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Lives of Doctor Wives: Eating Humble Pie

Friday, November 12, 2010

Eating Humble Pie

Humble pie has been a staple for me since starting this medical journey. I think I’ll take a slice now, thanks. Some empathized with my last post to the core. Others were shocked saying I was offensive and elitist. I was taken aback, but after re-reading I see that I could have come off that way.

I believe that I can be above my circumstances. However, as the daughter of a trailer house salesman, I would never believe myself elite or superior over another person.

I feel I should clarify: I do not believe “people” and “circumstances” are synonyms.

My post was about feeling judged, not about judging, i.e., the judging eyes in the supermarket when I used food stamps or WIC vouchers (whether real or perceived). It was about the nursery leader scolding me about my child’s pants being too small and knowing there is nothing I can do about it. It’s about living in a place that makes me cry when I look out the window because my surroundings are so bleak.

I don’t care who you are, doctor wife, single mother of 7 from the ghetto, or riches to rags because of terminal illness, it sucks to have to turn to help from others or the government to survive. NO ONE should have to feel like they BELONG in that situation. We want to yell out our explanations so that others won’t judge us.

Why do I care what anyone thinks? Who knows, human nature perhaps…

My post was about working honest, yet humiliating or undesirable jobs, many times under our qualifications, to make ends meet, for the sake our husbands’ careers.

I volunteer with teenagers and if I could get those kids to believe that they are “above their circumstances” I would consider it a huge victory. Perhaps we’d have less teen pregnancy. Maybe more kids would stay in school. Maybe if I keep telling myself the same thing, I will start to believe it.


Blogger Mommy, Esq. said...

While I can see how someone who is looking to be offended in the first place might have found exactly what they were looking for in your post...something they could construe as being elitist and offensive, but personally, I feel your pain. My impression of this blog is that it is a place where all of us who are supporting our physician spouses as they are on this ridiculously long journey to becoming practicing physicians can get a little support. Let's face it, all of us are making major sacrifices for our spouses. Many of us are putting our own goals, and careers on the back-burner to our spouse getting the best education possible. Many of us move all over the country leaving our friends and family - our support system, we spend evenings and weekends feeling like single parents, all during this journey - that at times feels like it will never end - we are BROKE. Its hard and I feel your pain. And after reading your post, I'll say its nice to know we aren't alone.

November 12, 2010 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

Stacie - I know what you are trying to say, and I know you, and I know your intentions were not what these ladies are trying to make them out to be. If it came across that way, and they are offended and think ill of you, then don't even give that a second thought. I am always putting my foot in my mouth unintentionally. Sometimes things just don't come out they way I heard them in my head. Apparently some of these ladies have never had that experience.

I must have been misinformed about this blog. See, I thought it was a forum to vent how we are feeling, and that other people in similar circumstances would be supportive. Obviously, we may not all be feeling the same way at the same time, or even ever, but that doesn't mean we can't be supportive. I will make sure I never post for fear I would be attacked and just plain out insulted as you have, my friend.

P.S. There are several documented people who have genius level IQ's and can't spell, even educated people.

November 12, 2010 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger Beth Hollenbeck said...

Why can't people just listen...Respect other's opinions, views and how they articulate them? I thought that was the goal of this blog? Regardless of what you think about an individual (likely someone you don't know at all and just read a few paragraphs from) let's remain supportive of our unique and challenging situation as physicians wives, and not create new difficulties for a person's struggles. Snide remarks about someone's spelling and grammar is ridiculous and frankly immature. Even if you don't agree with the author there are more "grown up" ways to discuss the topic. I'm sure ALL of us have viewpoints on this journey that would rub others the wrong way. I find the author brave to post her feelings.

This isn't the first time I have felt negativity with this blog. Honestly, I don't understand it. We all have a right to our opinions and feelings, and are just reaching out to those who may understand what we are going through.

November 12, 2010 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger K said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 12, 2010 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger K said...

There is already a perception that exists out there (who knows how pervasive it is) that doctor's wives as a group feel superior. After all, for generations mothers all over would be proud if their daughter marries a doctor. So when you actually say you are above your surroundings, it does come off as elitist. However, I am not offended by it. If you were slated to be poor for the rest of your life by all odds, I bet people would cheer you on in saying you are above food stamps. You feeling good about yourself is of no consequence to people who are better off than you. It is not threatening when you are going to be poor forever. But here you are, saying you are above your circumstances (and being literally above them in a few short years) and you get criticized. Interesting.

On the other hand, life 'is what it is' (at the present moment) because nobody knows if the world will be struck by an asteroid tomorrow. If you have been fat your whole life with abundant potential and means to get thin starting tomorrow, it won't matter if we aren't here, and you will have been fat your whole life. Therefore, if you are poor now you have credibility to speak about being poor. What might happen in the future is irrelevant. Your naysayers might have to eat their "i'm offended, you're elitist" words if the improbable happens. Either way, who is the fool? Not you, Stacie.

Maybe I sound a little off the wall but it's not like that would be anything new.

November 12, 2010 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I believe that eating humble pie is good medicine. When you eat it though, you should probably leave out the side helping of justification. Stating in a public forum that you are above your circumstances because you didn't drop out of high school or have three babies with three different men is being elitist. We all have moments of bad judgement but when you apologize it may be a good idea to leave it at that.

I am the product of a woman who was reduced to the use of the welfare system. I have four sisters and only two have ever shared the same last name. I have known poverty and still at times fear that I may know it today. My mother had her own set of circumstances, a hell I will not begin to describe. The thing is, my circumstances then and now have never been all that bad.

My husband is a neurosurgical resident. I am not defined by his career but by the circumstances that I have created in my own life. I'm happy that we share our circumstances,good and bad.

If you cannot see how your words in either of your blogs could be offensive, I'm very sorry for you. It is not a matter of perception but of making statements that place others below you. I hope that your circumstances begin to improve.

November 12, 2010 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

okay, this is my two cents worth:
{although, i don't really think anyone cares about my two cents}

i wasn't offended. i was one of the ones that totally and completely understood what stacie was saying. i wanted to comment positively on the original post, but didn't have the time to do it then, so i wanted to do it now. i think that i completely related to it because of my circumstances right now: we have 2 kids, i'm staying at home, lots of bills, and i still feel like we have a long road ahead of us.

i know that it is what it is, but sometimes it is hard to deal with on my own. you see, i don't want to whine too much to my husband because i want him to come home to a happy wife and i don't want him to feel like i am not satisfied. he works too hard to feel pressure from me. in our program there is not another resident's family that is similar to ours. most of them choose to have kids at the end of residency {or later}, not start with them. i say, to each, their own. BUT, it doesn't change the fact that i can't commiserate with anyone about it. I definitely have a different set of circumstances than my other friends in town. most of them are married with small kids and they stay at home with them. their husbands are not in medicine and they all seem to be doing very well. they can buy organic food and get excited about going shopping. some live excessively, some frugally, but all live on means that are more than ours. and most of them started out better financially than we did. i'm not bitter about it, but they certainly don't understand the way we are living right now, and they don't understand my frustrations. how could they? not just with money, but also time...

it is so so SOOO hard for me to feel like i have a support system in this journey because no one gets it. not my family, not his family. they might say they do, but they are not living it. my friends don't get it. other residents' wives don't seem to get it PLUS i don't want to share too much with them because residency is a competitive atmosphere, and i don't know how every comment is perceived and i want to look out for my husband. {DOES ANYONE RELATE TO THAT???} so i have found a lot of comfort here, in this blog.

thank you, stacie, for putting your feelings out there. it made me feel better when i read your post. i am sure that it helped that i had read it right after i dropped off our car to be fixed for a massive oil leak that cost us our christmas money.

stacie, i get it. i really, really get it. i could think of a thousand examples to tell you, but i don't have to. you know that i get it.

November 12, 2010 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger SDW said...

I completely and totally agree. I wrote a post on my blog about this subject and got people upset with me, too. Try to not let them get you down, that's what I'm trying to do. I decided to edit my post to better reflect my feelings, not the ones that were being "put into my mouth."
I find it a tad obnoxious when people expect others to keep all their thoughts and feeling to themselves out of fear of offending someone. And it's even worse when innocent frustrations can be twisted into something malicious.
I know where you are coming from. I understand how you feel. You have plenty of support.

November 12, 2010 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger Tasha said...

I understand your message. I am on rotations right now--psychiatry--and I see plenty of people on welfare/disability/social security. I've worked with individuals with developmental disabilities who also rely on federal assistance. Having seen lots of psyc patients, some tend to be more functional than others and it is sometimes frustrating to see some who could work and don't, who spend tax dollars on alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs. And unfortunately this tends to be a common perception by the public: that all individuals on welfare could have prevented their circumstances and used their funds for wasteful spending.

My husband and I are both in school (med and PA) so neither of us are working and both of us pay over $20K in tuition (not including living expenses, books, etc.) so we'll have an enormous amount of debt. We know several classmates who have children and the wives are SAHM. I don't know if it is where we live or what, but the classmates I know in this situation seem to be able to afford much more than us: they eat out once a week, buy all of the most expensive brands at the grocery store (courtesy of tax payers), she shops every day (I think she has an addiction...), and their apartment is $300 more a month (same exact size, but she insisted on vaulted ceilings and a complex with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool). Honestly I sometimes have a hard time not feeling cheated: they will have less total debt and less taxes than us, who live frugally and without any assistance. But hopefully residency will help them feel less entitled to their extravagant spending [I think she hasn't realized that her husband is not yet a doctor making six figures].

Unfortunately the exception to the rule tends to jade the public's perspective on welfare (any form: food stamps, housing, healthcare, etc.) I think the only lesson we can learn is to not judge. There will always be those who choose to abuse the system, however, for every one who does, there are hundreds or thousands who graciously and humbly accept assistance. One day you will be the rich person feeling cheated by the high taxes used to fund the welfare system. May you remember these poor moments that teach us to have charity for others.

November 12, 2010 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Karisa and John said...

This is one of the resident spouses commenting. I have recently come to realize that my fellow residents (who I highly respect and am grateful to work with) and I have become somewhat cynical. It seems like criticizing others has become very easy, and that conversations tend to trend in that direction more often than not (very unfortunately). I want to change this.

The field of medicine requires snap decisions and quick judgments. However, I think we all have to be careful not to hand out character diagnoses, just because we see a flaw. I agree with all of the comments regarding this previous post. However, if our spouses are going to be criticized for venting about a living nightmare, where can they go for support?

Please, just because you see a flaw in someone's writing doesn't mean you have to share it or point it out. We all need help to get through this.

November 12, 2010 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Camilla said...

He who takes offense when none is intended is a fool, he who takes offense when offense is intended is a bigger fool. --Confucious

May none of us judge each other harshly--whether we be SAHM's, working for our doctorate, currently using food stamps, or working to reduce your enormous debt-burden.

We all have choices to make and just becuase your choice is different from someone else's doesn't make it the right choice for them. As for judging others for their misuse of food stamps and being holier-than-thou about your scrimping, just be aware you never know for sure what is going on in someone else's life.

I was never at all offended by your post. I just thought, "Gee what a crazy lot we are to be married to these healers and healers-in-training. We are all on the same team here, folks.

November 13, 2010 at 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The internet is a rough frontier sometimes.

I hope you still feel supported by other doctors spouses. You are right that we have unique challenges that outsiders can't comprehend. If we can't give each other understanding, we're not going to get it elsewhere.

November 15, 2010 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Camilla said...


I am totally with you and LOVED your analysis.

November 15, 2010 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger Desiree said...

I didn't see it as elitist. I have also felt embarrassment and judgment from others and feel the need to justify why I used wic when I couldn't breastfeed my son or afford to buy him formula... when I couldn't get maternity coverage because of my pre-existing c-section and had to go on medicare during my pregnancy. It seems odd to fill out forms and put that I have a master's degree and management experience and yet my current circumstances bring me to my knees. And I agree that these forums should be a safe place to vent - we are all on the same team.

My sister works with domestic violence victims who are starting over and have lost, literally, everything. She reminds me that at least I have an end in sight... the women she works with have left it all behind and have no respite... so in that sense, I feel very blessed.

November 16, 2010 at 12:17 AM  
Blogger Keely said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 16, 2010 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Keely said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 16, 2010 at 10:18 AM  

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