Like a scene from the cinema — only a film noir, and not a romance.
“So, where are we doing your injection? On your arm… Or on your buttock?” my doctor asked.
“Definitely my arm,” I responded instantaneously.
My turtleneck dress proved a challenging obstacle to me exposing my arm.
Observing this, he remarked, “Oh, I don’t mind if you take your clothes off.”
Was this harmless banter…
Or was my doctor, of all people, actually flirting with me?
“Listen,” I replied bluntly, “It’s nothing that you haven’t seen before.”
“Still,” he continued, “You’ll be surprised at how coy people get.”
Eager steer the conversation in a different direction, I readily leaned towards a more comfortable topic change.
“As an allopathic doctor, what is your view on homeopathic remedies, such as Ayurveda?” I queried out of curiosity.
“I can respect it,” he answered thoughtfully, “The problem comes when either one believes that they are superior to the other.”
And from there on, the conversation flowed to veganism, environmentalism, Hinduism, monks, India and meditation.
All of my favourite topics.
As I was about to leave, he approached me.
He asked if he could hug me.
I was still glowing, after speaking about my all-time favourite topics, that I did not see it as anything out of the ordinary. My mind was still so attuned to the “one love” experience of meditation in the foothills of the Himalayas, that I welcomed the embrace.
It didn’t exactly end there.
He asked me if we could meet for coffee sometime, as he wanted to know more about my experiences in India. I agreed.
That day, he texted me that he liked my energy. I replied graciously, but didn’t feed into it.
I let it go, enjoyed the transient connection for what it was, and carried on with life.
But still, it didn’t end there.
Some months later, he texted me again. After a few New Year’s wishes, he told me that he wanted to meet me at the beach.
My intuition warned me not to meet him. After all, I suspected that he was married. Plus, he was my doctor. And somehow, his intentions didn’t exactly seem innocent.
Anyhow, I ignored my gut, and went to the beach.
The conversation began in a very gentle manner, speaking about hikes, nature and mountains.
Then it took a darker turn.
As we got up to leave, he put his arms around my waist.
He pulled in.
I pulled away.
“No. Aren’t you married?” I finally asked.
“Yes,” he replied, “I am. But our connection goes beyond that.”
I instantly felt sick at this level of manipulation and deceit.
But he was not relinquishing his grip.
I was in a situation that I did not want to be in, but having had a chronic issue with people-pleasing, I was unsure of how to exit it smoothly.
He pulled in again, and I acquiesced. I did more than that. I kissed him back.
It was, without a doubt, the darkest and most disturbing kiss of my life.
But still, I found myself unable to communicate this deep discomfort, because I was having a complex time separating what I thought was a spiritual connection with him, my gratitude to him for calmly healing me in my time of need, and my confusion about all the events that unfolded, in such a brief space in time.
Before he left, he grabbed my hand, placed it on his penis, and declared, “I’m giving you something to remember me by.”
I began walking home in the rain. I was grateful for the rain, for disguising my flowing tears. I was only, eventually, able to communicate my true feelings over text, after digesting the events.
The whole situation felt so toxic, on so many levels.
Not only was he someone I trusted and initially felt safe around, but he was married. He was my doctor. He violated a double-boundary.
He also exploited spirituality, a topic that he knew I was interested in, as a tool for control, by verbalising spiritual jargon, such as ‘karmic ties’, ‘nirvana’, ‘past lives’ and ‘destiny’.
He was meant to be compassionate, not aggressive.
He was meant to be gentle, and not invasive.
He was meant to heal, not to hurt.
As for me?
I was meant to be strong, not feeble.
I was meant to be empowered, not acquiescent.
I was meant to be wise, and not manipulated.
Oh, my love affair with loftily and idealistically seeing people and things as I wished they were, as opposed to how they really are in each moment, died then and there.
But also, I can be grateful to him.
Because I have now learnt to trust my intuition, establish boundaries, honour my inner peace and values, and abandon my own toxic people-pleasing habits. For never again, will I betray myself to please someone else.
It also made me realise that doctors are humans, too.
And not necessarily the earthly angels that we believe them to be.
People (including myself) are not the textbooks we have studied, or the verbiage we reiterate. We are not our accolades, careers or credentials.
Essentially, we are what we practice.
And moving forward, I still choose to practice love, including self-love — just with firmer boundaries.