I got married the day after I graduated from medical school to someone I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. Seven years later, we were divorced.
Even though a high percentage of marriages end in divorce, there is still a stigma that many of us who divorce feel. I had already completed residency and was an attending by the time I got divorced, and I remember feeling so embarrassed. What started out as a beautiful promise ended with him cheating and wanting out. I am a physician, so I am not used to failing at anything. My story may be similar to many of yours, and I want to tell you that it does get better.
When I got divorced, I was embarrassed that my marriage had failed, and I made it mean all kinds of things. I initially didn’t tell my coworkers that I was going through a divorce, and I hid it for fear of what they would think. I didn’t want them to believe that it would affect my ability to care for patients, and I didn’t want to deal with the whispers of my colleagues.
That time of my life was filled with heartache, loss, and shame. I had so many thoughts. How could I be a successful doctor, yet be unable to keep my marriage together? If I hadn’t been on call so many nights during training, would he still have cheated? Was my desire to choose a demanding career like medicine to blame for my divorce?
I think this is such an important discussion for physicians to have. When we get divorced, and especially if our spouse cheats on us, we often make it mean something about us. We may think we or our career somehow caused or contributed to the divorce.
Thankfully, though the power of coaching, I no longer believe these thoughts. When I got divorced, I hired a coach, and now I’ve come full circle because I am a divorce coach. I always knew I wanted to help other women by using my experience to make their journey with divorce a bit easier. Being vulnerable and sharing my story is one way I can help.
Along the way, I’ve learned some key lessons. I learned that if someone wants to cheat, they will. It has nothing to do with me, my job, my time spent on call, or the times I’ve had to tend to patient emergencies. I’ve learned that if someone wants a divorce, that’s their desire and it’s not my fault. I’ve learned that I don’t need to hide my profession, intelligence, or salary to make my partner feel better. I’ve also learned that as physicians, there is no need to suffer in silence. Once I finally started talking about my divorce, I met so many other doctors who had been through the same thing.
I now say getting divorced was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Through that painful circumstance, I rediscovered me. I learned more about myself and my ability to do hard things than at any point in my life since medical training. I’m not the same person that I was before my divorce, and that’s OK. I’m more confident, decisive, and self-assured. Those are all qualities that not only benefit me, but benefit my patients as well.
Because of my divorce, my patients now get Dr. Trina Dorrah, version 2.0, and we are all better off because of that.
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