The way I hurdled headlong into what I thought was love three years ago is so clichéd that I won’t even bother describing the intoxicating fireworks. It was a star-crossed, impossible relationship from the get-go, a doomed love affair heading for a crash and burn we both should have anticipated, but we didn’t see it coming. We both made promises we had no business making, and it felt so seductive to believe we could keep them. We were reckless and narcissistic, believing in magic and miracles, instead of facing the inevitable reality that would one day smack us in the ass.
A teenage Icelandic woman is raped by her Australian boyfriend after she’s had too much to drink. In his own immature, conditioned teenage mind, he doesn’t call it rape. Because the media and pornography and the way fathers raise sons and bro’s egg on bro’s, he convinces himself that he was justified in taking what was rightfully his—her body, her vulnerability, her sexuality, maybe even her physical and mental health. She is traumatized by the experience, and in his own way, he is too. Her life unravels, and so does his.
Right now, I am at Esalen, in recovery in the wake of the death of my mother. Although grief can be consuming and the deathbed vigil with my mother was intense, I couldn’t ignore the #MeToo stories that were erupting in the news during this journey with my mother. So let me take a moment to add my two cents to the swell of outcries rising from women who are finding their voice. I know my mother would be proud of me for saying, “#MeToo.”
Dressed in rain gear, prepared for a downpour that never came, I gathered with 60,000 of my sisters (and the men who stand with us) to choose love. I started crying from the first moment I encountered the crowd. I was so touched—by the beauty, the passion, the fear, the anger, the love, the frustration, the intimacy, the humor, creativity, the raw, pure humanness of 60,000 of us gathered together in our messy, human glory.
Years ago, when I was practicing medicine in an unusual way and trying to find language to describe what I was doing, I struggled through words that didn’t quite fit my definition. Although words like “integrative medicine” and “holistic health” got close, the way those words are understood in our culture wasn’t the same thing I envisioned. To me, “integrative medicine” meant you play nice in the medical sandbox with acupuncturists and homeopaths. “Holistic health” meant you recommend green juice cleanses and prescribe a lot of supplements. “Functional medicine” means you order a lot of unusual laboratory tests not usually covered by insurance, and you treat often neglected biochemical imbalances naturally. While I very much appreciate the value of natural medicines, green juice cleanses, non-mainstream lab tests, and alternative healers, and while I fully endorse the benefit of all of these interventions, I was more journeying down another rabbit hole, where patients were having “spontaneous remissions” without drugs, supplements, raw vegan diets, or acupuncture needles.