The Divorce and Exams
I had two major tests to take during the same week I got divorced. That was quite a week!
I’m still so thankful that I had understanding professors who allowed me to arrange my schedule to accommodate my scheduled court time. I’d been allowed to postpone my A&P exam until the end of the week. My Stats professor allowed me to attend her earlier class the day of my divorce so I wouldn’t miss our review activity. It was counted as a quiz grade so I really didn’t want to miss it.
That day our Stats review activity involved doing a survey. We had to pick a question, poll the class, then compile the data and present it to the class. We were divided into small groups. A member from each group was in charge of going around the room and polling the other students.
One man came up and asked me, “Are you married?” My answer was, “Yes, but in three hours I won’t be.” He looked at me quizzically and I said, “The judge is signing my divorce papers in a few hours.” He high-fived me, then looked horrified and asked, “Was that appropriate?” I told him it was very appropriate to high-five me for getting divorced that day. Another classmate was walking by, heard the exchange, and offered her own high-five. It made me wonderfully happy to be accepting high-fives about divorcing Bubba.
That evening, after the finalization and dinner out with the children, I had to hit the books. My Stats exam was two days away in the morning and my A&P exam was the day after that. I don’t remember what my Stats test consisted of, but A&P was all about muscles and how they work. My mind was so exhausted by the time the divorce was over, I was sure I was going to bomb both tests. It seemed as though nothing was sticking.
I’d done all my Stats homework, I’d gone over the review material, I’d taken the practice test, yet I felt unprepared.
As we sat in the hallway, waiting for the earlier class to finish their test so we could start ours, people were cramming last minute. Again, I sat there at peace with the studying I’d done, knowing that I couldn’t jam one more thing into my head. I was prepared to accept a C on the test because I knew I hadn’t prepared as well as I could’ve. I took the test, went over it a second time, turned it in, and left.
It was time to study for A&P. I had five chapters to study. Skin, bones, joints, muscles, oh my! It wasn’t even just knowing the muscles (that was for the 2nd lab practical), I had to know how muscles worked! I had less than 24 hours to study for this massive test. Serenity had a meeting so I took the boys to the park for 2 hours. They played while I studied sarcomeres, action potentials, skin cancer, joint cavities, and so much more. I knew that I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t focus. My mind kept wondering. I was still coming off the adrenaline rush of earlier that week. I was still having trouble adjusting to being free.
My usual MO while taking a test is to answer all the questions, then go back and answer them all again. I like to make sure I get the same answers the second time around. By the time I got through my A&P test the first time, I was just done. I felt like a deflated balloon. She’d put extra short answers on this test and I just felt worn out. I didn’t go over any of my answers. I just thought, “If I didn’t know it the first time through, I’m too tired to know it the second time through.” I walked my test over to the secretary of the department and turned it in. I knew it would be a week before I found out my grade. All I could do now was wait.
I’d gotten 99% on my first Stats test, 100% on my second Stats test, and 98% on my third Stats test, so I could stand to get a C on this test. Since I’d gotten 93.5% on my first A&P test and she was allowing us to replace our lowest test grade with the same grade as our final (if it was higher), I wasn’t worried about A&P either. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say that I’d accepted that I would be okay if I didn’t rock those tests. I was resigned to the fact that having gotten divorced that week was just going to mess up my test grades.
Just as I’d done with the first three Stats tests, I obsessively checked online for my grade. It wasn’t until late Monday evening that she finally posted the grades. I was shocked to see that I’d gotten 100% on the test! Serenity and I did The Dance of Joy around the living room. I couldn’t believe it.
My A&P professor didn’t have the tests graded that Tuesday so I had to wait until Thursday. The longer I waited, the more upset I became by the prospect of having a grade lower than 93.5%. I really liked having high scores. When the professor handed our tests back to us, she’d call us to come to the front to get them and she’d hold them out to us upside down and bent in half. I remember how nervous I was to turn my test over and look at the score. I started walking back to my seat and turned my test over as I sat down. I didn’t sit in the chair as much as I collapsed into it in utter disbelief. I’d gotten 99%!!!! I sat there, stunned.
I thought about it and I figured it was finally time to accept the fact that I AM SMART! My friends had not been surprised by all of my test grades. I was stunned. I’d graduated from college many years ago and I’d had a good GPA but somewhere along the line I let Bubba convince me that I was not very bright. He never outright said it but my self-esteem was almost non-existent.
That is the insidiousness of psychological abuse. The years of abuse eventually wear on you and convince you that YOU are the problem, that YOU aren’t good enough, that YOU aren’t smart enough, that YOU are wrong in every way.
Now here I was, blowing these tests out of the water. I was in the campus’ most failed class and I was getting a high A! After I got home that day, I simply walked around my house in a daze saying, “I’m smart!!! I’m really smart! I’m not stupid! I’m really smart!” It was just mind-boggling to me that I AM SMART!
It was only a few weeks past mid-terms so I still had a long way to go but I was more determined than ever to continue doing well. I also realized I wasn’t this committed to getting high grades in my classes just for the sake of getting high grades. I was really enjoying what I was learning. Stats was really interesting. A&P was fascinating. I was even enjoying Nutrition and my MedTerm class was interesting and tied in nicely with A&P and Nutrition. I was so thankful that those three classes had a lot in common.
Going in to this semester was beyond frightening for me. How was I going to do it all? How could I be a good mother, a good student, a good friend, a good volunteer, and still find time to get divorced?
Seems like I found a way to manage it….and with flair!