Marriage

Behind the curtain of marriage I treasure the single men I know, each one a potential gem who would surely treat me better than my husband does.

I imagine how they would listen to me as we engage in stimulating conversations over a meal they provided, how respectful and grateful they would act, how passionate as lovers, how giving and attentive.

I fantasize about men who balance their check books and clean up after themselves, men who are calm and communicate maturely, who do the damn dishes, who save money or at least spend it on their family, who let go of past hurts, evolve and hold space for me to do the same.

I try to make myself at home within the sound-proof confines of my marriage, though the walls threaten to close in and crush me; both execution device and tomb.

Within the secret tortures of my marriage, my husband and I fight fervently leading up to the moment that we arrive out our friends’ houses, quickly plastering smiles on our faces as we ring the doorbell.

My veins are scalded by resentment for all the ways my husband takes miles without giving an inch.

I scan the horizon for a silver lining, a way to improve my situation: so far marriage counseling, life coaching and me doing the work on myself have all fallen short.

Yet deep below the cracks in our relationship, I sense a fertile humus.

We share more than our sordid history together; we make a home and a family.

We are united in our love for our baby, though we often disagree bitterly on how to raise her.

We share a commitment to our life together and a vision of our future, though we put different amounts of effort and resources towards both: in our relationship, I do all the earning and handle all the responsibilities for our household.

He drags down my energy and my finances, invoking a slow and destitute death.

Perhaps I’m not in a position to judge him: maybe he is the better one and I am the bitter one.

For now, I remain hidden behind the curtain of marriage, bound to my husband and yet alone.

Right the Ship

I write to you out of a sense of duty and love for my country. I am a physician who understands that denying women access to abortion results in death, injury, and disease from unsafe pregnancy termination. Forcing women to keep unwanted pregnancies also results in increased crime rates a generation later, as was noted by the national drop in crime after Roe v. Wade.

I am a concerned citizen appalled that women’s rights may regress back to a time when women were more overtly treated as second-class citizens. While some may think this goes without saying, women’s rights are human rights. The Supreme Court’s apparent reasoning behind repealing Roe is weak, and could easily lead to further measures of progress being lost. 

Beyond my qualifications as a physician and my insight as a born-and-raised American, I am adamant that abortion be kept legal due to my appreciation of the myriad reasons why women may seek to end pregnancy. As an adolescent I suffered both rape and impaired access to contraception. This is an all too common scenario that most victims never disclose due to stigma. 

As a young adult, I escaped from abusive relationships through abortion, for which I am eternally grateful. Being forced to wait at least three days after watching the pre-procedure video to receive the procedure as mandated by law was demeaning, however it was far more tolerable than complete denial of care. Abortion is exponentially safer than pregnancy and childbirth. 

I am now a mother with firsthand experience of the lasting and profound impact of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood on a woman’s health. I am able to provide for my family today because I had an abortion when my husband and I subsisted below the poverty line while I studied medicine. Our previous pregnancy resulted in persistent, severe illness which impaired my ability to safely care for my patients, and at the time we could not afford the cost of prenatal or child care on top of my husband’s burdensome student loan payments. Ending my previous pregnancy continues to have a lasting positive impact on our family. 

I beseech you to protect the rights of millions of Americans to maintain autonomy over our own bodies. While those in power may threaten our right to make decisions, we will continue to fight for each other and for our children. I write to you with my daughter by my side. I pray that she will grow up in a country where she has at least as much freedom to make the best choices for herself as her parents did. I am living proof that when our nation’s most economically vulnerable are let down by inadequate access to healthcare, childcare, contraception, and transportation, abortion is the final safety net that allows us to right the ship of our lives.

Snow globes

My Grandmother gave me four snow globes over the course of four winters

Each has a place on my shelf, frozen in time

When I look at them I am reminded of my Grandmother’s love, of that beating heart that gave it’s own blood to bear four children.

Each snow globe holds a lesson

One contains tropical fish swimming over ceramic coral; it reminds me to stay fluid, to keep moving forward in the face of obstacles

Another houses a castle; it reminds me to stay strong, stand firm and feel at home in my body

The third encases a wizard; it reminds me to stay open to the magic of the present moment

The fourth has a family of panda bears in it; it reminds me that I am connected to all living things

I used to have a fifth snow globe which contained a unicorn; it was smashed when I left it unattended, reminding me to take care of what I have

Sometimes I think about giving my snow globes away

They could have a new life and brighten a child’s day

For now, they stay

Mi Hija

My daughter

I don’t want you to suffer as much as I have suffered

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made

There will come times that you will feel afraid, exhausted, irate or heartbroken

Though your heart may break, you are unbreakable

Human flesh is soft but your spirit is strong, stronger than you know in this moment

There will come times that you will be tested and you will challenge yourself

There will be times that you will have to forgive

Set yourself free from loathing

To love is to live

Don’t work too much

Allow time for yourself and those important to you

Mi hija

I loved you before you were born, and I will love you even after I die

I want you to live deeply, to know true love and friendship

I want you to feel safe and supported by life

You can accomplish what you set out to do

This is especially true because you are mi hija

I know well that you will suffer because of this life I gave you

You will feel pain, bleed, and at times perhaps wish that I hadn’t brought you into this world

Forgive me, mi hija

This Earth is so beautiful, I wanted to share it with you

In attempting to create a happy childhood for you, I wanted to correct the wrongs committed by my parents

I want to impart on the future what I learned from the past

I want to break the pattern of intergenerational trauma, to heal my heart and our family with the love I pour into you

Life is not easy, mi hija, but I hope you will find it is worth the struggle

I’ve loved you since before you came into my life, and I will love you long after I am gone from yours

I’ve been writing these words with my life for you, in hopes that the mistakes I’ve made will prevent unnecessary suffering in your life.

If our foremothers could have left us a message, I wonder if it would have sounded like this.

I’ve been waiting so long just to meet you, with too much patience and self-sacrifice.

Any attempt to put into words what I feel for you will fall short, but I must try anyway.

Even when it seems that your efforts are in vain, do the right thing anyway

The right thing is that which brings you peace inside

That inner stillness can be difficult to notice when life gets loud and the noisy justifications of the mind drown out the truth of the heart

The happiest people I know listen closely to that quietness and follow their bliss, which aligns with love

It takes practice and I am still learning

I hope you learn it too, so that your life is rich with joy

I want you to live deeply, to know that no matter what you dedicate your time to, you can find meaning in it

I want you to know true love and friendship, to know that life supports you and wants you to flourish

You can accomplish whatever you set out to do

In your life you will feel pain, fear, anxiety, disappointment, exhaustion, frustrated, irate, sad, humiliated and heartbroken. Life is inseparable from suffering; it is part of the gift.

Forgive me for those times, there is no forcefield of love I can put around you to protect you

Though your heart may break, you are unbreakable

Your human body is soft but your spirit is strong, stronger than you know.

Every moment is a gift, what you choose to do with that gift is up to you, beginning with your thoughts

If you think that you are never wrong, you are wrong

Don’t believe everything you think

If you are guessing what other people might be thinking, odds are you are far from accurate

If you find your mind worrying, let the worry go

Worrying robs peace from the present, and we can never get that moment back

Worry stems from fear- what are you afraid of? You are loved and worthy, little one.

Think before you speak

Never say anything about anyway, including yourself, that you would not want the whole world to hear

May you live your life in such a way that you have nothing to hide

I want you to be so grateful for your life that you forget to complain

May you use intention when deciding where to shine your attention

There will be times that you will have to forgive yourself and others to free yourself from resentment and move on to enjoy life to the fullest

To love is to live and human relationships will teach you have to love more completely, which isn’t always easy, but it helps you grow that you may live more completely

Don’t expect any one person to satisfy all your needs, nor expect yourself to satisfy the needs of any one person

Don’t work too much, allow time to honor yourself and the people you love

We may not have met yet, but I have a feeling you will have a great ability to love, forgive, learn, create

What you may not know is how much you will be able to do what you are afraid to do, to speak even when your voice shakes

Don’t let anyone steal your spirit

Not everything is known and you don’t have to know all that is known

Whenever you are not sure what to do, take a deep breath and remember that there is enough air for you to breathe, enough earth to hold and nourish you, enough time for you to live and enough space for you to run, dance and explore this world

I know you love adventure, but before you venture out ask yourself what you would want your daughter to do?

Do not compromise your safety to save a few minutes or a few dollars

The sooner you deflate your ego to a healthy size, the easier you will fit through doorways

Don’t believe any label others try to put on you

Life is too precious to spend time acting surprised that humans make mistakes, the value in it is to keep improving, learning, growing

Empathy and compassion are always possible

To take care of your body, treat it as if today is the only day you will have to honor it. This will lead to many days of beaming health.

You life is a story you write and I hope you have many fulfilling experiences to remember

I want you to know that you are loved your whole life through

Keep on shining

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

Lines

Communication lines cut

Like my teenage forearms, in an attempt to let the pain out

Communication lines cut, if they were ever up and running to begin with

The first lesson you taught me was to communicate inauthentically

Communication lines cut

Through the deafening silence I imagine

The antagonizing and agonizing thoughts, words, and actions you are firing at me

In our power play, who will yield first

You make a mess and wait for me to clean it up

Furious that I’ve failed, yet again, to read your mind

I’m done living pathetically

I used to think that my life depended on keeping you content

Now I realize that you need me more than I need you

I don’t want to enable the toxicity of our relationship anymore

Given that our relationship was only me acting to please you, it isn’t much to lose

I don’t know if I will ever drop a line to tell you

May you experience deep healing on your journey

Harder

The more I try to keep the peace in my life, the more wartime volcanoes erupt.

Why do I try to appease assholes, even if they are family?

Lord, let me focus on the people who are a source of positive support in my life.

Let me soften into self-acceptance instead of trying to force my life, instead of coercing others into accepting me by acting the way I think they want me to act, live from authenticity instead of fear.

I’ve got my own diseases to cure

Starting with anxiety and depression which resulted from being crushed by drama giants all my life, leaving no room for me to be- I survived my formative years barely breathing

I am bigger now, though I don’t yet believe it

I feel thunder clouds roll in

Lighting cracks my core

Embodying tragedy and comedy, I’m not sure which will win in the end

Secretly suicidal my whole life, struggling through- expression of my emotions was not allowed at home

I scurried to pick up the shards of my parent’s and older sibling’s emotions like so many pieces of the dishes and furniture they broke

I thought it was my fault, if I could just be more perfect all of the time, if I could more accurately read their volatile minds…

It was a smash

Glue couldn’t hold us together

I swallowed my truth and am choking still

Jesus, Great Spirit, I find peace in your warm light

Please be with my family, may they know peace

May they stop shouting at me long enough to consider how I feel

I know that is too much to ask

They were never interested in me, only in what I could be in relation to them- conform to their demands or die

I never had an identity of my own to lose

I existed purely to please those around me

I feel an energetic shift and for a moment I crack open

A million butterflies pour out

The battle within me rages- fighting for my energy against the vortex of my human family

My tiger has been caged too long and is ready to roar, to chew out instead of get chewed out, speak instead of exclusively listen, insult instead of receive insults, dish out what I have been served

But I don’t want to be like them

I want to set my tiger free, transform my energy, practice forgiveness not to condone but to reclaim my energy as my own

My healer recommended that I meditate on the image that I am a fly on the wall witnessing their meltdown

In my meditation, I am a butterfly

This is a lifelong practice

The burden is massive and heavy

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders

I bow in gratitude to ancient wisdom

I want to defend myself without attacking, state the facts without accusation

The grinches who stole my life don’t have to steal it anymore, I alone hold the key to my jail cell door

When will I run out of people to hurt?

Perhaps when I run out of people to hurt me

I feel crushed by a ton of rocks- the blows of their words

I meditate on the image of the rocks floating above me, dissolving into sand and falling to the floor

Maybe if I blast you out of my head I can finally be free from this family when I’m dead

I feel deflated but not defeated, battered but not beat

No matter how much self-work I’ve done or awareness I’ve gained, no matter how many workshops I’ve attended, healing sessions I’ve received, supplements I’ve swallowed, books I’ve read to stop taking on other people’s energy, to empower myself as an empath and a highly sensitive person, I am still destroyed by energy vampires- my old survival mechanism to read the room and right the wrongs, but I can’t make you happy, fam. Why do I try? Why was this ever the expectation?

You say you are unhappy and hurt by me: welcome to my world, welcome to life as a human

It is OK to feel hurt- I feel hurt by you most of the time

Do you have any idea how much unhappiness and hurt you’ve been the source of that I didn’t express because I’d only get more beat-downs and rejection if I did, Mom?

It comes to blows, and I’m home

Full-blown crisis mode, no longer communicating by phone

You say the disrespect is unforgivable

I don’t need you to forgive me- that is your burden

In my life I’ve got plenty to forgive you for

I’ve learned many sacred lessons from the pain you inflicted on me

Maybe it is time I return the favor

Alan Watts asks what I would do if I had the power to dream any dream I wanted to

Just like when I’m sleeping, I will escape this nightmare about you by lucid dreaming

I will practice sending your energy back to you, again and again

Even if it takes my whole life

I forgive you, for you know not what you do

Up until now I’ve felt sorry for myself for having you as my mother

Now I just feel sorry for you for being trapped inside yourself your whole life

Walk your path- I’m not gonna stop ya

I’ll keep shining love like a bodhisattva

I’m OK with no longer growing fat from your toxic larder

Staying angry is easy, forgiving is harder

Thirsty

I wrestle with the dark depths

Tears flowing, thoughts running

I explore the idea of ending life in this body

To communicate what my mouth doesn’t say

To let my family know how much they hurt me

To give myself long-needed relief

Still I hang on just a little longer

And am rewarded with beauty beyond words

The first signs of Spring, delivering a baby

The light from these moments pierces through my depression

I am reminded of the sacredness in all

I can destroy myself as a result of trauma, or be a source of healing for my family

Breaking the inter-generational chain of abuse is a privilege

I radiate golden light to past and future generations, links in a chain

I cannot see the beginning or the end; I see the light, born from the alchemy of hurt and healing

My body is a crucible, a vessel for transformation

I am a force for healing

Yet I do not force my healing

The source of my healing is always present

Drink if you are thirsty

Hard

I don’t know what to do so I won’t do anything

I don’t know what to say, so I’ll sing

How come you give it to me, but I never give it to you?

I’m waiting for permission that is only mine to grant

I don’t know why- yes I do- you were hurt by me, I was hurt by you

If I were to tell you how I feel, what would I say?

I think you’re less than perfect too

I’ve committed crimes, but so have you

I don’t give you a hard time, maybe you could try that too

I need you to love me gently, instead of hardly

We don’t speak the same love language and I’m talking to myself again

You start fires, I put them out

You get loud and I want to shout

I don’t know what to do, so I won’t do anything

You won’t hear me complain because I don’t

Maybe you could try a little introspection and I could try a little introspection

We could be each other’s reflection, like we are

We’re made of stars

Why is this so hard

Coping

If I ever have children (if my body can forgive me for a lifetime of multifaceted abuse), I hope to give them a more robust and diverse repertoire of coping skills than the ones my parents left me

Instead of beginning and ending with cheap alcoholism and angst, I hope that my children draw from a complete rainbow of abilities

Mindfulness and movement; may they know the sweet depths of meditation, may they return to the present moment through gentle awareness again and again, and may they bathe in the ecstasy of a daily movement practice such as yoga, qi gong, tai chi, or wild freestyle dance, may they know that peace is always a breath away.

Contact with nature: may they be blessed with the sight of many sunrises and sunsets, may the sky fill their eyes and their lungs; may they have nature in their hearts and in their homes and may they submerge themselves in forests for sanctuary.

Interconnectedness: may my children know that they are loved unconditionally; may they connect with loved ones regularly, may they feel safe and supported in this world. May they draw on ancient wisdom and allow space for new realizations. May they feel both one in a million and a million in one.

Humility: may my children not overburden themselves with pressure; with realistic expectations may they wander more easily through life, may they balance unhelpful thoughts with helpful thoughts, may they rise up for an eagle’s eye view from time to time, especially during trying times.

We are all children at our core. May we know all of these blessings and more.