Anxiety, Again

It happened again.

Anxiety wrapped me up so tightly I must untangle myself with scribbles that you are kind enough to read.

Socializing leaves me aching with regret for the words I said wrong and the words I didn’t say.

I feel like a failure, even though I know that is a harsh conclusion, I feel it still.

I feel inept, like no matter what I do I won’t ever feel comfortable in social situations.

Even though I have undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder, as is more common in females. Even though I have worked painfully hard to hide my differentness, my social awkwardness rarely stays below ground for long.

In the game of whac-a-mole, the moles keep popping up no matter how many I whack.

Self-love, self-compassion, forgiveness, humor, perspective, reassurance that I belong in this human family, in this world, that I am enough, that I am worthy of love, as we all are: these are the treasures I have gathered along my journey.

These are the treasures I hope you find and cherish as well. They must be carefully cultivated, nourished and loved.

May you feel nourished and loved.

May you rest on the shores of peace.

Inhale what you need. Exhale what is no longer serving you.

All is well, even when we are under cloud cover, the clear sky remains above all.

For the duration of my whole life, the sun has never stopped shining- there were only times that I couldn’t see it.

The moon is a reminder of what I don’t see.

Maybe everybody feels this way sometimes, and it is normal and ok.

May I remember that I am blessed beyond measure even during the uncomfortable moments of this human journey.

Storms will rise, then pass.

May my breath be my anchor to weather me through until I see the sky of blue again.

Invisible

I grew up in invisible poverty

Not in a city housing project, but surrounded by trees- keepers of my sanity

Unfortunately, I didn’t cling tight to that original green

I left the nature that uplifted me to get swallowed by the big city

I did hard time in the belly of that proverbial whale

I was a natural at drinking at bars and hitching rides from strangers in cars

I ran as fast as I could in the workaholic race without stopping to realize that I was headed away from that which my heart truly desired- tranquility and peace

I recreated the high stress of my childhood without seeing my own role in the process

Perhaps the cycle of trauma is not fully broken, yet I am breaking free

The chains that bind me are invisible, yet I feel them loosen and weaken

I get stronger every day

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.

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.

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

Tension

Maybe I can sing to my tension to put it to sleep

Sweet crying child, mama has things to tend to

It doesn’t matter how much you know; what matters is how much you grow

I like to think that I allow time for transformation as I race to cram knowledge into my head. Perhaps giving myself permission to be less busy will be a milestone of true transformation.

Even the most awful moment is still just a moment if you let it go.

PTSD comes pounding on the door with complete disregard for personal space

‘I’m trying to put my baby to sleep’ I hiss at that deaf, indifferent faceless face

Everyone has something to teach us, and we have something to teach everyone

I thought that I was the only one who had learning to do, that I was unique in my innate deficiencies and that if I worked hard enough, I could trick others into believing I was normal. What a struggle.

Getting my MD was ego driven and ego destroying. At the end of the journey instead of wearing my hard-won crown I want to throw it to the ground because I know what really matters now.

I approach the veil even though my greatest fear is revealing the truth about myself.

You fire bullets at me, then ask me for more ammunition

In the hospital I admit the ghosts of clinic visits past

My forefathers poured gasoline onto the opioid epidemic, now I am asked to light a match and do the math

Prisoners on hospital holiday, homeless in need of shelter

I hunger for my own health and feel that it is just a sprout away

I keep my cat in the bag next to the elephant in my room

Money grows like a tree. I’m trying to plant seeds while my man tosses them in the breeze like Johnny Appleseed.

I wash off layers of alcohol-based sanitizer from my drunken hands.

Just because you feel superior to me does not mean that you are my superior.

I loathe you for calling people out on their bullshit because I don’t call you or anyone else out on theirs.

Words of truth stay trapped in my mouth and are transformed to tears which pour out of my eyes like a spout.

I’m beginning to notice that my avoidance of confrontation at all costs is no longer worth the price to my body.

My body is strong, carrying tension so far for so long

I’m ready to lighten my load

I stumble upon enlightenment on the rocky road

Night Shifting

3AM:

Holding space

Just in case

You smash your face

at 3AM

I put out fires before I retire

Night song:

The day team has gone home

The bustle has simmered down

We few listen to the nightengale’s song

The dinging of hospital monitor alarms, all night long

Pink unicorn:

On inpatient pediatrics

I practice break room snack tactics

My pillaging rewards me

With a pink unicorn paper plate

Strung out:

By the time I realized that my survival skill of being high strung was making me strung out

I was half-way through medical school

Too late

Free bird:

Graduating from medical school

Leaving the shelter of my alma mater’s bosom

Flying free as a bird

Right into the glass door of residency

Anxiety:

I recognize that just like me, she is riddled with anxiety

I wonder if she has ever told anyone

I wonder if I ever will

Baby:

Baby born to today

Mom and baby are ok

How amazing. Happiness abounds.

The End:

Only at the end

Do we see clearly

What was important

Swept:

Swept up in inspiration

I catch these words

Swirling around me like fall leaves

I wonder if I will get swept away with them

Chocolate or vanilla?

The age-old question

In my advanced years, I have come to appreciate vanilla

But I’d rather ride a chocolate c— any day

What I learned in my many travels:

When you reach the beach at the end of the earth, purchase the overpriced coconut you long to drink

The Choice:

Between being a mother or being a doctor, I chose to be a doctor, though it cost me my sons and/or daughters.

My first pregnancy I called Cosmo

I sent him back out to the cosmos

My second pregnancy I called Autumn

I let her go at the first winter’s snow

Nobody knew that her skin would have been auburn

My third pregnancy I called Aurora

I still roar with pain at the loss.

I hope she will rise again.

The Moon:

Even the moon has boundaries

For a few days each month, it exists only for itself

Driving home at the end of a night shift, a faded twinkle in my tired eyes.

On the other side of the highway, commuters struggle to swim upstream

I cruise along drinking in the sunset- everybody else’s sunrise

Be Still

Be still my heart

I whisper to the bleeding bird beating itself against the bars of my ribcage

Try as it might, the only escape is through death

When at last this panicked creature the size of my fist may rest

Many a long night has my heart bludgeoned itself through dark hours, sputtering through panic

In the certainty that the journey as we know it will one day end, may my heart know peace now, between systole and diastole

Heart, you fill yourself up only to empty yourself out again

Working tirelessly in service to every cell in my body

I know I have neglected you, as I have neglected the rest of me

Every beat is another opportunity to do better

I humbly dedicate this moment to you

Bouncy Ball

Resilient sphere of color

I throw you down but you only bounce back higher

Dancing down the stream
You get caught on rocks and fallen leaves
I free you and follow you down the babbling brook
Your journey is again halted by forest debris
I dislodge you with a stick and you bound onward
Carried effortlessly by the water
I was told that all rivers flow to the ocean
I am determined to travel there with you, to see this through
Then I learn that water sometimes moves underground
Branch still in hand, we are both stuck on land
I didn’t account for this
Years later, I am an adult in a high-pressure profession
Just now pausing after years of running
As if I’ve been chasing a ball down a stream
Bouncing from one goal to the next
I am bewildered by the restless movement which only distanced me from my heart’s desires
In exchange for passing tests, I received more tests
No one ever asked me if I want to be tested
I value serenity and peace, meditation in nature
I was already where I wanted to be
When I was a girl with a rubber ball
Bring me back to that forest stream
I will stand in it
Let the cool water wash over my feet
Bouncy ball by my side
In stillness and simple satisfaction
We will stay