(Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared here on “The Other Half,” a blog by Angelic Rodgers dedicated to medical spouse experiences from the “other half”: Husbands, lesbians, and empty nesters (by choice or from the effects of time).
By Angelic Rodgers
When I was in graduate school and when I had my first full time job (and when I was a professional adjunct at multiple schools) I always felt like I was between arriving where I was and leaving for the next place. I feel that way again right now, in the middle of residency.
We had a get together last night with some resident families in D’s program and some non-resident families we’ve become friends with. The topic of us leaving in two years came up at one point, and I very much felt that weirdness again. That feeling of wanting to spend as much time as I can with these people I’ll leave behind while also wanting to just hide and focus on where we’re going next.
This feeling is really familiar to me at work, and always has been. In those instances, though, I felt a certain level of control of it. I knew that I was in that limbo because of choices I made and because it was necessary to get me where I needed to be. Oddly enough, work has been more consistent for me in the last two or three years than everything else has been. My father died the October before we matched and moved, so that threw that portion of my family life into new waters.
I’ve wondered since deciding to start this blog if one reason that the “other half” of resident spouses aren’t more vocal because of ego. Men are probably just less likely to speak up. Both of the resident families that were at our get-together yesterday were young families with small children. The wives are gearing up to leave the residency program in July, and their lives are so unsettled right now. I can’t even imagine how that feels with kids, but I also wonder how that’s working with their spouses and their spouses’ sense of self.
I’m fortunate; I work from home with limited travel to my job site. At the same time, though, the flexibility doesn’t override the isolation. And, there have been moments where I felt that the very job that allowed us to move as a family unit and that paid the bills during the years leading up to residency (where an MDs salary is low, but at least it is a salary) hasn’t been seen as important. There’s that ego again.
As a writer with a day job, I often don’t view my writing as important either, even though D has been clear that as soon as residency is over that I can devote my time to really seeing where I can take my writing career. And, I remember decades ago when I was faced with teaching a course in my specialty area for the first time. I remember being terrified that I would hate teaching American Literature. Being grumpy about teaching Freshman Composition was one thing; not liking teaching in the area I’d devoted so much time to would have been horrific. And, while it’s not always a pleasant experience with all students (what class is?) I still love teaching literature. Here’s hoping that when I finally get to that point that I can write with clear focus that I love it even more.
So, anyway, I’m having a pretty fear-heavy and ego-heavy day today. I’m frustrated being between arriving here and leaving here.
Angelic Rodgers is a writer with a day job, a PhD, and wife to an amazing MD who is in residency. You can read more about her and other articles from “The Other Half,” on her website.