2009/09/01

PROMPTuesday #71 – Storytellers Part II

DaGoddess @ 04:32

Blah blah blah…something true…blah blah blah…Oh, look! Deb’s funny when she bowls! Blah blah blah bla…what? College? Really? Blah blah blah blah…

Nothing against Deb on this one, I’m just hot, tired, and did I mention hot? Oh, and cranky. Genuinely crankier than I normally am as I realize that my frustration builds the closer I am to deadlines, details, and disappointment. Not to mention just all the way around feeling a bit lost. Plus, as funny as Deb is when she bowls, she’s still adorable and lovable. Me? On a day like this? Not even close.

Since I’m already in that headspace, let’s latch on to one of contributors and examine his particular role in what has led us to where we are now. Some of you early early friends and readers are aware of this story, but not all of you are. You may need to glance away at the offensive language that’s sure to pop up.

After LD was born, it became obvious that the family would need something more than a copier repairman and medical assistant’s earnings to feed our family of four. Mojo’s father’s checks for child support quickly turned into invisible checks signed with invisible ink and placed in invisible envelopes, sent off to the invisible post office where invisible stamps were added just before it was all dropped into an invisible bag. We learned to deal with it and decided Mojo was probably better off with her biological father gradually fading into obscurity. Mojo loved her stepdad and he loved her and that’s all that mattered.

So, in looking into option of how I might go about improving our situation since the husband at the time was already working lots of hours at his job and serving our nation as a Marine Reservist, I looked at going back to school. I lucked into finding a nursing program that would only take two years and get me out working very quickly. Now, anyone who knows me knows that when my mind is made up, I prefer to take the shortest route to accomplish my goals. I was quickly accepted into the program (correcting their admissions exam along the way, which was kind of funny in and of itself) and I felt good about having a plan. Up until this time, I’d been working part-time and sometimes full time for my brother-in-law’s photography business and it was just fun, but not the sort of job that would allow me to branch out, do more, or earn more. So nursing school was it.

At Christmas that year (the program started in January), I heard plenty of the “oh, aren’t you taking on too much” speeches, but what really made me feel like what I was doing was right was when my younger sister handed me my present: a backpack filled with school supplies and a card telling me she believed in my dream. And so I was on my way.

My first quarter of my first semester at school, I landed on the dean’s list of high honors. The second quarter, same thing. I was working my ass off to get the best grades possible and to keep my name on that damn board. I did it, too. But it was during the first semester that I saw the strain on my marriage begin.

The first study session required me to seal myself up in the bedroom and spend a few hours studying on the phone with my group. We followed that quickly with more study groups in person. It was a good group, one dedicated to LEARNING OUR SHIT QUICKLY and providing a sense of stability within our quirky group by creating even quirkier visual cues to our sessions which carried into the classroom. We weren’t cheating. No. But we did find a way to create a shirt that mimicked the colors of molds in the order in which we studied them and it was the way we could all just look at each other or our own shirts and jostle our memories toward the right answer. The thing is, the husband didn’t much like that I had to put that sort of time in for studies. After dinner one night, I’d asked him to do the dishes so I could study, to which he replied, “You fucking cunt!” I think there was a dish thrown toward the sink or something, but what really shocked me was 1) that he said it and 2) that he said it in front of our kids. I took the kids into the bedroom with me, calmed them down, got them ready for bed, and then spent three hours on the phone with my friend Jan crying and talking and studying and talking and crying and studying. We made it work. But the husband was locked out of the room for the night except when I went to check on the kids in bed. How I got through the rest of that first third of the year, I don’t know.

By the second (summer) semester, we were racing into the nursing track. The pressure was even more intense and the amount of time I had to put in studying was even crazier. I’d be awake all night organizing my care plans, color coordinating meds with interventions and side effects, writing, then typing everything out, researching!, and then comparing notes with friends. Once we were dealing with real patients, we did less studying together (except for classroom tests), but we often called on each other to run ideas past each other. We’d also take field trips to book stores to look for THE book that would help us best understand our current rotations. It was info overload and we were all gurgling as we found ourselves sinking more and more in school. We gave up aiming for dean’s list and just prayed for a good enough grade on tests, care plans, papers, and practicals. At home? Oh, please. My husband was becoming more contentious and would yell more and yell louder. The whole time, I was putting in as many hours as I could on the weekends at my brother-in-law’s studio. I’d gone from working full time during the first semester to sporadically during the second. School really required that much of my focus. It wasn’t easy stuff.

While everyone else seemed to understand and see how this would benefit our family, the husband was resenting it more. At first I thought he was angry because I was putting in all that time and it was time away from home. That could have been part of it. Then I thought maybe he was worried that I was getting an education and outgrowing him. No, I was just trying to put myself into a career that would provide us with a good income so that he wouldn’t have to work quite so hard.

By the last semester, it was thoroughly obvious there were problems with our relationship. I didn’t back off my studies, not in the least. If anything, I delved deeper into them, hoping to prove it was worthwhile and beneficial to all of us, no matter what. Graduation was solemn in that I don’t recall a single smile from my husband, while the rest of my family was quite proud and hopeful. Studying for my boards was fraught with peril. I worried about everything — from the time I actually spent on the studying, whether at the prep classes or at the computer simulated modules, worrying if I’d actually pass the damn thing the first time or ever, from the long hours to the tears and fears and the “all on the line” type of scenario you get with boards. I got a little more support from the husband, but it was always seemingly done with an air of derision and sometimes even outwardly obvious hate.

The day I found out I passed my boards, I called him to let him know. He congratulated me, but there was no joy in his voice. I hung up and called thirty other people I knew who would be thrilled.

In the time between me finishing school, getting my degree, getting my license, and landing my first job, we’d filed for divorce. Or rather, I had. The “fucking cunt” comment was the tip of the iceberg. The phone through the plate glass window (once again done in front of the kids) was another sign. And it all just kept adding up. That’s not where I wanted it to go, it’s just where it went.

We went through the whole “I hate you!” phase. We went through a lot of other phases, too. None of them included a “maybe we should try again” phase, though, much to our children’s dismay. When you know it’s over, you know it’s over. And so I went from going to school as a means of improving the lives of my family to improving my life and that of my children, divorce, and eventually, all these years later, a field in which I may never work again. There will always be components of that education (both professional and personal) that will carry me forward and prove valuable. Mostly, it was learning that no one else wants my success as much as I do, nor will anyone understand the sacrifices one must make to attain a goal. Fortunately, I’ve also learned that not ever situation comes with a personal sacrifice of that magnitude.

Overall, I guess my story had the requisite hope, joy, disappointment, a couple of twists and turns…all the components that are supposed to drive a story forward. I don’t know if it made it interesting, but there it is — as close as I can get to it without becoming grumpier or hateful. For me, it’s now just another tale to tell, one I learned from, one from which I walked away alive.

7 Comments

  1. If I ever called my wife something that hideous and nasty she would’ve left me in an eyeblink. After she laid into me with a baseball bat, probably while I was sleeping, kinda like something out of Dolores Claiborne.

    Thank you for sharing. :hug:

    Comment by diamond dave — 2009/09/01 @ 07:29

  2. I curse a lot, well like a Sailor (duh), but that is one of the words even I won’t say.

    Comment by Retired Navy CPO — 2009/09/01 @ 10:06

  3. That word is taboo. I’ve said it, but not often. To my knowledge, no man has called me that, but if he had… yeah. Baseball bat.

    You are tenacious and intelligent and I’m proud to be able to call you friend.

    :hug:

    Comment by Pam — 2009/09/01 @ 10:32

  4. First I have to say that never once did I ever study with anyone when I was in nursing school. Either I didn’t know the right people or I was just a loner or something… LOL the thought never crossed my mind. For that matter I don’t know if I could ever study with anyone – too distracting for me… oh shiny!

    Second when I went back to school for my CS degree my kids were 5 and 9. It took my 5 years straight since I had to do things like math classes in a certain order. Still toward the middle to the end of each semester I was subsisting on 1 hr sleep a night due to the slowness of modems at the time (2400 baud does not make for swiftness in data transfer, even small amounts of data – heh). I was lucky that my husband was an engineer – he knew what it took to get through the classes and he was as invested as I was in the outcome.

    Third – holy crap!!! Anyone who wants to call me something like that would exit my house quickly and maybe not have all their teeth left. In college (the nursing school experience…) I once threw out my roommate’s boy friend for calling her a dog. Made him stand on the porch and grovel. (the jerk) The second college experience I was taking tae kwon do to keep myself in shape. LOL. Yes even on one hour of sleep – I knew I had to keep moving and that was a good way to do it. I still say the 3 days a week of tkd are what helped me the most to keep focus and make it through.

    Comment by Teresa — 2009/09/01 @ 19:29

  5. When you’re going through it, all you think is one day at a time. Sometimes one moment at a time. When you look back, you wonder how the hell you survived. Or why you stuck in it for so long.

    The answer is that there was no other choice at that time. Sometimes people just don’t understand.

    Comment by Mrs. Who — 2009/09/01 @ 19:35

  6. Teresa, I couldn’t have gotten through nursing school without my study groups. We ROCKED our sessions like you wouldn’t believe. I was a flashcard queen. And seriously, considering how many times I fell asleep in class, I needed my group to help me with notes (yes, I even taped lectures, but they’d just put me to sleep again). Oh, and there was the microbiology professor who was brilliant beyond belief who confused the hell out of us and made us actually open our books repeatedly. We had to rely on each other because it was too difficult to go it alone. Plus, we laughed more.

    As for the ex, hey, it was motivation to get through it and get out.

    Comment by DaGoddess — 2009/09/02 @ 08:44

  7. Uh-uh. Uh-uh. The C word is the worst word in the world and I’m glad he’s gone.

    As for you, I can think of a “c” word that is more applicable: courageous.

    I hope you can return to the field, too, but if not…you are on a road to your passion and you will make it work.

    Comment by San Diego Momma — 2009/09/07 @ 20:55

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