Test Anxiety

At times, I may feel hot, other times I may be cold.

Perhaps I will be hesitant, and surely I will be too bold

My mind may be filled with clutter, and my heart all-a-flutter

I may feel thirsty, and have to pee

I may be hungry for all kinds of things

Yet my mind will get through the day, dragging my body with it all the way

My body serves me faithfully, I acknowledge gratefully

When at last the exam and I meet

I want to feel fully present

I want my chakras to be perfectly aligned

I want to get the crick out of my spine

I want to empty doubts out of my mind

And fill my eyes with only you

As we dance I will try not to misstep

I want to remain steadily energized, aware of every breath

Fully focused and feeling fine

With you, I want to have enough time

After our time together, when I emerge anew into the fresh air, I want to think of you and smile

I realize that my chakras, like my spine, are always slightly out of line

I know that my rebellious mind refuses to ever stop itself from running wild

Have I ever danced without fumbling around?

Even with these imperfections, I still marvel at these reflections:

Although the ideal may never meet the real, I still think of you, and smile

Mantra

I have a false belief that I should be able to handle all of my mental and physical ailments without any assistance; no therapy or medications.

This false belief comes from the mantras of stoic ancestors echoed by my parents that I am fine simply because they say I am fine

In fact, I am pretty fucking far from fine, and have hovered over the abyss of suicidality most of my life

When I made the mistake of mentioning my thoughts to end my life to a friend at age 13, I was not met with concern but consternation and reprimandation from my mother, who was called by the school guidance counselor

She yelled at me ‘only crazy people go to psychiatrists’, naturally implying that I was not allowed to be crazy, because to be crazy would mean to be less than perfect, less than what she desired, which was forbidden

She pronounced the word ‘crazy’ with disgust and disdain, with smug judgement, as if it were an abhorrent personal defect, an unforgivable sin

I learned to ignore my feelings, emit the illusion of perfection at the cost of stunting my personal growth

To be myself was inconvenient for others, and to be an inconvenience was to be unlovable

Though I remain chained by fear, I am ready to break the shackles of false beliefs that have held me back and kept me from receiving essential help for too long

One mantra rang true: I am strong

Are you still suffering?

I was on my 24th consecutive hour of work; sweaty, hungry, dehydrated, and raggedly exhausted when a patient walked into the urgent consult office where I was posted on call, sat down and said:

‘A long time ago, you fell in love with someone who was not as in love with you, and for that, you suffered a lot.’

I was the clinician, yet without asking a single question he arrived at an accurate diagnosis of my neurosis: perpetual heartbreak.

I felt somewhat violated when he proceeded to tell me that I had one birthmark on my upper thigh and another under my breast, and that I should take off my clothing and show him. He wasn’t spot-on about the birthmarks, but he was correct about the heartbreak. Maybe we all have heartbreak in our pasts, but he really got me when he asked, ‘Are you still suffering?’.

If the imprints on my energetic field from that loss of love are obvious enough for some rando creep to read them like a news headline, I want to change the vibe I’m giving off.

I was still suffering, and in trying to escape my suffering I became a physician, hoping that the overwhelming process of medical training would take my attention away my broken heart- a treatment that provided a temporary distraction at best, but not a cure.

Now with spiritual healing on a level even deeper than heart break and reciprocated love in my life, I am still suffering, but less so.

Little Miss Fearful

Once upon a time there was a little girl who felt smaller than she was because she was afraid of everybody.

She was so afraid that she could not bring herself to even speak of her fear, not to anyone.

Yet she pushed through, and got through life even though fear never left her.

By and by, she learned that fear was there to protect her.

She transformed her fear into courage as she confronted many obstacles.

What was once her handicap became her superpower.

Fear gave her energy to overcome challenges.

Little Miss Fearful became Little Miss Brave.

Invisible

I grew up in invisible poverty

Not in a city housing project, but surrounded by trees- keepers of my sanity

Unfortunately, I didn’t cling tight to that original green

I left the nature that uplifted me to get swallowed by the big city

I did hard time in the belly of that proverbial whale

I was a natural at drinking at bars and hitching rides from strangers in cars

I ran as fast as I could in the workaholic race without stopping to realize that I was headed away from that which my heart truly desired- tranquility and peace

I recreated the high stress of my childhood without seeing my own role in the process

Perhaps the cycle of trauma is not fully broken, yet I am breaking free

The chains that bind me are invisible, yet I feel them loosen and weaken

I get stronger every day

Sea Change

You came in like a whale

Mapless, I didn’t know where you’d been or where you were headed

Your eyes held the treasures you’d seen and the mermaids you’d befriended

From first sight, you were all I could see- you filled my eyes until they overflowed

I felt so fortunate to behold you, if only for a moment

Your appearance above the surface seemed to be for me alone

I blinked and you crashed back into the depths, upsetting my little boat

The commotion stirred by your momentum smashed me to pieces

I’m still picking them up

You deftly moved on to a far away ocean, perhaps without knowing the wreckage left in your wake

Perhaps you never saw me

Yet my love for you remains deeper than the sea

I wait and watch the horizon, hoping to the moon that the tides will bring you back to me

Though you are not mine to have

Only in my heart could I contain something so much larger than myself

Doc

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I have pain’

All of life is pain and comfort, my powers are few in the face of this universal truth

We try all manner of pills, topical treatments, injections and various therapies, yet the pain persists

Soul pain lies beyond the reach of western medicine

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I cannot sleep’

All of life is fear and relief, effort and rest, I’ll do my best

I send multiple prescriptions, adjust doses, fill out piles of disability paperwork

I work extremely hard so that my patients don’t have to work at all

Although we share the same afflictions; anxiety with panic attacks, depression, insomnia, PTSD, nightmares

Perhaps my patients are doing more for themselves than I will ever do for myself

They are allowing themselves to be helped, although nothing we’ve tried so far seems to help much

No cure in sight, just a lifetime of refills

I’ve yet to outwardly acknowledge the inner storm that rages below my placid surface

My family conditioned me not to feel my feelings, trained me to exist only in service of others, to live for their benefit

The few times during childhood that I made the mistake of showing that I was human, that I was hurting, I received swift and searing backlash

Perhaps my patients are healing me by showing me what it looks like to be vulnerable, by saying ‘I can’t do this’

Yet I fear that I am keeping them unwell, allowing them to accept the sick role without hope of cure by signing their disability forms, by saying ‘you don’t have to do anything’

How will they ever heal themselves if they don’t have to?

How will they gain meaning from their experiences if their feelings are dulled by the drugs I prescribe, if I enable them to spend their life alone and inside?

I show myself how strong I am by forcing myself to function full-throttle in the world despite my invisible disabilities

How will my patients know how strong they are if their strength is not tested?

Am I secretly as callous as my parents, though I act with compassion?

Should I be more like my patients; take it easy and ask for help, or should my patients be more like me and tow their own weight, accept the normalcy of adverse human experiences, work even though they haven’t slept in days, like I do?

I have PTSD, nightmares, insomnia, panic, crippling anxiety and depression, but I carry on because I have to, or so I believe

Maybe I don’t have to do this anymore

Even though I work like a dog and pay my own way through life, even as the taxes I pay in part to support my patients’ disability benefits bleed me dry, I prefer the freedom to create my own life to dependence on a system that provides too little too late to survivors of child abuse

I want to stop asking my patients what is wrong and start asking them what is strong

We are all warriors

May I be a warrior of peace

May I heal myself in order to light the way for others on their healing journey

Fairytale

The story of the love of my life was like a fairytale

I followed the promise of the afternoon breeze right to my love

On our first date we went for a walk on a winding, icy path through the woods, during which I fell into his arms repeatedly

The pull into each other’s gravity was too strong to overcome

I got knocked up right away

We planned it that way

But it didn’t stay

I was sick with fatigue, nausea, and depression and didn’t have the time or money to have a baby

I thought he would step up to the role of a caretaker but he had his own self-imposed obligations

Not a day went by that he didn’t lose his phone or his wallet, how could I raise a kid with him?

No one, not even him, supported me the way I needed

As soon as the abortion was scheduled I joined a dating app

Still pregnant, I went for picnics in the park with strangers and drank homemade sangria which had warmed in the afternoon sun

A few bad dates later and my sanity returned to me in the clarity of my non-pregnant state,

I realized that he was actually pretty great

Sure, he didn’t own the condo or the SUV and wasn’t offering me the lifetime of security that the dating app men were, but he felt right to me

So we got back together

I cheated on him once while he was out of town and I was planning on breaking up with him when he returned, except I didn’t

I think I will feel ashamed of my misdeeds my whole life

Then we got engaged, married, and I am pregnant again, except now with more time, money and support than before

He no longer loses important things

We are living happily ever after

Except for every time he rehashes the past

Which is too often

I don’t want to talk about every sexual act I’ve ever done with a man, yet he harps on the topic

I wish I hadn’t created such a horror film of a life

I’m trying to sculpt a happier future

For me and the little one

I keep thinking I will stop swearing and start glowing

Holy shit, I’m pregnant

Although I am wary of parenting because my own childhood was awful

I will do a better job than my parents

Every day is my happy ending

Spelunking

What if I stopped caring about pleasing you and everyone?

What if I felt safe even around people who are upset?

How much energy would I free up, and what would I do with it?

How much lighter would my body feel, would my breath flow easily?

Would I be able to sleep at night, without feeling hunted by your animosity?

Would my pounding heart simmer down, and my jaw unclench?

What would I think about, if I weren’t worrying all the time how to make you happy?

What if I told you that your feelings are your responsibility?

What if I liberated myself from unrealistic expectations?

What if I let go of expectations for others?

If you love me, it doesn’t feel like it to me.

I want positive, supportive, unconditional love from those who practice humility, humor, and curiosity.

I radiate those qualities when I’m not lost in a cave of depression.

When spelunking, bring a helmet and a light.

A helmet to protect you so that thoughts of suicide don’t become acts of suicide.

A light source as a spiritual anchor to remind you not to take yourself too seriously.

Dreamboat

I dreamt my father piled his toxic masculinity on to me, the way he does

He found my secret stash of poetry and mocked me, reciting what I’d written with harsh tones of ridicule

Unlike real life, in my dream I confronted him

I told him I didn’t appreciate his critique of my truest expression of myself

He tore in, told me I was crazy

I felt pushed to my edge, the way I easily do

Still dreaming, I contemplated suicide, the way I readily do

Then I realized that I am ok with walking away

It felt liberating like a bell ringing, like a sunrise on the horizon of my mind after a lifelong night

If he wants to die alone, that is his prerogative

I’ve got my best life to live- no more will I give my power away to those who throw me away

What is this false belief that I could ever make anyone else happy

I became very unhappy trying to make everybody else happy

Growing up in a home of violent depressives, I didn’t stand a chance

I’m ready for a second chance at life- I will fall many times, but I will always get up

In my dream, I walked away

I climbed into a little boat with the man I love

We floated down a beautiful river

We were as happy as two people in a dreamboat can be

And we are