The following is from letters written to Jane English by Mary Myers, a stained glass artist in Arizona.
I have just finished reading Different Doorway. I am writing to you to express my gratitude to you for having written this book, shared your experiences as a cesarean born, and most especially, for having done such innovative and original interpretation in this area.
In August, I had my first breathwork experience (on the Stan Grof model). When, afterwards, I observed to the group leader that my experience did not seem to fit the model, or the experiences that other people were recounting; and I wondered aloud if my having been a cesarean baby might have something to do with it, the leader suggested that I read your book.
Your account resonated with my own experience on virtually every page! I wound up copying practically the entire work into my journal. After more than fifty years of living, and a complicated and at the time mystifying relationship with my mother throughout her life, it was a revelation in the true sense of the word to read your book and understand it in the context of my own life.
As I said over the phone, virtually every page in your book contained some observation that resonated for me in my own life.
I would like to describe my own experience regarding a concept that you touch on only briefly. That is the notion that mother and cesarean born child are often still in labor with each other, unknowingly, after the birth. (pp. 131-2, conversation with Anne Stine)
A little background first: I was born by C-section after a dog pushed my mother down a flight of stairs when she was about seven months pregnant. She went into premature labor. A C-section was performed within three hours. She was hospitalized for a lengthy period. I was in an incubator for six weeks. Both my parents were in their mid-thirties. I am an only child.
My earliest memories include a strong sense of tension between me and my mother. It is not that I did not love her, nor she, me. But intense tension characterized our relationship continuously until my mother died at age 80, when I was 46 years old. The tension continued at a diminished level within me for another four years. One could say that my mother died in labor, and that I was not "born" until age fifty.
For all those years, the basic source of that tension was a mystery to me, even though I puzzled about it often. Although neither she nor I behaved very well toward each other most of the time, my pervasive feeling that I had to struggle to free myself from her did not derive out of incidents in her behavior that, objectively judged, would have merited such a strong response from me. In other words, my reaction often seemed, even to me, to be out of proportion to her action.
On the other hand, repeated periodic episodes of undercutting me -- the emotional equivalent of contractions -- characterized her behavior toward me throughout her life. This eventually caused a severe erosion in my ability to trust her.
When I was 37, after many years of living far away from my parents, I found myself living again in the same town as my mother. At this point I was able to observe that Mother's and my relationship seemed obsessive for both of us. I was then living an otherwise rather "normal" life with a mate relationship, my art glass business, and a variety of social and community activities. And yet when I compared myself to peers, I could see that I was still devoting the amount and type of emotional energy to Mother that a rebellious teen would toward a parent. I could also observe that her emotional attention was fixed on me to an abnormal degree. We were both caught in the process -- labor -- without the slightest idea of what was occurring. During this period I explored many theories and therapies in the hopes of understanding my relationship with my mother. But nothing I tried felt as though it fit.
Less than a year ago, through a spiritual process I was able to come to a place of peace, let go of my obsession with mother, and accept the karma involved. But understanding of the cause of the tension in our relationship did not happen until I had read your book.
As a result, 1 can now feel for my mother the kind of love that most vaginally-born, children feel for their mothers. Its a love I sensed in other mother/ daughter relationships -- even some that seemed fairly dysfunctional -- but never felt myself. for my mother. And finally I am completely free of the tension, and the guilt about the tension, and the inexplicable obsession I feel as though I have just been born. Finally!
It makes me sad that this understanding wasn't reached when she was alive, and we could enjoy the results together.
Another part of your book that really fascinated me was the questions that it raises for the future. If more people today than ever before are being born by C-section, then it will be fascinating to see the impact of these people on our society: culture, ethics, the arts, spiritual and psychic events and politics; to name just a few of the areas. ( go to future.html for more on this)