The Healing Journey is a series born out of the reality that we all have our own individual path to healing. When we share our journey two things tend to happen, we often find freedom in sharing our stories and we always inspire others. There is power in speaking up and it is time to tap into that power.
The mission of The Healing Journey is to provide a platform for women to connect, inspire one another and empower each other. Together we will stimulate conversation, create awareness, healing and stand together knowing that each and every one of us are unique, gifted and powerful.
Our feature this month has a story many of us can relate to. The idea of avoidance, doing and being anything else other than witnessing our own pain and healing.
Kara Wickwire is a wise woman, healer, advocate for reproductive health and Doula. She shares her very honest and incredibly powerful journey with us and I’m both grateful and excited to introduce you to her today.
For those who don’t know you, what’s your story?
My work as a birth doula and menstrual cycle awareness advocate has been crucial for both my own womb healing journey and for providing nourishing support to others and their womb truth. My work comes from my personal experiences and how I’ve overcome avoiding my self-care, my emotional needs, and the needs of my body. My story has to do with transitions–I’ve realized that just as I’ve empowered myself through hard times, I also wanted to be a witness and support beam to people experiencing huge transitions of their own, like pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, body literacy.
I was born and raised in upstate NY, but soon after college I left my home state to venture out west. I learned so much about myself while living in the desert; it was brutal and meaningful, similar to the entirety of my 20s. I discovered that I had so much to gain from creating healthy communication with others, but in my early 20s, I struggled to express myself, especially my feelings, without being reactive or detached. Everything changed when I decided to leave the west and return to the east coast after my long term relationship ended while living in Montana. Everything felt terrifying! I had been with my partner for several years, most of my 20s, and had no idea how to shed my old skin and venture out to a new place, alone in a completely different life. I chose Western North Carolina to set down new roots. My new career goal was to flourish as a field instructor for a wilderness therapy program.
I believe this transition was one of the most powerful turning points in my life because working in wilderness therapy changed my entire perspective about healthy communication and patience with others. I learned to accept that I was lacking in the patience department and I realized that extended to patience with myself. I developed healthier communication skills just by talking things out with teenagers to encourage them to discover their own patterns. This work uncovered my patterns and barriers through serving and supporting others. How powerful is that!
Despite the positive growth, something was missing for me in the work. I felt disjointed and disconnected from myself still. I was immersed in so much growth, but it wasn’t my growth, and when the week long shifts in the woods were over, I’d return home and feel lost. I spent so much time serving others that I wasn’t able to translate the therapeutic tools I was learning into my everyday life. This disconnect led to deep rooted unsafe patterns (like avoidance) coming up for me. My diet was terrible, I couldn’t commit to hobbies that brought me joy, I didn’t have any semblance of a daily self-care routine when I was home, and felt at times like I was living a double life. I was powerful, insightful, healer Kara at work, but when at home I was party-girl and out of balance.
I’m sure many readers out there know that when we neglect ourselves, it can’t go on forever. My body forced me to make a change. I experienced a miscarriage, in the woods, while on shift in wilderness therapy. This rocked me to my core and pushed me to face my inner shadows. I quit my job, and started asking myself what a daily healthy routine looked like for me. I realized that my inconsistency with charting my cycle was one facet of me being inconsistent with every type of care my body and heart were starving for. When I became consistent with charting, I received clarity on what I needed in my life, including supporting and empowering myself and others. So I came up with the idea of “womb truth”. To me, my story is about the ongoing journey of uncovering and compassionately accepting my womb truth. That can look different for everyone, but to me it is finding joy in the process rather than the endpoint.
We spoke at length about avoidance, could you share what avoidance means to you?
Avoidance has been one of my favorite defense mechanisms for so long, that even now, (during Mercury Retrograde!) it arises and creates barriers to my healthy emotional processing. Avoidance protected me; I used it handle difficult emotions, my health, my sexual trauma, and my miscarriage. I believed that quickly “moving on” meant I was doing the healthy thing. Beyond my own experience, I believe that women-identifying people have been shamed into using avoidance as a defense mechanism as well. This defense encompasses their bodies and their womb space. Avoidance in our society feels comforting and secure but it can keep us from connecting to ourselves and connecting with others. We develop defense mechanisms to feel safe and sometimes they work. If we run into a bear, for example, we probably don’t hug it and ask how it’s doing, we instead make loud noises and make ourselves appear bigger. “Running from the bear” might work to satisfy our instant need for safety and security, but long term avoidance keeps us from learning from our negative experiences. In my own life, I would avoid what I really felt about issues with others, including jealousy, anger, and hurt, and pretend that I had moved on from those feelings. Really, they needed to be expressed and processed to be released eventually. Instead, I would mask my emotions and later explode by either pushing people away or running from my life completely.
Avoidance can lead to unmet needs and latent insecurities and like all defense mechanisms, it’s not a cure-all but rather a band-aid over a large wound. Avoidance has been an effective band-aid for me, but it’s not a healer—I’m the healer, and it’s up to me to heal the wounds of my womb space.
How did avoidance shape your womb healing journey?
My experience with avoidance, especially around my sexuality and miscommunication with my own body, kept me in the safe container of what mainstream sexual education was offering…which wasn’t much. Sexual education in my life included scare tactics, body disconnection, and shaming, instead of body literacy and healthy self communication. Avoidance was an answer for everything; I didn’t need to develop a curiosity about my womb health because not knowing was the approved and safer option.
I remember quickly after my miscarriage I told myself, “Kara, you need to get it together, gain some control, this is not a big deal!” I decided that I could meet my needs through buying materials that helped me feel in control. So I impulsively bought a car (which was great because I really needed one), but I wasn’t listening to what my body needed. Rather than accepting that I felt truly devastated and alone, I clung to avoidance and pushed the tough feelings as far back within me as I could. My womb responded, “Sorry, kiddo, you can’t avoid me this time.” I’d say my miscarriage was a catalyst for change, but I would have avoided that catalyst if it wasn’t for me reflecting on how buying control (the car) wasn’t gonna cut it every time I had a difficult experience. At the same time, I took my hobby of reading about cycle awareness and consistent charting to the next level, and this brought me out of my avoidance pattern and into my revolution of body awareness and love.
What was the catalyst in you changing your pattern of avoidance?
I had started charting my cycle and I showed great excitement toward learning about the menstrual cycle but the depth and healing power of charting didn’t truly sink in for me until my miscarriage. After that experience, charting rattled me out of my cage and opened me up in ways I didn’t expect. Even my role in relationships with people changed. I felt more authentic and vulnerable because I wasn’t as scared anymore. My body requested relationship anarchy for myself and for my womb-space. I wanted to learn everything, discover the connections between my cycle and the rest of my body, and use the tools to better my life and relationships. I’ve been slowly devouring every book and spreading awareness on the menstrual cycle ever since.
What does your relationship with your wombspace look like now?
My relationship with my womb space is constantly evolving and constantly going through the storming, forming, and transforming phases. However, I am no longer scared about this evolution with my body and my womb. I welcome the unknown as an opportunity to learn more about what my womb space is trying to tell me. I don’t believe I will ever be complete or done healing–I expect this journey to continue and want to continue it wholeheartedly. I want to stop avoiding my own ignorance and I want to embrace my womb space knowledge without shame. I believe charting my cycle and educating myself and others about sexual re-education and cycle awareness brings me closer every day to deeper love, compassion, and understanding. I am so grateful for living in a time of awakening. I am constantly a witness to female-anatomy folk removing the veil of what we’ve been taught for so long and embracing their own individual experience.
How does/did your womb healing journey inspire your work?
I had always been fascinated by the magic and power of pregnancy, childbirth, and the birthing of parents. While everyone has an opinion about these transitions, there’s so little acceptance and support for people living through them. Several years ago, when I discovered the role of doula as a humble servant to those experiencing these transitions, I immediately fell in love with the idea. Sadly I decided that the doula path wasn’t for me because I couldn’t support someone if I had not gone through a similar situation. I felt unworthy because I hadn’t accepted that my womb space and my womb healing was an important part of connecting with others, even if I didn’t have the same stories I had heard. So for a few years I ignored that desire to become a doula.
Like a caged animal that we keep ignoring, believing they won’t express their needs more and more aggressively, my wounded womb and desire to be a doula kept sending me messages in various ways, despite my repression of this desire. My dreams were dark–there was a boy that kept appearing as my son, crying because he needed attention from me. Slowly I began to accept that I was avoiding how I truly felt about my miscarriage, about birth, and about the role I wanted to play. I wanted to connect and support this boy in my dream, just as I wanted to connect and support other female-anatomy people that were wishing to understand their bodies.
I decided I needed to get to know my womb space and be a humble servant to my own body’s needs. It was time for me to face my wounds that I had neglected for so many years, and I chose to chart my cycle. I read every book about female anatomy, menstrual cycle awareness, pregnancy release, and connecting with the womb that I could get my hands on. I started saving money towards my birth doula education and researched my fellow birth and womb empowerment workers. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone, and I wanted others to see that they were not alone in desiring to understand more about the wonderment of the human body. To this day, I believe my work is an ongoing creativity project, rewarding and challenging me on a personal level.
Would you share your thoughts on “avoidance as a means to resiliency and acceptance”?
To put it simply, if I hadn’t discovered my pattern of avoidance, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. This coping skill, even though problematic, showed me a pathway to what I really wanted to work on and that was my womb healing. Avoidance made me resilient, just not in the healthiest ways until I was ready and open to receive the gift of acceptance. I felt resilient to my feelings of anger, because I assumed that anger was anger and didn’t stem from fear or anxiety. I avoided truly accepting that my anger was a symptom for much deeper emotions. The cycle of avoidance to resilience to acceptance is still a journey I’m on, but I embrace it. Experiencing avoidance showed me the desire to heal all of me, not just the parts I’m excited about. Avoidance can shed light on the darkness we all have going on within us. It hasn’t always been a pretty experience for me but in moments when I’m defensive with my words (and boy howdy can I get defensive when receiving criticism from loved ones) I realize that I’m not hearing myself, therefore, why would anyone else hear me? I’m grateful for times when I’ve been called out on my defensive words because they are just expressions and a hurt part coming from my avoidance pattern. Although it definitely takes some emotional surrender, and maybe some tears, and maybe some tough love, it can be our guide and lead us to self-acceptance, which I think is something everyone needs.
What work have you done to heal your womb/body/self?
I was reaching out for understanding and found myself asking to feel cared for, for my womb to be respected and charting my cycle has given me my power back and beyond. I think charting is one of those tools that many people are unaware of because it’s considered as only relevant for people striving to become pregnant.
I’m so grateful and thrilled that more and more people are receiving the benefits of cycle charting and they’re spreading the word. At first, feelings of embarrassment and confusion came up for me when beginning to chart on a consistent basis. I was like, “Cervical fluid? Basal body temperature? How do these signals bring me closer to understanding my body?” and I was embarrassed for not instantly understanding what it all meant. I gave myself little patience in the beginning but quickly realized that what I was learning was not education to which female anatomy people had access. This injustice lit a fire under my bum to soak in as much information as I could for the purpose of encouraging and supporting others to do the same. I wanted everyone to feel that they had access to information about the amazing capabilities of their own bodies! Charting (and the fertility awareness method) has been a wonderful skill for me that developed over time. I’m always learning something new and now I cherish the experience as a daily ritual of self-care.
Another ongoing form of self-care that has definitely blossomed from my experience with my womb space is journaling and free-write emotional processing. For people who love to write, it can be such a helpful release. I’ve found that if I can write it down, I can find a solution more readily. This is most certainly not an easy technique for me but I always feel a sense of accomplishment and stress relief after writing down my emotions and gratitude on a daily basis. I learned this method from my work as a field instructor in a wilderness therapy program for teenagers. The program was geared toward healthy communication practices. One of my favorite tools was called FAB–which stands for Feeling About Because. Both the kids and adults would take turns busting out FABs, which were simple statements of how we were feeling and why. For example, “I am Feeling excited About my womb healing journey Because it gives me hope for the future.” These simple statements provided freedom for many folks who struggled with connecting the what to the why of their emotions. I am definitely one of those people who, due to avoidance, struggled to determine the reason that I was feeling what I was feeling. I felt liberated after learning this technique. I now use this method in written form every day, along with a mini list of gratitude, to start my day off right.
Another type of work that I’ve been using to heal my body/womb/self has been dance! I’m that person who blasts music and moves what Gaia gave me! I feel fantastic during and after the process and it fills me with a sense of deep connection and appreciation for my body. I feel so lucky that I get to hang out and have fun in a form that loves to move and feel free to the healing power of music.
How do you feel through your experiences? (When a feeling comes up, how do you feel through or process it?)
I have to be honest that my knee jerk reaction to my emotions, especially the darker, shadow emotions, is still avoidance. Once that first wave of emotions passes for me, I try to give myself some space, pen, paper, and free write every emotion I am currently feeling. Seeing it all on paper comforts me. The big bad is no longer a storm in my body but now out on paper where I can see it and accept it.
If I have deeper rooted emotions that feel like they’ve been stuck for awhile and manifesting in multiple ways (passive aggressive communication, flaking out on appointments), I choose shadow working. I write down all the reasons why I could be feeling that emotion, and sometimes that brings up past wounds from long ago. Shadow work is all about getting to the root, following the thread between valid current emotions and why they keep coming up for us. All these steps are easier said than done and there’s definitely times when I’m just angry and have no interest in “digging” around in my emotional closet, but eventually, if a need is not being met, I know I must answer the call.
What would be your message for anyone reading this post?
This, surprisingly, has been the question I’ve been avoiding the entire time I’ve been working with these questions! I guess my concern is that I don’t want to come off as arrogant, like I have all the answers, because I definitely don’t. I’m a humble servant to my own process of learning and growing with my body.
I want readers to know that they aren’t alone and that their story does not have to be locked within the container that our society has laid out for us. We can unlock our chains through by our own process of radical self-expression and self-acceptance.
Someone told me that I had a lot of triggers (don’t we all), and that they were shocked I could even get out of bed every day. I told them that having several triggers or emotional sensitivities felt true for me, but that it also meant I had several heart opening opportunities…and I won’t avoid that.
Thank you Kara Wickwire! Eternal gratitude for sharing such honest and powerful pieces of your journey! You are a gift to the Universe!
Connect with Kara Wickwire
WW101: Sex & Sexuality
Join us on May 27th in Toronto for Sex & Sexuality! This workshop is designed to offer safe and sacred space for women identified beings to gather and explore, share and learn.
Integrative Sexuality Coach, Monica Kovacs and Clare Kenty will hold space as we share thoughts on the expression of our feminine sex and sexuality; discuss ways to explore our own inner erotic desires and energy; practice exercises that encourage us to step into our own sexual power; explore consent, what it means to give and receive and how we can ask for what we want and much more. Click here for tickets and more info!
Womb Wellness Program
Looking for support in your womb healing journey? Click on over to the Womb Wellness Program. This is a program that requires you to dig deep, to face what is stored in the womb and work with it to heal, release and receive. The program combines integrative health coaching, deep womb work and Reiki to support your healing. Read more…
Want to share your Healing Journey?
If you are interested in sharing your Healing Journey along with Kara Wickwire and other powerful Goddesses, please email info(at)clarekenty.ca with “The Healing Journey” in the subject line and include a little about yourself and your story, or fill out the form below and I will contact you. Please be aware that The Healing Journey series is primarily about womb healing and womb wellness.