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

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.

Musings

On the shores of sleep

Waiting for the tide of insomnia to roll out

I am crushed by anger

I struggle to breathe under the weight of it

Lord, take this burden from me

My dustbin collects what I’ve tossed aside for later

Later is now

There’s a feeling I can’t shake that the whole universe is a flake of dandruff on the scalp of a much larger being

When I am the queen bee, the person I sting the most is me

Life on Earth is a virtual reality ride at the intergalactic carnival

Human life passes quickly in the context of eternity

We’re just playing

You can do what you want to your avatar body, made from the latest technology

All that I wanted, all that I need, was always inside me

To tap into timelessness by returning my attention to the present, to reassure myself that I am more than ok- this is the meditation that frees my spirit

I return to this meditation again and again, waves lapping on the shore of consciousness

My anger boulder is also the rock that supports me

I offer up my rock collection

Lord, please take what I don’t know what to do with, what I no longer need

I feel lighter already

I have an old habit of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good

May I be ok with feeling hurt and not throw the whole relationship away

May I become comfortable with discomfort and stay

I usually dream that I am being persecuted- I run, fly, and fight ineffectively

When I scream no sound comes out

Last night I dreamt that I was being bullied, publicly humiliated and subjugated to abuse of power- another day on the job

Vultures ripped at my exposed flesh- bon appetit

The difference between us is our intention

My spirit sent a sincere namaste third-eye wink to the bully

She felt a spark of light in her heart and didn’t know what to do, it disarmed her

I think that on some level, she recognized the divine too

Hallelujah

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

Hunted

Do not make me feel afraid in my home, where I pay the bills with the earnings from my skills

Where I clean up the spills and cure the ills

Yet I still cannot prevent melt-downs

Despite my walking on eggshells, I set off landmines of drama from time to time

These very words have potential to cause damage, depending on whose eyes find them

My intolerance of conflict is impractical

The physiologic reaction that my body is under threat with every disagreement is not helpful anymore

I take my herbal sedatives and guide my body through relaxation yoga nidra style, yet the pounding in my chest won’t let me rest, even when I visualize it as a drumbeat of peace, rippling outward and keeping rhythm as I soften muscle away from bone, cell from cell and thought from thought

Still I feel hunted in my own home in my own bed in my own head

This is the time that if I had something stronger I’d take it for brief relief. I am curious to try the medications I prescribe for patients with ailments identical to my own.

Instead I write with a smile of gratitude for the fact that I don’t have a prescription because I’d miss out on the therapeutic bliss of this midnight poem if I did.

Medusa

I’ve got that medusa head

Curls on curls, in your bed

Don’t look into my eyes, I’ll turn you to stone

Then you won’t hear me calling on your phone

I don’t mean to be venomous

It’s just how I am I guess

When the radio asks for a donation, I change the station

My cogitation gets agitated, dancing between play and work, dinner and dessert

I try to chop off the head of an anxious thought, for naught-

More troubled rumination sprouts from the wound

I pray inner peace will resurface soon

Always a breath away

My Body

My body is a dustbin

Collecting what is forgotten and broken

The overlooked and the rejected

Are welcome within my walls

My body is a minefield

Ready to go off

Touch me anywhere

You’ll trigger trauma everywhere

My body is a row of dominoes

I line myself up

Only to watch myself fall down under the slightest stress

Finding myself again in the middle of a mess

I want to ask my heroin addict sister

If our mother did to her what our mother did to me at night

If my sister experienced similar humiliation and violation

If she felt God-forsaken hour after hour awakened

Torn between nightmares and the horror of real life

I wish I had drugs, prescription or illicit, to help me survive this pain that is always by my side, a balm for this immortal mortal wound

Ever the warrior, I muscle through on my own

Only when I am alone do I feel almost safe

I cry and say the words I didn’t say

Feel the loss of the one who got away

My body is an international currency used to bargain, barter and beg

My body speaks a universal language, from my hair to my legs

I have forged deals in the most unlikely of places

I always felt underpaid

Time after time I find the perfect storm, my shelter so that I can disempower myself, disown my sadness, illustrate it through external circumstances

I thank my pain- my loving protector

I thank my body- my stage and specter

Lotus

Anxieties and worries

Crowd around me in the dark

I dissolve them by sending breath to

My blossoming lotus heart

Each thought is another petal

Adorning a loving heart more precious than metal

Transformed by new perspective and watered by sacred tears

My lotus grows without limit, fertilized by fear

I invite anxiety in for tea

Faithful friend, you must be growing weary working all the time

Why settle for nettles when fruit is ripe on the vine

I thank you for your service and put you at ease with this rhyme

Off My Chest

I need to get you off my chest

I’ve never felt relaxed in my life because you raised me in the war zone of your wrath
Bombs of panic explode in my mind all day every day
Choking me with your smoke and mirrors even though you are far away
My ears ring with your shouting
You were the biggest little tyrant
Not even two years my senior
Yet always more needy
Mandating, yet begging
I didn’t realize the power I had over you, and still do
You were the one dependent on me for affirmation, not the other way around
I didn’t have a choice then, but I do now-
To live a life without your storms brewing on my horizon
I’ve never slept well in my life because I thought you were going to murder me in my sleep throughout our childhood and adolescence
I used lie in bed wearing a cross around my neck with a note attached to it asking you to think before acting, waiting for dawn to break, dreading another day with you, feeling trapped and hopeless with no end in sight
I never felt protected, respected, seen or heard by our parents
In moments of desperation, I wish you had killed me
Instead you continue to torture me passive aggressively, and I am passive passive aggressive
Silenced, as if buried alive
I toss and turn, tormented between insomnia and nightmares
I’m trying to think before I act
I am upset that I’m even thinking about you now
I am upset about how you get upset ‘at’ me: you throw your rage at me and have me clean up the mess, time and time again, left to calm your ass down as if your reactions were justifiable or somehow my fault
It was never my fault
I am not responsible for how you feel
Leave me alone you evil bitch
I want to scream at you with the force of 35 years of repressed anger and tears
At the same time, I am trying to let go of the hot coal which burns my palm
I am trying to let the rippling waters of my pond be still
I am trying to not be irritated, for only then will you no longer be irritating
I am trying to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings
I am tired of trying so damn hard
I am ready for ease
I am ready for peace
I am ready to breathe
Please, get off my chest
I don’t need to ask- I am responsible for how I feel
I’m not sure what to do next
I’ll probably meditate and self-medicate with raw emo poetry
Like the note pinned to my cross-necklace, you will probably never read this
But maybe those who matter will
Those who feel they are suffering alone
May find healing in this onion peel
And breathe just one breath more freely
For this I humbly pray
Namaste

Take it Back

I feel the knots you’ve tied within me

Stains on my energy
Pains in my body
I observe the damage
Tension, nausea, sensation of suffocation
Insomnia, dizziness, diarrheal defecation
You made me feel powerless for too damn long
You beat me up but my spirit is strong
This shit isn’t mine
This was never mine
This is yours
Take it back
Take it all the fuck back
The trauma and the drama
The hurt and the dirt
Keep your hands and your mind out of my skirt
Don’t tell me what to do
Your mind games were never fun for me
Were they fun for you?
You can win the prize, I offer it freely to you
I won’t play anymore
Your ego will have to deal with the fact that I’m letting my sanity heal
I’m learning to put myself first
Through radical acts of self care to restore my happiness and health
Your energy is yours
Take it back