The other Sunday I sat with my three young sons at church while my husband was two-but-might-as-well-have-been-a-million miles down the road in surgery, and I bounced the baby with one arm as I scrubbed crayon squiggles from the pew with the other, whisper-lecturing my middle child and using my foot to nudge a dropped toy closer to my oldest – repeat for an hour. After the service, a woman sitting behind me wrapped a concerned arm around my shoulders and said, “How are you doing, really?”

I wasn’t lying when I told her I was doing just fine thanks so much but I thought to myself, both embarrassed and amused, “She thinks I’m at my breaking point. That I’m broken.”

And I am. It’s been a long time coming.

We’ve had days and so have you where seams stretch taut to snapping and he’s wondering how he can wake up and go in the next morning like the day before never happened and I will surely fracture if I don’t see him during daylight at least once this month, so help me.

Residency slowly breaks us all. The late shifts, early mornings, days that just don’t end wear down both residents and those who wait for them night after night. Years of criticism weaken skin until it tears then heals thicker. A half-decade of refining, until we emerge from residency’s long tunnel broken like a well-trained horse, broken in like a shoe that once blistered but has been worn to fit just right. We’ve done hard things and are stronger for it.

We’re done, and residency broke us.

But we’re not shattered.

-Tasha Priddy

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