My program requested a few sentences for their alumni newsletter about my time with the program and memorable experiences. My brain being what it is, I can only think of snide quips. Here are some:
“Did you always want to help people? Ha ha! We own you now. Prepare to help people so much that you feel like a piece if shit all the time as you shovel the endless snow piled in front of you in a vain attempt to reconnect with your original motivation and purpose. Do you like feeling like a machine? Get used to it!”
Ok, more words there than I expected.
“Did you take a career in medicine in a Batman-like attempt to cancel out your own trauma and loss by helping and protecting others in your same situation? Well, I hope you like putting bandaids on gaping wounds and a full frontal experience of agony and misery from people who you’ll struggle not to identify with.”
“Remember TV shows like House, MD? Remember how you wanted to feel smart, essential, and rich? Guess what? Money means nothing to you. You feel stupid all the time, everywhere, at everything. People need you, but there’s lots of other doctors. You’re just a white coat and a name on their medical record.”
“Everything always hurts and gets more painful. It never changes. It’s excruciating agony. But you’ve put in too much time and it’s too much money to walk away from, and you have a wife and kids to support.”
“Your patients are sick, and you’re a robot dispensing cookbook medicine for them. You don’t get to think. You don’t get to enjoy anything. You get locked in a cage for ten hours a day.”
“These people who are meant to teach and supervise you will make you want to cry, make you want to die.”
I failed my board exam. I had spent months studying, and done everything I thought I could and I should. I bombed it.
I have to retake it in June, and hope to still graduate residency in time. I’m really upset about it.
I pray that it’s a glitch, a electronic error on the part of the testing administrator, and this will all be a bad dream. But it brings me back to dark places.
I’ve spent the past few months writing reflective journal entries about my life. I am starting to recognize how many harmful patterns in my life are the result of what I went through as a kid, terrified and humiliated and neglected, beaten by my brother and verbally abused and sometimes physically abused by my dad, neglected by my mom, and made to watch her have sex when she and her boyfriend were drunk, and all the kids were in one hotel room together.
I was starting to heal, as difficult as it all was. Now I’m questioning myself all over again. And I have to go back into study mode, where I have to sit at a computer all day, mentally roasting myself while trying to stay focused.
I thought I had gotten to a place where I could get back to my writing, creative and spiritual interests, and move past all the hurt and shame and pain of the past. But it’s still here, and I have to live in that pit for another three months.
For all the internalizers out there, the ones who always had to be strong, smile and say that nothing was wrong, they were fine and didn’t need anything. For those who saw what no one else saw, and bore what no one should bear. For the lonely and the devastated, for all who suffer in silence when they want to scream. For the marks that don’t show and the wounds that won’t heal.
Being an abused and neglected kid, you never leave the pit. It stays in you. I relate to this sequence from Tom Kong’s Mister Miracle, because I always want someone to see the good in me, accept the hurt I’ve felt, and help me to move through it. I have to become that person for myself. I have to hug that boy, and tell him he’s loved and wanted and doesn’t have to prove anything.