Why do we gravitate to people and places from our past?
Nostalgia is a dangerous friend. She tends to paint our memories with warm and inviting hues, all while editing out the reasons we left in the first place. Perhaps this is why we pine for that one guy or remember our former relationships as much happier and healthier than they ever could have been. Oh, and he is the most handsome and the funniest dude we ever met. We cannot imagine finding anyone as special as he is.
So, you remember my job? The one I am divorcing? It cracks me up that I am so much happier now, and I still find myself only remembering the good times and wondering if I will ever have those experiences again. I do not allow myself to wallow in these destructive thoughts for long, however I find them creeping about when I least expect it. I am so grateful for my new opportunities and I am really thriving. So, why do I long for familiar people and places?
I actually believe this is normal. You know the old saying, “the grass is always greener,” is not always true. The interesting part is how our emotions influence our memories and how it is shockingly fluid. My mood at any given time can profoundly impact my personal version of events. If I am enjoying my day at the new job, I tend to remember the old one with disdain. I ruminate on the days I felt ostracized and taken advantage of. I remember how it felt when I was banging my head against the wall, wishing for an escape hatch. The very next day can find me lonely and homesick, and I only remember the good times. I find myself wistful and longing for the ease of familiar places and people. I miss the inside jokes (Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.) and the comfort of being able to be myself.
The other day I was at my old clinic seeing a few patients. When I first got there I felt horribly discombobulated, and I was terribly lonely. My dungeon of an office had been made over for a new doctor, and I felt like I was trespassing. I was adrift in a sea of fluorescent lighting. I did not belong there. It was not like a homecoming at all! Don’t get me wrong, it was not all bad. Once a couple of people walked in the door and we were catching up, my mood settled and I was happy again. By the time I left, the nostalgia had taken root again and I was wishing I could turn back the clock and start over and correct my mistakes from the past.
Unfortunately, you really can’t go home again. I imagine this is similar to trying to return and assimilate back into your hometown decades later. You remember things as they were, and it is impossible to anticipate the influence of time. Everything changes. You are not the only one who grew up. My ego is fragile, and I can’t believe this place could survive without me. Ha! They are doing just fine. They managed to function before me, and they will function without me. I am not that important. This may be the worst part. I poured my heart into this job, and that probably was not necessary. I placed entirely too much value on this role. I let it become my definition of self. I did not know who I was without it. Talk about unhealthy.
Now I have a unique opportunity. I am learning to stand on my own two feet professionally. I have heard people say “your first job should never be your last,” and I think that is true. Just like a family, you were a kid when you started, and sometimes you have to be shoved (even if it is against your will) kicking and screaming from the nest. If you are especially clingy, (I am not saying I am) you may clutch the side of the nest and hang on for dear life, all the while pleading for someone to just pull you back in. Seriously, this is ridiculous. Well, it is! It was long past time to move on, and you were miserable! The situation had ceased to be healthy.
I know people think I am being overly dramatic when I compare leaving my old job to a divorce, but divorce is the best way for me to explain the constant ebb and flow of emotion surrounding it. I still find myself vacillating between relief and nostalgic grief. I am sincerely ready for simple acceptance to take root. I truly believe this is right around the corner. The best thing I did was put physical distance between the job and myself. Oh, except you still work there sometimes. Is that similar to a booty call? Yikes! I had not thought of that. Oh well. Sigh. I suppose you gotta get some somewhere. I am mostly kidding. Sort of. Not as much as I would like.
Now, please understand. I need to keep an open relationship with this place. I need the security. They are still my work family. I like to have roots. Much like a toddler, I want freedom to roam but I still need a mother ship to keep me grounded. So, the prodigal daughter will come back from time to time, and I will ride the emotional roller coaster, then I will head back out on the open road and continue to seek new adventures and input just like Johnny 5. (I’ve been trying to figure out how to put that reference in here for like 30 minutes.) I had no idea I would be so drawn to a quasi-nomadic existence. I am finding it suits me and at least I am not bored. I just like to return to my home base regularly.
Can someone please explain this to me. This looks like a backboard suspended on pulleys between two buildings at my new hospital. Why? Why would someone put this here? Why has no one else ever noticed it? Believe me, I have asked. This is driving me nuts. I see it every day. Perhaps they ran out of closet space? It is there in case the need for emergency evacuations requires a backboard? Maybe it is a message for incoming alien spacecraft. Seriously. What is this thing? Who put it there? Is it a prank? Hmmm