Telling and Hearing
Sometimes, what stops me from writing is the feeling of being small and insignificant. I read posts and captions from “real” writers. Friends link their columns from national newspapers or syndicated blogs and I feel fraudulent. I think, “I am not a real writer.” Those people are professionals, trained with highly refined skills and full ability to diagram a sentence. They have something to say. People want to hear what they have to say. And then I consider my day and the two dozen patients that have come into my office with their earaches and itching rashes. They come in distressed that they are overweight or they have chronic back pain and I start asking questions. I ask a ton of questions. I ask for their stories. I ask what they think. I ask what they feel. I asked about their fears. What are they thinking about as they lie awake other than cursing the insomnia? And I get remarkable answers, clues to the true problems, the source point, the crux.
And then I say some of the darnedest things. I say things that stick in peoples’ heads. And I realize I might have quite a bit to say. So much of my day is trying to find a foothold, a point of leverage, a way to connect. I have to get around the fear and the trepidation. I need them to hear. I don’t even think I need them to hear ME…..I often need them to hear THEMSELVES. These are some of the cool things I have said to patients recently and I am surprised by where it comes.
I suggested to a woman that the reason she is gaining weight isn’t menopause or her adrenal glands or her FEAR of ovarian cancer but rather her grief over her mother’s death six months ago and her nightly “detached eating“. I make up the word on the fly, out of the blue. I had asked her about her daily routine, how she spent her time. I discovered that at night, once she got home to the empty house….she ate. She wasn’t really hungry and what she was eating was all really healthy…but she was eating non-stop. Detached. Numb. It was like I had gigged her with a Tazer. She said, “I’m detached.”
Then there was the young woman who claimed she was depressed yet she was well-groomed, cogent, lucid and had a very appropriate affect. Her questionnaires revealed only minor depression features. Ultimately she said she must be depressed because she was unable to pray. I suggested maybe she was unable to pray because her parents taught her how to pray, that they had always prayed as a family but her parents had refused to affirm her recent life choices. She could no longer pray because it was something she did with her parents and now her parents were being unsupportive and judgmental. Again, the light went off in her eyes. I suggested she try making her own personal prayer ritual. You’d have thought I had walked on water.
I don’t write MY stories. I write about what I see, what is shared with me, things I observe. I write to share. It won’t get me a nationally syndicated column or a by line on Huffington Post but I will get affirmation at the office when people hear something I say and their faces light up, they crumble into tears or they accept the diagnosis with understanding and comprehension. I write here so that I trip fantastically into my own enlightening moment when I say, “Ahhhhhh, I get it!” I write here hoping I will hear it….finally.