Is anyone else ready for this year to be over? Just me? Okay, great.
I totally get the whole “life has ups and downs” mantra and I’m very supportive of the whole going with the flow thing. But holy crap have I had my fair share of curveballs this year. The last time I checked in was mid-June, just as I was resurfacing from a pretty severe exacerbation of my anxiety. I was enjoying having my days open up and squeezing in social dates between my work responsibilities.
That routine lasted about two weeks before a new stressor shook all of our lives up.
My sister who was 26 weeks pregnant at the time started showing signs of preterm labour. While not totally impossible to have a healthy baby that early, the situation became emotionally taxing very quickly. Particularly as it was that week that we had started planning her baby shower here in Canada. Her doctor put her on bedrest and told her to limit her activity as much as possible.
With her being nearly 1500 kilometres away, an distinct sense of unease had settled over all of us. We hated being so far away from her, because in the event of an emergency, it would still take several hours to get to her. We ended each day with a sigh of relief, hoping and praying that the weeks would continue to go by, giving the baby an opportunity to grow and have a better chance.
Almost three weeks later, we got a call from her at 3 AM on her way to the hospital. She was having contractions only 6 minutes apart and a full term pregnancy looked like a total fantasy. They were able to slow the contractions but her doctor told her it was very likely that she would deliver within the next 48 hours.
So armed with an hour and a half of sleep and an $800 plane ticket, I hopped on the earliest flight to Atlanta.
She went into labour the next evening and after 11 hours of active labour, met her beautiful baby boy who was born quite healthy considering his prematurity.
As a nursing student, I’m no stranger to hospitals. But that still didn’t prepare me for being out of the scrubs and in the role of the patient’s family. I felt like I had to keep it together for my sister, my brother-in-law, and everyone else in the family and it took a tremendous amount of strength.
By the week’s end, I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. Holding everyone else together during one of the most stressful experiences we’ve shared in the last few years became my only focus, and I exerted myself beyond my personal understanding of my capabilities.
If I’m being totally honest, I kind of impressed myself with how well I responded to the stress. I kept it together, and helped everyone find their own strength in an emotional time. But if I’m being even more honest, I wanted more than anything to have someone to confide in.
I wanted a safe space to fall apart, where I didn’t have to worry about keeping it together. For once, I wanted someone else to carry that burden so I could feel the extent of my emotions. I needed someone to remind me that it was okay to feel, and everyone would still manage to get by without me carrying their pain. I’ve been lonely before, but this is one of the few times I felt truly alone. I felt like an island responsible for anchoring a ship full of people, both battered by an unrelenting storm.
I think I’ve always kind of resented having an uneventful life but I’ve sure as hell learned that the grass is not greener on the other side. But recent days have challenged me and forced me to grow in a way my normal routines never could have.
I’ve learned that I’m self-sufficient and I do not need help. This is a truth I’m quite proud of, though it may also have its negative consequences. What I do need, is a reminder that it’s okay to ask for help. Breaking down every once in a while doesn’t mean I’m not strong or independent anymore.
I’m a human, not a robot. Which yes, is totally less cool than being a robot, but I’ll take it.