when is a relationship worth salvaging?
My second clinic manager in my first job (he left about 3 months before I did) told me once, “Spending more money on a bad investment doesn’t make it a good investment, just a more expensive bad investment.” So, the trick is knowing when putting any more effort into a relationship, job, investment, etc. is just making it more expensive.
The problem is, if you follow Boglehead logic, timing a market opportunity is fraught with risk. The likelihood of bailing too soon, or staying too long, is high.
In my first job, I quickly came to the realization that I was throwing time and energy into a black hole of dysfunction and left. Now, six months out, I am trying to figure out how much I damaged my relationship with Medicine by staying so long.
I increasingly recognize that I hold the Modern Institution and Culture of Medicine personally responsible for how I feel about my career. The problem is – they have no personhood. They don’t care how I feel.
I have not absolved my ex-partners of their complicity in what happened, but I also recognize that ignoring the systemic processes and blaming individuals risks repeating the past.
If you don’t know why you end up in abusive relationships, you are doomed to keep falling into them. Attempting to prevent myself from doing so, I have run head-on into my own smoldering anger at the Institutions of Medicine. Can I repair this, or does my relationship with Medicine have a expiration date?
can you even have a relationship with a machine?
The current iteration of medicine treats medical care as an assembly-line delivering medical procedures, treatments, medications and consultations. Can a physician actually have a relationship with this?
Healthy relationships have boundaries, reciprocity, and are based in genuine affection. Bureaucratic assembly lines don’t have any of those.
I think in the past, physicians owning their own practices and having more professional autonomy buttressed this imbalance. Indeed, working as a traveling doctor has allowed me to have full control over my schedule and clinical autonomy. Putting our relationship on ice for a couple of years seemed the only way to save it.
anatomy of a breakup
Medicine and I had a heady first few years. I spent the night at her house at least a few times per week. When she called in the middle of the night, I was always there to pick up. I spent more time with her than with my wife, and I put more time into my relationship with Medicine than any other.
I thought that if I put in the time now, I would be able to cash in after residency, get some relational reciprocity. I’d put in my effort, now Medicine would help take care of me for a while.
Every time I tried to pull back, Medicine tried to suck me in harder. Crises that were out of my control seemed constant. Medicine was jealous of my newfound interest in anything else.
I bailed, put some physical distance between us. I still go and visit her a few days a week on average, but I don’t pick up her calls anymore when I’m home. She doesn’t get to meet my friends or family. It is an uneasy relationship, but not broken yet.
can our relationship be saved?
The thing is, for a short period of time in residency, I actually did love Medicine. I was exhausted, but felt I was doing something worthwhile. Sometimes, in the middle of a shift on the High Plains, I still touch those feelings. I catch a glimpse of professional satisfaction and efficacy.
I want to love medicine, I really do. The problem is, machines don’t love you back. How do I forgive the machine for hurting me so deeply when it is not even aware? Can the bonds be repaired?
Or, am I the idiot for thinking of this whole thing in terms of a relationship? Machines don’t love, they cannot be in relationship. Is Medicine just a job, no longer a calling? Can it just be that? Will Medicine be comfortable with being just a job, or will it always strive to be the most important thing in my life?
Only time will tell. Maybe we’ll evolve together, find a new equilibrium. For now, the uneasy visiting routing continues. Perhaps, I’ll even get over my anger and learn how to love the one I’m with – eventually.
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with. – Stephen Stills, of Crosby, Stills, and Nash