Why I've been MIA for so long

MIA is a commonly used term among house officers to call out those rascals who go 'missing in action' in the middle of a busy workday. It's often derogatory, but this time, it felt necessary for me. But why?

July 17th.

That was the last time I wrote a blog post.

That's four months ago. What the hell happened?

Can I skip the small talk and be honest here? It is my blog after all, and I can say whatever the hell I please. I wonder how many of these sentences exist across blogs all over the world, spanning all lengths of time. Innumerable, no doubt.

I've been unable to write since my last entry because I've been distracting myself.

How? By thoroughly enjoying Orthopaedics, and learning what this so-called "work life balance" everyone keeps banging on about is. So in my exile, I have:

  • Finished an entire department, effectively hitting the halfway point of my training into becoming a licensed medical practitioner.  
  • Traveled to KL three times. The first time, I did my first ever long distance drive, and spent the entirety of that couple days parked on my sisters sofa, alternating between Netflix films and the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi "When Breath Becomes Air". The second time, I accompanied a friend visiting from Indonesia via train, and had the most spectacular first date hike of my life (because I saw a deer in the wild). The last trip was a less than 24 hour shenanigan to meet another friend visiting from Indonesia, and a little reunion of sorts happened over subpar Thai food in an upscale mall in the city center.
  • Traveled to Langkawi twice. The first time, I third-wheeled my sister and her husband for his birthday. The second time, I spent four days binge drinking in a boat parked in a harbor at Rebak Island with a sailor from New Zealand to drown my sorrows since my initial plan of going to Nepal got barred from happening.  
  • Traveled to Ho Chi Minh city to get drunk with an old friend. That's all we did, alongside have one too many Hanoi-special egg coffees the morning after.
  • Traveled to Cameron Highlands to celebrate my fathers birthday with my entire family. A rare event that has not happened in probably close to a decade.
  • Started hiking more regularly.
  • Got back into indoor climbing.
  • Made a lot of new friends in real life, and over my new favourite dating app (Bumble).
  • Accepted the fact that my relationship is well and truly over.

Yes, it was a breakup.

Despite the amazing, and quite frankly, healthy coping mechanisms I chose to get over the pain of an aching heart, every single morning started with the question, "How am I going to get through this day without telling him about it at the end?".

It's not easy to hold yourself up when your support pillar quits the room, and when you have a physically demanding/ mentally exhausting job. It doesn't help to be stubborn about being a strong, independent woman that finds it necessary to push away your family because you can't bear the thought of them thinking, "Here we go again," for the umpteenth time.

However, the broken bones I had to learn to fix everyday at work brought me some much needed perspective that aided in my own healing, so I am immensely grateful for the last four months.

You know, every time a patient comes back for a follow up visit at the clinic, we take a look at the x-ray before so much as a greeting or a glance in the way of their bandaged appendage.

We're looking for callous formation, a crucial step in fracture healing.

My foundation was shook. There were cracks everywhere where there used to be conviction. Like the mysterious gap in a CV, the absence of words on my website glares at me with the betrayed look of a toddler whose parent forgot to pick up their favourite stuffed animal from the dry-cleaning on the way home from work. The ever decreasing amount of videos I upload on my YouTube channel coupled with the increase of subscribers boggle me, almost like they are questioning me with their interest, "Why don't you have anything new to say?". Oh, did I mention the tattoo of a circle I got on my forearm which was meant to signify that I am whole that didn't heal well, so now it looks more like a flamboyant letter C than anything else?

My valiant efforts to patchwork myself with the essential breakup cliches only made my friends laugh. At least there some good humour to go with the misery that was my everyday existence, eh?

"Healing is not a linear process," my therapist told me. For so long, I wanted to believe she was wrong because the ironies of my reality kept proving that you cannot expedite the process of healing a hurt heart.

So I took my therapists advice.

Yes, the same advice I pay for with my hard earned insufficient junior doctor salary. I cut myself all the slack in the world, and waited for the moment I would be ready to return to myself again.

Which evidently is on a Thursday lightning speckled midnight preceding another 14 hour workday.  

Now when I look back on these last four months, I see a deserving solitude. I see callouses covering the cracks formed within the ground beneath my feet. My road isn't smooth, I will trip and tumble along the way, but at least I have the breath to ask for support from where I know I can find it. My botched tattoo may not be a great indicator of my wholeness, nor do I need it to be. As long as I made it to my hypothetical follow up clinic visits with an x-ray showing any modicum of progress, then I think, I am doing as well as I can be, and that's okay.

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