Friday, May 28, 2010

Healing comes from the strangest places

I can't tell you how many times I have watched a TV show and ended up in tears. And I don't just mean those "Oh my gosh, how sad!" tears. I'm talking about those all-consuming, debilitating tears that leave you breathless. It is a moment that hits a chord deep inside a place that you had no idea even existed. Let me also say that I am not a typical crier either. I don't tend to be over-sentimental and most that know me would say I'm a pretty serious person and a rather tough cookie. I've survived a lot of hardship in my life and as for my general pain tolerance....I almost fell asleep in the middle of getting a tattoo once, for crying out loud.
That being said....there have been certain moments on certain shows that have really touched me and the other day I was reminded of one.

See, I grew up in an abusive home and as a result (not to be cliche) had to grow up very quickly. At a young age, I became my own parent, my own advocate. Most of the time, if not all of the time I didn't do a great job. I barely survived. I went from an abusive home to an abusive foster home. Then was adopted by my amazing aunt who was in every sense just like me. A little girl who had her fair share of life's curve balls. Curve balls that shaped her into a very damaged and broken person. Once again I ended up in an abusive home. Despite that though, I made it through high school and then pushed my way through a community college because it was all I could afford. At a young age, I moved out on my own in an area that is very expensive and nearly impossible to survive in on a $9.00/hr paycheck, and in the meantime I was falling apart inside. My life was a mess.

Unhealthy relationships, smoking, drinking, partying.
God, faith, church.
People's approval, academic success, eating disorders.
Becoming a nurse.

It didn't matter what it was. If it was a distraction, if it was a vice, positive or not....I used it. I hid from the pain I had and I functioned delicately and very carefully on the surface. I seemed so strong on the outside; so put together. Take one peek inside though, and you'd see a completely different view. You'd see a wounded person who had no idea how to fight for herself. Who did not know, in any sense of the word, how to love or how to value the woman that she was.

Now, fast forward to adulthood. Here I am, in the middle of nursing school. 18 hour days, 5-7 days a week. Working full time, nursing school full time, piling on the credit card debt. Striving to get straight A's (if only I knew back then, that a B was just fine) and studying constantly. No social life, no love life, minimal if any family support. Practically no sleep, I hardly ever saw my friends. The mess inside just continued to grow.

So there I was. Catching up on the most recent Grey's Anatomy episode. It was an episode where Meredith and Dr. Weber (two of the main characters) were in a huge fight. There was a little girl with her mom and dad in the hospital. The little girl had stabbed her father or something along those lines. The mother tried to pretend it was an accident but the little girl....Maddie, explained that she had done it on purpose. See, her dad had been abusing her and her mom. Maybe just her mom actually but it was an abusive home and Maddie wanted it to stop. She fought for her mom and for herself, without even knowing it.

In the episode, Meredith who is one of the residents, confronted the mother. Meredith, growing up in her own dysfunction, fought for Maddie. She saw the inevitable fate of this little girl, because she knew the mother did not want to leave her husband. A problem so familiar of domestic abuse. She crossed a professional line by yelling at Maddie's mom and pleading with her to leave her husband. Dr. Weber, the chief of the hospital threatened to fire her if she did not back off. Keeping in mind that Dr. Weber was the same man who'd had an affair with Meredith's mother and had effectively destroyed her family.
Well Meredith did not listen and was in the locker room, packing her things when Dr. Weber comes in. The scene that comes next was one of those moments I was talking about earlier. You can see what I mean here, it's at the beginning of the video.

By the end of the first two scenes I was in sobs. Not only that, but I was practically curled up in a ball for the rest of the night, crying, trying to catch my breath. Between the scene with Meredith and Dr. Weber and the scene with Izzy and her mom, something had hit too close to home. In a matter of minutes Grey's Anatomy had summed up the pain I had been carrying for my entire young adult life.

"I should have fought for you, Meredith. Like you fought for that child today."

"I should have fought for you."

"You were helpless."

"A beautiful, smart, funny, little girl."

"And no one stood up for you."

"I'm so sorry."

"I'm so sorry"

I felt those words so deeply it was crushing; as if someone had reach into my chest and wrapped their bare fist tightly around my heart. I will never forget how true those words were for me. In my entire life, I felt as if no one had fought for me. Not only was I not worth fighting for, but I was abandoned and abused by the very people who were supposed to love me the most. I had lived my whole adult existence living in shame, feeling as if I was not worth fighting for. Not worth loving.

I couldn't even fight for myself.

And now... just a year or two later, here I am. A successful nurse. An advocate for others. An advocate for myself. A friend. A person that is present in others' lives. A daughter who is learning to love her family better. A single woman, discovering what it means to love herself; to value herself, whether a man says she has value or not. I am not only surviving, but I am growing. I am stronger now. Healthier. Wiser.

And at the end of the day....

I am fighting for me.

1 comment :

  1. Wow. Your patients are so fortunate to have you. Congratulations on allowing yourself to be whole.