I was raised as a young girl to be a good Methodist. Anger was not an acceptable emotion in my religion or in my family. Neither my father nor my mother expressed healthy anger. Instead, my mother grew resentful from over-giving and her resentment turned sour as passive aggressive pouting and stomping without clear communication. My father would suck it up, suck it up, suck it up, and then, unexpectedly and without warning, he would explode with harsh, terrifying rage. Neither of them were ever violent with us, but nobody ever modeled or tolerated healthy anger. When I expressed appropriate anger as a child, anger that should have protected me, it got shut down. I vividly remember having access to deep rage when I was tiny, but anger did not work to keep me emotionally or physically safe as a toddler, so by the time I was 4 years old, my anger mechanisms had been effectively disabled. I had been successfully domesticated, silenced into submission and ready to be conditioned into a docile, people-pleasing, compliant good Christian girl who would be ripe for tolerating dehumanizing behavior later in life.
Dearest Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, Therapists, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, Energy Healers, Acupuncturists, Caregivers, and Coaches,
I know how much you care. I know you are an empath who feels the suffering in others and devotes your life to alleviating it. I know you feel the pain of others as an ache in your own heart, and as a light worker, you long to bring love, comfort, and peace into the hurting hearts and bodies of those you serve. I know you feel called to do this the way priests are called to the priesthood, as a spiritual calling and a Divine mission. I know you are grateful for the impact you have on those in need. I know it fulfills a deep longing to feel like you’re the hands of the Divine, serving love as only you can. I know you need to be needed, and it gives your life purpose. I am so grateful for your service. Thank you for how much you give.
We all know medicine is in crisis, and so are those of us who serve the sick and injured. Astronomical numbers of health care providers, especially physicians, suffer from abusive medical training, neglect of self care, unmet physical and emotional needs, compassion fatigue, burnout, chronic illness, addiction, depression, anxiety, broken relationships, loneliness, and PTSD from the traumas we experience without proper emotional and spiritual integration.
At the beginning of 2018, I was seriously considering entering a monastic phase of life. After three divorces and five years of messy relationships, I’ve become weary of the energetic exhaustion I associate with romantic relationship. Having ended my last romance in September, just before my mother died, I felt so heartbroken that I had a strong protector part making a very valid, rational case about why I should just accept the invitation of celibacy as the next phase of my spiritual journey. I was aware that it was likely that this impulse was coming not so much from my devotion to monastic life but from the trauma of repetitive heartbreak, a distrust of my own discernment, and a feeling of hopelessness. I also had a part that was making an equally good case for how the greatest growth edge of my spiritual journey lies in exploring my sexuality and radical emotional intimacy with a deep, spiritually mature partner who has experience with sexuality as a spiritual practice. I do not consider myself sexually experienced. Although I’ve had plenty of sex in my life, I’ve never really had a partner who was simultaneously safe enough and curious enough and spiritually mature enough and powerful enough to hold the kind of sexual and spiritual energy that can arise in the right partnership. I’ve tasted that intensity with two different men, but neither of them was available to explore that kind of heart/soul/genital connection in any sustained, reliable, deeply intimate way.
For some reason, I am someone who attracts people who need to tell their most painful, gut-wrenching stories, who need to have their story lovingly heard and witnessed and honored without shaming or judging or fixing. People tell me stories that break my heart, stories that move me to tears, stories that evoke compassion and fill me with outrage, the ones that elicit an impassioned upwelling in my heart to make the world a safer place for tender, sensitive, deeply-feeling souls. I hear stories that wreck me about doctors who unwittingly abuse their power and harm the very people they’re here to serve. I hear people’s #MeToo stories about bosses who harassed or raped them and then threatened to fire them if they didn’t stay silent. I hear stories about police and lawyers who not only failed to protect an innocent person who had been violated; they abused or even wrongfully killed someone in that vulnerable state. I hear stories of priests who abuse their power and molest young children in the name of God. I hear countless stories of people whose parents and siblings molested them, violating the ultimate trust any child should be able to have for safety in one’s own family. I hear stories of people who have been traumatized by gurus and spiritual teachers and self-help authors who abuse their power and commit the most atrocious crimes against Love in the name of “I’m just helping you get rid of your ego.” I hear stories of people who are getting the crap beat out of them from spouses who say, “I love you.” [Lest you ever question this, THIS is not love. Don’t ever believe an abuser who gaslights you with “I love you” right after abusing you. This kind of psychological manipulation is as abusive and confusing as the emotional or physical violence. Love does not abuse power like this.]