Why This “Girl’s Girl” Owes it All To A Nurse

I promised myself when I started this blog (a whole three weeks ago) that I would keep my posts universal, relevant and humorous (when needed).  I’m not sure this post will meet any of these criteria, but this needed to be written.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 5.22.52 PM

Miss Colorado

I needed to write this because  I thought this morning that maybe, miraculously, the nurse/ medical assistant I’m writing about will recognize themselves in this story.  I wish more than anything I knew her name.

But this probably won’t reach her. So, hopefully and more realistically, this will at least be read by a few nurses or medical assistants, that often never get to hear what they so often deserve: thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

For those of you who don’t know, during the Miss America pageant last week,one of the contestants (a nurse)
performed a monologue that she wrote about her profession.  It later came under scrutiny by a talk show host, and has caused quite a few people to share their experiences with the awesomeness that is nursing.

*********

So here it is: 

To A Nurse,

I’m a doctor’s kid.  In fact, most people in my family are doctors, or surgeons.  I understand the fascination people have with them, the way we tend to glorify them… They are Gods amongst men, the healers of the sick, the fixers of broken bodies.  In TV shows and movies, the doctor is the one who takes the special interest in the patient and makes the breakthrough that changes the course of their patient’s lives.

So I get why people feel that way about doctors, I do.  And honestly, I think we all tend to think that because very few of us know what it’s like to be really really sick.

I know what it’s like.  When I was 18 (so twelve years ago) I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…a bad…but highly treatable form of cancer.  At 18, I was shuttled from doctor’s office to doctor’s office, out of one scan into another, injected with all sorts of dyes, liquids, chemicals, to see how “bad” my cancer really was.  I met a million doctors, was poked, prodded, asked a thousand questions, and was scheduled to start chemo all within in the span of a week.  My life, as I knew it, had ended.

And then I ended up in a room with you.  In what seemed like the basement of the hospital.  You were supposed to take one of my “baseline” tests (to like make sure my lungs didnt melt or something during treatments, I don’t know really).  You took my blood pressure, listened to my breathing patterns (with your stethoscope!) and gave me a tube I needed to blow into.

You handed it to me, and said, “ok, honey, take a deep breath and just blow sharply into this tube…let it all out.”  So I took a deep breath, held onto the tube, and did exactly what you said…I let it all out.  I cried.  Inconsolably.  It was just so quiet in there and you were just so nice, I needed to let it all go.

You didn’t look away like my friends would do.  You didn’t “give me a minute” and leave the room so I could get myself together.  You sat there, and you listened to me snuffle and sob, and you waited until the hysterical teenager in front of you finally quieted down.  And then you took the tube out of my hand, and put your hand on mine and said:

“Hey…look.  I see people come in here all the time.  I don’t know what your prognosis is, or how long you’re going to have to come to this hospital, or how things are going to go for you.  But I know one thing…

I know that one day, years from now, your doctor is going to say to you that you’re done.  That it’s time to start living your life.  And that’s what you need to do.  Take your time…be sad… but when the doctors tell you it’s time to move on, promise me that you will.  Don’t be one of those people who is constantly looking over your shoulder and thinking about this part of your life…forget about this place, and just promise me, you’ll move on.” 

I nodded my head, wiped my nose, and you handed the tube back to me and said, “Ok…let’s get this done now.”

And that was it.  I went on with the treatments, lost my hair, got my hair back, went to my follow up appointments, finished school, and then five years later, in March, I was done.  My doctor said I didn’t need to worry about coming in anymore, and that it was time to move on.

And that, dear Nurse, was when I remembered what you said…what you said about moving on and not looking back.  And I listened.  I really think you would be proud.

1536609_10104009941636690_1952932284_n

Life’s been good

People who know me know what I’ve been up to, but I’ll give you the Spark’s Notes version: I live overseas, I work a job I love, I travel and meet more people than I ever imagined, I’ve learned empathy and compassion from the empathy and compassion you and others have shown me, and I almost never think about those days when I was really sick.  I do, however, think a lot about you.

Anyone who ever asks me how I ended up overseas, has heard about you.  You’re nameless in the stories, and I hate it.  I’ve rarely cried about cancer since then, but I’ve often teared up thinking about what you said, and how I would never get to tell you to your face, because what does an 18 year old really understand about the impact our word’s have on others?  So I’m sorry.  I wish more than anything you knew in that 30 minutes you spent with me, you changed the course of my life.

With eternal gratitude,
Sonia

*********

So, if anyone who worked at, or is still working at Medical City Dallas, remembers an 18 year old girl in 2003 wearing a shirt that was entirely too low cut, and crying all over your equipment…please know that I owe much of who I am today, to what you said to me.

And to the chemo nurses, the medical assistants, the people drawing blood and the guy who operated the PET-CT scans (yes I remember you)..all of you were my angels at Medical City Dallas.  I have innumerable stories from that time I spent in your good graces, and without you all, your jokes, your sincerity, your all around bad-ass-ness, I don’t think I would’ve been able to move on from it like I did.  I mean…one guy saw me run into a bathroom crying, and waited outside just to make sure I was okay…really…he had a job to do, and he did that instead.

And to ALL nurses…if you think you remember the one or two patients who stood out to you, please know that numerous people hold your faces and your words in their hearts, even though they may never know your name.  Keep up the good work, I just wanted to drop you all a line.

And to anyone still reading this, nurse or not…your kind words matter.  Say them.

So, Are You in a Relationship With Anyone?

We all know what it means. If we think of all the times we have asked it and all the times we have been asked it, the answer is one of two things:

“Yes!” followed by  a meet-cute story of how we met our boyfriend or husband
OR
An awkward pause as the room dims. We shake our head, “No,” while someone randomly begins to play an organ in the background 

In summary: if we have a boyfriend, we ARE in  a relationship with someone.  And if we don’t have a boyfriend, we are NOT in a relationship with anyone.  It is so simple to think this way. It is also, utter and complete bullshit.

But first, let me answer the question myself before I explain why.

Now, there’s no meet-cute in these stories…These relationships have been challenging and difficult.  These relationships are the very definition of “til death do us part,” they’ve made me cry, made me  laugh, and made me change.  That’s probably why these relationships matter.  So, after 30 years of living and loving, here’s my answer to:

So…Sonia, are you in a relationship with anyone?

Yes.  Yes I am.

******** 

I’m in a relationship with my mother:

Everyone says me and my mom have a great relationship.  And, it’s true… we finally have a GREAT relationship, but, I’m not gonna lie, It wasn’t easy.  I don’t’ know if you know this, but I’m no bed of roses. Me and my mom would throw down, gloves off.  We’ve fought til we were both red in the face, slammed doors, stared each other down, and then I realized… I was the one with the problem and I needed to change.

Each door I had slammed over the course of my life had to be pried open, and I had to face the reality of the damage I had done.   I had to change.  We both did.  And now I’m best friends with one of the bravest women I’ve ever known.

My dad.  The surgeon.  The man who taught me how to ride a bike, was with me every moment of the way during cancer treatments, the man who worked to pay for new clothes, cars, college, medical school, Master’s programs.  The man who I never knew quite how to talk to about things other than money and his practice.

The man who did everything for his family with stoic diligence, and never asked for, or got, any thanks.  None.  He went to work, the bills were paid, he showed up to to teacher nights, helped us with our math homework, and went to bed for over 25 years, until I finally realized that in any other context… this wouldn’t fly.  I was taking advantage of one of the best relationships that had literally been handed to me since birth.

Well… a few years ago (27 years too late), even though it felt weird and strange, I sat down at the breakfast table and I thanked him.  And I told him that I loved him.  And then I waited.

He put down his Wall Street Journal for a second, looked at me, cleared his throat, and said:  Would you like the other half of my English Muffin?  (Baby steps.  He’s never shared his English Muffins with anyone.)

 With my brother:  

We’ve overcome a lot, and he’s seen me put myself through a lot.  Yes he’s married and has a kid, and yes people told me that things would change and he would be less able to “be there” for me.  So I decided to try to be there for him whenever or wherever I could.   I know, we are SO different, but it’s weird how as time goes on, I find myself really enjoying the time we get to spend together.  I wish we did this earlier.

And yes, he’s a surgeon. Yeah, yeah.  But, surgeon or not, he still signs all his emails to me with a, “meow,” so don’t look too impressed.

My brother's last email My brother’s most recent email

 With my  family:

My cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents…the army behind my back at every step I take.

It’s like whack-a-mole, really.  I focus on one of them, and a million things pop up with the others.  I’m not very good at it yet, but I think they know I’m trying. Trying.

I’m in a relationship with my friends:  

My friends, my champions, the family we choose.

11196304_10106055164199280_1042217132853861116_n Nothing better than being a friend to friends worth having

 I worked hard for these friends. We fought with and fought for each other.  From  missed dinner dates, missed weddings and misunderstandings, we’ve survived it all.

In life when I’ve been  a bit broken down, these people have stepped up and had my f*cking back. My friends are my magic mirror, they speak the truth and only the truth.  They tell me they love me, they tell me they’re proud of me, and they tell me when to shut the hell up.

 Im in a good relationship with my career:  

They say you shouldn’t be married to your work.  But I’m not sure I agree with that.  If a marriage is supposed to be a commitment that both challenges and fulfills you, requires that you grow and evolve, develop compassion and patience, well then, consider me hitched.

Most importantly, I’m in a good relationship with myself:

And it was the hardest and most difficult relationship to build…ever.

I am not in a romantic relationship:

I’m not.

I don’t have a “love life” at the moment, but I have no shortage of love in my life.  And if you think this is the “make or break” relationship…the ultimate void to fill, you have a little bit of growing up to do and some perspective to be gained.

This type of relationship is a piece of some people’s puzzle.  They will find it when they find it, so leave them to their journey.

For some, it’s the whole picture entirely.  Let them paint it with whoever they want… Even if its not the vision you have for their life.

And for other’s it is the icing on what is otherwise, a very very delicious cake.   They could take it or leave it.  We all need to accept that about one another.

***********

Real talk:

Think about your definition of being in a relationship with someone:

If you have a relationship with a boyfriend/husband, fantastic!
Now start building those relationships with other people in your life.  If you think about how rewarding it is to have a partner you can rely and depend on, think about if all of your relationships were like that? Why be defined by the one relationship you DO have in your life.

(If you’re one of those “my husband is my everything” people, that is amazing, and you are lucky to have one another…but you’re building a very pretty glass house on a quick sand pit…in a rock slide area…set on a fault line)

If you don’t have a relationship with a boyfriend/husband, fantastic!
Start building those relationships with other people you DO have in your life.  Call your parents more, start “liking” your cousin’s or sibling’s facebook pages more…talk to that one person at the gym who always seemed nice…just do it, already!  Why be defined by the one relationship you DONT have in your life?

(Truth bomb: Whether you have a boyfriend or not,  if you have absolutely no acquaintances, friends, or family that you can reach out to…you’ve got a “you” problem…so start on the inside, girl)

And to everyone who is reading this and thinking, “I haven’t called my mom in months…it would be weird.”  I have to say this: What the mother-loving-earth are you talking about!

It’s going to be weird? To call your mom?  The woman who wiped your ass, showered you, and KEPT YOU ALIVE through infancy…it’s going to be weird to give her a phone call? What exactly do you think your mom is going to do if you call her for the first time in a long time?  I’m going to take a wild guess…she’ll probably f*cking pick up the phone and want to talk to you. That’s what.  If not…try your brother.  And keep going down the list until you make contact with another human.

Think it’s weird to drop your dad a text message that says, “I love you?”  Chug a few beers, send the text message, turn off your phone, put it under a couch cushion,  and go to sleep.  Just get it done!

Call to action:

Whether you have a boyfriend/husband or not, there are probably several people in your life that you don’t reach out to because you guys ‘just don’t have that type of relationship.’  Well…BUILD IT.  You’re an adult now.  Pick up the Lego Blocks of missed opportunities and build that bridge to someone, anyone,  you want to care about.

That way, the next time someone asks you whether you’re in a relationship with someone or not, you may have more than one answer to give.

Oh and update: I sent this article to my family ahead of time, to make sure they were fine with me writing about them, and look what I got in my inbox…three years later.  Baby steps.  

FullSizeRender (4) Dad responds

Disclaimer:  Do NOT call or get in touch with people who have severely hurt you, neglected, or abused you in the past: parents, siblings, boyfriend, friends etc.  Some people don’t deserve to be in your life and this article is not a “sign” to call up someone who treated you like a door mat…In fact, if you still have their numbers, delete them right now

Why You Should Be a “Girl’s Girl”

 

Genesis: 

In the beginning, I used to be a “guy’s girl,” not gonna lie.  We all know the type.  The girl that simply just is one of the guys.

In my late teens and early 20’s, I was proud to be a declared a guy’s-girl. You know, one of those low-maintenance- no-holds-barred-roll-her-eyes-at- other-women type girls.  I thought  it was the highest compliment, that the men folk viewed me as an equal because I was, “not like most girls.”  I was a renegade. An outlier.  So so cool.

And then somewhere along the line, I evolved.

And Let There be Light: 

It was one day, a few very transformative years later, after life and love had kicked my ass six ways from Sunday, that a guy friend and I were at a bar. We were talking about dating and issues he was having with his girlfriend. He looked at me and said, “Guys probably never have these issues with you.  You’re like a dude…you’re one of us,” and for the first time, ever, I gave the appropriate response:  I asked him if that was supposed to be a compliment.

I mean, what was it about my personality that made me “like a guy?”  That I was funny? Honest and outspoken?  That I didn’t let people walk all over me? That I could maintain my cool in the back and forths of dating (in my LATER 20’s)?  If so…what did it say about my actual gender?  I can’t even IMAGINE telling one of my guy friends that he was “like a girl,” and have that go over well. When did being “like a girl” become an insult?

Why had being accepted into the ranks of “the boys” become a point of triumph for me and so many girls?   I mean, let’s face it… guys really aren’t that hard to impress.  Being friends with a dude is relatively simple: you go somewhere, have some beers, make a few jokes, maybe talk about the gym, and go home.  It’s easy.

You know what IS hard to do?  To form meaningful and lasting relationships with other women.  To pick away at the barriers you and other women put up between themselves and realize that when we are at our best around one another, we are unstoppable.

I’m not saying that every woman needs to be friends with every other woman that they meet.  We are not houseplants. Just like you aren’t going to like every guy you meet,  you’re not going to like every (or many) woman you meet.

The thing is: we, as women, rarely ever really give other women a chance.  We will so quickly say, “Oh, I don’t like her,” when what we really should be saying is, “Oh, I don’t know her.”  And I want that to stop.  

Why do we so quickly dismiss women we meet? There’s an excellent, excellent explanation for that here In this TED talk by Caroline Heldman.  But from what I’ve seen,  it’s usually because this unknown female commits one of the following sins within the first few times of meeting her:

  • She’s prettier than you
  • She’s confident
  • She’s funny
  • She has a talent you don’t have and brings it up in conversation
  • She has a talent you do have, and brings it up before you do…that ballsy, evil, bitch

So basically…she is everything you have ever wanted to be.

Ladies, this  insecure pettiness is beneath you, and you need to eat cement and toughen up (thanks for the saying, Sash).  There are always going to be funnier, prettier, more successful women than you.  You know what you should do when you meet one?  TRY TO BE HER FRIEND.   How on Earth are you going to better yourself if you’re surrounding yourself with people who don’t challenge you?

Jealous that she’s got a banging body?  That’s a you problem.  Ask her for some workout tips and see if she’ll spot you at the gym.  Jealous that she seems to be more confident than you?  Hang out with her and find out her story to see how she got that way.  Think she’s standoffish because she’s not speaking to you?  Well…have you gone up to her, or are you just waiting for her to ignore the daggers you’ve been staring at her and mosey on over to you? Sort yourselves out, stop hating, and start making an effort.

The New Testament

Now here’s the tricky part, in order to have a friendship with a genuinely strong, confident female, we ourselves have to be genuinely strong and confident.  This is where a lot of girls (myself included) get stuck.  You have to work on yourself before you can be much good to anyone of value.  That’s true for any relationship.

So while “confidence-izing” yourself (yes that’s so a word) is a tricky uphill battle,  I will leave you with the first, and very simplified, steps that I took to becoming a “girl’s girl,” and a girlfriend worth having:

I made a list of all the things I dislike in other girls and people: the cattiness, the body and slut shaming, the competitive vibes that came out around the company of the guys. And I asked myself if I was guilty of having any of those traits.  That answer was a resounding, “yes.”

And then I decided to change.  I realized I didn’t have to be that person anymore.  And I’m not.

And that voice in my head…you know the one…the one that whispers to you everyday that you’re really not THAT smart, you’re really not THAT pretty, no one REALLY likes you.  I told it to shut the f*ck up.  I decided that if I wouldn’t let another person say things like that to me, there was no way I should be talking to myself that way.

And after I started making those changes, the rest (very slowly) came into play.  I’ve had a lot of hits and misses with female friends, but they’ve gotten better, mainly because I’ve gotten better.

So…ladies…if you’re happy with your bro-card and all of this sounds like arrogant “who does she think she is” nonsense…keep doing you.  You are still, at the core, wonderfully intuitive,  caring, and amazingly strong people, which, I’m sorry to tell you, makes you very much “like a girl.”

And I’m also sorry to tell you that no amount of social awareness campaigns targeting males is going to advance the status of women very much if we ourselves don’t start having each other’s backs rather than stabbing one another in the back. 

So please…be one of the girls.  Be for the girls.  Be like a girl.

So. I’m Blogging. You Asked For It

Bloggers and blogging.

I’ve always respected people who have started and maintained a blog, but just never been one of those things I thought I would try out on my own.  However, in the last few months, it’s come up several times in discussion that there are a few things about the day to day ins and outs of life that me and some of my friends simply want to try to change…the main thing being the “ick” vibe that exists between women and girls…everywhere.

I’m starting this blog as partially a personal space to share stories and issues I myself want to bring up (and for my mom), but to also use it as a common space for others to post things they feel should exist.  Issues about motherhood, romantic relationships, dating, friendship, the occasional dysfunction of our lady brains, and so on and so on.  I want this to be a collection of ideas from ANYONE who has a pro-woman message…So I may be asking quite a few of you to help me out.  Also, you don’t have to be a woman to want to write something…you simply have to like the company women.  That will disqualify quite a few girls and guys straight away.

So…let’s see how this goes.  The first posts are about issues that have come up in discussions with friends: the inexplicable jealousy and insecurity many women feel around other woman, and the completely mental competition and pressure that seems to exist for moms today.  As a non-mom…it’s really hard to watch how even as mothers, women just don’t give themselves (or others) a break.  I mean, seriously…raising children “correctly” seems to have devolved into a competitive contact sport.

Watch this space for my very first hopefully not offensive, moderately entertaining posts aptly titled:

Why “Being One of the Boys” Is Epic Bullshit

A Non-Mom’s Guide to Raising Your Kids 

Because I know how to do it right

Because let’s face it, if anyone could raise a kid correctly…it’s me

I’m sure this will go over well.