reflection: holding the space

November 16, 2014

Holding the Space

Holding Me in the Light

i have spent the last two years preparing and then going through a very intense accelerated nursing program. i’ve said it countless times, this has been the most challenging academic experience of my life. but it has also challenged other aspects of my life: spiritually, emotionally, even physically; i have been beaten. actually, my ass has been whooped. every experience we have during the course of our lives is bound to change us, no doubt. but along the way we have a few some highlighted events that we can say were so pivotal to how we move forward from that point on, that we count them as beautifully treacherous.

two weeks ago, i took the NCLEX. it is the state board exam to certify you as a registered nurse. before i continue sharing that part of this story, i feel the need to share that i haven’t been the best test taker in the world throughout my life. if you ask me a question, i can either answer it or not. if you ask me a multiple choice question, i prefer not to answer. testing is not my strength. certainly the North American way of testing needs an overhaul because all students are not created equal and we should all be tested how we learn. but alas, that will be another fight.

back to two weeks ago…

i went in on a Monday. at 8am. i didn’t study at all the day before. i took a xanax early that morning. i had my coffee and two bananas. on my way i chanted, i prayed, i meditated. about 15 minutes to arriving i played music. really loud. in hopes that i would shut the noise of my difficulty testing. i was prepared to answer every question. i didn’t care how many questions this “smart test” would ask, i just wanted it to tell me that i passed. four hours. thirty-two minutes. two-hundred-sixty-five questions. test was over. and i had to wait forty-eight hours.

do you know how long forty-eight hours are?

during that time i thought about the last two years (one-year of prerequisites and the brutal twelve months of nursing school). the frustrations. the anger. the doubts. “what if?” became my question of uncertainty. what if this was not the right path? what if i failed and had to go through it again? would i even want to? who would i disappoint other than myself?

my friends? family?

and that was my moment of breakdown. that was the point where i said out loud: “i’m exhausted. and i don’t know that i can do much more.” and i cried. hard. by myself in the shower.

on Wednesday of that week, i could pay $7.99 to get my results. i told my wife (a clinical social worker) to do it for me. i was heading to work. i didn’t want to know when she was doing it or how or anything… i knew she’d figure out a way to tell me whatever the news may be.

i was at work. around 10ish AM i decided to check my phone (as i normally do) and my wife had texted me eight times: You passed baby! you passed! i knew you would!!! i leapt from my chair, my fellow nurses, medical assistants and providers congratulated me. i felt this urge to run a marathon. in a tutu. yes, that’s how freakin’ giddy i felt. and then i started calling the people who matter: my #TeamSarahi received a group text, my former classmates (now friends), professors and family.

as i made each call, i could literally feel my Friends “lighten up.” i could feel that they were holding the space for me; they were holding my anger, my frustrations, my fears and my doubts as if it were their own. and it was. i was never alone in this… i felt that my happiness was their own. and it was in each of those phone calls that i learned the real lesson of nursing school: those who care will hold the space for you and with you. they help carry it because we are extensions of each other in every instance. the people who matter will listen, encourage, and root for you through all of your battles. and should you feel the heaviness almost unbearable, know that those people are feeling and carrying it with you. and your victory is multiplied exponentially.

my dear Loves, may i always prove to be the kind of friend you’ve been to me.