Monday, October 11, 2010

On Growing Up

Recently, I was reading a great post on one of my favorite blogs,  Reflections of a Grady Doctor.
I always love her posts because she is an amazing physician who writes from the heart and obviously cares a ton about people and especially her patients. She's a great example of how I want to be with my patients.

If you have time, check out the post and her blog because it is definitely worth a read. Anyways, without trying to summarize the whole thing, I will just say that it got me thinking. It got me thinking about how I am as not only a nurse but as a team player and a woman in general. I tend to be pretty feisty and hard headed sometimes. I'm completely type-A... a certified control freak. I'm also a fighter, a survivor. I've had to be and I think because of that... because my life hasn't been easy, I tend to become defensive when I feel opposition.

Somewhere along my 26 years of living I became cynical of the world. I learned very quickly that people, more often than not... are not trustworthy... people, more often than not will abandon you at the first chance they get.... people.... well.... people hurt.

The good news is that through a lot of conscious effort and healing and prayer... I have become a much less jaded and cynical person. I'm not nearly as angry as I once was. I have a lot more patience and I have learned that pride comes before a fall... a very long and hard fall at that.
But, sometimes I feel those deeply rooted fears and insecurities rear their ugly head. Sometimes, I feel myself becoming defensive, guarded and confrontational.

When I have difficult patients (and that can be a frequent occurrence at the VA) it can be really hard not to get frustrated and become a mechanical nurse, going through the motions but not really caring about the person in the bed.... because they said something mean or were disrespectful.
When I have to work with physicians who are rude and demeaning... or co-workers who are harsh and critical... my walls come up. I will be short with you and you will bet that you won't get any compassion or understanding from me.

I don't want to be this way and I've been thinking about it a lot since I've read that post on grady doctor. 
You know what I've realized?

I don't trust people... I don't give them the benefit of the doubt. I assume... almost always, that people are not on my side.... that people are my opposition and it makes for a very defensive, confrontational person, nurse, friend, daughter etc.
It's as if I go into fight or flight mode and if I'm not able to pack my bags and run... well then you better be ready for a fight mister. When I'm faced with confrontation or opposition, everything in me feels threatened.... afraid and small.
I don't like feeling small.

So either I fight or I run, and rarely are either of those the best option. There are times when I need to stand my ground, and there are times when I need to have solid boundaries. There might even be times when I need to be very assertive, but what my hope is.... and what I think I'm starting to grasp as I get older... is that fighting is not always the answer, and that people are not my enemy.
People are the reason I am a nurse, and people deserve to have the benefit of the doubt.
And that includes myself.

And now... when I feel myself tightening up and my defenses start to rise... I take a moment to stop and pray. I take a moment to stop and really think about why I am reacting this way.
And most of the time it's because I feel belittled, hurt or disrespected...
and its out of fear or shame that my angry, feisty, walled-up Andi comes out.

And even though it takes a lot of effort and an active, conscious, decision not to react to those moments when I feel that wall coming up... I can already see a difference in my life and in my work... and for that I'm so thankful because its bringing me one step closer to the woman I want to be...loving, kind, patient, humble and forgiving.

oh, the joys of growing up....


  1. ::sigh::

    thanks, andi. you're an awesome nurse. and for the record, your feisty-ness and skepticism is needed in the icu setting, thank you very much. those qualities save lives in critical care settings! :)

  2. It sounds like you've got a pretty good grasp on how to grow from where you've come from. I think you're fabulous, if that counts for anything ;)
    Also, I love those shoes. ;)

  3. love this post! its so natural for that fight or flight instinct to kick in, but i'm so impressed that you are one step closer to the woman you want to be! :0)

  4. I hear you and I so get what you mean. Love the way you put it into words.