top of page
  • Writer's pictureValerie Brooke, MD

Did I fail?


 I’ve been going through my home, room by room, organizing for my upcoming move to Anchorage, Alaska for a new inpatient rehabilitation job.  I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness, and I’ve been poking around in this feeling to see where it’s coming from.  Of course, I’m also excited about this new adventure up north, but underneath the excitement is a layer of grief.  What’s this about?

 

I went for a walk around the wetlands several days ago with a close friend, a woman who I worked with at my previous place of employment.  We got to see a wild horse up close, something that has become so normal to me, and yet, still fills me with awe.  I had my binoculars with me so we could see the birds up close too, the ducks, hawks, and harriers.  I so enjoyed my time with her, and realized this would soon be coming to an end.  She was a vital support person at my workplace, the friend I went to with joys and failures at work.  Leaving her and other work friends behind is part of my sadness. 

 

I still visit with a different friend from work, showing up several times a week at the hospital to meet her for a lunchtime walk, something I started to do during my last few months there, to decrease my stress level.  Previously I erroneously believed that I could not ever leave the hospital unless it was for a medical appointment.  I did not want to burden my colleagues with the possibility of having to take care of one of my patients if an emergency happened in my absence, a curtesy that was not given to me by one of my colleagues, who came and went whenever he wanted.  This was one of the many reasons I chose to quit my job: a desire to be in a culture that lined up with my values, a culture of cooperation and clear communication between colleagues. 

 

On my last visit and lunchtime walk with my friend, I saw my previous colleagues and had a visceral stress reaction.  My pulse quickened and my thinking blurred, the adrenaline and cortisol exploding into my bloodstream.  Why?  Almost two years ago I had a very traumatic experience at work involving several work colleagues, something for which I moved my office to feel safe, contacted human resources, and started immediately looking for another job.  For many weeks and months, going to work every day was a reenactment of the trauma I experienced.  I did not feel supported by my leadership or human resources, though HR did try, I’ll give them that.  I was unable to find other work for a non-profit organization to continue being a part of the student loan forgiveness program, so I continued to plod on, making the best of an uncomfortable situation.

 

It's now clear to me, given that I have not worked there for over four months and yet still have a physical reaction, that I have not completely healed from my traumatic experience.  This prolonged healing has occurred for many reasons.  I experienced gas lighting after this initial event (was told I was “sensitive”), which caused me to second guess my feelings.  Maybe I did overreact?  Despite the sobbing and body shaking after the initial event, despite the fear and avoidance of my colleagues, the racing heart and dry mouth, I still questioned my experience.  I was looking for external validation from the ones I was harmed by; I wanted confession, commitment to change, restitution, amend making, and apology.  I never got those things in any authentic way, part of the reason the trauma has been stuck in my body. 

 

What does this have to do with my sadness and grief?  I’d like to think that quitting this job and finding another that seems at this point to be a safe place I can be myself and be supported, would be all unicorns and rainbows.  As I process this more with myself and with my closest friends, I realize that I believe I failed; I was the bad apple, the one that didn’t fit in, the person that was wrong.  And this makes me feel sad and broken.  My logical cortex of course knows this is bullshit, but my amygdala feels otherwise. 

 

So, what do I do from here?  Awareness is the first step; awareness that I have a vortex of feelings about this transition and the events that transpired to get me here.  Acceptance that something traumatic happened to me that I cannot undo, belief that I was not wrong to have the reaction I did, belief I did the best thing I could for myself at each step in the process and understanding that I did not fail at my job.  I chose myself, and that is a win.

267 views8 comments

Recent Posts

See All

8 commentaires


shawnprobertson
29 févr.

I'm sorry to hear about that experience Valerie. I wonder if you can allow yourself to really feel all those emotions now, with no judgement to yourself. A healer I look up to once said, "there are no bad emotions, but bad things happen when we try to cover up "bad" emotions or feel guilty about them." He said that goes double for emotions that "good people" aren't supposed to feel. I think he may be right. Good luck in your big move!

J'aime
shawnprobertson
29 févr.
En réponse à

p.s. You did not fail! Keep up the awesome work.

J'aime

Invité
28 févr.

YOU absolutely did not fail!! You were a great asset and you absence is felt deeply ... there are several of us still going through those emotions daily if not weekly! While it's good to self evaluate ... do not take this one at all! Patient care is why we're are here when that is compromised you should feel it in your core!

J'aime

Invité
28 févr.

Poignant, Valerie. "I was looking for external validation from the ones I was harmed by ..." Thank you for sharing. - Jo

J'aime

Invité
28 févr.

I had the same exact experience… up to the student loan forgiveness predicament. Thankfully the loan situation is settled as I did find non-profit work and got credit for years I did not profit before I took my loans (due to new covid rules I was able to finish in same amount of time). Since leaving, everywhere I work has shown me that I was not the problem. The cultures of work everywhere I have gone since have shown me that bullying and gas lighting are not in fact normal in a professional setting, and you don’t have to put up with it. I was having panic attacks and now have peace of mind. I’ve met so many other p…

J'aime

filipekmd
28 févr.

They were not your people. And, Anchorage just won the lottery! Amazing you held your own sacred ground and are following your values. ❤️

J'aime
shawnprobertson
29 févr.
En réponse à

Anchorage did win the lottery. Well said!

J'aime
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
bottom of page