It was another weekend of training in Hakomi. We were working on figuring out our resources (those things in our lives that help us get through tough times). It was the second day of training for this block, and my student therapist asked how things were going, “day by day, usual days, usual stuff.” “Why don’t you take me through a usual day then, how do you start seeing your patients? “. I begin to recount how I work without a nurse, and that I go up front to pick up my patients. She asked me to stop, slow down, and really focus on what I do when I prepare to get a patient, and as we work through that, I came to see what a resource I have built over the last 10 years.
What is it that hold me back? What keeps me from being all that is within me? It is a funny question for me to ask, given the work I am doing to help others finds their way through this briar patch. I know, deep inside, that this answer is within, but as I sit here with this question, my mind provides me all sorts of reasons why I cannot step into that place, and as I look at these reasons, they all circle around fear, the fear of rejection.
Sometimes Medicine wants more than you can give, and there are many times in the past when I’ve given Medicine everything I had and a little bit more. These days, I give medicine what it deserves and nothing more. I don’t spend myself into debt for Medicine, I don’t empty my emotional banks to make sure that Medicine is full, I do what I can and when I get to the end of what I have to give Medicine, I stop.
He is watching me as I go about my morning. I can feel him just below the surface, noticing what I am up to. He is ever curious, this little one, and lately he has not been far away. I can hear his questions about what I am doing, why I am doing it, and what it all means. He is always asking ‘Why?’ and as often as I can, I work to answer his questions. He did not used to visit me at all, and for the longest time, I did not know he existed.
What else can you do… It is here already, and it will be here for some time. I can either turn and face it or attempt to ignore it, either way it will influence me. And so, I decide instead, to observe how it dances across my life in this moment, this grief that I feel so deep in my heart. It has been not even a week yet, and already this grief feels like it has been here forever. I watch how I must be careful so that I can act and interact with people without spreading grief far and wide. I notice how my reserve, my wellspring of compassion, is somehow more shallow these days, no doubt a side effect of using this reserve, this compassion upon myself and my family. It is an interesting experiment, this watching, and it is teaching me so much.
Something was missing as I walked in to the house, something was just not right. It took me a moment as I closed the door to realize, my greeter was not present, and then I remembered, she would not be coming to see me any longer. Her time with us had come to an end, and in that moment, the sorrow that had been lurking near the edges of life came in the door with me and settled into my heart.
There she was, it had been so long since I had caught sight of her, I wasn’t sure at first if I recognized her, she had changed so much over the years, or had I? She was peeking around the corner checking in to see how I was doing. I am surprised she still visits me, after the way I treated her all those years ago. If I let myself, I can easily remember those days. Those had been rough days, when it wasn’t safe to have her around anymore.
What would they do if I told them the truth? How would they see me? How would they think of me? Would I be disgusting to them? These thoughts swam through my head as I sat in front of Melissa, our trainer, for a demonstration. It was the start of our weekend Hakomi training and my mind was seething with all the possibilities of what might happen. Behind my eyes there was a push to simply tell it all, leave no secret unsaid, and let the chips fall where they might. Then there was the catch in my chest, the fear of what would happen if I just did this, if I just disclosed all my shame. In the end, I censored what was presented during the demonstration, but in her eyes, I could tell that Melissa had seem so much more than I had said, her tears reflected what was in my heart, unspoken in that moment.
‘How did you know what to say to her?’ asked the resident, ‘We have been trying to figure her out all morning and have gotten nowhere.’ An expression of mixed curiosity and frustration crossed her face. ‘I try not to focus on how she is acting, as much as I try to talk to the part of her Jesus would love’, I found myself answering. This catch phrase would find its way into conversation regularly during the years of teaching, it captured a concept I had struggled to teach prior to that moment of insight. The concept of connection, it is one of the most difficult things for doctors in training to understand. Years of training make this more difficult, training that does not focus upon the human connection, instead focusing upon the biological working of humans.
Why? I am sure if you were to ask my parents, they would tell you that this is the first word that I ever said. It is certainly the most common word that comes to mind, and out of my mouth on any given day. It has been this way for as long as I can remember and it continues to fuel my searching to understand the world in which I live. Simon Sinek has become famous for looking at this, and lately I have found myself delving ever deeper into this fundamental question of ‘Why?’