Ágnes Geréb and Dorka Herner
14,708 views • 17:11

Giving birth is a special gift, bringing the past with it, and projects into the future. Once upon a time there was a woman, Marti. She should have given birth a week ago, when she suddenly felt a strong urge to visit her homeland, even though you don't travel in the 42nd week, she couldn't stay put. They got in their car and drove more than 1000 km to Transylvania and back home. The birth finally started. It was a hard labor, lasting for days. There was everything: crying, laughing, sweating, fanning, compresses, massage, hugs, dancing, pain, and suddenly the birth stalled. Despite the fact that the baby was just a hair’s breadth away from being born, all midwifery's tricks were used but the delivery was stuck. The contractions were coming constantly, the heartbeat was normal, but Marti became more and more exhausted. We were just pondering whether to go to the hospital, when Marti took a large carved wooden box she'd brought from Transylvania some days before. She scattered its contents in the middle of the room. It was soil. Marti began to orbit the dispersed Transylvanian soil, murmuring: "My mothers, grandmothers, help me! My mothers, grandmothers, help me! My mothers, grandmothers, help me!" And finally the baby was born. What did I get from my mothers, grandmothers, and fathers, grandfathers? Patterns. Their customs, sentences, and behaviors have shaped me. They've shaped my childhood, so they shape my present. I was convinced for a long time of everything permeated me through my childhood to determine me so deeply, on a visceral level, that is almost impossible to root it out. I used to work a lot with my own patterns, and as a psychologist, with other people's patterns as well. By now, my inner picture has changed completely. I see the patterns as colors. I get greens, blues, yellows, blacks, purples, I can paint with them all I want. I can mix them, remix them, I can decide what to do with them. My patterns are opportunities, I can use them. Giving birth is a special gift, bringing the past with it, and projecting into the future. This special gift may be worth many years of psychotherapy. After having had babies by caesarian, Eva wanted to give birth at home. She was going to have it in their home, next to the bedroom on the ground floor. Everything needed for the birth A teething toy for example. For some reason, many women want to bite on something during labor, and it's better not to gnaw on their own hands, since without feeling their strength they can even hurt themselves. Because one of the greatest gifts of labor is the internal analgesic, the endorphins. It's a strong pain killer like morphine, and, like morphine, it causes an altered state of consciousness, as well. So the laboring woman can make her journey with less pain. At one point of her labor, Eva wanted to go upstairs into the tiny bathroom next to the children's bedroom, she wanted to take hot bath on an incredibly burning hot summer night, and she asked the four of us to stay with her there, in that steamy area of three square meters. We had been boiling there for hours. And suddenly, like a mermaid Eva emerged from the bathtub. Instead of going to the living room, she went to the children's room, where, like an embryo in the womb, she laid down on a large round rug. Suddenly, she began biting her hands, and I had to stop her of course, to ensure she didn't hurt herself. So I took her fingers out of her mouth and replaced them with my mine, while one of us went downstairs for the prepared teething toy. Eva laid there on the rug like a baby, and instead of biting she began to suck my finger. It was a fantastic feeling. So we stayed there for a long time. She was rocking herself, and so was I, while the others stood around us. If Eva had lacked anything when she was a baby, in this protective shield, in this special moment, she certainly received it. It's so good to listen to you! I suppose that many of you think, just like me, that I'm so lucky to be the daughter of such a great woman. And what if I show you this picture? How many of you think of me to be so lucky? This is my mom in 2010, shackled and handcuffed. My grandmother was 85 years old when her daughter got imprisoned. Many people asked her: "How can you bear it?" "I will cry after it is all over," she said sternly. This was her key to survival. She had been using this key to survive since her age of three months old, when her mother committed suicide. She was 19 years old when she was deported to Bergenbelsen. On the way there, her grandmother who'd raised her died. "I will cry after it is all over." This kept her alive when there was no hope to survive, when her fellows collapsed beside her. Or on the way home, after liberation of the camp, when her father, my great-grandfather, died. Thank God, my grandmother's key to survival worked. She came home, she is still alive. I spent a lot of time with her as a kid. She taught me to bake the family's cake, to make up the bed, to use a stethoscope. She didn't teach me how to survive - I learned it without words: Her experiences and her life have just infiltrated to my guts. So crying didn't cross my mind either, when my mom was brought from the prison to the proceedings, shackled, nothing but skin and bone. The women of our family have been victims for decades, maybe for centuries. Passionate women, suffering a lot. So I've got this pattern, this color. I might be the victim of it, as the self-flowing energy is often interrupted by traumas, I am the heir of barriers, I've been healing my ancestors' wounds. But now I wonder just how to use, how to transform, how to enjoy anything that I've got. I want to pass down those colors, except the color of victimhood. I gave birth to four children in two acts, brought up another from the age of nine. Three of them were born in the 70s, the other ones in the 90s. The 70s babies weren't carried around by me, they were breastfed just for a few months, based on those "good old" principles. Letting them cry, feeding on a schedule, hard discipline, not to pamper them. One of them was crying until he got a hernia, as he couldn't wait four hours to the next feeding. All of us have suffered a lot. I even shudder to think back to it. The 90s babies however were freely pampered in the eyes of 70s ones without those good old principles. I dared to breastfeed them, to carry them, as they liked it, one by one for four years, being pregnant, then simultaneously, dared to take them to nursery school much later. My 70s children have had 11 children in all by now. Almost all of them were born into my hands. All of them are breastfed, carried, are loved freely. The good news is that my children don't continue what was done with them based on those good old principles, but they follow my later acts. Life always offers you a second chance to change. Sure it does! Self-knowledge is a very useful tool for this purpose. When somebody comes to me, opening herself, showing me inside, like putting a treasure chest in front of me. No matter if her pieces are blue, green or red, it's all the same - every tiny detail is wonderful. Likewise, opening myself with moving, therapy or meditation, I always find some new, some exciting color inside me. And some chances to shift, to make change. Talking about it is a bit like depicting the savor of a cake passionately. Instead of it I would give you a taste, a tiny bit of it if you would like. So if you can, close your eyes, and let's travel inside for a few minutes. My eyes are closed. I relax my shoulders, my facial muscles, I breathe with ease and calm. In ... Out ... I look for a pattern, something ingrained in me by my parents. Let's say a recurrent behavior, or an emphasis taken over, something that I don't want anymore, or that I don't want where it is in my life right now. I've found what I want to change. I associate a color to it. Blue, yellow, red, or something else. I'm trying it until it gets some color. Now I shade and repaint it, then I search for a new, another color - a color which makes it change, which gives it a better feeling, displacing it inside of me. I go on with coloring it until I get the feeling of the change. I'm tasting this new color, I'm looking at my new feelings. Just watching them, feeling them, reliving them. I can come back to it any time I wish, so I leave it now. Open my eyes. Here I am again. My father is dark grey. He was a bright scientist and a famous lecturer. And he was very ill. In the last terms of his illness he fall asleep during his lectures. His students felt uncomfortable. I thought I shouldn't get here ever. I should close up in time. And here is the next color, let's say yellow, like honey. My mother, who was an excellent pediatrician. Many people came to her even after she got retired. Once she examined a child, who she thought had pneumonia based on the clinical symptoms, but she couldn't hear that typical sound above his lungs. Yet she strongly suspected it, so sent them for an X-ray. The findings really supported my mother's presumption. I never forget that movement, removing the plugs from her ears, and putting the stethoscope on the table. This is how she bid farewell to her profession. I had no child yet when I was longing for a daughter and that we can wear the same same kind of skirts. My daughter is five years old now, our skirts were made three years ago augmented with one extra piece, to match us with my mom, as well. Our skirts are like our patterns. We are made of the same fabric but our cuttings might be different. I wouldn't get rid of any patterns, any colors of mine. I like to paint my life with these shades. I don't say it's easy. The self-knowledge is a field of fears, tears, pains, angers, but it's worth it. It's a high feeling to discover the pink in divorces, the bright yellow in prison, and that the color of Holocaust should't be just black. There is no greater feeling than having a higher level of freedom inside me. I gave birth to five children, and I know how hard it can be solely imagining what I pass onto them, since I'm passing them patterns of many different sorts, even if I'm not aware of it. But if they have the freedom to change any of their patterns, I gave them a universal key to happiness. And I can pass this pattern to them by forming and shaping my own patterns inherited from my parents and ancestors. I'm neither the victim of my parents, nor of my patterns. I can't write and rewrite my patterns themselves, but their fate and their color can be changed, even by me. Thank you. (Applause)