I looked at the list of people who would be attending this week’s conference. I wish I didn’t feel the need to do this, but I needed to know who was going to be here before I arrived. I knew that there are very few people from my program attending, which means that I am at this conference with little company. That doesn’t matter to me too much, except that I have been worried about who I might run into while cruising solo. I searched the list by location and entered my old provincial abbreviation. I was relieved to learn that K wouldn’t be here (although, I suspected she wouldn’t be, anyway). I was excited to see one of my old classmates on the list. However, I was overcome with anxiety when I saw the names of a few of the people from the “old program.” Among these names are people from whom I have been displaced… people who may have been involved in my displacement… people who may know the story of my displacement.
I feel ashamed and I am anxious to see some of these faces. I am ashamed that I feel ashamed. I don’t have anything to hide from these people, but I feel like I should. And because of this, I worry that when I see these people (because I know I will), I will appear transparent, flakey, and resentful, and they will experience confirmation that my displacement was the right thing for them. I don’t want to feel this. I never want to feel this. I certainly don’t want to feel this for the rest of my life.
The last time I saw my psychologist, we talked about a pattern of displacement in my life. It started in my childhood when I was displaced from a careful and nurtured life by my parents and it has culminated in my most recent experiences surrounding my residency assignment and falling out with K.
“What is it about me that makes me so prone to this pattern?” I asked her. “More importantly, what can I do to stop it from happening again?”
A complicated and detailed discussion involving the theory of psychology ensued. She explained to me how cause and effect are not so clearly defined; rather, they are related through a complicated web of factors, of which we are at the center.
“There is no way to just cut off that connection, to just stop doing one or two things and be sure that the pattern won’t continue. Instead, you need to accept it, let it all in, absorb it, and from that you will devise an intelligence. With that intelligence you can put out something new and different and begin to build something new in that web.”
It made sense, what she said to me. At the time, however, I didn’t realize that I would need to put it into practice so soon. I don’t even know what this process is supposed to look like for me. I certainly didn’t envision traveling across the county to take a crash course in figuring it out. What I know now, though, is that if I even want this feeling of shame to stop taking over, I need to give it the best effort that I can…
(Now, if only I packed Brene Brown in my suitcase instead of the books I did pack!)