The absolutely hands down most unexpected and rather delightful thing that I am learning from being fired really is why I'm weird or why people keep telling me that they are worried that I'm crazy/manic/not grounded/you name it.
It has to do with poetry.
I wanted to take my poems to the hospital commissioners, the board of the hospital that fired me. The poems are the distillation of what I am unhappy about and worried about in medicine. It seems to me that it would make it crystal clear to the board. But not one, not two, but six friends and allies have made it absolutely clear that they adamantly do not think I should do this.
Why? And why am I blind to it?
My father, not one of the six, says that poetry worries people because they are afraid they won't understand it. Also that poetry is magic, and scares them. My sister says that poetry is about emotion and people don't want to get stirred up. Another wise friend says that I have to talk the board's language, if I talk a different language they won't hear me at all. Another said that taking poetry to a hospital commissioners meeting would be like two men walking hand and hand down the street. Might be ok in some cultures, but not in the US.
I didn't know that poetry was another language or that it was scary. I had no idea.
I did figure out as a small child that I'd better not say most of what I was thinking because often people reacted as if I was weird. And four years ago some other doctor(s) at my former employer hospital worried to the administration that I was possibly manic and possibly dangerous to patients, but after 5 weeks, the psychiatrist said, no, she is going through a divorce. She no doubt can be difficult at times, but she's no danger to patients, put her back to work and see me quarterly for a year. Which I did. The hospital had to pay for it. The rumor was out again, told to me by a hospital nurse, right before they fired me. The thing is, they like me when I have been depressed because I have a lot less energy. I found the divorce quite difficult.
My Ex actively works to let people know that he is shocking and unconventional. I'm the opposite. I've tried to "pass" for years, knowing that I didn't really understand why people would act like I was an alien if I said too much. Early in our relationship we both admitted to each other that even though most of the world thought he was weirder, really I was way weirder and didn't need to try at all. He was great camouflage for me. Who was going to notice the conventional doctor, poor thing, married to the wild guy wearing dresses and telling shocking jokes? We had the world fooled.
So I have always related to the world with words and poetry. I have large amounts of poems and songs memorized and usually there is a song running in my head much like background music. Sometimes it is related to the situation at hand, sometimes it's something I'm working on, sometimes it all seems unrelated or is it?
I have a brain like a magpie. It likes shiny objects and collects them. In college a friend wrote to me that she was "waxing cowlike" by lying around and eating those marshmallow peeps. I wandered around with "waxing cowlike" tickling my brain for two weeks, until I wrote a poem with it. This past week I picked up a copy of Lorne Doone (there is a story about my grandmother reading it at age 16 and crying), The First Ladies Cookbook (from 1965), an old calculus text that I plan to give my father for Christmas and a book called "Mothers and Daughters" with vignettes and photos. All fascinate me. I need more hours in the day. And meanwhile I'm writing my business plan to open my own clinic.
It makes me an excellent rural family doctor. I pick up information from patients and connect things that aren't in templates or aren't always obvious. Something like 80% of our communication is non-verbal, so I've decided I'm not a witch, I just pay attention to all sorts of clues. In the two months before I was fired, three people said that I was an amazing diagnostician. One was the one who did the actual firing and the other was the doctor that I suspect led the charge to check whether I was crazed in 2005. I'm beginning to think that I would like to teach residents: in contrast to the template driven medicine, my only template is "why are you here?". Basic past history, medicines, family history, etc, of course.
I feel lots of sympathy for Emily Dickinson keeping her poems in a box under the bed until she was dead. I am a bit tired of being told I might be manic. I clam up very fast. I also was delighted when I read Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections. I thought, gosh, he's a male witch and has a brain like me. It turns out that some people think he was an intuitive thinker, which is the Meyer's Briggs category that I fall into too. At some point in the book he said that he didn't write his memoirs until he was in his 80s so that no one could accuse him of being crazy.
I asked my daughter this morning which of her parents is weirder. Her reply: "My father is weirder on the outside. My mother is weirder on the inside."
The upshot of all of this is that
1. I understand at least a piece of why people react to me the way they do.
2. Oddly, it makes me feel that I really must be a poet.
3. It's the rest of the world that is weird because they don't walk around reading/writing/making up/quoting poems all the time. So there, world. Here I am. Deal with it.