Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Calling it Quits

I was raised in a keep-your-word, work-hard, shut-the-gate-behind-you sort of family. None of this was taught in haste, but over the whole of my childhood, from my parents, grandparents and other significant adults in my life. To this day I am still thankful for those examples. For the people who took the time to slow their lives enough to say, "I know you don't know yet, so let me show you." It is what I hope for all young people I know.

That being said, it is very difficult for me to ever call it quits on something I begin. I pay my bills on time, show up when I say I will, and run that half marathon, even if training didn't go as well as I had hoped. Follow through is ingrained into the fabric of who I am.

I also tend to over-commit.

I am sure if my husband could change one thing about me, this would be it. He often has to be the voice of reason, not usually before I'm laying incapacitated by a migraine brought on by doing too much for too long with too little rest. To his credit, he does try to remind me of limits (which he has learned over the past three years) before I begin a new endeavor. Sometimes I just don't listen.

I should listen more.

Last week I began a nine month certificate program in order to learn how to do MRI. The program is located in Portland, so two nights a week I travel up to class. I also began a weekend night shift, thirty two hours over three days. Also, in conjunction with class time, I began twenty one hours of clinicals at the hospital I work at, in order to get hands on training.

I told myself over and over again that it's 'only nine months,' and completely possible.

I told myself that until Tuesday afternoon when I was in bed with a raging migraine, feeling nauseous and utterly exhausted. And like a ton of bricks I realized what I had to do: I had to quit. I had to call my instructor (a woman I met once and immediately respected) and my supervisors (whom I wanted badly to impress) and tell them that I had to drop my classes. That is was too much. That I am, in fact, human.

Those conversations were difficult, to say the least. Some went well. Laden with grace, mercy and kindness. One was strained, awkward and painful. But they happened. I spoke with each of the four people I had to and admitted my weakness. Admitted that I cannot be at a hospital every day of the week without beginning to die inside. Admitted that I am interested in more in my life than a higher pay scale and a few more letters behind my name. Admitted that I enjoy being a friend and a wife, and the opportunities I get to do both because of not over-working. And that at the end of the day, I may not be cut out for that much 'busy' in my life.

I was greatly humbled by the kindness I received afterwards. Friends, coworkers and family were so  caring and understanding, divulging to me that they had 'been worried' the whole time, but would have supported me as well. It was all very humbling. Not only to admit weakness but also to receive such care after the fact. I feel like I am still reeling from it all.

But I am also myself again.

My headache receded a day after I called it quits. My eye quit twitching that night. I slept this weekend, soundly. And I learned that sometimes the bravest, most courageous thing you can do is to say you can't do it all.