Act Two 

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Steeling myself, I walk through the door. Christmas music is playing. There are twinkle lights all around, red ribbons and wreaths. Festive, really. The room is full of other physicians, people I know and work with every day at the hospital.

The men are chatting each other up, talking shop.Their spouses laugh together about childbirth and children, extolling the virtues and woes of being a stay-at-home wife/mom. They look up briefly, going silent as they regard me with suspicion. I spend more time with their husbands than they do which makes me a threat. I do not understand them. They do not understand me.

The few other female physicians stand about, sprinkled around the room with their non-medical spouses, also eyeing each other with suspicion. I smile pleasantly at them, they smile pleasantly back. But no one moves and one speaks. We are in competition with each other, after all.

My husband didn’t come. He hates these functions even more than I hate them. I cannot decide if it is better to have him with me. His being uncomfortable makes me more uncomfortable. Still, a distraction would be nice. 

When I am in the clinic, I am in a position of power. I can play the part of the outgoing, caring lady doc. I am a great actress. But here? I feel exposed and vulnerable and I hate it.

I move to a small group of my partners and nod as I stand silently near them trying look as if I fit in. I laugh at their jokes and smile as if I enjoy their company, waiting for dinner to be served. At least during the meal I can pretend to be busy with the food. 

Money. That is what I am to all of these people. Hiring another female physician was a purely financial decision by the group. And the specialists? They just want my referrals. I don’t know if I am truly friends with any of them.

I am popular socially, outside of medicine, but some time ago I realized that it was not because I am a particularly good friend or because I am fun to hang out with. I serve a purpose, providing social standing to people who want to say they have a doctor in their inner circle. No one checks to see how I am doing unless they want me to diagnose their kid’s rash over text.

This is my life now.

I am a grown woman, though, not the scared little girl in the grade school lunch room.

So I turn and leave. 

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90 thoughts on “Act Two 

  1. That last line cracks me up. You’ve described me at social functions. I try to join a cluster, but never manage to. My wife has a hospital function tonight. She wants me to stay home, and I am happy to do so. I don’t think I would benefit from a writing convention like so many others. I’d be off to myself wondering how to socialize correctly.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Not a good feeling. Do you have any friends who don’t know you’re a Dr.? How do you ever trust anyone’s intentions?
    Back when I was a hairstylist. I learned not to tell people or they’d try to take advantage of it without paying.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Meh, you made your obligatory appearance. I’m not a doctor and I hate those kinds of functions. I’m sure it’s all in my head but I always feel like an outsider, like I don’t quite fit in anywhere.

    How are you, Victo? You doin’ okay?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh, I understand how you feel. I don’t have the impediment of the social dynamic you live in—woman in a man’s world, so I have had to invent my own impediments. I rely mostly on doing work that no one understands, not even people in the “same” business.

    I often enjoy social interactions, but I don’t initiate them. I fall into them.

    Being, by nature, self-contained, I like it that way. Fortunately, I enjoy watching people.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m starting to realize how much easier it is for me to “socialize” here on WordPress and on Facebook.than in person, unless I know people well and we are working on a task or project together. My theory is that we writers are more likely to find face to face/verbal social events more uncomfortable than the general population, especially the ones where there is no purpose other than socializing. It is a relief to know how many people feel this way. My husband enjoys social events. I am completely happy to watch while he takes the lead.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t even go to stuff like that if I can avoid it. I am very social inept. A few years back, a realtor I know invited me to the grand opening party of the new office her firm had moved into. I was honored that she had even thought to include me, so I attended with a young co-worker I took along for company.

    On arrival, we managed to find the realtor to say a quick hello. Her assistant then found us to say a quick hello. After that, no one else at that party would speak to either of us, except for the very nice lady who was doing the catering. She and I had a very nice chat. At that point, I concluded that I’m way more comfortable with the working class than the upper class – not that I didn’t already know that before the party.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. There’s definitely a “transactional” element to friendships involving a professional woman. Since I’ve retired, I’ve found that’s not the case. Also, I think older women — who aren’t beautiful any longer or in competition for anything — finally relax around each other. Anyway, I could be making a HUGE generalization that’s inaccurate, but so it seems in my life now. There was one manipulative, ambitious, competitive woman in the group in which I’m a member — she was ejected. There was a universal will not to be competed with or manipulated. Everyone was “Been there. Done that. Life’s too short.” Definitely different.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m uncomfortable in all social situations, even among friends. It’s just me. On the other hand, office parties are always dreadful. Don’t believe that those carefree folks aren’t churning inside too.

    One or two good friends. That’s all you really need. Although you know…I check in on people I know sometimes just because not too many people do it for me. Just to let them know they’ve been in my thoughts, even if we’re not close friends. I should, we should, all do it more. Like the John Prine song: “Hello in There”. Just a few words scattered here and there. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ugh… aren’t office parties wonderful? (Not) The description is the same, no matter what field or geographic location — for me at least. I’ve started just going long enough to “make an appearance,” and stating that I had a previous commitment, so I can get away. :/
    Wishing you better times. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My ex husband is a lawyer and I was a stay home mom when we were married. This is how I felt when we had to go to partner dinners and the holiday party and the summer party. I felt like I was there just so he could say I was there but no one ever talked to me. I remember several of the parties when I spent the whole evening talking to the bartender!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think it is hard when you are aware of the dynamics because there is this whole other level going on when you interact with people. It’s like holding in an ugly secret. It sucks that the women doctors are competitive. I am glad I have not had to attend these kind of things. I remember a similar experience though, me or my husband’s college reunions. Mine was the Nursing school one. One year I brought my toddler with me, because it was a long distance and babysitters are expensive. One of my friends, who did not have kids, let him eat out of a bowl of nuts. Just as we were getting ready to sit down for dinner he threw up all over. I was trying to comfort him and clean up a little. I remember the nasty looks and whispers, someone saying “she should take him to the bathroom.” We left right away. I was kind of glad actually. Another time I went with a friend who was in my class, so that made it easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There are a lot of similarities with being a teacher in a relatively small community. There are more young unmarried female teachers so wives are always jealous of the amount of time you spend with them. And the parents are aware that you probably know a lot more about their private lives than you need to know, because kids talk out loud about their family life. So in the end, when you leave teaching you have little to do with your ex-colleagues, little to do with your ex-students and your own family is still suspicious of your past life – and therefore you get to be a lot lonelier than you should be. Still you’ve got a few years left to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I get medical advice from my baby sister when I am stumped.( She’ an RN ) we have this bartering arrangement….I pay her in apples and we’re both happy. Genuine relationships w/o any strings attached are a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The nonprofit agency I’ve worked with for many years has an annual dinner in a ballroom, and attendance is REQUIRED. A lot of people get dressed up, and it looks like they are having a great time. The number in attendance has grown steadily, so that I have trouble hearing individual people in the social part before the speeches. Though I stopped facilitating evening groups about a year ago, this year, I volunteered to cover the three hour group the night of the annual dinner. What a relief it was to be doing something useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I hate forced socialization. Years ago, I used to facilitate the big holiday party and when I switched jobs, I found how horrible it was to be just participatant. It is so uncomfortable with cliques and being stuck with people you do not choose to be friends with. I am glad that our Agency does not see this as a worthwhile expense and killed this type of function.
    Your last lines sum it up perfectly. “No on can make you feel bad unless you let them” paraphrased from Eleanor Roosevelt

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s always what you can do for them! I remember when I joined the faculty and was one of only a handful of women at school gatherings – couldn’t relate to the wives and the men all clustered talking their male stuff. I learned to talk sports very quickly!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well, you pretty much just described exactly how it feels to be in (this) autistic skin every single day. And for the record, I’d love to be your real friend, and because I think you’re awesome and out of respect for you, I’d go out of my way to never ask you for medical advice unless I was in your office paying you, and only first with your permission. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Curtain Call… | Behind the White Coat

  18. If I may be so bold, Doctor?
    If that is your life and it makes you… uncomfortable to say the least, then you are not in the right place.
    Seriously. Life is too short to waste.
    Walk away. I’m sure you can find a place where others will appreciate you and your talent.
    La vie est courte.
    🙂

    Like

  19. it’s both crazy and sad that once you become a grown up things become more or less the same as they did back then. I’m in a professional program and every day it becomes more and more like high school and every day I’m just like- I graduated HS such a long time ago why isn’t this drama and associated stuff staying there?!

    Liked by 1 person

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