did birth trauma change your religious/spiritual beliefs? - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-13-2009, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i'm interested in whether anyone else has had an experience of becoming less (or more) religious after processing their birth...

basically, what happened with me was that for the entire first year of DD's life, i thought and prayed (i was raised protestant) about why this thing had happened to me. why me, why me, why now, all of that--and a lot of that had to do with why was this inflicted on me on TOP of my other traumas? and what does it mean? why is this god's plan for my life? where do i go from here? i kept coming back and back to the significance of the event, spiritually and symbolically.

the only way i ever got past my trauma (i do consider myself mostly past it), though, was to accept that there WAS no reason at all for what happened, at least not a spiritual one. in essence, i concluded that what happened was a random unlucky event and that it meant nothing about me or my daughter. then i was finally able to heal.

in the end, letting go of any desire to find a "reason" (as in "things happen for a reason" ) was what saved me.

so this has led me to an essentially "godless" view of the world, in which bad and good things happen largely by chance, and there is no particular meaning attached to them, and they are not part of any higher power's plan. now--i'm not 100% sure that i DON'T believe in god, but i've concluded (for now) that the belief in god/spiritual significance/non-randomness caused me nothing but suffering; so i'm essentially letting it go, and that feels good and right to me at this time.

can anyone relate? or did anyone's beliefs change in the other direction?

dissertating wife of Boo, mama of one "mookie" lovin' 2 year old girl! intactlact:: CTA until 7/10 FF 1501dc
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:55 PM
 
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I had the very opposite reaction. It strenghtened my beliefs. I knew that God had a plan, and while it was super sucky for me, it helped me become stronger and more passionate about my little one. I also know that is was merely his will that kept her here, and that since she had the opportunity to leave life and becoma an angel, the responsibilty to have her return to Him sits squarely on my shoulders.
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Old 04-13-2009, 10:40 PM
 
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I was very sure of God's plan for me before I gave birth and now I'm really unsure. I still believe there is a force out there, but I can't see how it works in my life right now. I always thought I was a born midwife and when my birth went completely awry, I lost all confidence in my professional, personal and spiritual path... Shell
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Old 04-14-2009, 04:25 AM
 
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My perspective on everything in this world changed from my traumatic birth. I was very conservative, very mainstream. Christian. Thought what people told me to think and didn't realize it.

I lost faith in western medicine. I lost faith in mainstream society. I changed political parties. But my faith in God became stronger.

I really believe He used my son's birth to open my eyes. To make me realize that I need to think things over for myself. That the Way is narrow and that it's easier to "go with the flow," but the right way may be upstream.

Anyway, it affected my spirituality, but for the better. And, two years later, I am able to realize in general that my life was bettered by a terrible experience.

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Old 04-14-2009, 10:41 AM
 
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I, too, feel that my faith was strengthened by the trauma of and around my last child's birth. In my case, tho the birth was traumatic for me--a csec after 5 lovely homebirths--the source of trauma was actually an abusive partner. Even tho he moved out late in pregnancy (part of the trauma right there) and I no longer had to live with his abuse on a daily in-my-home way, he went on to traumatize me and my kids over the course of the next few years through the courts and our community, etc. So, life was pretty darn awful for awhile there!

And I raged and cried at God (and friends), begged for mercy and compassion and to understand, wanted to know the reasons why, what did I do to deserve this, felt sorry for myself, felt abandoned, wondered if God really existed....all that. And in the end, my core faith WAS strengthened--but a LOT of my peripheral beliefs were shed entirely in that process.

No one *deserves* birth trauma....I no longer believed that the 'reason' it happened was because I deserved it, the God I know does not do that to people on purpose. However, as the Plain ppl say, God did *allow* it--because we have free will and are not stopped from bad things just because we believe, pray, follow the rules, or any such things. And hey, even the most faithful and righteous are not in a safe bubble provided by a Creator--humans do all kinds of things to each other, all the time. Natural disasters also occur randomly. Faith and righteousness (however you experience/believe in that) are there to help us through the hard times (in part) that WILL happen in any life--that is just something to get used to.

From there I began to unravel the course of things a bit more bravely and responsibly. Not as in 'taking the blame', but first just accepting that this stuff DID happen, then accepting that I did contribute in some ways to it happening, and finally accepting that if I were to prevent such things from occurring again, it was on ME to change some things about me. Mainly, my contributions to the trauma were mistakes I was making all along about God, and myself, and our society all 3 (mistakes I'd been making for years, just 'worse so' this time). Now I was never really a sit back and take it kind of woman, nor was I ever one to go with the flow just cuz that's how it's done. Quite the contrary!

Still--I realized that I had issues with trust and self-esteem that led me to such a terrible relationship with the biodad in the first place. I saw that my faith in God (as I know that) was never as strong as I thought it was--for me, I saw that while I believed in God I wasn't actually LISTENING to God (I'd certainly had dreams and other hunches about that terrible guy, right from the beginning--didn't recognize Divine Warnings, thought it was just my 'trust and abandonment issues' trying to talk me out of something good!). So I accepted that fact, and forgave myself all the hurt it caused me/my kids (slowly forgave, still learning how)--and resolved to be MORE trusting, to listen better, to ask for my good and refuse all else.

Not to go on all day--hopefully that bit of ramble gets some part of my point across. Mainly, now I think what faith people lose in the face of any trauma must have been a faith that wasn't serving them in the first place....and that is a good thing, because it leaves you open to finding a steadier, more nourishing path with the Divine (however you believe/experience that, even if it means you are in charge of your own life--agnosticism or atheism, which IMO are spiritual paths in themselves).

And when it comes to the 'reasons why'--well, to some degree now, I can see what I did to contribute to my own hell, and live now to create a better, happier life. But I no longer really believe that God had anything to do with events (other than always Being There for us), had no 'reason' for me/kids to go through that and certainly did not feel that I/kids *deserved* that. However, I DO believe that it's very much up to US to find and make good on the 'reasons'....to CHOOSE to make good of the awfulness.

Now I can look back and see that I did survive and even thrive in time--one of my 'reasons' for going through that was to become a person I like better now, who is able to laugh and give more, and also endure much without going nuts or sinking into drugs/drink/child abuse. I can see that having survived, I now have something to share with others who are going through tough times. I don't know if that is what God intended, but it sure as hell is what *I* now intend! It is MY 'reason' for enduring hell and that is good enough for me. I also believe more strongly that all can be used for God's glory--all can serve the good for self and our world--which might make God happy, but I don't honestly think much about that. It's what makes ME happy! And in my spiritual belief scheme, God wants me happy (as do I, most fervently).

Finally, I think a spiritual crisis is perfectly in order and a sign of health in people living through and with trauma. Of course! It's a step along the way, part of the journey that for most of us, IMO, is needed and in the end, beneficial (well, if we CHOOSE it to be beneficial).
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:44 PM
 
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This is a very interesting question and a good one I have never considered.

I remember during my labor and birth I kept praying and then it turned into pleading and then it turned into "why?!' and finally into "I'm sorry I did something so horrible to deserve this" and honestly I know that that sounds very pity party but it is still where I am at today.

I have always had a hard time relating to God. People have told me it is because my father walked out on me in infancy and so when I was told "God is your father" I would scratch my head. What is that suppose to mean? To be like? Then when I had my own kids I looked to DH as an example of fatherhood and I understood and began to feel a conection- like a light went off in my head.

With my traumatic birth DH was negligent and I felt so betrayed by him and we have yet to really fix that. I hadn't thought of it until now but maybe because my example went so sour maybe that is why now I am feeling right back to being in the dark. I don't feel like God loves me. I feel like I took a wrong turn somewhere and He is angry so He has left me like my father like my husband. I am right back to feeling like it is impossible that anyone (God or human) can love me let alone want to be there for me.

My gosh! How was THAT for whining!

In a nutshell my beliefs on the spiritual front haven't changed but my spiritual connection has if that makes sense.

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:24 PM
 
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magstphil, I couldn't read that without posting. You did nothing to deserve whatever trauma you've been through. It can feel like it at times, I know. But God doesn't work that way. It's hard to see where He is leading you until you get there... but you were not being punished and you are not unworthy of love.

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Old 04-14-2009, 07:34 PM
 
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shellnurse - FWIW I would be much more inclined to hire a midwife like you, who'd had a traumatic birth experience herself, as she would be far better able to relate to my particular concerns and fears. I would even have been more inclined to hire a MW with birth trauma before I had my own traumatic birth, as I believe that a certain realisation comes with traumatic birth. That realisation is that no matter how strong, prepared, educated etc. a woman is, sometimes she can just have a bad birth, and that is in no way her fault. I also think a MW who'd experienced birth trauma would be particularly well-equipped to notice potential trauma and avert it wherever possible.

OP - to answer your question - Yes.

[Disclaimer: I realise that religion/spirituality is a very sensitive issue for many, so I want to preface this post by clarifying that anything I say is referring only to my own experiences, beliefs and thoughts and is in no way meant as a criticism or condemnation of the beliefs and thoughts of others, religious or otherwise. I'm saying this here because I'm not always as adept as I'd like about freely expressing myself while constantly phrasing things so as not to give offence. This is a topic I really want to write about - so forgive me please if necessary.]

Before my DD's birth I thought of myself as agnostic. I had been raised Catholic, but at quite an early age I realised that I had far too many problems with organised religion (as a whole, not just Catholicism) that I could not continue in that belief. However, I still believed in God/life spirit/guiding purpose to the universe.

I think my birth gave me the push to realise that I was clinging to an irrational belief. If there was a purpose to what had happened to me I certainly couldn't see it. I had already been raped as a teenager, and managed to interpret it as a 'life lesson'. In fact when I was pregnant and researching so much about birth I actually decided that God had allowed me to be raped as a teenager to ensure that I would do everything within my power to not allow someone to violate my body and my baby in birth. I did everything humanly possible to ensure that I would have a respectful, gentle, safe natural birth, including fighting tooth and nail to be 'allowed' to go to 43 weeks, paying more money than we could really afford for a midwife, standing up to incredibly obnoxious bullying doctors.. And I ended up with an horrific birth rape anyway. What more could I learn from that?

I spent months torturing myself with that question. I believed that things happened to teach us something, which then led to the belief that I had brought this lesson on myself, for having been too stupid, naive, etc. to have learned whatever I was supposed to be learning already. Finally I had enough. I concluded that God was stupid. Teaching someone by inflicting horrible pain on them is stupid. And honestly, I already knew all I needed to know about compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, strength, independence, honour and everything else that I could possibly be supposed to have 'learned' from my horrific experience. I think the final straw was the anger I felt that my tiny innocent DD was also involved, and was terribly mistreated to teach ME a lesson. That did not sit right with me at all.

And this line of thinking brought home to me the idiocy and illogicality of the beliefs I'd been holding to. The more I thought about it the more ridiculous it seemed. People suffered immeasurably worse than I had, on a daily basis, why? To teach them a lesson? To teach someone else a lesson (even worse!)? [Remember I"m simply referring to my own beliefs here, particularly the belief that 'things happen for a reason' and that 'we have lessons to be learned'.]

Around about this time I started reading a lot of scientific books. The wondrous nature of the universe, just as it is, coupled with my evolving understanding of spirituality, led me to finally embrace atheism. I had been fighting it all my life - even though I'd managed to free myself from organised religion I couldn't bring myself to let go of the basic safety net of God. I was scared to admit that this is all there is, and that there's no 'purpose' to it all.

But you know what? Now that I have finally accepted that it's wonderfully freeing. I'm not burdened with having to endure awful things in order to teach me or someone else valuable life lessons, or for some greater purpose. This life is all the more precious to me knowing that it's the only one I get, and I'm even more determined than before to do everything I can to make sure that it's a good life for everyone. I can accept that terrible things happen despite our best efforts, and that it's not our/my fault. Simply that sometimes sh!t happens. I need to pick myself up and continue to make my one insignificant life something special, and to help make the lives of those around me wonderful too.

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Stephenie View Post

magstphil, I couldn't read that without posting. You did nothing to deserve whatever trauma you've been through. It can feel like it at times, I know. But God doesn't work that way. It's hard to see where He is leading you until you get there... but you were not being punished and you are not unworthy of love.
Thank you, Stephenie. I know logically how I feel is not, well, logical but I just can't shake it.

Thanks for the hugs

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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