I sit on the last day staring at the blank page, opening my heart to live, to experience, to receive the imprint– one could almost say the carving– of the truth of my silence up until now.
The world calls this procrastination: I open my inner senses to see what is it in truth.
I have resisted this writing because everything I do is untrue. By that I mean everything I do is done in a way where on the inside I am comparing what wants to emerge with what I think will fit, will win me approval, will result in people receiving or reading this granting me approval, or simply liking me.
The other day, Thursday, I was driving to work, “late again” I kept muttering to myself, very aware of the whole physiology of fear in my cheat, belly, respiration a, and mental fog. Until I woke up! What is this? What is it that I am afraid of. And then it came to me. “Whether or not you (referring to my first patient) like me or think I’m a good doctor does NOT define who I am. Does NOT justify whether I have a right to be alive or not” I assert. And my whole body relaxes. Like Wow! How long have I held my aliveness hostage to the
approval of others?
It leads me to recall another patient encounter a week earlier. I had met with a young man and his father, and now both parents were here to continue our exploration of whether my approach was a good match for their sons challenges. For the purposes of this writing I’ll cut to the bottom line: the father asks “well what will happen at each session as you work with him” I answer, “we have already seen that my direct approach has sent him in a tail spin. So with future visits, I will rebuild a sense of safety; I will listen to him, draw him out on his interests, and look for an opening where he can face and address this challenge. I cannot tell you precisely what I will do because it will depend on what he presents to me.”
“Well that’s unacceptable!” He retorts almost angrily. “We want a second opinion!” In the heat of the moment, I am all professionalism and open heart– that curious mixture of deep knowledgeability of the workings of the body mind heart, and total acceptance, total openness to the spiritual nature of things that is my signature.
So I say “of course, there are many people in the twin cities who do this kind of work, or who approach this kind of challenge differently. We can refer you to someone else in our practice, or return to Dr Rumsey and she will give you a different referral.”
So that’s a lot about what happened. I say a lot because that’s not the real story. The real story is that two hours later, I realize that I am composing a letter back to the referring physician about this visit and the tone of the letter is one where I am painting the encounter in a way that minimizes and dismisses the parents concerns and displeasure.
I catch myself: underneath that letter blaming the patient , is that same physical emotional discomfort: my energy is low, my heart is beating faster, my chest hurts, my breath is shallow, my shoulders are tense. They didn’t like me!
Because if the intense work I have been doing over the past eight months, I am able to stand right there. I do not eat: in fact I have nothing to eat in my bag and I recognize the tendency to snack, even to snack healthily as this cover up to escape that core discomfort. they did not like me. They will return to their physician and report that they did not like me. (No wonder I was heading off that disaster by preceding them and reporting that I did not like them! Except that cloaked in all the professionalism I would never come out and say that– I would simply paint them in the bad light of their weaknesses and chuckle a bit under my breath, shaking my head saying No wonder they could not accept the value and strength of what I have to offer.)
I remember sitting feeling so grateful that I had caught myself, breathing, asking myself to sit in the discomfort of someone not liking me, someone challenging the validity of my therapeutic approach, and realizing that under all these layers was this child’s anguish and cry: they didn’t like me.
Can it be that all this work to become a physician, all the posturing, the rituals, all that the world calls professionalism, could it be that for me it is all a layer upon layer of protection against facing that people will not like me.
It’s like this “I’m a good person, I do good deeds good work, why did this bad thing happen to me? ” and people say bad things happen to good people.. It’s like that for me though it sounds like” I am a good person, I do goos things, I do good work, I say all the right things inthe right tone of voice. How could you not like me?” Do people not like good people?
Where and when did I build this elaborate system not only of : if I’m good enough, you are bound to like me”, but this deeper system that my inherent goodness therefore whether I get to live or not — ( this may sound overly dramatic this life and death stuff, except that it is firmly based on the reactions of my body mind heart…. What I mean is that when I think, feel, or am afraid that you won’t like me, my body reacts as if we are threatened by imminent death)
Where and how did I construct this elaborate system that judges whether I get to live or not based on whether you like me, approve of me, think I’m smart or good, or helpful. I think that last word “helpful” means whether or not you determine that I have value.
I think I am reclaiming the Pesed Neteru of my own creation. This may be here because I want this writing to be good enough for Fellowship. What I am reclaiming is that the Divine grants me aliveness, worth, value. I am reclaiming the pain and the strength of conferring value to me in the presence of being liked and of being disliked, of approval or of being shunned. Will I hold to the truth of my Being, the truth of what my life experience, my message to teach received not from my books but from my contemplation and connection with the flow of the divine, will I hold to that truth in the face of both fame and disapproval? Can I unplug from the false energy of the worlds acclaim -in big or small dimensions, from my daughters or my husband’s being pleased with me to,larger portions of the worlds fame: in community, at work, or on a larger stage of life?
Will seek fame or run away from disapproval at the cost of my Truth?
Recently through a series of conversations with my daughter seeking so courageously to emancipate from a tangle of mixed messages that we as parents have produced in her, I have come to the realization that I have sacrificed Truth in small and bigger ways all my life.
In those conversations with Ariele, the simplicity was stark and startling. Can I she said, ask you for some thing. And can you directly tell me yes or no? You always say yes, she continued, and I feel saddled, burdened because I feel your sadness, your anger, your agreeing to do the something while you really don’t want to.
Can I do that simple thing, I asked myself. Feeling that same physical reaction at the mere mention of such honesty, the honesty putting her liking me in that moment on the line. I resolved then to learn to tell the truth.
And it is that resolution, over these weeks, that took me to countless moments like the ones I described here, and finally led to You cannot tell the truth until you first learn to BE the truth. Not quite be but allow yourself to allow the truth to be visible through you without any distortions.
The call to BE Truth rather than tell,the truth will be the subject of the next chapter.
Ab-n sa neter-f tez-f.