Orpheus: The Taste of Ashes - Player Stuff - Teresa - Diary - Entry Zero

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A New Job

It’s done. For better or worse, I’m no longer “Teresa Reilly, psychiatrist” but rather, “Teresa Reilly, Orpheus employee”. Projector. Investigator. Ghostbuster? That sounds ridiculous. Part of me still can’t quite believe what I’m doing, but I don’t regret it. Nick thinks I’ve lost all common sense, abandoning a secure (no pun intended) job for -- what did he call it? -- “doing who knows what for a bunch of charlatans, the severely deluded or both”. He’s not exactly shy about making his opinions known. I hope he doesn’t make it known to the rest of my colleagues, though. As far as they -- and my CV -- are concerned, I’m moving on to corporate work for a while. They assume that means counselling white-collar workers. Was I wrong not to correct their assumptions? It’s certainly a little dishonest, but, well, it’s easier than the alternative. It was bad enough getting the lecture from Nick. Oh, well. There’s no point worrying about it now.

My colleagues think I’ve just burned out. I suppose they’re right, in a way. I was losing my professional detachment; getting too involved with my patients. The start of the slippery slope. One of the first things we learn is that if you invest too much of yourself in your patients, then they’ll drag you down with them or you’ll crack up under the stress and strain of it. Failures can break you completely.

Is that what happened to me? I don’t think so, not yet anyway. But it could, so easily. There but for the grace of Freud go I, and all that. I needed -- need -- to get away from it for a while. I suppose it’s lucky that this opportunity came along when it did. Too much longer and I’d be a good ways along the path to a nervous breakdown. I’ve seen it happen. I’ll miss my patients, I know. Part of me wants to keep in contact with the unit, to see how they’re all doing, but that wouldn’t be a good idea. Not yet. Maybe later, when I’ve gained some distance. That doesn’t mean I won’t worry about them, though.

So. A new start.

I must admit that I’m intrigued by Orpheus. If what Kate said (and implied) is true, then there’s a whole world out there that most people have never even heard of, let alone believe in. How could I not find that exciting? Yes, it is possible that they’re fakes and frauds, but somehow I don’t think so. Call it a gut feeling, unprofessional as that is. In any case, I suppose I’ll find out soon enough whether my instincts are right or wrong. Training starts next week. I don’t know specifically what that will involve -- I’ve just been asked to show up in the Orpheus reception at the appointed time. (9am, naturally. I think it’s an unwritten law that, no matter what the normal business hours, staff orientations are always scheduled for 9am.) And then we’ll see.

I wonder what the other trainees are like? I’m assuming that there will be others. It seems likely, and I think Kate suggested that there would be. Well, that’s another thing I suppose I’ll find out at the time. I’m trying not to build up too many expectations, but it’s hard. I haven’t felt this excited about the future since I switched from medicine to psychiatry. I suppose there’s just something about change, about a fresh start, that brings hope. To me, at least. I feel like, well, it would be a cliché to say that a weight has been lifted from my shoulders but it’s true. Things become clichés for a reason.

There is one thing still hanging over me, though: I haven’t told my parents yet. I don’t know how they’re going to react. They were disappointed when I didn’t take a plum job in a family practice, or in a prestigious private clinic. They were downright scathing when I went to work at the unit. Well, father was. Mother was just worried about what they were going to tell the neighbours. What will they make of this? It’s funny. I’m a grown woman, a professional. I’m confident in my abilities, and I have the respect of my colleagues (most of them, anyway). But when it comes to facing my parents’ disappointment (again), I feel like an awkward adolescent. Even being aware of the trap doesn’t seem to help me avoid it. Dammit!

I’m going to call Brian. He’s always better at knowing what to say to them. And I haven’t spoken to him in a while, so it’ll be good to catch up.

It’s quite a bit later now. I’ve had a long chat with Brian, and, well, it looks like I’m going back home for a couple of days. Both of us are, actually. I have some misgivings about this, but Brian talked me into it. He thinks -- and I agree, actually, much though part of me would prefer otherwise -- that they’ll take the news better in person. (Not that that really says much, but I suppose I should try to be more positive. Or at least less negative.) He’s going to be there to run interference for me, just like he always has. And he says he has some news of his own, which he didn’t deign to share with me over the ’phone. Curse him! Now he’s just made me curious, which was undoubtedly his intention. I will simply have to try to contain it until I can give him the third degree.

Well, I suppose I’d better go and book my flights.

It’s several days later now, but this is really the first opportunity I’ve had to write.

My parents took the news of my career change (or perhaps career hiatus -- I’m not really sure which it is at the moment) somewhat better than I feared. I must admit that it was largely down to the way that I (with Brian’s assistance) sold it as a move into corporate work. They actually seemed pleased. Not as pleased as they would have been if I’d told them I was moving into private practice -- i.e., letting the wealthy and bored tell me about their problems -- but they definitely saw it as a step up. There was a dicey moment when Dad asked the name of my new company, but it turned out okay. I briefly thought about lying outright, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m actually a little ashamed of myself for even thinking about it. Deceiving through omission is one thing, but telling an untruth is something else entirely. So, I told him that I was going to be working for the Orpheus Group. And he didn’t seem to mind. He just seemed a little surprised. Mum was scandalised, of course, but she usually is. She’ll get over it.

Anyway: Brian’s news. My big brother’s getting married! He was practically glowing when he told us (he wouldn’t tell me a thing until the four of us were together). I’m really happy for him. Although… I am a little surprised. I haven’t even met his fiancée yet. In fact, I don’t think I even knew he was with anyone. Not anyone serious, anyway. But he’s promised to introduce the two of us soon, so I guess I’ll get to make sure she’s good enough for him before the wedding. I’m joking. Well, I’m more or less joking. Okay, I am a little hurt that he didn’t even mention her to me before now. Only a little, though. I’m mostly just beamingly happy for him. He certainly deserves it!

The only downside of him telling Mum and Dad -- who were ecstatic, by the way -- is that it led them (mainly Mum) to start wondering when I’d meet someone ‘suitable’ (her word). Not that Mum really needed any prompting to start nagging me about it. And there’s only so many times I can tell her that I just haven’t met the right person yet. If only that would end the conversation, but no. She then starts listing all the many ways in which I’ve failed to attract a man. I don’t dress well enough, I need to make more of an effort, I need to get out more (but only to the right places), I need to make myself seem available (but not too available), I shouldn’t talk about work, I should smile more and talk less, and so on and so forth. What it boils down to is that if I want to snag someone she considers suitable, then I need to act like someone else.

When I was much younger, one of these little ‘talks’ would have been enough to reduce me to tears (when no one else was around, of course). Now I’m older, wiser, and a lot more self-confident, they just irritate me. Because I am so much older, I very calmly and patiently thanked her for her advice and said that I was happy as I was, or words to that effect. Fortunately, she was too busy quizzing Brian about his bride-to-be to needle me further.

Of course, it still smarts a little to hear her telling me what I should change about myself, no matter how much older I am.

It’s a few hours later than when I last said it was later before. I just didn’t want to end on the above note. That conversation is in the past. It’s the future that’s important now. Orpheus is a new beginning; a change. A fresh start. It may not turn out to be what I want to do with the rest of my life, but it’s what I want to do right now. And that’s enough.

I’m looking forward to it.