Monday, December 31, 2012

A Collision of Selves

A little over a week ago, I was at a team huddle meeting at work.  My boss was telling a story about the talent show/variety show at a local medical college for it's first graduating class.  It is not so much of the talent show from elementary school, as most people who were performing were quite talented in their performing arts.  It serves as a celebration beyond the sciences before the students have Match Day to find out their assignments for residency.  My boss was briefly cluing people into the Match Day process, where the medical students go on interviews for residency and then the students and the hospital programs rank their preferences.  All of this information is submitted into a computer program for the entire country and it does its computing and matches most all of the students to a program.  Then on Match Day, each student's name is called and they are given an envelope to open and find out where they will go for residency.  Match Day is in late March, and most students have about six weeks to finish classes and pack up and move for the next step.  The talent show/variety show is an opportunity to take pause and celebrate before the mayhem begins and everyone goes their separate ways.

My boss was very impressed and touched by the talent show/variety show experience.  As he was describing it, I found myself swept away by an emotional wave that took me back to a place I did not anticipating revisiting.  My eyes started to get teary and I had to look away and not make eye contact with anyone in the room.  All with that brief summary of Match Day, it took me back to the time when I was with A~ and going through that process.  It felt like my past life was flashing in snippets before me, with the excitement, nervousness and wonder about what was going to be the next chapter in our lives together.  I remember when he came home after the first round of interviews.  He was bounding with a brightness of fantastic possibility that we did not realize was before us.  Our initial expectation was that he was going to probably rank Pittsburgh or Cleveland as top choices.  But when he came home and told me about some of the other programs and what they had to offer, I felt it was important to be open to those other choices.  So, I went with him for other interviews and second looks to check out other cities and take it all into consideration.  It was a beautiful time when A~ and I really worked as a team and he included me in his career choices because it was going to impact our life together.  We were giddy with the new found adventure before us, and we were scared to let our parents down if we ended up in another city.  We tried to buffer the news, but we were also cautious about sharing too much because we did not want them to try to convince us otherwise.  This had to be our decision.  It was a chance to see how we could make it as a couple, and it would push us to grow in ways we could not imagine.

And so I sat there with all of these warm, bubbling memories of a life past, a life now gone.  As quickly as these moments surfaced, along came the crashing flood of sadness and grief.  I thought back to my old self, feeling sad for her not knowing what was to come.  How brave and trusting she was in her relationship with A~ and feeling like they were on the edge of something incredible.  All of the sacrifice, the dreaming and the determination of really making it together with him...gone, all very gone.  All of that work and planning and hope...all just so far away gone. 

Was it all for nothing?  Is it now meaningless?  What was the point?

And there I sat, with my job... in a hospital... in Florida... in a place that my old self would have never imagined, especially not without him by my side.  For a moment, I felt outside of my own body and I just felt so sad.

How long had it been?

Ten years.

Ten years ago this holiday season, I was out on the road traveling with him squeezing in interviews and second look visits while popping in to see our family for the holidays.

My life feels like it could be nothing further than what my old self would have or could have imagined.  And now where am I?  How was it that I came to work at a hospital?  Is it weird or strange that my life has taken this path?

What will happen in the next ten years?  How much will change?  How much will I change?  Will I be happy?  Or will I be lost and waiting?

The emotional swells have been reverberating within me, as I try to find a place of balance, strength and acceptance of my current reality.  I know I am in a place of transition once again.  I just need to be patient.  It is okay to grieve what was lost, honor it and put it down again.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Broken Foot


So, it seems this was a work in progress, maybe.  I enjoy running.  It is one of my favorite ways to release stress because I usually get to be physically active and be outside while doing it.  Unfortunately, I started having pain in my foot around the end of April, beginning of May.  I just wanted to make it through the Cleveland Half-Marathon. 

Cleveland is my hometown and to have the opportunity to run in this race meant a lot.  I remember sometime in middle school and hearing about the race and thinking what fun it would be to run in the city.  When I found out how long the race was, I wasn't sure if that could be something I could do.  In grade school, I was often the smallest and slowest runner in my class.  If I was playing tag at recess, it was only a matter of time before I was "it."  That usually meant that I was "it" for the remainder of the time because I couldn't catch anyone.  After a while, others began to catch onto this pattern and found that it really wasn't fun to have me hopelessly chasing them around the playground.  So then, mercilessly, someone would eventually volunteer to be "it" so that the kids could resume running at full speed and I could try to catch my breath...praying that someone would not say the chant (I cannot remember) that makes it so that everyone has to leave base.

Needless to say, it wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered the joys of running.  I may not be fast, but I do enjoy it.  So, I think I weakened my foot and tried to give it a rest over the summer.  When I finally decided to go see my doctor about it, I got back into my car and my phone rang with the job offer for Orlando.  I had the x-rays done in Pittsburgh and they did not show anything.  During my moving into my new apartment, I tripped on a step and my foot just did not feel the same.  I think that was when it was officially pushed over the edge.  I had x-rays done and now the break was clearly visible.

Since September I have had a series of steps in trying to heal my foot.  I started with an air cast and a knee scooter.  The lady who completed the paperwork for me to rent the scooter at the store said something about, "Now that you are disabled..."  That did not go over well.  Me, disabled?  No.  I decided to make the most of it by installing a bicycle bell on it so at least I could bring some kind of humor to the situation.  With the hospital being so new, I was quickly recognized as the girl on the scooter.  At first, people thought it was a toy and part of my job as a Child Life Specialist.  "Oh, you Child Life Specialists have all the fun toys!  You are so fun...oh, wait.  What's that on your foot?  Oh, your foot's broken.  Sorry!"  I will say the scooter was better than crutches.  I could pick up some real speed on the straight aways.  Some people teased that I would get a speeding ticket.  Others would say that I would miss the scooter because I would be so much slower.  Not so much.  As much time as I could save with going fast in a hallway here and there, I spent more time backing up and going back and forth to maneuver in and out of doorways and tight spaces.  A time or two I got a little jammed and stuck trying to get out of the elevator that I felt like Austin Powers in the golf cart in the first movie.

Over time, I realized I was in a safe bubble at work and people were just used to it.  Granted it made for a lot of extra conversation and inquires of how I was healing.  But, it was well intended and I preferred to think of it as people cheering for me, even if it was somewhat tiresome having the same conversations about ten times per day.  I usually had my canned answers, but tried to say it with a smile.  Then it started happening at the Publix.  The people who worked at the store began to recognize me and would strike up conversations with me about my progress and giving me well wishes.  It was slightly invasive and I really didn't want to be drawing extra attention.  Again, I took it as more people sending me good vibes for healing.  Then, I went to the mall and there were a lot of people who openly stared at me.  It made me feel uncomfortable.  I suddenly appreciated my safe bubbles of work and the Publix.

I was also irked when people would ask me if I had a handicapped parking pass.  What?  No.  I am not disabled...even if technically temporarily...I did not identify myself that way.  It ticked me off when people would say that I should take full advantage of my situation with the parking thing or milking it for some other favor out of pity.  NO!  That was one reason why when there was one guy that I dated for a bit that I appreciated that he did not say those kind of things.  He joked with me as was my way of coping, but he did not treat me any differently.  And he was good at listening when I could be honest about my frustrations with it.  (More on him in another post.)

After about a month, I started to transition off of the scooter and try walking more with the air cast.  Sometimes it was strange and somewhat comforting when some people didn't even realize that I didn't have the scooter anymore because it had just become no big deal.  The transition was giving me some hope.  But, I still felt awkward and it was starting to wear on me.  I found myself not wanting to go out in public for longer stretches where I might need the scooter.  I was just so done with it and my mood was dark.  I was getting into a funk.  Being restricted in not being able to really exercise was not helping and starting to take its emotional toll.

Last week I was down graded to a "walking shoe," which looks like a sandal version of the walking cast.  At least now I can swim laps in the pool, as long as I don't push off the wall.  I went for a swim after an unseasonable cool spell.  It felt great and really helped my mood.  I look forward to doing more of it, as long as the weather cooperates.  Fortunately, the pool for laps in my neighborhood is heated.

Supposedly, I'm moving in the right direction.  As long as I can handle the progression to regular shoes and walking, I *might* get to try running in February.  But, what totally stinks is that after all of this, the pain could come back to my foot and all of this could be for nothing.  That is what I fear the most.

And as much as I am trying to stay positive, it is wearing on me.  I miss wearing matching socks and shoes.  I miss wearing my cute shoes.  I haven't even been able to wear my Florida shoes yet!  With the holidays coming and the New Year, I feel like I can't really get excited about dressing up all cute.  I don't feeling like wearing a cute dress and then this aweful velcro sandal.  Maybe I'll head to the beach for New Years.  It's a good place for a flip flop.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Text

RJ sent me a text last weekend.  He congratulated me with the Browns beating the Steelers.  Then, he said that he hoped I was doing well in Orlando.

I don't think his text is fair.  Sure, he may have been reaching out to let me know he was thinking about me.  Good for well wishes.  But, it hurts, even if confirming that I had some significance in his life.  Just let me be.

I didn't respond to the text.

Instead, I decided to write him a letter through email this weekend.  I took it as an opening for me to kind of respond to the note he had written in his card over the summer, the last of the processed thoughts that I had upon settling in Orlando and when the numbness wore off.  I thought about hand writing the note, but I wanted to include some links to a speaks to him.  That, and I just didn't feel like giving him any more of myself than I handwriting, my touch on the page.

I'm not going to post the letter, as some of it is more personal than I care to share in my blog.  Also, some of it touches on reflections I have already said.  My letter was my last attempt to say whatever was left unsaid that I wished I had been braver and more aware to say in the moment when I left Pittsburgh.

However, the excerpt below touches on an important conversation I had with my aunt.  And I want to remember her words.

Shortly after moving to Orlando, I had an interesting conversation with one of my aunts. We were just talking about relationships in general and some of her words resonated with me. When couples seem to come to that place of having to make life choices, it seems sometimes it may be between the relationship or career. She said neither is right or wrong, they just are. They will take you on different paths of happiness and fulfillment. 

There were times I thought that maybe RJ ended the relationship with me because he was afraid or unable to be trusting in us for things to work for the long-term.  Or, it could be what he said in that there was something missing for him.  It doesn't matter because it is done and over.

I am moving forward and letting go more each day.  The holidays make it a bit tricky sometimes.  And his text does not help, pulling me back.  If he contacts me again, I may just have to say no more.  I think I am at a place where I am okay with that, which is the important part.