Song in My Heart

I have a song in my heart

I sing it when we are apart

When you are near

I am silenced by fear

I want to sing you my song

What happens to my voice

Is it even a choice

I want to believe that I am free

All I can do is try to sing to you

I have a song in my heart

A song like the wind that blows clouds apart

The sun shines for all

Remember this next time your heart falls

You have a song in your heart

You’ve had it from the start

You have a song that beats all day long

In the quiet of the night you can hear it

If you listen to the song in your heart

I feel the rhythm in all

Neuroscience Love

How I’d love to go walking

Through the orchard of your mind

To behold fertile neurons branching ever more intricately

In an arboretum lushly laden with sweet serotonin

My fingers search restlessly for the roots of your dopamine

My tongue drowns itself craving your acetylcholine

I long to climb your axons and shake ripe neurotransmitters

From the delicate tips of your dendritic branches

I ache to see your potential in action

To be blinded by the searing speed of your electric signal

As it sparks from node to node

To be swallowed by the violent beauty

Of vesicles fusing with your pre-synaptic membrane

How I wish to be one of your post-synaptic neurons

So that I may feel flooded by your molecules

In the electric throes of neuronal excitation

I hyperpolarize when you are near

Gripped by GABA, I am mesmerized

I’m living to see behind your eyes

Depolarize me anytime

Youth

I do not miss my misspent youth

Sputtering through shyness

Too insecure to form meaningful relationships

Lost in a sea of raging hormones

Shipwrecked by depression

Witnessing the world from behind a one-way mirror

I reflected others back onto themselves

Too scared to disapprove or move

I worked hard but didn’t live up to my potential

Treatment from others was less than preferential

I embodied a human doormat

I don’t miss feeling like it is the first day of school every day of school

I was wild and a fool

Falling into a serial monogamy with narcissists

Not seeing my own contribution to the ill romances which pushed me beyond the end of my rope

Like my partners, I felt special, though I didn’t express it outwardly

All along, sacrificing my ego could have liberated me

Realizing that I am just like everybody else- just as complex, and as simple

These lessons I learn still

The struggle of my youth was worth it to gain a bit of wisdom

Workaholic

I went into medicine partly due to heartbreak

The exhaustive training of medical school and residency was a welcome albeit ineffective distraction from my sorrow and loneliness
24-hour shifts are a convenient justification for not keeping in touch with loved ones
Even though the real excuse is my social anxiety and sense of inadequacy
Living within hospital walls, I suspect that I am not the only physician who became a medical doctor to try to forget unrequited love, to escape the world of human relationships
My older colleagues work far more than they need to to make ends meet, far more than any reasonable person would work in a week
Who needs friends or feelings when you have patients and science?
Our skin grows pale under fluorescent lights
Our vision becomes shortsighted as the screens stare unblinkingly
Our hearts forget how to feel carefree
Our muscles atrophy as our brains hypertrophy
Our minds become boxed in with facts, our mental filing cabinets overflow
I am a recovering workaholic working alongside workaholics who do not appear to be in recovery
Perhaps they suspect the same of me
Heads down in the trenches, none of us can know another’s heart
We can only know our own heart, if we listen
We carefully administer medications, surgeries and therapies
We measure progress in numerical metrics of lab values, calculated scores and vital signs
We arrive early and stay late
We work day and night without a break
We always have too much on our plates
We deprive ourselves of sleep, fresh air and food
We know why we have irritable moods
Practicing medicine is an unhealthy, imbalanced lifestyle and we know it
We can only ever heal ourselves
I’m ready to show it
I am finally healing my broken heart
I found that I had to begin at the start
Childhood wounds tangle and bloom
Trauma begets trauma until we change our thoughts, words and actions
Breaking old patterns even as we hold traction
I am love itself, I am the source of what I sought
My cup overflows, it was not all for naught

Alice in Recoveryland

Alice had her heart broken

When she was quite small
And healing a broken heart
Isn’t easy at all
So she drank
To forget it all
But she couldn’t forget,
Even when she felt tall
In fact, the more she drank
The more she felt like she was falling
And falling…
Until- kerplunk!
She hit rock bottom, landed on her badunk
She had no where to go but up
But getting up is hard when you are on your badunk
Though Alice was hurting, she was also incredibly strong
So she climbed and she climbed, though her journey was long
To this day, she is climbing still
She is higher than she ever felt when she was looking out over windowsills
In towers guarded by grumpy ogreish men
Alice is a survivor, and she’d survive it all again
Her heart may have been broken,
But it never stopped beating
Though the sweetness of love was fleeting
And the bitter years of sadness and tears
Left a sting on her cheek and made her feel meek
She is finding her true voice
She is exercising her choice
To express herself in this world
Hers is the story of one small girl
Who grew into womanhood
The only way she could
Smoking this, drinking that
Sleeping with men wearing mad hats
Alice is every woman, in a way
Doing her best to recover from her past today
Building herself a better future
Re-writing her fairy tale
After giving so many men happy endings
She is creating a happy ending for herself
Filled with love, hope, and peace

Anxiety

Anxiety, my oldest companion, always by my side

Anxiety
Ball of wirey grey string inside me
Buzzing like an agitated hornet’s nest, threatened and angry
Tangling, strangling, suffocating
Drowning me under dark metal walls rising
Closing in under the pressure of the shadow mountains of never enough
This shifting, terrifying scenery is my home
My neurobiological foundation was not built on safety or security
My mind was melded in the hellfire of anxiety
Flames of self-doubt licking at my heels
Constantly threatening to burn me to the bone
Venomous teeth bared,
My serpent of self-doubt is poised
Ready to strike
That’s how I get through the night
Jaw clenched tight, insomnia punctuated by nightmares
In a lucid dream I fly
In my many travels, I learn a thing or two
I understand now
That my anxiety is my servant,
Trying to protect me
From the many and varied perceived threats
Of my childhood and my adulthood
I breathe in deep
Let my tea steep
Beyond the dragoness serpent, the ring of fire, the charred walls, the mountains holding the howling winds of loneliness,
I see beyond all these horrors
With each breath
A bit of sunshine blue shines through
That bright and buoyant sight
That glimpse of the outside, of a new approach to life
Is all I need
To find peace
To hold hope
To savor the long years of hard suffering, mucking through mud
only to realize that my heart is a lotus blossom of healing
I am kneeling in humble gratitude
With each breath,
My serpent uncoils and I see her beauty
My flames simmer down
The earth beneath me settles and breathes with me
My walls fall, overcome by vines
Even my massive mountains of worry breathe,
Lush with Spring
Thank you for your service, anxiety
You can take a break from protecting me
This moment does not have to be a struggle
In an instant, ease breaks through
I breathe and bow to you, anxiety

Labels

Labels

I was labeled cute

I was labeled sweet

I was labeled shy

My anxiety and depression went unrecognized, intentionally overlooked by those with the power to help me when I was a child. My social anxiety drove me to act as anyone but myself.

My parents had not accepted and confronted their own anxiety and depression, and they trained me to follow their approach to life: suppress your feelings, be only what others want you to be.

I was labeled smart.

I was labeled hard working.

I was responsible.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I took responsibility for everyone else’s feelings. I took care of other children when I was still a child myself.

I was labeled a slut and a tramp by teenage girls.

I was labeled a tease by teenage boys.

I didn’t know how to say no, I didn’t know how to not lose myself in the desires of others.

Sometimes I was glad for the non-verbal language of physical affection, although I was just as incompetent at saying ‘no’ physically as I was verbally.

I was labeled an escort, a call girl, though I was just trying to make ends meet, girl.

I was labeled a graduate, with latin honors.

Though I worked as a prostitute, survived unnumbered abusive relationships, including the abusive relationship with myself, now they call me doctor.

What my patients don’t know is how much I’m still learning everyday- learning how to take care of myself as I ask them to take care of themselves.

In my daily practice of being my best self, I practice un-labeling through non-judgement.

Labels limit our minds.

Labels snap a stagnant picture from the moving scene, robbing us of the limitless possibilities of the present.

My Yoga Teacher

My yoga teacher said

May you live in the heart
May you light up the dark
May you live in the now
May you flow with the Tao
May you bless up
And never come down

My yoga teacher said,
‘Our generation is the smartest one yet, we have all the information we could ever need at our fingertips, yet we still aren’t enlightened- we can’t take 3 steps without melting down’.

True, however:

What I wanted to say to my yoga teacher after class, but didn’t due to my lingering shyness was that we are in the process of becoming enlightened, and yoga teachers are an important part of the sacred process of enlightening others, whether they realize it or not:

One by one, enlightened people share their light with others
As if passing a flame from candle to candle
The glow grows without end, multiplying infinitely.

Sharing our inner light with our fellow beings does not diminish our own glow, but builds a safety net in case our own flame is temporarily blown out- we have a friendly neighbor with a bright source to rekindle us again.

Because we have paid it forward, we have propagated a culture of generosity and abundance.

Let your light shine.

Yoga is a key part of my healing journey. It has changed my relationship with myself and with the world.

To my yoga teacher, I bow in deep gratitude for how they share their light with the world.

To all teachers everywhere across time and space; thank you, and namaste.