A few days ago I went into my previous place of work, a residential care facility, to visit an old colleague. Soon after arriving, I look down the hall to see one of the fragile elderly patients fall to the ground. Having worked there for over 5 years, my immediate reaction was to go towards the woman and do all the ‘nurse things’ we do when a patient has a fall. However, that isn’t my role there any more. In fact, it would be inappropriate for me to do anything. It went against my every nature to stand back and seek help rather than to intervene myself. Literally seconds later, a parade of nurses and care aids attended to her and did what they needed to do.
It wasn’t until after that I realized how much this situation applies to my life right now. Standing back and asking for help rather than always being the one to give it. For years, I have enjoyed helping others. So much so that I’ve built a wonderful career doing so. And so much so that despite always having my plate full, I would go back for seconds just to help someone with their obligations. Though this has been fulfilling in many ways, it has also been troubling. I have been taken advantage of in more ways than I can count. It has taken away the joy of selflessness and transformed it into resentment. It has made me feel guilty whenever I say no and has given others the green light to grind that guilt into the ground and make it even worse. As I sit here and search behind the meaning of this devastation – I am learning a lot. I am learning that no is the only option to a lot of things right now. I am learning that it is okay to ask for help and accept it without offering something in return.
When you’re a nurse in the NICU, failing to ask for help is actually considered a safety risk. Why should it be any different now? Reflecting back, I find it humorous what I would ask for in the past. “What color should I dye my hair? What dress should I wear to this party?” – Though these problems are not problems at all, I found myself on the receiving end of various opinions and guidance about what decision I should make. Lately, I’ve been looking back at that girl and only wishing my problems were that small. Alternatively, I look back and am grateful that I can see the world more clearly now.
As I navigate (very wobbly I might add) through life’s challenges, I have realized that I am not alone. I have had to ask my boyfriend to lift me out of bed and help me get dressed after the car accident because I wasn’t able to move just right. I have asked my mom to accompany me to my surgical appointments to be the one absorb the information I wasn’t hearing (no pun intended). I have had to ask a friend to call me in the middle of the night because the anxiety was not letting me sleep. I have cried to my neurosurgeon not because of the potential complications, but that I didn’t think he was able to help me soon enough. God bless the man who is trying his best and God bless my friends who heard the question “did I embarrass myself for crying in front of him?” for days on end after that appointment. Why is it that I cared? And why is it that I keep hearing “You don’t need to apologize” after saying sorry for rambling on for too long.
While the journey is no where near over, I am finally paying attention to the little things. Most days I feel as though I have lost my independence and my strength. I feel as though everything I know and love, helping others personally and professionally, has been put to rest. And to be truthful, the reason I was able to get out of bed yesterday was because of the words of Selina Gomez “if you are broken, you don’t have to stay there”. It wasn’t until I started this blog a few days ago that I started to gain a sense of purpose once again. I have received hundreds of messages from people all over the world telling me that they no longer feel alone. Some say their story is very similar to mine and some have painted a very different picture. Some have just been diagnosed, others are waiting for treatment, and many have provided me with information on what to expect post-op. To say that I have found solace in writing would be an understatement. I can now say that I have found my independence, I have found my voice, I have found my strength and I am helping others in a new way. Perhaps this is what this journey is all about. Learning things about yourself that you didn’t know existed. Perhaps there is a time to hold on and a time to be held. And right now, I am learning to do both in a new way.