"I took a little journey to the unknown
And I come back changed
I can feel it in my bones
I messed with the forces that our eyes can't see
Now the darkness got a hold on me
Holy darkness got a hold on me”
-Meet Me in the Woods by Lord Huron
Bibliotherapy Meets Music
Bibliotherapy is the process of using literature to process life events. Most professionals think of it in terms of a four-stage process used with books, but my natural inclination since I was younger was to use it with song lyrics.
“Kick start the golden generator
Sweet talk but don't intimidate her
Can't stop the gods from engineering
Feel no need for any interfering”
-Can’t Stop by the Red Hot ChiliPeppers
While some of us pay more attention to song lyrics than others, it’s enjoyable to spot lyrical themes emerging in different kinds of music. Today I’m going to reference songs that make me feel physically powerful, even if I’m in a vulnerable state.
The Last Time I Needed Stamina
“I'm a monster, I'm a maven
I know this world is changing
Never gave in, never gave up
I'm the only thing I'm afraid of”
-Amazing by Kayne West
Let's be clear. When I made the goal to attempt a natural birth with my firstborn, I had no plans whatsoever of referencing Kayne, whose arrogance disgusts me. (Not a chance. Most of his recent quotes and behaviors are bazaar and not admirable at all.) That being said, I made several playlists of music I thought would help me through. And lyrically speaking, you can bet “Paranoid” and “Amazing” made the list.
I listened to self-created lengthy music lists for months leading up to the birth. “Angst to My Gusto” and “Gusto Power” were two lists that went along with “Relaxing” and “Moving Memories.”
“If you touch me, well I just think I'll scream
'Cause it's been so long, since someone challenged me
And made me think, about the way things are
Made me think, about the way they could be”
-Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part II by My Morning Jacket
The day of the birth? My plan went out the window. I wanted absolute silence. I ended up making up my own chants and odd sounds that took me to some place ancient and bazaar.
Even though music wasn’t present, I can’t help but think the time spent with these lyrics and lists did something to me. Something to do with confidence.
"Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on"
-Hold On by Neko Case
Side note about aiming for a natural birth:
When it comes to birth, I think every woman has the right to do whatever she wants without judgement. If my second baby is not in an ideal position, I’m completely open to a C-section. If I labor for hours at home and arrive at the hospital to hear I’m only 3 centimeters dilated, I’m open to an epidural.
And if I labor at home for as long as I can and arrive with my midwife saying, “$#@% $^&*! Be happy you didn’t have the baby in the car!” I will be ecstatic to have another natural birth. *I'm writing this post way ahead of time. By the time this comes out, some version of one of these three will have happened!
Natural Birth: What it Has to Do With Skydiving and Long Distance Running
My first birth, I had no idea what to expect. I drew upon my experiences with long-distance running and skydiving in an attempt to psyche myself up and not psyche myself out. It may just be my own experience, but I found the comparisons to resonate pretty closely. Chemicals in the body are powerful. They know what they need to do. It’s hard to know whether the mind is in control or whether something else takes over.
“The walls are bending shape
They've got a Cheshire cat grin
All blurring into one
This place is on a mission”
-Jigsaw by Radiohead
That being said, have you ever done something hard before, but you are not sure how you will accomplish it again? The fact you’ve done it before should give you confidence, right?
Or maybe now you just know how hard it is?
Whether running, making an album, learning from past business mistakes, or aiming for another natural birth - I never want to be cocky while searching for inner power.
(Sure. I’ve run 14 miles before, but last time I tried to run a mile it didn’t go well. Consistent preparation matters.)
Stamina, Power, and Music Therapy
“Don't be sad, won't ever happen like this anymore
So when's it coming, this last new great movement that I can join?
It won't end here, your faith has got to be greater than your fear”
-11th Dimension by Julian Casablancas
Music therapy is another discipline used to help process life events in terms of something outside ourselves. Just like how bodily posture can impact our confidence (check out this moving TED Talk), research about music’s impact on the body is fascinating and underutilized.
For me, a powerful beat makes me sit up straight and arouses my attention. This probably creates a feedback loop where I put myself into the mindset of someone or something that is grounded and powerful, causing me to almost “fake it until I make it.”
Steady as She Goes!
-Steady as She Goes by the Raconteurs
Whether we realize it or not, sometimes we gravitate towards what we need without knowing why. For example, I have several athletic friends who aren’t really into music very much unless they are doing a physical activity. Then they need music by their side, and they naturally gravitate towards it.
“So let go
And jump in
Oh well whatcha waiting for
It's all right
'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown”
-Let Go by Frou Frou
Even without structure or clarity, music combined with bibliotherapy (or song lyrics) can be the psyche's way at grasping for a dynamism - awakening a person's personality ideal and carrying them through difficult moments.
It’s hard to describe what the songs referenced here did me for the months leading up to my birth and the months after. And I’m pretty sure - none of them were ever written with birth in mind.
“How long, baby, have I been away?
It feels like ages though you say it's only days
There ain't language for the things I've seen
And the truth is stranger than my own worst dreams
The truth is stranger than all my dreams
I have seen what the darkness does
Say goodbye to who I was
I ain't never been away so long
Don't look back, them days are gone
Follow me into the endless night
I can bring your fears to life”
-Meet Me in the Woods by Lord Huron