The season of exams has begun in our house. Any of you that have followed along up to this point know that this brings added stress to our house. My husband is diligently studying for his exams and has been for the last few weeks already. My birthday is at end of this week and that marks the start of the serious studying in my head. I can feel the stress levels slowly rising in my heart, but hope that I have learned a few things along the way to make this time a bit better. But again, if you follow me you know that I say that each year. I mean really, I am just hoping not to throw a plastic knife and fork at my husband this year. That would be winning in my book!
This exam season brings with it new challenges though, not only do I have the horrible feeling of being the spouse where there is just nothing you can tangibly do to help your spouse get ready for tests, but there is a whole hosts of things on our plates. It is such a helpless feeling as you watch them go on their own emotional roller coaster, facing their demons, doubting their strengths, forgetting they are courageous and being so tired they can’t think straight some days. I have come to realize that a lot of my melt downs (well at least I would like to think) have come from this helpless feeling. As a spouse/partner you want to encourage and help, you hate seeing them struggle and you want to make life a little easier. This. Is. Just. Not. Reality. In. Medicine. Maybe for some families it is, but my friends that have travelled the road ahead of me seem to face this each major exam or milestone. With that feeling of helplessness I find that when I get annoyed at my husband some times it isn’t him I am annoyed at but it is the powerless feeling I have. I do not like feeling powerless or out of control and if I let those emotions sneak up on me they seep out in controlling and ugly ways. I mean screaming and crying is so not on my list of beautiful things, but somehow I hear screams coming from my mouth and crazy rants and tears seeping down my face because I am out of almonds. I am a hot mess a lot of the time, I am just hoping exam season goes a little smoother this year. This year I hope to embrace the powerlessness and helplessness and remember to just ride the wave of exams out.
The truth is I am very fortunate to have amazing friends and community that specifically carry me through this season. About this time they start getting text and messages saying the stress is starting or asking them to pray or think good thoughts for my husband and me, but soon they seem to get those daily. They have his exam schedule and they fill my emotional tank with words of encouragements, gifts and help for the practical parts of my life. This year I am going into this season scared, but so aware of my people. Aware that they love us. They are for us. They will cheer us on. They will stop and carry this for us and with us. SIGH. It feels good just to write that, to remember that they are there, and to know that they will be there through each flip and turn of this roller coaster.
I am more scared this year with the looming move we are making, my schooling (by the way I received money to attend school via distance learning! The miracle came last minute but came!), my work, and preparing our son for a massive change and all the logistics and finances that come with a move. My husband has been placed in Wellington Hospital and we are thrilled. While I have loved our community and who I have become in this city we live, I am ready to move. Ready for a new chapter. Ready to leave cold houses and freezing days. BUT with that move comes a whole host of other circumstances that must fall into place. I need a job before we move, my husband needs to study and apply for scholarships and grants (not to mention job search in Wellington as well), I need to study and finish up my grad school class while looking for a job, we need to find housing, arrange transport and keep our house semi clean because our friends are selling the house that we live in that they own. It definitely can feel a bit overwhelming when I look at that, but weirdly enough life is so busy and full I can only do the thing in front of me. I do not have time to stress about some things because I am busy getting life done. Do not get me wrong, I have gone completely mad and lost the plot already. I have had major stress and anxiety last weekend and I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest with all the things that have to fall into place in a certain order, but again, I text my people, sat and had a chat with God and got to making more lists.
One of my favorite leaders of all time is Graham Henry, All Black’s Coach from 2003-2011. I read his book in one of the lowest, most depressed season of my life. A line that captured me and haunted me “expect the unexpected and deal with it” made its was into my psyche as I read it and has yet to leave. This was a mind blown moment for me. Instead of fearing the unexpected or the worse possible scenario, I must actually be waiting for it and take the stance that I will deal with it. Which in itself infers that I can deal with it. Wow. Little did Graham Henry know that this rugby/life memoir book would shape a depressed new mom and wife drowning in medical school life and budgets, but it did. So as this season approaches that is my stance. I like to pretend that I have my hands on my hips, my head cocked to the right and my legs apart in a superhero pose as I approach this season. I can and will handle this and just when I think I won’t make it I am reminded that I have a rugby team of people that, like the All Blacks are standing shoulder to shoulder with me and making sure I get across that line. As I watched the first All Black game of the World Cup today I could not help but be energized by the hard work these guys put in and the team effort it takes to get the Win. The main reason I write is to help me process, to help someone else out there in my spot say “me too” and feel a little bit less alone and because I need people to do life. And also because I do an exorbitant amount of ridiculous things that I feel needs to be documented, if for no other reason but to embarrass my son at a later date. But I mostly do it because I need people Okay team, I need you. I will end on Prince Harry’s words in the opening ceremonies of The 2015 Rugby World Cup, “I can think of no other sport where the success of the team is shouldered so equally by everyone.” This, my people, is how I feel about being a Med School Wife.