Autumn -- A Dream: My Doctor is Breaking Up With Me?
|The Little Thief
(the author as a baby)
As I was walking to the polls on November 6, I recalled a strange dream I had experienced the previous night.
I was at my doctor’s – only she wasn’t my regular doctor, who is from Bangladesh and is very sweet, lovely, and kind.
I adore her.
My “dream” doctor, on the other hand, was pale and blond, and she had an attitude –she reminded me of the ladies at Fox News.
She was too young, too skinny, too glam, too made up, just too damn perfect – too intimidating.
But she was my doctor, and I needed her for whatever ailed me (unknown as to what that was – isn’t it odd how dreams often leave out important information?).
“I’m going to be honest with you, Jennifer,” she said, standing away from me, taking care not to touch me. “You can’t be my patient anymore.”
My doctor was breaking up with me? How could I not see this coming?
But I hadn’t.
I felt sick in the pit of my stomach.
“You’ll have to find someone else.” She paused. “In fact, no one else in this practice wants you, either.”
I always thought I had been a model patient, always paying my bills on time and not pulling the hypochondriac card every other week.
If anything, I’m the quintessential minimalist patient.
She sighed. “I would think it would be obvious.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look. You don’t take care of yourself. You never wear makeup, and you’re always disheveled.”
How could she judge me like that?
But did I stand up for myself?
She just stood there, pointing toward the exit door. “You need not check out.”
I just whimpered and slid off the examination table.
“Okay,” I whispered as I headed for the exit, directly to the outside world.
But, inside, I was dying and questioning my very core. Feeling rejected and sad.
Self-esteem shot to hell.
How does one get fired by her doctor?
How would the awake me react?
I would push her to explain what “not taking care myself” really meant.
Then I would tell her that I decided to stop wearing makeup in my thirties.
It just isn’t important to me to assume a mask not my own to face the world, and I’m definitely not a clotheshorse.
I like jeans and comfortable tops.
Sometimes I’m even slightly rumpled and my hair a bit wild at times, my gray roots popping out from my bottled red hair – my one concession to vanity.
That is not to judge someone who chooses to wear makeup and fancy clothes – whatever what rocks one’s boat.
But I choose a minimalist approach to my appearance.
See? I’m still slightly stung by my nocturnal rejection…
I want to explain that I take my vitamins, probiotics, Q-10, and calcium every day, I try to eat right — at least most of the time – and I move my body most days.
My weight, more or less, is in a normal range and has been for about a year and a half.
I shower every day.
How is that not taking care of myself?
But this wasn’t really a dream about my doctor rejecting me, was it?
This was an anxiety dream about rejection in general.
We have all experienced rejection to some degree – I know I have, and it hurts like hell. It goes to the core of self-worth.
We want to be liked and loved, and when someone dismisses us, it feels as though we are being thrown away like garbage – that is what my “dream” doctor did to me, and in a most harsh manner.
Dreams like this, no matter how unlikely, stick with the dreamer for a while.
All day, that icky feeling stuck, even coloring a bit my feeling for my real doctor!
Dreams are often born of reality, though. I’m not going to whine about all the times I have been rejected: by friends, teachers, boyfriends, ex-husband, best friends, potential friends, prospective employers, employers, family, etc.
Certainly, I have also been the rejecter – what kind of an impact have I had on someone else’s life? I can think of a few times when I walked away from someone or something without much of a thought – a part of life.
I clearly remember the first time I felt rejected:
I was about two, standing on the sidewalk with some older kids. One girl had a baby carriage; in it was a pretty doll, all wrapped in a blanket.
I wanted that doll.
I grabbed it and tried to hide it behind my back. Being just a toddler, I wasn’t very smooth, my heist ridiculously transparent.
The girl snatched her doll back and shooed me away.
“Go away, you baby,” she said.
I bawled as the group of kids walked away.
No memory of what followed.
At two, I didn’t have the capacity to understand boundaries, ownership, and the consequences of theft.
But I did understand I was being shunned and rejected, and it cut deep, so much so that I remember the incident with great clarity.
Perhaps the genesis of my dream can be found in my anxiety about my weight – I often felt most rejected when I was fat or, even now, on those days when I’m just feeling fat.
Certainly, more than one doctor has addressed my obesity during office visits, sometimes at my direction, sometimes not. Intentional or unintentional, there is always an overlay of judgment when a healthcare provider discusses one’s weight and tries to figure out how to prescribe the right diet and exercise.
There is always the real risk that others will think less of a fat person, even one’s own physician.