Hello and thanks for reading today!
As you may have noticed, I closed the clinic in December 2012. I am on a sabbatical of unknown length. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and that is saying a lot for someone who works as hard as I do. Its even harder to be transparent and not hide behind the well-crafted identity called Dr. Kara the Nurse Practitioner. After all, I’ve had 35 years of crafting that exquisite identity, at the expense of all other identities.
At the time of the closure, I was unable to put into words all that I was feeling. I was deeply depressed and burned-out. After 33 years of service, I simply crashed head-long into total and complete burn-out. I wouldn’t say I hated my patients like some literature says is a sign of burnout but I certainly had nothing left to give and could only think about going to sleep and never waking up (wishful thinking, but it helped me get to the end of the year). Looking back, I wonder how I lasted so long. Its been 4 months and I still go from 0-60 in a second in anger that borders on rage, if I have to even talk to an insurance company or patient who owes me reimbursement for the services I rendered in good faith. In fact, just few weeks ago, a former patient informed me how much they did not appreciate being asked to clear their balance with me and that it was a “huge inconvenience” to pay me. Of course, I was thinking that I just wanted to scream into the phone “my family doesn’t eat air and love doesn’t pay the bills you big jerk!”, but I kept my cool and bit my tongue and continued to insist on the payment. Situations like that confirm for me it’s a sign that I made the right move. As hard as it was to say goodbye to a lot of great people I served over the last 7 years, I am now seeing and feeling what a balanced lifestyle is. I eat properly, I exercise, my headaches and joint aches are gone. I’m losing weight without effort. I’m spending lots of time rebuilding my spiritual life and it feels wonderful.
I still think about my patients a lot. I think about moments in the exam room that I wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China. They are priceless moments of life that I cherish. It’s a real privilege to help folks with real problems, to solve something that is bothering them or preventing them from experiencing a rich healthy life. I hope they are doing well and were glad of the time they spent with me. For the ones who treated me badly and abused me, well, I don’t wish them harm, but I don’t miss them either. I do pray for them, for they have more problems than I do at the moment. I hope they learn that expecting things for free isn’t a way to live life well.
I have also learned that my identity had slowly become nothing but Doctor Kara PC. Maybe small business ownership is so dangerous, not because of the financial losses that hurt so much, but because of the emotional and spiritual wounding that no one ever admits to, certainly not publicly. I guess that is why I am moved to talk about it today. God can health what you acknowledge and give to Him. Maybe there are other business owners who are still suffering in silence as I did for so long and they need someone to speak up and give the unmentionables a voice? I think the slippery slope is so subtle that anyone can start the slide without even realizing it. I certainly didn’t see it or set out to do that. I may be clueless but I’m not insane. After selling the assets of the practice in February 2013, I had very little else to do but reflect on what the last 12 years meant. I won’t even go as far as saying I really understand it now. I still have days of crying my eyes out and second-guessing the closure and then I have days like today, where I am energized and making baby steps toward the future.
The three things I am certain of are these: (a) God still loves me and wants the very best for me, and (b) every day starts out as a great day as long I as I remember who I am and spend time with the One who loves me most, (c) I can never go back to being and doing the things I used to be and do, especially in my work. The new chapter is being written, so I don’t have much to say about it now.
Stay tuned for more of the incredible journey known as life after burn-out. Phoenix from the ashes…..
Hugs to All,
Kara : )