I wrote this post in April of 2018, but I never shared it. While digging through my archives, I found this in my drafts. I read it and realized I should share. It will also provide some context about why I pulled back a bit from blogging and social media for the rest of 2018. Life is a crazy ride, but if the last year was any indication, the hard stuff is what makes the good stuff even better. Now… pretend like it’s April 2018…
Last month, my general practitioner looked me square in the eyes and told me I had “full plate syndrome.” It took a minute to register, but I quickly realized this wasn’t an actual diagnosis. She was simply putting words around my current state of affairs. This yearly physical was booked long before the events of the previous week, which had taken my barely-getting-by status to a complete standstill. I was at an impasse and desperately wanted a solution to this syndrome.
The previous Wednesday, I was having one of those days where I felt like I could take on the world. I managed to get my kids to daycare early enough to squeeze in a run, before jumping in the car to drive an hour to Boston for a work meeting. I made it to my meeting 20 minutes early, felt prepared, and rocked it. I grabbed a quick lunch, shipped six packages, and picked up a few groceries — all while tackling my work to-do list. I was five minutes from home, when I realized the car in front of me was not actually moving… and then next thing I knew, I smelled the smoke of my airbag and opened my eyes gingerly to see what had happened.
I rear ended a man in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, going 30mph. I hit him square in his rear bumper, the front of my car crunching a bit like an accordion. The chassis of his car folded in half. He drove his car to the other side of the street and was not happy about the situation. I wreaked all this havoc in shouting distance to the police station and they were on scene within 60 seconds. As in all small towns, my neighbor also drove by to witness the scene. Miraculously, neither of us were hurt. My kids were still at daycare. I was sore and in shock, but I was mostly ok.
My dear friend, Melanie, happened to drive by and spared me the five-minute ride in the back of a police cruiser. She took me home, along with all of my unharmed groceries. On the short drive home, I realized my wedding ring had been crushed by the airbag. It was a very visual reminder of how differently things could have gone for me that day.
The accident happened just after 3:00pm; I was on a plane to Minneapolis for work at 5:00am the next day. This business trip was the reason I had been rushing so hard in the first place. I needed to have everything in place, so I could slip away and the house would run in my absence. I was given the opportunity to attend an important women’s conference and I couldn’t let this accident derail my trip. While I was extremely grateful to attend, I felt like I was in a total fog the entire time. I was also incredibly sore. I badgered on and managed to make my connection home, despite the snow. When I collapsed into bed on Saturday night, I felt like I’d run four marathons.
When my GP made this full plate syndrome “diagnosis” two days later, I wasn’t surprised. She encouraged me to talk it out with a few friends, even if I was embarrassed about the screw-up. I knew she was right. I opened up to the small group of moms at my daycare the next week and felt a wave of relief when I shared the tale, including the moment I realized I peed myself (at impact) as I climbed out of my car. We laughed and, somehow, I felt better.
Slowing down has been a lifelong struggle of mine. I don’t do it well. Anyone who knows me would agree. The accident happened and I really tried to slow down. I turned my computer off at a more reasonable time, I took some time away from social media (and blogging), and I stopped rushing my kids out the door in the mornings. I felt like I was making moves in the right direction, but another reminder that I needed to slow down fell right in my lap.
(As one small bit of background, the better part of my last 11 years has been spent in medical sales, first in pharmaceuticals and then in medical device. When I was on maternity leave with Rosie, a job fell in my lap that I couldn’t refuse. After nine years at the same company, I took a leap of faith to work with a therapy that was near and dear to my heart. The leap paid off and I fell into the rhythm of the new job, working longer hours but loving the work. It made being away from my children easier, though leaving them is never a walk in the park.)
Now, back to the plot. 31 days after the accident, a last-minute conference call request came via email. The small team of ten folks in my same role were all listed on the call, so I had an inkling they were changing things a bit. Our fiscal year end was six weeks away, so my guess was that they were shifting our responsibilities. I did not expect that this conference call was actually to inform us our role no longer existed. The job I loved so dearly was gone in a flash. The rest of the day was a total blur.
To be fair, I know I am not the first person to total their car or the first person to lose their job. However, as a lifelong perfectionist, having both of these occur within a month was positively deflating. I mourned our crazy status quo, which was life before the accident. After driving more than two thousand miles a month for 11 years without a major crash, I know I should be grateful it wasn’t any worse. I also knew budget cuts, not my performance, were to blame for my job situation, but it didn’t take the sting away from having to step away from patients I loved so dearly.
This brings us to today. I am four weeks out from that conference call and eight weeks out from the accident. I am still heartbroken, but I am less sore. I know that there are lessons to be learned from these experiences, some of which I know I won’t understand for a few years. I keep harkening back to the idea of “full plate syndrome”. Sometimes, we need reminders that we can’t do it all. I had two of those. I’m coming out the other side — and you know what? I’m still here, with a partially full plate and loads of gratitude.
If you’ve gotten here, thank you. I hope this post encourages you to take a few things off your plate, when it feels too full. I hope you also take the time to find those people who can help you wade through these crazy seasons. I am incredibly grateful for the people in all corners of my life who supported me — and continue to support me. I am better because of each of them. It isn’t easy, but it is always worth it.