Like a broken record, the conversation plays through my mind over and over again. With my head tilted downward and my eyes drawn toward the floor, I stand awkwardly and without confidence. The words, “It’s not you, it’s me,” spew out of my mouth before I can really consider what I am saying. To make matters worse, before I know it I say it again, but this time I add in, “And I’m sorry.” Like with most things in my life, I try to analyze where things went awry, learn from the past, and engage a move-on type of mentality.
With head still tilted downward, my eyes ever so slightly peer upward to see his reaction and he seems unfazed. How can this be? It all seems so complicated, so intertwined, and just downright confusing as I had really convinced myself that this was the one. I had committed to making it work by being honest with not only him, but also myself. That optimistic outlook and feeling that I could conquer any obstacle had somehow transformed into this. I had seen him for over five years, so what do I call it other than a break-up?
Internally, I knew this shift in heart didn’t happen overnight; it’s been a slow progression of a lack of notable forward progress. Being a creature of habit, change scares me, so I had been trying to convince myself that it was going to work. Begrudgingly, the more I focused on making it work, the more prevalent my underlying urge to see someone else reared itself inside me. We had spent so many hours together where I shared details about family, friends, and personal hopes and dreams. The words, This should work, kept echoing inside me, but realistically I had already persuaded myself otherwise. It’s not you, it’s me, and I’m sorry. You’re great. This is what I do when I am nervous. I overthink and I try to predict how conversations will unfold. I run them through my head, almost like a dress rehearsal so to be prepared. I can be quiet and have a million things to say but at the same time struggle with actually executing and holding up my side of the dialogue.
Streaming our time together back in my mind, we had so many great conversations. He was able to cause laughter and distract me even when I was in pain. He always asked how I was and how I was feeling, bending over backward to see me, even when he had other stuff going on. He was always such a great listener. In all honesty, maybe our conversations were a bit one sided, predominantly focusing on me, but understandably that happens from time to time? In a moment of doubt, I have to question if leaving him is a mistake, maybe I’ve taken him for granted? Maybe I am one of those people who abide by the old adage that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?
As I continue to play this scenario out in my mind, my heart rate increases. It doesn’t creep up like a slow progression but rather it proceeds to double the amount of beats per minute like I have taken off in an all-out max-effort sprint. The muscles in my neck and shoulders tighten and my jaw is locked. I’m not even face to face with him yet and already I seem to be having a panic attack. It’s not you, it’s me, and I’m sorry. You’re great. Can we still be friends? As my mind plays through the possible directions this conversation could go, I tell myself to snap out of it and grow up. I am an adult I can handle this.
I finally get out of the car and meander inside like a child dragging their heels. Before the door even shuts behind me, I am greeted by a smiling face and a friendly greeting. I respond by asking if we can go into the other room to talk. Trying to make eye contact, the words, “It’s not you, it’s me, and I’m sorry. You’re great. Can we still be friends?” become reality as they spew out of my half-open mouth.
My physical therapist looks back at me and shares a sincere grin. This provides enough comfort that I am able to give explanation–not that one is required, but it is something I want to share. I have always worked to recognize and respect the relationship that can develop between myself and a health-care provider that I work closely and often with. No doubt that with this physical therapist, we have built a provider/patient relationship throughout the years, but at the same time I must admit that it has sometimes felt like a there has been friendship intertwined. From sharing stories and jokes to showing empathy during illness and injury, the relationship can feel blurry at times.
Ultimately, changing physical therapists was not a decision I made lightly, as I like consistency and I like seeing someone who knows my history. At the same time, I do acknowledge that sometimes a fresh perspective is important. What do I look for in a physical therapist? For me the perfect package is a PT who listens and does not try to appease me by telling me what I want to hear. It is a person who knows various treatment techniques and continues to expand their knowledge and training. Finally, it is important that I feel like I have my PT’s attention and am not being passed along to someone else or left on my own while they balance other patients.
I am proud of myself for moving on, because it was not easy for me. I followed through to do what I felt was right despite it feeling uneasy and uncomfortable. I often have to remember that these patient/provider relationships are not personal and a true professional will understand and want what is best for me and my wellbeing.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Have you had similar challenges in moving on from a health-care provider after working together for a long period of time?
- Do you think that change like this is sometimes necessary in order to progress in the direction you want to go?