On a visit to my grandparents in Miami Beach, I opened a drawer that was full of pill containers. I counted seventy. Having listened to their medical complaints for years, I understood that one medication would create symptoms requiring another medication, which would create more side effects, necesitating a new medication, and so on. I saw my grandparents not getting better but getting worse through medical care. When I shared opinions like this with my dad, who was a General Practitioner, he reacted spitefully.
He had been my buddy. I counted on his loving presence. Now we argued. I felt abandoned, attacked and disrespected. I challenged the ideas he had invested in to become a respected medical professional. While vehemently expressing my beliefs, inwardly I was waiting for his approval of my thoughts, ideas and burgeoning spirituality. I lived many years with one foot on the brake.
At college, I spent a semester studying the history and evolution of Modern Medicine. I came across the term “Iatrogenesis,” which describes the experience I saw my grandparents embedded in. The term was validating to my perceptions and I wondered, “Were they victims, or did they consciously choose this type of approach to their health?” As part of my research I interviewed several doctors and became clear about the dynamic that was being played out between doctors and their patients.
I saw doctors as invested in modern scientific thinking, applied to the body. Modern science had led to technology, fueled by the desire to control nature. Science was about finding facts which would not change. Applying conclusions about physical reality onto the health or lack thereof in the human body made our bodies A. a matter of “fact” which would not allow for individuality or spiritual, energetic causes for ill health and B. made medical care a matter for the few experts who had studied hard to gain these facts and apply them to ridding your body of symptoms.
In our patriarchal culture, the relationship between doctor and patient is one of authority vs. powerlessness. Generally, patients are not invited to ask questions nor to doubt or deny treatment suggestions. Actually, the unspoken agreement is that the doctor tells them what to do and they do it. This is not just the fault of the doctors. To be fair, patients agree (albeit unconsciously) to this dynamic, which is one of disrespect, is unhealthy for society and imposes and perpetuates an incomplete paradigm of reality and relationship.
We have been brainwashed to fear and doubt modalities that differ from modern medicine. Even health insurance companies won’t readily support treatments such as acupuncture or naturopathy, let alone Reiki or massage.
I see our culture as being predominantly under the influence of western scientific thinking, which I call the Masculine (which is not necessarily male.) The desire to control nature arose from the desire to obliterate the spirituality inherent in religion in Europe. If “Man” has more power than “God”, then it is “Man” and all that has given him (the illusion of) control that is to be followed and feared. This led directly to the attitude of doctors towards patients, and patients, being God- (and Man) fearing, acquiesed.
What did we, when in the role of being patients give up? What I call the Feminine, which includes invisible (non provable) knowing and reality through intuition, feeling, personal experience, self-trust, connection to nature and non-physical energies as valid for guidance and information.
I am not against modern medicine. I am grateful it exists. I use it when I need to. I am not against left brain linear thinking and the use of data. I find it stimulating and sometimes useful, though am growing to believe it is overrated for living as a whole person.
What I am against is people not realizing they have options. We may know conceptually that there are many modalities, but do we actually believe we could choose them? I am against us as patients (that means people with bodies that will at times have challenging symptoms) believing they have no choice in how they percieve and choose to deal with their health.
This is what originally ignited my passion to become a Health and Wellness Coach: I wanted to help people be aware and empowered to consider and make their own decisions for their own health. Knowing how difficult this is, as we have no foundation nor support for this type of thinking, I wanted to support people in their awakening and journey of taking care of their bodies in ways that they felt good about. I wanted to offer support that would bolster their courage to stand up to doctors and ask questions, insist on satisfactory replies, and to say no when they chose.
This is scary for a couple of reasons. 1. It is saying “No,” to that scary God-type authority figure, complete with terror about what might happen if we displease Him and are thrown from the protection and safety He promises. 2. What is the protection we fear being cast out of if we deny the treatments offered us? It’s the protection against Death, the enemy. Death, the thing to be fought and conquered at all costs.
I was born on Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that honors deceased loved ones by creating altars of their favorite foods and vices to entice their spirits to come pay a visit. I love the wholeness that this holiday represents. While occuring on the same date as Halloween, this holiday is devoid of the scary aspect of that day of ghosts and monsters in the states. In Mexico, Day of the Dead is an honoring of an aspect of the cycle of Life, reframing Life as a cycle, encompassing every aspect of existence vs. the opposite of death.
As I had dreamed, I have become a Health and Wellness Coach. I will tell you a secret that is perhaps obvious: the issues I am passionate to help others with are the most challenging issues for me. In dealing with my own body and in relationships in general, I have felt paralyzed with fear of speaking up for myself, trusting my own sense of what’s good for me. Doing so would risk being cast out, rejected and alone - for being who I am. You may be surprised, especially if you’ve read my bio, that I have needed and continue to need various forms of support to be willing to live from my inner truth, health-related and otherwise. The masculine/feminine imbalance and battle I perceive outside, lives within. I seek to re-establish feminine empowerment within myself. This does not deny the masculine, incidentally. Feminine and masculine are aspects of duality, they are qualities, not genders and we all embody some measure of each. My work is to rise up against that which would try to scare and threaten me for listening within, trusting, and living from there. I embody these cultural dynamics inside me as an individual and as a woman.
As I heal myself, the world heals too. The witches burned rise up from the ashes to retake their place of wisdom, respect and appropriate power. The false stories about their invalidity and simultaneous (think about that!) dangerousness, dissolve. As we heal ourselves, the world is restored to healthy balance between physical and non-physical, masculine and feminine. We increasingly work with, not over Nature. Everything changes, from education, to politics, to the way we live and are in relationship with ourselves, one another, and the planet.
How do you relate to what I've written here? What comes up for you that is new or old, illuminating or disturbing? I invite you to share. I read every comment and respond.
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help midlife people and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow living
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