I’ve spent almost a year trying to learn how to fall out of love, when I should’ve been trying to learn how to live loving someone who will never love me back nor whom I’ll share a future.
Unexpectedly you’ll wake up and find yourself longing for someone you never thought you wanted nor needed; an unremarkable presence. They don’t complete you because you aren’t broken, but they fit as that missing puzzle piece to a picture not fully actualized. You meet them and they become your gold standard, the benchmark from which all others are to be compared. Green-eyed, southern, introverted, analytical and funny; try as you might, there has been no substitute. You are better for having them in your life. And where the stresses of everyday are not lost when you see them, the weight you bear is undeniably lightened. They are your person.
It isn’t easy. It’s not a seamless unification of two hopes and dreams. It’s not without its hardships. It requires work. Work worth doing and communication worth cultivating. You speak different love languages: time, personal touch, words of affirmation, gifts or acts of service. Yet you learn to incorporate one of your partner’s languages as your own, to ensure they know that they are seen, heard, and know they matter.
If medical school teaches you anything, it’s that you can’t do this journey alone. Where you are the only person sitting down and logging the hours, it is your support system that helps will you through the silence created by long sleepless nights and by the cacophony of busy days. They are the intangible necessity of your everyday journey, more important than your subscriptions to Rx, UWorld, or Pathoma. They are your connection to being grounded. They are your tethers to the humanity of life outside the medical bubble.
It’s a heavy burden being that person and member of the support system, a bystander to world in which effects your existence, yet you yourself never fully signed up for. In loving us, those that have made this their life’s mission, you take on the responsibilities and challenge assigned with loving someone that must be both selfish in the pursuit of their dream, as selfless in its practice. What happens when the sacrifice becomes too much? What happens when the words “we” and “our,” are replaced with “my” and “I?”
The silence created by two diverging paths, all be it painful, needs not the creation of false narratives that help to tarnish your image of him nor dampen the strength of your feelings. All were true & honest. Better yet, all are the important sutures needed to tether the hole in your heart. But you know when you have started to truly heal, when the pain of their memory hurts less and less.
A scar has finally started to develop. No longer filled with contemplation and sorrow, but authentic well wishes, happiness and acceptance of a future that appears full of potential. The road to closure has been a tumultuous journey, filled with embarrassing mistakes and occasional backslides. Yet none should be regretted because each taught you a valued lesson. And when the dust settles and the waters have become less turbid, you will be able to see clearly the reflection of the man reflecting back at you. He isn’t brand new, as he is simply wiser and more understanding. He knows, even more so now, the value of his worth.
Be kind to yourself. Take ownership of your words and actions. Continue to be vulnerable. There is no designated path to closure; to the healing of a broken heart. As long as you get there, having let the journey, shape, teach and help you to grow, then it was well worth the emotional upheaval. A smile begins to emerge again, not only for what once was, but also for what is yet to come.
Today’s gold standard, is tomorrow’s stepping stone. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t occur by ignoring the past. It comes from feeling emotions as opposed to analyzing them, learning from experience, along with trial and error. This is how you move on. This is how you find someone new…a new and hopefully permanent gold standard.
J.P. Scott is a non-traditional third year medical student. He has a Biology degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in Neuroscience from The University of Hartford. He is a published researcher having worked at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the laboratory of Dr. Maureen E. Murphy, Ph.D. Prior to medical school, he worked as an adjunct professor of anatomy and physiology. He is passionate about topics such as mental health and hopes to work with children as a practicing physician.