A while back a man who had heard me speak on a podcast reached out to me via my website. He learned of my recent stroke and said something that struck me- “you must feel so betrayed by your body”.
I did, I was mad at my body. After all we had been through and how much I knew about anatomy and the care of the human body. Here I was advising patients about how to heal themselves in addition to prescribing medications to assist when we are unable to do so, yet. I meditated daily and used my trust in my own intuition to start my practice that felt like wasn’t paying off, literally, at all. I was also working full time as a western medicine doctor, thinking it was my duty to “serve” and be a “hero”. I thought I was getting it all right so when I had a stroke I felt so betrayed.
As time has progressed though I have realized something, that maybe it was the years of betraying my body, my truth and myself that created an environment to set me up for a stroke. The stress of overworking, telling myself I needed the money when really I just had to be honest with myself about the expensive things I didn’t need. The years of listening to what everybody else said (or shouted/forced) was right for me instead of what my soul was asking me to do. The need to step back, disconnect, let go of control, shine my unique light regardless of who likes it was ignored by all of my excuses about the things I thought would make me whole.
I traded work for sleep, academics for mindfulness, and caffeine for self-care. When my body wanted fruits and vegetables I had something from the hospital vending machine that resembled food and shoved it into my mouth while sprint-walking to the next patient/emergency. When my body asked for rest I pushed for more exercise. When I needed a vacation I attended rigorous conferences with long hours for the sake of becoming a better doctor. Then… stroke.
So really who was betrayed? Was it my body betraying me after all I learned about western medicine or was it me betraying myself to begin and my body appropriately responding?
I don’t say this all to shame or guilt myself or say “you should have known better” because there’s no sense in perseverating over something I cannot change. That worsens it. I’m saying that, while I can’t guarantee it won’t happen again, I have definitely learned (again and again) that the love and compassion I give myself is what’s returned. I can’t ignore my needs and expect my body to perform like a machine forever. Just like I can’t expect to feel peace when all I’ve fed myself are reasons why I don’t deserve it.