It’ll never work

This year has been spent looking after my child who was diagnosed with an extremely high-risk form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

As a result I spent months in other people’s work environment. My child just does better with me there and so I am there as much as I can. Morning to afternoon/evening, every day, weekends and all.

The first 100 days in the clinic were messy, so I tried to use the time we spent at home, waiting for the stem cell transplant, to prepare for the next block of clinic months. Because I couldn’t live through another bunch of months like that. I tried to sort out the relationships with the people in the clinic as much as possible, by treating them responsibly.

This seemed to be abnormal.

So I spent a lot of time thinking about feelings, German work culture, doctors, influence, madness. Yes, madness. Because I am now the only person in my environment who thinks and acts with the belief that we are wired for connection and that emotions are a healthy part of us that we can work through and with.

Of course I have the background I do, where sometimes I had a platform to talk about future work things. But if you are literally the only person who thinks like this, isn’t that the definition of madness?

I may think I know innovation. In the environment I am from, “people have feelings, they are part of them” is kinda already accepted in the world of work, so it’s not something you’d have to introduce. I don’t even know where to start here.

The people who run things are the people who have been the best at cutting off their emotions, at being cold and slippery and the least human of us all. Why would they accept that there is a whole world where you don’t have to be like that? Where that is not considered success? Where you get to be human? Why would they?

I am still in the clinic every day. My own life there is much more comfortable than in the first few months, I have at least succeeded at doing that.

I did write a proposal after the first 100 days. I never showed it to anyone. It’s been 300 days and I am still here, still listening, watching, feeling… Still kinda trying to write something I can present if I get the chance. I haven’t given up exactly, but I do see that it is going to be practically impossible. I know innovation has to involve whole people, because you can’t innovate if you aren’t connected to others, if you can’t talk about the good work you do, if you don’t feel connected and supported.

Better mutual support for hard work is one of the areas the department is actively trying to find new solutions for. Their solution? Hire another therapist. Because this is about building emotional strength and resilience, and in this world, emotions are an illness to be treated by a professional.

And that’s where all this is related. You can’t support each other emotionally if you can’t see each other as human beings whose emotions are a valid part of them. And if you are a hard, ambitious German career person, why would you? If the entire working life is geared towards being a machine without emotions, if being a machine has brought you all the advantages…

how do we ever get to be fully human? Why would anyone want to?

I am grateful we had a doctor looking after us who had his emotional side switched on, showed vulnerability and sometimes uncertainty, in a place that doesn’t have positive words for any of these things he is. He didn’t get the support he needed, although he was loved by everyone who worked with him, and of course me trying to have that kind of relationship failed horrendously. But nevertheless, having him there changed my entire experience.

But of course

I am just a patient mum.

Innovation is hard. (I did write a mail to the organisers, the Medical Council of this state, to offer my help with understanding event hashtags, because I still think they are one of the best ways of seeing instant benefit of using technology to connect to other humans.)

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1 Response

  1. Brenda says:

    So tough when your only collaborations on this journey are professionally and personally inured to emotional contact and support.

    Keep on writing Anke.

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