Guys I’ve Dated

I’ve dated guys whose eyes watered from the burn of undiluted wasabi

Thinking they were Japanese cuisine purists, they were only fooling themselves

He judged others for cutting off their chi from wearing their socks too tight while his own panties were in a bunch

He took me to a restaurant where the jazz was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves

He didn’t intend to listen to me anyway, I found out later that night

I’ve dated guys I could only wash down with an unhealthy amount of alcohol

Guys who made gourmet meals taste bland with their predatory presence

I’ve dated guys who tried to shame and control me

They must feel so ashamed and out of control themselves

I was never into that scene

I’ve dated guys who believed their suffering was unique, artists who didn’t want to feel understood

I’ve dated guys who made me feel special for a time, until I realized that they only wanted me to make them feel special

They didn’t see me as a person, but a tool to be used, an addiction to leave them unsatisfied

I’ve dated guys who drank too much and called out for me in the middle of the night like a babe to its mother

Like a mother to a babe, I gave them my teat

The narcissistic and manipulative, the accusatory and dramatic

Guys who implied suicide if I ever left their side, yet somehow they are still living

Guys who stalked me and threatened me with their bodies

I prayed for boundaries

My man isn’t like those other guys

But he wants to know how many, and why

All I can do is bask in relief and sigh

Grateful, deeply grateful

Dr. Doormat

In my few years as a resident physician, I’ve denied myself sleep and food for my patients, neglected myself and my loved ones.

I aborted my pregnancies to be fully present for my patients and not hampered by fatigue beyond words, nausea with endless vomiting, or dangerous depression interfering with my daily 12 to 24 hour shifts. I ended my pregnancies to not miss work for prenatal appointments, labor, or delivering my baby to someone who had time to take care of them.

Many patients repaid me with a ‘thank you’, however some repaid me with lies and manipulation, threatening suicide if I didn’t prescribe them controlled substances for inappropriate reasons like ‘it’s the holidays’ or ‘I only ask this one favor’.

My patients have shaken fists at me, shouted and sworn at me, told me it would be my fault if their electricity went out because they didn’t pay the bill and it was my job to write a letter of medical necessity and fax it to the electric company ASAP, despite no explanation for the delinquent bill other than their slovenliness. They addressed me by my first name only, insulted me directly and indirectly. I write in the past tense in hopes that this will end, but it is ongoing.

I received a malpractice lawsuit from a patient I never met but on whose chart I placed an essential order while my colleague delivered news of intrauterine demise at bedside, as I hoped to be helpful during a time of need.

I’ve heard it said that no good deed goes unpunished.

Some patients feigned crises or falls in protest of not getting exactly what they wanted when they wanted it, regardless of what their physician knew was in their best interest; knowledge garnered through long years of hard knock training.

Despite all the sacrifice and ongoing mistreatment, I care for my patients deeply. We are a sort of surrogate family for each other, and as dysfunctional and volatile as my nuclear family. My patients are the people I call when I should be having lunch or dinner, when I might otherwise have had an opportunity to contact friends or family, when I could have nursed my baby if I had had the courage to prioritize my pregnancy over the expectations of my patients, colleagues and bosses.

I’m a good team player to everyone but myself.

I have learned to realize when my emotions are mucking up my mental waters, learned to work around the ways that patients interfere with their own care by not showing up for appointments, not answering their phone, and talking so much blaming their doctors for their poor health that they are incapable of hearing information that may allow them to heal.

I’ve heart it said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Some days I consider trying to set a gentle boundary when my patient shouts ‘WHAT THE FUCK!?’ at me repeatedly and takes personal jabs at me, as they recreate the dynamic of my childhood where I learned to stay calm and quiet amidst the storm because my life depended on it. My stunted ego whimpers under their blows.

My body still believes that my safety depends on a lack of reactivity.

How hard to unlearn my sole understanding of how I can survive in the world. How difficult to rebuild the foundation on which I stand.

I’m still too scared to act in any way but a doormat.

I focus my energy not on teaching these adult children how to be respectful, but on being their physician. I share my diagnosis, give an explanation of their ailment with pathophysiology, and form a plan for their healing.

I too am healing, though it is not yet outwardly visible.

I am both strong and weak. Strong in my ability to tolerate other people’s bullshit. Weak in my ability to speak up for myself. I am afraid to make matters worse, to fan the fire and get burned with even more shouting, swearing, insults and potential violence.

In vain, I try to avoid getting chewed out, which despite my best efforts still occurs too frequently. I long to somehow eliminate toxic people from my life.

They trample on me, leave their muddy stains across my face, but I stay in place.

I have endured worse.

I hope it is true, about blessed are the meek. It is thankless sharing the Earth with ingrates.

Sleep Talking

Long ago and far away
On a bus grinding through the night
The air thick with sweat and grime
All we had was time
Beer and ice cream on my lips
Bitterness and liquor on his
The man next to me said that I was afraid of talking in my sleep
He overstepped the boundary that I failed to establish between us
Sometimes when I wake up alone, I wonder if my lover heard me sleep-talking and left me to wallow in my past
I want to tell him the truth about my life, but I fear that he would stop loving me,
or worse- rehash it endless times and tell his religious family who would judge me as a hell-bound, lying, baby-killing whore
They’d be right, in a sense
I have exchanged sex for money and I’ve had 3 abortions, each one horrible in its own way, but not as bad as being stuck in an abusive, disempowering situation
Judge not, motherfuckers
I don’t want any man to judge the decisions I’ve made about my body
Least of all a man who is financially dependent on my career: a profession which swallowed my fetuses whole
My past is nobody’s business but my own
I don’t want to be given a hard time for the hard times I’ve already been through
I’m trying to heal and move on
I’m trying to meet myself with compassion for the trauma I’ve endured
I am strong and tough and vulnerable and delicate
My dark secrets are at once more innocent and scandalous than my jealous partners imagine
I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore so I stopped being pregnant
You weren’t supporting me by being broke and leaving me shamefully unmarried
I didn’t want to spend the weekend with you so I didn’t
I regret the weekend away because the other men treated me both better and worse than you, but I love you- painfully clear now that the hormonal storm of pregnancy has simmered down
Why do I set myself up for drama and disaster? I’m trying to heal but your rehashing of the past dredges up emotional detritus, dragging me back
My old stress addiction dies hard
I clamp my jaw
My teeth grind like a bus in the night
I pray that I didn’t sleep talk last night

Poetry

Poetry won’t stop leaking out of me
My hands get a tingle
My mind sings a jingle
I search for paper on which to scratch
Anything within reach
Backs of receipts, napkins, old scraps
All other activity falls to the wayside
Until I see the poem before my eyes

I write about the unspoken suffering of my life
Of being brutally silenced
Since infancy I was trained not to cry when I wanted to cry
My feelings were an inconvenience to those by my side
I came to understand that my needs were not important enough to be expressed, and if I made the mistake of even showing how I felt through my face or my body, such truth was beaten out of me by those closest to me
Far worse than the violence was the mental abuse
and even worse than the mental abuse was the neglect
Sometimes I felt invisible and other times I felt like I wasn’t invisible enough
I wished that I could fly away
The shouting was so loud, where could I hide?
I locked my door but they always burst inside
No boundaries
I cried in secret silence everyday
I learned that I existed to be what others wanted me to be
I delivered what was required
Though inside me raged a fire
The primordial desire
To be free
I’d give anything to live just for me

When I became grown, I left home
But my well-trained brain followed me wherever I roamed
Autonomy is foreign to me
I met many lovers but they always chose me
Because I pleased them easily
I never returned the favor
Of serving up the criticism they so abundantly showered upon me

Joyfully, I recently discovered that the suffering of my life has a name;                                                            Narcissistic Abuse
There are healthier ways to love, ladies and gentlemen
I want more harmony and less harm done to me
I am trying to create a life that I want to live,
One where I give from my heart instead of feeling like a marionette jerked around by the malicious hands of fear

I want to tell others how I feel and what I am thinking
Speak from my heart
Release my throat chakra
Weave a tapestry with the golden thread of my truth
Relentlessly I work at this nearly impossible task
Like a seed below the soil, the only place I have to grow is toward the sun
But healing my mind feels like building a castle on quicksand
My efforts collapse, fall and fail every day

I must remember to give myself compassion, the way I try to give my abusers compassion
I have succeeded before in speaking my mind
With every break-up, no matter how clumsy my wording or how long it took me to work up the courage
I want to tell my exes that when I hurt them by finally breaking up with them, it was because I was trying to reclaim my life and honor both of us
God, have I suffered at the hands of men
When they hurt me, it was because they were trying to get a rise out of me, or hurt me out of spite
I want to tell them: Get a life, you jerks

May they stop terrorizing me and find inner peace swiftly

I feel awful about the things I’ve done that I didn’t want to do
Especially the things I’ve done with men
The sex was violent, violating, painful and humiliating
If only I could forget it, but even my body remembers
I think I will always see men as perpetrators, even though not all of them are
An overwhelming amount of the ones I’ve known are
I struggle to shake them off me when they’re ready to rape me yet they’re nowhere to be found when I’m ready to abort our unplanned pregnancies
That excruciating physical and emotional pain is just for me

The bloody landscape of no man’s land

I understand that as an adult survivor of child abuse, I attract abusers
I’m developing a repellant
By noticing patterns and breaking them
Prevent problems before they start
The best defense is a good offense

I still worry
Worry that my heart will always feel broken
Worry that the countless times I was raped will catch up with me in the form of STDs or infertility
I worry that I will always live in fear
I worry that I will always worry
I worry that I will feel sad and mad all my life
I worry that I will continue to suffer though I shouldn’t worry about that because suffering is guaranteed and worrying will do no good
Life is pain
That’s the rule of the game
I can still win the game of life even though I was born with disadvantages, for my advantages are greater still
I have hope and heart
I’m writing a happy ending to my story
I am writing with a golden pen of glory
I am writing unstoppable poetry
Until victory, always

Thank you.

Borderline

You and I walked the line-
The thin border that separated us
We got as close to each other as we could

Your mood swing shook the ground, turning the crack between us into a canyon
Sprawling vastly between us, there was no way to stitch or suture us back together
I was shaken down by your rumble
My hopes for us buried in the rubble

Slowly, we picked ourselves back up again
Separating the pieces of you from the pieces of me
Resurfacing, scratched and bruised
Older and wiser

You seem borderline
Leaning so close in
Then so far away
I might be borderline too
We swerved toward and away from each other
At a dizzying pace
I’m trying to figure out
Where is the line with you?

You crossed the line with me
Too many times
It was my fault
For not drawing a boundary, not staying true to my heart
But I’m drawing it now
By cutting you off
Instead of cutting my skin

You kept invading my body and my life
I’d rather do other things with my time
So please, darling, mind the line