I try to write about my relationship with work carefully. My patients are, after all, people out there in the real world. And I am, oddly, just a person out in the real world. And, well, patients may come across my blog. Hmm. Plus, writing means putting on some brave anyway. It’s a little scary.
When I started this blog, I kept it quiet. If Ryan came inside from the shop I would slap the laptop shut. He’d stare at me. ”What are you doing?”
I’d stare back – “Nothing. Go away.” After several replays of that whole scene, and feeling the flush of foolishness, I got better at hearing his man boots on the steps to the back door. Before the door opened, I’d take a breath and relax a little. He’d walk in, I’d say, “I’m writing. Go away.” He’d call me something adolescent. I’d stare at him.
Braver by millimeter, I shared my writing with a few kind and safe others, and some people who could be kind AND safe AND ruthless in their feedback. I reached out to a few big writers – you know, people who get *real money* in return for expressing their bug.
I schemed, and Fretfulness poked in, speaking up with a mean mouth:
“Your patients will find out about your blog, and they will think you’re ridiculous.” “If you write about a bad day, moment, or week, they’ll think you’re writing about them.” “If you write about how hard psychiatry is, they’ll feel uncomfortable. It will be distracting. You will mess up their treatment.” “Sometimes you will sound real dumb.” “People will think you are ridiculous. Or dumb.” “You are writing about what everyone else is writing about.” “Your writing is cliche.” “You will be trying too hard sometimes, and people will be able to see your naivety and littleness.” “It will be like your brain is naked, ack.”
Calvin of Hobbes fame could not throw a more dramatic tantrum than the imaginary ones that played out in the theater of my mind. Swervy, buzzing bees, agitated hive. Me.
I don’t know how, and some days I’m not sure I’m right, but somehow, I decided it’s ok. I am still just a regular old person walking around out there. People will still think I’m ridiculous, and they will still love me, and really it’s better to have your naked brain on the internet than your naked body. Right?
All that to say, I’m going to write about work now.
Psychiatry. It’s hard. I love it. The patients, the work – love it. The times when a patient has a bad day in my close up space – love it, means they trust me. Hard, yes; I love it. The paperwork and infrastructure and little teeny tiny rules and wedging a robust and beautifully complicated human patient into a template (Griselda, glass slipper). Nope. That’s the bully I have to keep making friends with. That, I do not like.
Parenting. It’s hard. I love it. The children, the sing-song trickery, the stickiness and magic and fuss – love it. The in your face, in your pocket, around your leg, pulling on your pants, never ever knowing where anything is, nothing in the house is nice anymore, what the hell is that on my shirt? – love it. The “I WANT MOMMY!” even after 472 minutes of mommy – love it. Being a stressed out mom at the end of the day, wearing crappy parenting pants, and feeling like a jerkweed – deal breaker.
Something’s gotta give. What has taken place over the last many months? Therapy, therapy, more therapy, which, incidentally is very fun when it’s what you do for a living. (Actually it’s horrifying.) Snuggling, snuggling, more snuggling. Crying, health issues (boring, don’t ask), hair loss, and lots and lots of feeling uncomfortable. Feeling UNcomfortable.
But mostly, clawing my way through this, looking for a compromise. I have to quit. I can’t quit. Student loans, blargh. Debt, ack. But your patients… They’ll be fine. They are fine. Quit being a martyr. Let’s move. Let’s go to Costa Rica. Stop it. Ooh, what about occupational therapy. Yes, that’s it. Nope. Only one school in Oregon. It’s not here. Crap. What now? So MANY great ideas. So much research. Lots of cards up my sleeve.
For now, though, I’ve perched. Since the New Year, I’m a teacher’s aid in a toddler classroom, 3 mornings a week. It’s bamtastic. I follow a small herd of tiny beloved humans through a Montessori wonderland of materials, watching for any small sparks of readiness. Then, I gently and swiftly zip to those little sparks and provide loving guidance while the whole entire world is taken in, one bit at a time.
Then, I go to my practice, where I lovingly guide bigger, yet still beloved humans through a wonderland of healing options. There too, I gently and swiftly fan little sparks of readiness. And since I only see a few people a day now, Griselda and I have less in common. I have my evenings to snuggle, laugh, and even sneak in some ridiculous, cliche writing. It’s better. It’s compromise, beeyahtzee. Compromise. And it’s only for now.