Cortisol

This cortisol currency you pillage out of me from depths unseen

Cannot mean as much to you as it means to me

Your hands remain empty as I am depleted

You are the storm-maker but I will not be defeated

I’m recycling my resources

Your hot air will run its course

I will hold steady

So go ahead, shake my tree

I have plenty of cortisol, from depths unseen

Enough for you and for me

Safe

Why are you hurting still?

Do you feel ill?

Why are you a bleeding heart when you could be a beating heart, and dancing

Why do we clutch our pain so tightly it dominates our brain

Why are you hurting so

You are loved more than you’ll ever know

Feel supported and safe

I’m here, you’re ok

You see everything as a knife pointed at you

A threat to your life

I should know, I’ve been pulled by that undertow

Feel the earth below your feet, stand tall and listen to me

You don’t have to feel bad, you are allowed to feel glad

You don’t have to build walls

It’s a long way up for you to fall

There is love all around you

If only you knew

How can I express ultimate truth to you, except through song

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

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

Good

I no longer strive to be labeled as ‘good’ by others

Like a trained fucking dog

I don’t want to act sweet
When I feel salty and bitter
I never wanted to fit into a box
Or stay between the lines
I don’t even belong indoors
I am a wild, free woman
If that means I’m not the angel you thought I was
Then light up the fire and brimstone
Too long have I carried the burden of trying to save the world while looking cute and put-together
Always satisfying other’s needs like plugging holes in a dam and I’m about to burst
I tremble and ache to let go of the many ropes which bind me
So many roles to play and expectations to meet
No wonder I have no time or energy left for me
I am the only person I can save, and my liberation doesn’t require fake smiles or insincere social pleasantries
To live my best life
I must aspire to be more than simply good
I must liberate myself from the ribbon I am wrapped up in
Rip off the docile doll’s dress and burn it,
Warming my hands and illuminating my night
I must feel my body and ride the waves of my emotions with shuddering ecstasy
You want me to be good
But I want to be better

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

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

Rock

When struggling through life

I met the waves head-on

Gasping and nearly drowning as adversity slapped me in the face

Dragging down my body and my morale

Slowly, painfully, my ego was chipped away

Now a smoother stone, when the forces come at me

I bunker down in the stream bed

And let them pass over me with intentional non-effort

Challenges will always be a part of life

I used to be a leaf tossed by the wind

Now I embody the ever-present rock within

This is a practice, not a perfect

My ego still protests in victimized shame

I send a softening breath to my hard-headed brain

And soothe myself

You are OK

This is hard

You are doing your best

You are more than perfect: you are human

Humans get to live the beauty of learning from their experiences

Just breathe

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

Blue Glass

I am not OK

I’ve spent a life time lying,
Sticking to the script, saying that I’m fine
I learned as a child to be truthless
Because honesty only got me neglectful rejection
And beat-downs, ruthless
I was trained to be out of touch with my feelings
For a decades, I’ve been reeling
Coming home to my body, battered and bruised
Healing deep emotional wounds
In my family, failure was not an option
I prayed, even as an adult, for adoption
Periodically I stumble through patches of suicidal ideation
Homicidal visions to destroy all of creation
Just to find peace
Do you know what I mean?
I make ends meet, though I’ve stolen and cheated
Swimming upstream, never defeated
I don’t trust anyone with the truth about my life
I don’t want to rehash it, don’t want to unravel it
As a teenager, I used to beat off to Gravel Pit
I am not Ok, and I am Ok with that
I should probably ‘get help’, but the thing about people
Is that they make me uneasy
Can you blame me?
You can shame me, but whatever you are thinking,
I’m sure I’ve done worse
I seem Ok, like a high-functioning addict
Storing up empty bottles in my attic
Just to see sunlight shine through blue glass
Behold the beauty of my realized potential at last