next. Imagine, I wanted to be a thanatologist, and now, everyone fumble that out of me and told me to stop seeing things and stop believing in things. I left this part of me in terms of the clairsentient stuff a long time ago.
Going into her funeral with the open casket and seeing her body and feeling things so intensely there and just sobbing, in hindsight, I wonder how different that experience would have been for me if someone would have just had really beautiful conversations with me about death. Also, the fury and the anger that I felt towards the person who killed her, there was no safe place for me to have that conversation, nobody had that conversation with me.
It's very interesting because when you are denied this stuff from the parents and the people in your life who think they're protecting you, you really end up putting your children in a position where, as someone said, they have the conversations later in life and it is too little too late. Now when it comes to sexuality and sensuality, it's very, very normal for this kind of surge to start to come through between four and six-years-old for a little girl.
The moment that you are showing something that perhaps would make someone feel uncomfortable or would frighten your parents because they're worried about you being objectified and hypersexualized, this is something that would have been squashed, "Don't do that. Good girls don't do that," et cetera, et cetera. Those are certainly things that I have had to very much bring to the forefront and heal so that as my daughter turns six this year, I'm creating a safe space for her to feel and do these things. Now my daughter is exactly like me, exactly like me.
I am able to heal so much of my own suppression and all of my self-squashing and all of the ways that I was squashed by the people who were supposed to take care of me by simply creating spaces for her to have these conversations with me. She's been very aware of sex and sensuality and that energy probably since she's four and a half. I could see that in the way that she danced, in the way that she would feel her body, in the things that she would say.
I've always been encouraging that, because if you teach your children to feel shameful of their essence at that age, if you teach them to feel shameful of their vitality, if you teach them to really squander away from that level of awareness and connection, how in the world are we supposed to do damage control after 10, 20 years in the birth space? How are we supposed to teach them when it's too late and they're in the rife places of body dysmorphia and eating disorders and self-loathing?
Do not think for a moment that the conversations that you need to have that you're avoiding with your children and the ways that you're trying to protect them are actually going to be complicit in the ways that they do not live the full spectrum of the human experience later in life. One interesting experience for me was that my grandfather was dying, and he was very unwell. I had never seen someone this unwell ever in my life. He was a survivor of World War II. He was a prisoner of war. I was told that I was crazy so many times that I actually convinced myself that this didn't happen for years.
That's how the gas-lighting in these kinds of arenas, but I went to go see him. He's really unwell. We drove home from New Brunswick, and I had this really strange dream. I got up in the morning and I said to my mom, "I had this dream and granddad was sitting on the edge of my bed." She said, "He died last night." This feeling of like, "Wait a second, hold on." This real crossroads of, "Whoa, hold on a second." Thankfully, my mother was always the kind of person who secretly explored that level of herself, and so I didn't feel so much crazy with her, but it was everyone around me that made me feel that way, and so I stepped away from it.
These experiences with death and these experiences with sexuality and my grandmother caught me masturbating, and she told me that was revolting and that the punishment that I would get from this is the nightmares that I had because I would lucid dream so intensely. This real concoction of things that had me disassociate from my abilities to think and to feel and to be in my body. Then that was compounded when I got my period. I had my first period when I was quite young, so 9 or 10-years-old. Feeling so ill-equipped to exist in my own body and manage this and roll with this. My mother had me on-- She didn't know any better, birth control very, very young.
If you look at all of the ways that I was taken out of my body, taken out of what it was meant to feel like to be alive and to know, be acutely aware of all of these, can directly be correlated to the ways I suffered in isolation, the ways that I felt everything I felt, the company that I kept, the freaking trials and the challenges. Although I'm so grateful for every single thing that I've lived, I can absolutely tie every single thing together. I can also look at the ways that as a society, we are so divorced from our feelings and so obsessed with holiness and immortality that it is almost this all-consuming theme that takes us away from what it is and means and feels to be human.
Now, as Doulas working in the realms of everything that is a human experience, you better fucking believe that you cannot for a moment assume that you can be a Doula in birth without being proficient in sex and sensuality. You cannot for a second believe that you can be trusted to be the gatekeeper of first breath and birth if you are avoiding conversations or thinking or people or everything that has to do with the last breath of death.
At this moment in time, our inability to be present for all of these immensely profound, highly charged emotionally charged moments means that those who are on deathbed are often in complete isolation with no company and they're put in homes, quite literally quarantined off to die in hospice, and doesn't that echo exactly what we do in birth, in the exact same ways that we sterilize birth, in the exact same ways that we used to put babies in quarantine rooms, or we took babies away from their mothers and parents, and the ways that we have chosen to do things so quietly and so discreetly instead of actually feeling the full spectrum of them?
As a result of that, everything has been affected. As a result of that, we're looking at birth and death and the roar and the rapture of pleasure and sex and sensuality in which it moves right at that spiral essence. All of that has been lobotomized. All of that has been sterilized. Now, we're moving into a realm of transhumanism, really that's what it comes down to.
My concern is that if Doulas are not versed in how to bring the humanity back to the human experience, they're absolutely complicit in the direction that our world is taking right now which is very much transhumanism, which is that dystrophic reality, which is the step you're looking in terms of black mirror. All of the ways that we believe technology and not feeling and being AI and not having to be bothered with feelings and being more productive and being detached from our reality is the way of the future and is the happiest way to live. That's simply not true.
I've kind of been doing a lot of thinking about, "Okay, so how do I help people be versed in all of this?" because so many are harboring this very intense shame, trauma, abuse, history, religious, cultural context. It is just fractured. It is fragmented. It is toxic. We're talking about unlearning feelings that we have been sipping in like a tea bag left in a glass of water moldy for a hundred years. This is a very, very, very huge work. To me, it really just comes down to, "All right, let me just have the basic conversation about life and how birth, death, and sex buy into it.
You should hear the conversations that I'm having with my kids about-- even space. I'm talking about energetic space, physical space, bodily autonomy, respecting the other person, communication, what it means to views pleasure as the actual focal points for everything versus safety. So many of us are focused on this conversation which is physiological versus surgical, and mechanical versus organic. For me, it really just comes down to, "Does this feel good? Let's do it." The world sees that as hedonistic. If you are seeking pleasure, you're hedonistic. You are selfish.
We have all bought into this really martyred, Virgin Mary archetype because we are so worried that we might be the whore. We might fall into that place where everybody wants to fuck us, but nobody wants to love us. All of that will stem from childhood and all of that will stem from what we've learned. Yes, it's extremely layered. If I can have the conversation with my kids about that now and really help them to develop their own identity and embrace everything it is that they are, they're much less likely to move into living into an archetype that makes them feel like they're suffocating. These are parts of us.
Please listen to me when I say this. Every single thing on this planet moves in cycle and ebb and flow, no exception. Every single thing on this planet is in a constant state of bloom and harvest and decay and death and rebirth and life, everything. There is no exceptions, right? We're in a constant state of creation. This cycle just goes and goes and goes and goes. We are fertile in a thousand other ways other than just baby-makers. We are powerful beyond just the roles that society has kind of catapulted us into.
If you could show your children what it means to honor these cycles and understand that energy and that essence and where it's coming from and how they feel when certain moves are here and what their belief can do for them and how certain parts of their body do this and feel this, you are honoring them with a level of knowledge and wisdom that they will literally carry with them for life and help them to fight for when the time comes down and somebody tries to disrespect them or take away, breach on their human rights or argue the integrity or the autonomy of their body, because they'll know what at stake.
If you remove this opportunity from your children and the people around you and your clients when the time comes, they don't know what they're fighting for, so they go into that submissive defeated mode and just hand it over. Everything that I'm writing in the Masks We Wear is literally about the journey, the excavation I'm doing at the moment to heal my mother and her wounds and heal my own, so that my daughter and my son have the first opportunity in 10, 11, 12 generations to rewrite and create their own lineage and break that epigenetic curse and really bring them to a place where all of these conversations are had for the first time.
I'm talking about the beginning of our family history. That is that responsibility, that capability, that ability to pioneering your paradigm for the people that you love simply by showing them that feeling is not a curse and that being is not a curse and that seeking out the thing in which brings you life and brings you lie is actually the ways they should be living.
Did you know that I run a series of group coaching master classes around Melbourne, Australia, and the world? Did you want to hang out, hug me, smell me, sniff me, cry with me and make some major realizations? Then you might want to check out angelagallo.com under the events and speaking tabs where you can find all the juicy details on where I will be next upcoming September 27, Melbourne evening master class. Rich bitches make that money honey is in evening mixer, margarita's with all of the conversation surrounding money, how to make it, how to spend it, how to earn it, everything in between. Mostly, just really breaking up with your bullshit relationships around money and teaching you how to reimagine the archetype of abundance goddess. See you there.
I read the most beautiful thing recently and it makes me want to weep thinking about it. It was saying about what if the ways that you die is the ring of fire that brings you into the actual birth, the crowning into the next life. Imagining that cycle, how beautiful that might be and how beautiful and poetic it is that everyone who is most vulnerable and who is feeling so intensely and who needs us, who is reliant on us to care for them, and that is the most elderly and fail, and that is those who are being born and taking their first breath and brand new, they are existing in a system and a setting that is doing everything, but equipping them with the space that's going to help them just be without the adrenaline, without the cortisol, without the fear and just feel what it means to be loved and to be seen and to be heard the day you were born and the day that you die.
I've always told myself this, is that if I ever found myself in a position where somebody was hit by a bus in front of me or if something happened that I would not leave until I kept the gate of the moment that they left this planet and then I would not leave them there. Because the ways that I feel so devoted to making sure that people are seen and heard in birth, it mirrors so much to the ways that I want people to feel seen and heard as they die. The ways that I want people to have choices in birth as to how they birth and how everything unfolds there is exactly how I want people to feel in death. They should choose when they die and they should decide who is around them and they should decide to die at home and people should decide to birth at home.
It makes me emotional, reimagining the culture where we literally have to bring this back to the hearse of existence, right? You look at the fire in a home, the place that everyone gathers to stay warm and feel connected and share stories. So many of us in our cultures, everything is lost. Everything is lost and for what? For what? Surely, there is a medium. Surely, this cannot just build technology in the guise of safety, right? As I start to piece together the ways in which birth and death and sex are intertwined, I just started to be blown away with the absolutely obvious, almost excruciatingly obvious ways that they're interlinked.
Each of these experiences, every time I say each of this, I mean birth, death, and sex, each of this will cause you to internalize lives either a grappling fear or total obsession. That of which you feel on the inside, but you don't talk about. These are things that so many of us have deal within. For me, for example, I felt so attracted to death as a young person, was made to feel so strange about it and I was so scared that I didn't have the people around me, that I compartmentalized it. I bury them, ironically. Excuse the pun.
Now, as a result of that, this fear of death after my children were born was prominent, it almost consumed me some days. My mortality was something that kept me up at night, genuinely terrified. You can ask my best friend, I would literally just say, "I just stayed up for three hours thinking about dying and having my babies here." So many people would say, "That's normal, your children, you're programmed to be hyper-vigilant and aware to care for them." and I said, "No, actually, there's so much more to this here, there's a level of spirituality that's calling my attention." That pain and that fear was calling my attention and I just wasn't listening.
Now this year, realizing that "Oh my gosh, the ways that I excessively compulsively thought about death and feared it was actually my body telling me, "Go to that place, put light in that shadow," and this is me coming home back to that feeling. Each of these events you will spend avoiding in a bid to choose the right time in which you will partake in it. Whether religion, your teachers, your parents, people around you, they'll tell you when's the right time to have a baby, when's the right time to give birth, when's the right time to have sex, when you should never have sex, when you can't have sex, when's the right time to die. Let's talk about superannuation, let's not entertain death unless it's in the discussion of retirement savings.
Each of these is a unique assault on the senses, that leaves the person vulnerable, and therefore able to be manipulated because the people on the outside can use those fears against that human to make them make XYZ decision, okay? That assault on their senses is that in birth, death and sex, we have assault and rape, so sexual assault and rape in birth, assault and rape that causes death quite literally. Humans are so fearful of all of this that they have stopped entertaining any level of joy as they focus on staying safe instead. We've paralyzed you with the fear of assault and rape and death in birth and in sex, and it's because that leads to death, that you are just eager to choose safety over pleasure in any of these scenarios.
Each of these is massively stigmatized and riddled with taboo, birth, death and sex, taboo fucking central. Each of these is veiled in an illusion of choice and sterilized into a factory setting whereby those who seek true choice and autonomy over their body are vilified. For example, choosing to die on your own terms and being fully supported by professionals who respect you as a human capable and deserving of so is in your impossible feat that remains controversial and illegal in many places still. This could be said about free birth and non-assisted birth, as well as choices to birth full fucking stop where freedom to birth on your own terms is a cluster fuck of political discussion, and I mean actual cluster fuck, and opinions that limit the actual person living the experience.
In sex, we see this deep into sex work, rape as a weapon of war and sex is a form of loyalty and servitude. The suppression of sex, the suppression of expression as a result, and whatever free will we have here gets used against us too. The control of birth and death and sex is ultimately the total control of pleasure. This is the system's way of playing dictatorship over your joy and your freedom, right?
In birth, and sex and in death, you have an opportunity to taste a level of freedom and power that you cannot feel anywhere else. This is intentionally kept from you, because we're telling you that staying safe is more important than knowing yourself and feeling free within yourself and developing expression and confidence and capability.
Neither birth, sex or death is supposed to be inherently painful, right? Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances, that's just the risk of life. A lot of that is man-made, by the way. Neither of these is supposed to be deliberately painful or isolating or sad because they exist as rites of passage meant to expand us and as such be celebrated, right? Each of these has been tarnished and tainted and washed in holy water and crucified as sin, and actually made to feel like the thing in which you just have to deal with because it's unavoidable. It's like a part of the thing, like paying taxes, so whatever. "It's there, let's not talk about it, everyone has to do it, let's get on with the show."
Then on the other hand, you have it where it's literally used against you so that you fall in line and you do what it is you need to do. Birth is the curse of women, literally. Bleed is the burden, right? We know this. We look at sex and this is something that you did in servitude and to procreate. Then you look at death and death was quite literally the wrath of God, and we've actually taken away from the ceremony and the ritual and the rite of passage of each of these as a result.
Each of these events can be seen as punishment or curse to the sinner, so Mary, what I just said. Each of these brings us closer to our power and purpose, which is precisely, as I said before, why it's been downplayed, or something that you can't or couldn't possibly make a decision about on your own terms, so required validation or permission from outside forces.
You go looking for experts on what you should already know about yourself everywhere else. I need someone to help me have sex and feel okay in my body and heal this and do this, and I need someone to help me give birth and I need someone to help me die or we've got to hire all these people, and so we've taken these unique experiences out of the hands of the person, and as a result handed over the power to somebody else. Each of these has a black market underground or unlicensed level of professionals serving as gatekeepers or service providers who hold this space.
There's actually a lot of cultism and mysticism in each of these. Because we know that when you are experiencing a level of authentic, I mean authentic. Don't talk to me about natural, I mean authentic, embodied pleasure in birth and sex and death. There is something that is otherworldly there. You feel like you are literally walking between worlds. You're crossing dimensions, like your soul is cracking open. We know that there's so much writing about this in so many languages and so many cultures from people who have experienced this. There are shamans who talk about this all the time, and so there's so much potential there to be explored.
I actually believe that in every one of these events, there is the opportunity to tell the whole story of the humans' potential in one breath. Each of these events also acts and depicts the cornerstones of the cycle that everything on this planet experiences in their own right. When I talk about full-spectrum Doula work, this is what full-spectrum Doula work looks like to me, the intersectionality of the things that we have severed and turned into, "Let's not talk about it," and how I bring those altogether and how they relate to the different kinds of people living them in all these different ways.
This is why I love Doula work, because it's not about just learning about one set of things and then thinking that that set of things and that paperwork is going to make you a good person and a good Doula. It's about actually learning everything it is you need to know about yourself so that you can go on and help people self-actualize in the same capacity.
My grandparents, I remember them literally begging to leave the hospital, begging. I will never forget that, them being unwell and just saying I want to go and then not being able to be discharged. In hindsight, years later, looking at the works that I do here and the exact correlation to being allowed to birth, being allowed to what? Having to just get on your back like the good girl and die the way we want you to die because of litigation and paperwork. That fuels so much of what I'm doing now because you cannot fucking put protocols and policies around birth and death.
In birth, we take away all your choices and we tell you that that's how we keep you alive and we know that that's not the truth. There are people dying all the time, but that's what we tell you. Then in death, I think, "Why in the world are we doing this in death when the person is going to die? What's the aim?" The quality of life is like medication based. This is a prison of clean sheets, but actually for me it's dying with dignity and birthing with dignity, and therefore be able to have sex with dignity and be able to really love yourself and respect yourself and how those are all tied together.
What happens if I embrace the bleed that follows birth in the ways that I did not allow my body to honor my first bleed in menarche? What happens if I say hello to death? What happens if I don't dramatise what death could look like and actually lean into what level of awareness that would give me if I did? It makes me feel sad when I know deep within me how many people are deprived of this level of knowing and awareness and connectedness to themselves because they're avoiding sex and they're avoiding death and they're avoiding birth, because they are just so terrified for all of these reasons. When we avoid death, we avoid the potential of rebirth. Rebirth is where we self-actualize. It is not possible to grow as a human if you do not lean into that cycle and die to allow for the rebirth of what comes next. When people ask me about, "Angela, how do I scale my business? Angela, how do I get to the next spiritual Echelon? Angela, how do I become the next person I want to be?"
It's like, "Okay, how do you kill the person you are now? How do you say yes to the death of your ego right now? How do you leave everything you have behind right now? How do you say yes to death and renewal, because that is where it is?" The breakdown and the breakthrough. The death and the rebirth. Is the thing that you're born from. This is the whole mythology with the Phoenix. The coming that literally spontaneously combusting.
How dramatic is the spontaneous combustion, the flames, and being born from those ashes into something that is of mythological proportions? The hero's journey, it is something that you will only access if you say yes to death. If you are a midwife or a doula, an obstetrician, even if I can funeral parlor person. A sex therapist, I don't care. If you have not embraced this process, you are a liar. You are selling people a solution that looks good on paper.
Would you hire a personal trainer who hates exercise and is offended by partial nudity or sweat when you know that you're going to be half-naked, you're going to be sweating, you're going to be groaning? You're not going to look like your most attractive self. No. How would you feel about hiring a childminder who was revolted by children and germs? Would you consider hiring a sex, love, relationship coach or therapist or whoever it is, who actually has no understanding of the intricacies of sex and love and relationships because it's the last priority on their list, and because they believe that understanding it as a conceptualized idea and what it means to understand it on paper is good enough.
How would you feel trusting somebody who works in sex, love, and relationships, who has no fucking personal experience or idea or depth to the actual breath they've lived in those realms? Imagine engaging the services of a funeral parlor who thought of death as nothing more than an inevitable truth, and that those mourning were being dramatic because tough luck, that's how life is. When I lay out these descriptions and analogies point-blank, I'm doing that for a reason because I want you to draw the comparisons of how 98%, that's not a real number, I'm just hyperbolic, of midwives, and doulas, and paramedics, obstetricians, whoever it is, are living that same level of hypocrisy.
Might you consider that hiring a doula or a midwife or an obstetrician who is suppressing their own sexuality or sensuality, and who is repulsed by any part of their body that is strictly used for pleasure, who cannot make any sense out of a woman's body or a person with a uterus, beyond mechanical procreation purposes. Who has been on hormonal birth control since they were 16, and have absolutely no understanding of their natural cycle and in turn, zero reverence for their bleed, who, all the while allowing no room in their scope and services for the unseen, the Tour de France.
The supremely spiritual and connected forces that cannot be calculated, that will never be calculated in anything but orgasms, and roars and tears, because I literally wouldn't go near any of these people, any of them. That means whether I'm hiring a personal trainer, or a psychologist, or a coach, or a plumber, it does not make any sense to, for example, hire a boat where the captain has an attitude, a personal ethos, a value system that is completely against the nature and the majesticness of what it means to be on the open ocean.
There is a level of responsibility that comes with gatekeeping these titleless moments. There is a level of responsibility that comes with if I'm going to get paid. If I'm going to be trusted, to help guide somebody else with warmth and with love, and I'm going to make someone feel seen and heard through moments that are just so unbelievably complicated and individualistic. There is a responsibility that comes with, "Hey, you know what, Angel, you've now got to look within yourself and recognize that the work starts here. This is something that I harp on. Oh my gosh, so much to my doula students, so much. Why now as I move into creating a full spectrum doula training, it's like a no brainer, because this whole time, it's been a full spectrum doula training. I intentionally didn't create just a birth training, because I could not stand speaking to people who are coming into wanting to train, because I don't let everybody into the program who wanted to come in and train and who literally had the most terrible relationships with themselves, with their strength, with their sexuality.
It is not possible. If we despise everything that which makes us, we are never going to be happy because we hate ourselves. We are never going to change. This is who we are, this is our body. The inner workings of our mind and our soul and our brain and our everything is not going to fucking change. Why not lean into it and challenge the way the system has now decided that moving towards transhumanism which is robotic, artificial intelligence, and not feeling anything is not going to serve us.
I want to read you a poem that I wrote yesterday thinking about this. If bleed is the burden, and birth is the curse, and death is the culmination of every kind of slow tortures fear coming to a boil, and you are programmed to hate every single thing about you that makes you human. A human living a non-human experience. Every single thing you have stands no chance, because running away from everything it is that you are, everything that makes up the fiber of your existence is not possible, including the lover of life, breathing air, and vitality to every limb at any given moment of every day. Then let that sit with you for a moment.
That you have been told your whole life to feel shameful, be fearful and hate the very thing that defines your being, that keeps your body alive, and that makes you human. None of us have a chance if we hate the thing in which we are. I write this because if you look at blood, at any second, there is blood, moving, coursing, sending oxygen, taking care of you.
We just forgo any appreciation of it really, because, oh, it's just air and I'm breathing and it's a given. Then we look at the ways that menstrual shame for example, the ways we make young girls and young people who bleed hate their bleed, be ashamed of their bleed. Then later in life, we sell you the horror movie, but then we make you terrified of blood because blood means death. You are subconsciously waging a war between that in which you are terrified of, and that in which you need to love because it is you and it is life. That's problematic. We're talking about a cellular, like wiring. A circuitry board that is constantly fighting, scared, repulsed.
There needs to be a marriage, there needs to be a fusion. There needs to be an acknowledgment. When you get cut, my gosh, the alarm bells go on. Even at daycare, I see my kids, they get a little cut, "Oh my God, let's clean it. Let's get a Band-Aid on it." Nobody wants to see blood. [screams] What happens? My children think that bleeding is like the worst thing that can happen to you and death's knocking on your door. They then start to create this relationship with blood as if blood is this terrible thing.
Blood is always an indication of emergency, and blood is always an indication of weakness and vulnerability. Me having to really recondition their mindset on this, as like Sunny said that blood is life. That actually the superhero you see on TV, you have superhuman healing abilities. Then every time you bleed, you're actually given a privileged view into the window of that which keeps you alive. That which keeps you humble and appreciative that you are not immortal.
That every breath is a gift. This is the kind of stuff that we are creating a culture with. Your blood is dirty. Right? Look at how many biblical references say that you cannot eat certain foods or be around women when they are bleeding. There is so much here that has made you hate everything you are and then we've made you hate yourself because sex.
Then we made you so terrified of death that you are willing to give everything to not be afraid of it and the irony is that we're all going to die. None of us live forever, ever. None of us. We romanticize and we fantasize and we get distracted in ideas about vampires and immortality. We get distracted about conversations, all terrible women getting botox. Why don't they just age gracefully? Maybe it's not about the fact that they don't want to age gracefully. Maybe it's because you've made them fucking terrified of dying. Let's look at the ways that we bring back the cycle to everything.
Then we create these healthy conversations and these places, that we change the ways that people die. I really, really do honestly believe beyond the statement of peace on earth begins with birth. I honestly believe that if we look at all of the injustice and inequity and just disillusion and absolute manipulation and of course that's happening in birth and in sex and in death. If we solve all of those problems, we can actually change the world.
If you are a birth worker and you have a problem with sex work, check yourself. If you have a problem with the ways that women are kept safe as they make decisions about how they make their money and experience pleasure and have sex, check yourself. If you cannot support a woman or person while they make decisions about their body and their life, in every other area besides birth, you're a hypocrite. That is selective doulaing and I'm not interested in that.
If you are the kind of person who thinks that old people are gross and that when your parents are old, you're just going to put them in a home because you can't be bothered cleaning their diapers, and you have it already all mapped out about how you're going to send your mom and your dad and everybody else somewhere far away because you can't stand death and death makes you sick and that hospital smell like death and you are being trusted to hold space in the place that people are born, check yourself. If you are unable to create moments for yourself to cry and to come and to scream like you mean it, check yourself.
If you are not able to use this level of intellect and look into all of these major moments and see how divorced we are from pleasure and how that impacts our ability to be alive and love each other, check yourself. You would be surprised to know how many obstetricians and midwives, I don't get any bad messages by the way ever anymore. It's been two and a half years, knock on wood since I have received any message from any obstetrician or any midwife or any person in the medical profession, questioning what I do, nothing. Not even so much as a bad word.
At the beginning, it might have been easy because I was weak and I was submissive and I would say something and I'd backtrack because was that not politically correct or am I offending someone or "Oh my God."? Until I realized that the behavior I was modeling to my children was that they can't back themselves. They can't back what they feel and they can't back what they see and that their lens is skewed and they're crazy, by actually not backing myself.
Now, having the conversations I have causes people in this line of work to really look within themselves and now I say, "It's not the system that's sick, it's the people that are sick."
It's the people and their disassociation and their disconnectedness to themselves, their apathy, their shame, and their fear, that's actually what's fucked up the system. We can all talk about it being corruption and greed and the economics because that definitely plays a part, but I do believe that.
If you knew how many midwives I've worked with, how they feel about a woman's autonomy, outside of the birth space, how they feel about sex, you would understand everything. Every red flag that would have went up before that and then you would have been like, "Oh my God, it's true." Yes, that person was not the person to be at my birth because they have some fucking serious problems.
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Angel: If you love somebody, the way that you see your baby and even on days where you just hate them, let's be honest, you're over it, you still take care of them and you still get up and you still choose and you still stay committed and you still stay devoted because they need you. They need you to nurture, to be nurtured and to thrive and you do that and you hate poop. Do you know how many parents tell me that? "I hated poo and I hated blood and I hated all this stuff, and then I had a baby and everything was fine." This is the cycle of life. The cycle of life is that you are born incontinent and dependent and spiritually open.
You move through life with a bunch of masks living in a world of pretenses, perfectly carved illusion of what it means to live and what productivity means and all these sorts of things that are bullshit. Then as you age and you move into that place, that grandfather place, that really wise crone part of your life and you realize that you are moving towards a place where you are no longer able to take care of yourself.
Then one day you wake up and you become the newborn again and you're incontinent and someone's changing you diapers and you're vulnerable and you're dependent and you are spiritually open, but the gift that you have at that point in time should you have it is that the baby doesn't carry that memory on a conscious level. They're conditioned out of it, they lose it. You have so much experience, so much wisdom, and so much 'I've got nothing left to lose' at the end of your life that it is a shame if you do not take that and make it count for something. Right?
As doulas imagine what you could do if you just created a safe space for someone to shit themselves and cry and be vulnerable and be their naked honest herself and ask for help and receive help whilst being that spiritually open. Like in birth, we know this, it's psychedelic, it's transformative. When people walk the place between worlds, something insane happens. This is in sex as well. Have you ever experienced squirting or gushing? It's a level of incontinence. It's a loss of control and the best things in life happen is when you let go.
When you lose control, control is an illusion. It makes you feel like a better civilian and a better person. As a doula, fuck your idea of control because actually, you need to be coming to the place at the space and just telling people, "Control doesn't matter here. I just want you to let go. I want you to move into a place of unlimited receivership. I want you to let me take care of you and just hold space for you and just see you," see you in a way where I see your ability to walk between those worlds.
Why are people still experiencing their sexual desires, the things that bring them joy, their pleasure in hiding? Why is the internet their sexual education? Why is it 2019 and the clitoris was only just researched last year. You don't think that's strange? You don't think it's strange that nobody's having conversations about death and no one was having conversations about birth until recently.
It is our responsibility as gatekeepers to tie these three together. It is our responsibility to look at each of these and see the people moving through them at any given moment in time and it doesn't require much, it really doesn't require much at all. There are different kinds of people dying and being born at any moment and on a planet, that is as overpopulated, as is complicated as this, as this associated and sick with disconnection as this, there is so much work that you can be making that is profound.
What I am hoping to do, is continue to evolve my program in the ways it's been evolving, the ways that I'm evolving, and continuing to show up and mature and grow and share the rose parts of myself, the most poetic parts of myself and the warmest parts of myself and the most vulnerable parts of myself, the juiciest parts of myself. By showing up as the whole me, I allow you to be confronted by the thing that needs paying attention to.
By showing up as myself in this program, I'm able to push you to see that you cannot actually help people to the fullest capacity you could help them if you are not first doulaing yourself into self-actualization. This is huge. I want people to be fucking, loving, kissing, dancing, birthing and dying like they mean it. I want them to say yes to every one of these moments, to moments they choose, not moments anybody forces on them. That really brings them to a place where they're able to say yes to life in the way that we're asking them, to say yes to every contraction and search.
Life does not stop moving, it keeps going and at any second, everything can be taken away from you. Avoiding these fears, avoiding this level of work, avoiding this level of self-reflection only deprives you of creating a legacy that changes your children's lives and allows them to see the world in a different light. Stop fucking around. I know it's painful. I get it. I know it's challenging. I know it's frustrating. I know it's agonizing.
I know but I've seen too many hypocrites doing more harm than good and too many people trying to figure out what is wrong with the system and what is wrong with everything and nobody wants to say, "It's us. It's us, we're the problem." Nobody wants to say it's us. Everyone's going to continue populating these ideas of birth wars, and dying with dignity versus, "Well, we're going to just force you to stay in the hospital and let's just tell you who to have sex with and not have sex with. Let's just get really focused on protocols and parameters and rules, instead of looking within themselves and saying, 'How can I take responsibility for what is already going on and what happens next?"
It will always start with you. How do you look at yourself in a reflection? How do you honor your body? How do you create moments to mindfully appreciate what you're doing and what you're capable of. Even just going to the toilet, none of us appreciate going to the toilet until we literally have no more control over that. None of us appreciate anything until it's taken away from us. This is how we work and it's always hindsight, it's clear in-- looking at it now, don't be that person.
I made a promise to myself that I'm never going to be that person. I'm going to be that person who literally says, "No hindsight is not clear at all, hindsight is more poetic for sure but I made sure that every single moment I lived on this cycle of life, in my existence was exactly the way I intended it to be at that moment in time because I said yes to what made me feel good and alive and I said no to whatever made me feel shameful or fearful or deprived."
It's very, very simple, so, as birth workers, how are you going to do that? I have a few books coming out. I have, The Doula of You, which is going to be talking about so much of this, so much of this. The Nurse We Were, the Obliteration of Motherhood, Martyrdom, and Misogyny and then I also have my upcoming book of poetry. If you are interested in any of these, head to my website, there's going to be lots of beautiful, amazing stuff happening.
When you are actually studying with me and my Dan will do the training program online or in person, we talk about all of this by the way. It's all excavation, deep personal excavation, high-level coaching and you learn how to coach people with sex and sensuality and birth and death, first of all. It's really, really important that you look at this in terms of the excavation, actually creates the space for you to hold space in a sincere and soulful way.
Imagine that all the excavation you do with yourself and with me, hopefully, acts as a chip or a little something that's taking away whatever is blocking your sight and then the more excavation you do, and the more bulldozing you do, the clear that site is and the clear that site is, the better support you are. If you are a midwife and you are not doing this, it's a problem. It's not even from a place of ego. I know this to be true.
If you are a midwife who has studied traditionally, in terms of mainstream, there is zero conversation about personal developments, zero conversation about any of this stuff, which is the stuff that you need. It's funny to me because the midwife has to be with women. How the fuck are you, with women, when you can even be with yourself? How is it possible? Where is the arrogance and the ego to believe that a degree in the art, the craft of holding space for that person to come undone and meet the face of their truest self, to be naked, to be exposed, to come to you, to satiate their fears and you can't even be with yourself, and they're trusting you.
Then when everything goes wrong, you tell them that you saved their life, goodness, you're there, and all they did such a good job or you tell them, "Oh, you did such a good job. Birth is hard, that's just how it is." Instead of looking within yourself and take responsibility for what you could have done if you knew more about yourself. Love is not everything, it's not. Actions speak louder than words, awareness amplifies those actions.
Remember that, actions speak louder than words but awareness of self amplifies those actions. It's not possible to provide the level of support and impact if all you're saying is, "I love you, I'm here, let me get the groceries and do the dishes." No, it's not enough. If you are somebody who is looking to hire or engage a doula or a midwife or an obstetrician, I would be asking the hard questions straight up and the hard questions are the right questions.
Remember, so many of us ask the wrong questions and get the wrong answers and create decisions or make decisions based on those wrong answers and then are surprised when we don't get the outcome we want. Asking the right questions is imperative and sometimes we're afraid to ask the right questions because we don't want to offend anybody and we're teeter-tottering and we're going around the bush and it's like, no, because that's what you get.
When you're hiring someone, you would say, "Truly, how well do you know yourself?" They might be, "What do you mean?" "How well do you know every inch of your skin? How well do you know your own abilities? Have you ever tested the brinks of your personal, physical and mental limits? What did that look like? How do you feel about making, proving yourself wrong a daily practice? Are you the kind of person who makes proving themselves right a way of life?"
You can ask so many questions that will tell you so much about what a person can offer you if you just ask the right questions. Instead, we're asking them, "How many births have you supported? Are you available? What do you charge?" How in the fucking world are we expecting to hire people who are going to quite literally shepherd us to the new version of ourselves and the new version of our life and expect them to be the person for us if all we're asking them is "How cheap are you? How many births have you attended, and are you available?" No.
This is something that is so important about ruthless hiring, and ruthless acceptance of clients. That's something that I teach both ways. Energetically, there needs to be a mutual investment and a mutual responsibility. What they need to do is be a midwife or a doula who models the very exact behavior and ethos and values and ways of life and ritual and practice, that you need to change your own life.
If the person you're hiring cannot change your life, don't hire them. If they can't up-level you, don't hire them. If they can't give you something that's going to make you better than what it is you are, don't hire them. If they're not modeling the thing that they're trying to sell you, don't hire them. That's my take on it. I love you all. Thank you for sharing some space and some time with me. Sayonara.
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