Moving Beyond the "Shoulds"

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I spend a lot of time reflecting on the past, and by reflecting, I mean obsessing. The only thing I probably spend more time thinking about is the future. And again, by "thinking about the future," I mean "having a lot of anxiety and obsessively worrying about the future." 

As you can imagine, with the recent events that have been going on, a lot of both of these things have been occuring. Usually, the future obsessing is what gets me into trouble, but this time, it's getting stuck in the past and what "should have been." A woman that reached out to me after my miscarriage, Steph, has been absolutely wonderful and supportive. Before this, I was only vaguely aware of her existence, mainly in the context of her younger sister, with whom I went through school. However, when she messaged me after reading my blog, I found a lot of comfort in talking with her. Life sometimes brings you exactly who you need. One of the (many helpful) things she has told me is, "The sooner you get away from what should have been, the easier you might find it." She's absolutely right, but it is so difficult.

The first time I experienced this in real time was last week on Monday, when I saw my OB for a follow-up appointment. Fortunately, she had been able to fit me into her schedule. Unfortunately, it was on the same day at the same time that I was already scheduled to be seeing a different OB in the practice for my 10 week prenatal appointment. I was in the same office I would have been in under completely different circumstances, and I couldn't get away from that fact. The entire time, I was trying to keep it together in front of my doctor, but underneath, I just wanted to collapse onto the floor and cry at the unfairness of it all.

Also, every week that passes, I have a brief moment (or 27) where I think, "Oh, I would have been ____ weeks this week," which obviously isn't great for my mental health. I did a pretty good job of immediately unsubscribing from all of the pregnancy-related emails I had been getting, but every once in awhile, some associated email will come through and I'll be right back in the mire of the grief. I know that eventually, this will stop. Honestly, it's already gotten much better in the past 3 weeks. I've been able to enjoy going out with friends, I'm sleeping better (thank you, Klonopin, meditation, and, I am eating, and I'm not crying every day. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of days where I can barely get out of bed, and the other night, I woke up at 1 am and burst into tears. One day at a time.

The "shoulds" have haunted me before, as well. When I left med school in 2009, I was mostly concerned with not killing myself and getting out of Florida. After I got over the initial trauma of what happened though, I had a lot of "should" moments. 

I should be finishing first year.

I should be starting rotations now.

I should be finding out where I matched for residency.

I should be walking in graduation.

As expected, now that I'm back in school and all of those things will be a reality for me in the not-too-distant-future, the shoulds of Med School 1.0 have largely faded into the background. They're definitely still there though, and they come back often when I talk to a friend with whom I would have graduated. I am thrilled beyond words for my friends who are doctors, who are kicking ass in residency, applying for fellowship, interviewing for jobs, and being made chief residents. I am also incredibly sad that I am not doing it along with them.

So why do we get "the shoulds"? I don't have all the answers. I wish I did. But I think for me, I get them because I don't allow myself the grace and forgiveness I give to others. I hold a lot of anger and resentment towards myself for what I could have done differently (like with med school), or even if there was nothing I could have done (like with the miscarriage). Living with that anger doesn't allow me to ever move on, and while it took me 6 years just to start forgiving myself for med school, I really hope it doesn't take that long for me to heal from this miscarriage. I don't think it will, largely because I do know that it wasn't my fault, whereas med school maybe could have been prevented if I had done things differently. (I'll never know and I can't even entertain that line of thought because if I do, I'll never leave it.) 

What can I do about this, though? A lot of it is just waiting, and time. Since I'm terrible at waiting and not being in control, this is one of my worst nightmares. What I can do though is be kind to myself. I can do more self-care. I can let my friends and family hold me up. I can write and talk about it. I can try to refocus my thoughts on the future, or better yet, the present. 

Like I said, I don't have all the answers. If you get a case of "the shoulds," what do you do? For now, I'm going to continue breathing, going to acupuncture, studying, and of course, when all else fails, there's wine and chocolate. I am a blogger, after all.

- A

1 comment:

  1. I have a case of the "shoulds" every day of my life. I feel you, completely. One foot in front of the other until the "I should haves" become "I dids" (the grammar in that sentence is completely wrong but I'm pretty sure you get what I mean).


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