Words are everything.
They carry energy. They are the currency of our connection to each other. They are the currency through which we will share with future generations; they are how we communicate with people in generations past. And they carry weight in terms of how we speak to ourselves.
When we begin to grow in awareness of the words we are using and the language we choose, it sometimes becomes humbling to notice. How we speak to ourselves, and the energy we are exposed to every day. The energy we are swimming in.
One word prevalent in our culture is “fight.” Sensitive to the wars happening in our world, it’s a word that often comes up in the body politic. Midterm elections have passed here in the States this fall, and now gearing up for 2024 – politicians are always talking about fighting for you. It is a phrase that has never really sat well with me; I do not need politicians to fight for me. I need them to listen and to advocate for me.
In medicine, I’ve never particularly liked the notion of fighting an illness. Because the illness is in one’s body, and it is inherently a contradiction to the very thing we seek – healing – to be fighting one’s body. It can sometimes be a harmful paradigm and rhetoric – often leaving people feeling defeated or failing when a disease progresses despite doing all they could to change the outcome.
The more I fight my body amidst my vestibular challenges, the less progress I make in my recovery. In the past, the more I fought to control things when going through my fertility treatments, the more emotionally painful it was, and the less successful the treatment outcomes were.
But when I surrendered control?
This all comes back to surrender and its origins in that deeply rooted, win/lose the war, battlefield-sort-of-construct.
There is a softness, a humility in surrender. We let go of our ego and turn control over in favor of our deeper inner knowing. We let go of the illusions of certainty and separateness.
When we surrender, we are embracing the possibilities of uncertainty, the power of connections, and togetherness. To ourselves. And to others.
My takeaway from the idea of surrender is to welcome it rather than view it as a sign of weakness or a loss of power.
To surrender is to empower myself.
To surrender my resistance to being me.
To surrender my resistance to having fun and surrender my resistance to accepting what is.
To surrender my resistance to love.
Ultimately, the greatest gift has been to surrender my resistance to loving myself wholly, fully, and without condition.
Surrendering what I think I need – for what I deeply sense is needed at that moment.
That was until my father felt ill this past autumn and early winter. As a daughter, I moved quickly into worry and judgment – of myself – that I could not show up and care for him, advocate for him the way I “should” or wanted to because of my brain fog and medical issues.
As a doctor, I was increasingly concerned over his symptoms, especially as he was a nine-year stage 4 colon cancer survivor. And while I often referred to my dad as a walking miracle, I recognized his indignant dismissal and wishful reports of symptom improvements every few days. But those were short-lived. And then those couple of days went to weeks. And those weeks became a month or two of clearer decline and weight loss, easily explained by nausea, GERD, and satiety. Reflux. Ulcers.
As he clinically declined, my doctor brain took over. And I was grateful for how it shut off the daughter brain. It was pragmatic and systematic and went into problem-solving mode. Battle mode. Plans were made. Arrangements to transfer to his prior surgical oncology team were made in hours. There was serious divine intervention. Too many moving pieces to come together so quickly to be attributed to mere coincidence. And for that, I remain grateful.
Once those arrangements were made, a surrender occurred … both from dad and me. I surrendered my worries and fears to his expert team. Dad did, too. As he was prepped for major surgery, a nurse asked him if he had any questions, and he replied calmly, “No. I have complete confidence in my doctor.”
Now if that is not surrender, I do not know what is.
I asked myself, “If I surrendered doubt, discomfort or fear, what might that free up space and energy for? What magic might I find then? What peace might I allow? Who might I be?”
Surrendering is kindness to the self. It’s loving. It is inviting in acceptance of what it is. It invites harmony and peace to our life.
It doesn’t mean we won’t take inspired action. It means that we can allow ourselves to take inspired action. And it has sometimes inspired inaction.
And we can be prepared to receive magic and peace in return.
Because we don’t have to know the exact outcome we will receive – it may even be beyond what we imagined. That is possible. Because when we surrender control, sometimes the universe will deliver even beyond what we expect.
And that seems to be increasingly what is happening.
“Surrender” might be the only word I would keep from the battlefield lexicon.
But I think it might be the most important one.
Dympna Weil is an obstetrician-gynecologist.