Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letting Go

I have some of the worst personality traits. First, I'm a near-perfectionist. I like things aligned, neat, organized, and clean. Second, I have diagnosed mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which means that I have a hard time coping when things are aligned, neat, organized, and clean. Finally, I also have generalized anxiety and panic disorder, which means that I tend to worry a lot and at times my worry takes more than a mental toll on me.

Needless to say, all of these traits make me a planner. In my view, if I plan, I can take some of the uncertainty out of life, making it easier to live. For the most part, this view stands up to reality. My extra effort to look up directions to the restaurant means I spend less time walking around looking for it. Constantly carrying an umbrella means that I'm never wet. Budgeting means I'm never in dire financial trouble.

Ever since I met Dr., the picture in my head of how my life would go or how it was supposed to be has changed. Some things have gone according to plan: I ended up graduate school (although not law school as I originally thought), I got my first big girl job in DC, working on Capitol Hill. However, I never imagined I'd be married, much less before 30. I never thought I'd be able to sustain this long-term of a relationship. I never thought I would be picking up my life and moving to a weird state for a guy. None of those things were in the plan.

The ultimate "plan busting" experience occurred this past spring during the residency match. Hopefully the episode I am about to recount also does a decent job of explaining our story as a couple trying to survive the introduction into medicine:

It seemed like we were going to get the life we planned for as we prepared for the match. We had long discussions about our long-term (read: 3 years, the time it takes to complete an IM residency) plan and where we each wanted to end up professionally and personally. We then put together a list of possible programs in our desired locations. The list included a ranking that was an incredibly good reflection of the programs that would be great for him in places that would be good for me professionally as well. Dr. lined up audition rotations in those places, cultivated relationships with program directors, and performed exceedingly well, garnering great letters of recommendation and unofficially indications that they would rank him high in the match process. We went into the match feeling confident that we would end up back in my hometown, where he would work in a great program and I would be able to fulfill a few of my professional desires as well as my desire to move back to the midwest. We were excited and ready and then...

Dr. didn't match.

I think he'd agree that that day was the worst day - leading to the worst week - of our life together. It was full of disbelief, disbelief, tears, and "why us?" repeated over and over again. We were shocked, sad, and angry. Even when Dr. finally found a residency spot in a mutually acceptable place a few days later, I still thought almost hourly I'll never get over this. We had a plan. A plan that would work fantastically for the both of us. I had gotten my hopes up and set my heart on something (the bad part of being a planner and a secret optimist). "I'm going to give up my job, my apartment, my life for  a situation I didn't plan on?!?!" I thought as I sat on the floor of my bathroom the morning after, sobbing hysterically into a towel so he wouldn't hear me from the next room. I will never get through this.

But you know what? I did. I'm happy - and somewhat surprised - to say that, six months later, I have let go of what has happened and tried my darndest to focus on the now, not the future. Dr. is shining in his program and is going to be a phenomenal physician. I have a job with a good salary and benefits for the time being, something few people have. We'll be living together in a few short months and a few short months after that we'll be married.  We're healthy, surrounded by family who are excited for us, and we want for almost nothing (except maybe a dog).

Don't get me wrong, there are days when I think back on the match experience and am deeply saddened. But I believe that someone, somewhere was trying to tell me something and, in their effort to do so, grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted "Let it go!!!!!" I got the message and glad I did. My life since has been sweeter, happier, and more real - if that makes any sense - and I can feel an improvement in my general mood everyday.

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