Beginnings Before Endings

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I find it irritating that I am this old and I continue to see the same tired, old thought patterns that I have beat to death a million times. 

Wait. Before I continue please know- I am happy most of the time. I make reasonably good decisions more often than not. I have pretty good coping skills and I can almost always pick up on unhealthy attitudes and thoughts pretty quickly and I can work through them. I have had LOTS of therapy. I’m okay. 

Now, where was I? 

I am in a new relationship. It is so good, even if some parts of it are hard. For one thing, he lives two hours from where I am currently working on the East coast. Quite a trek to Texas, which is where I live. Happily. We are both very busy with our careers and our family. Working as a Locum means I don’t always know what my next move is going to be. I don’t even know if I have shifts in this area next month. So, I don’t have a concrete date for when I will see him again. This is stressful for me. 

Despite these irritations, I am excited and feel like this is a good relationship. He makes me so happy. Stupid happy. Giddy and giggly. Warm and fuzzy. Content. 

The problem is my tendency to get inside my head and allow past experiences to color the way I feel when I am not distracted by the real world. Frankly, this most likely stems from my relationship with my father. I had finally started to trust him and open up when I was banished from his life. I know, that sounds dramatic… but, that’s pretty much what happened. I am no longer his daughter. He has not acknowledged my existence in two decades. Yes, I have reached out. Multiple times via various methods. Nothing. It’s like I never existed.

 I know. It has nothing to do with me, it’s his shortcoming. It doesn’t mean I am not a good person or worthy of good things. I know that intellectually. I can explain it all in so many ways. Most of the time it works too. This is the benefit of all the therapy. I know how to deal with the negative thoughts

Look guys, whether it is intentional or not, when the one man in the world who should love you unconditionally turns his back on you, it leaves a mark. It’s almost as if it changes a girl on a molecular level. She may learn to appreciate all her good qualities and she may have other father figures who step in, but it doesn’t change the fact that she was inherently not worthy of you. She may learn to cope with the loss. She might even have a reasonable, healthy attitude about the situation. Unfortunately for her, there is always that little piece of her that is scarred. She will always be susceptible to feeling like she isn’t enough. Even if that is the most false statement in the world, she is at risk to always be searching for a way to earn love. Love will never be something freely given. She may never be able to simply accept it. She will always be watching for the ground to become a fault line and crumble beneath her feet. I’m not sure if anyone will ever convince her she can trust them. She will always know she was not good enough. She may overcompensate and become more successful than she ever imagined. She may do a phenomenal job at hiding her flaw, but it will always be there just under the surface threatening to expose her as the fraud she must be. It will be the most real thing about her. 

Despite all the good therapy and coping skills, and despite the knowledge I am indeed a good person, I am plagued by insecurities. I attempt to manage them by being selective about who I let into my life. I am quick to walk away and protect myself from being hurt. I have perfected the art of avoiding real attachment and intimacy. I even convince myself I am happier because of it. I sneer at people who are “in love.” Suckers. I tell myself I am too smart to depend on someone else to make me happy. I pride myself on the fact I do not need to be in a relationship. 

Nothing good ever comes from being vulnerable. Occasionally someone gets in, but mostly I fight it. I certainly don’t allow myself to be vulnerable in romantic matters. Nope. No way. Not me. If I find myself developing feelings for someone I promptly identify their sins to justify ending things. I am only interested in people I have no chance of being able to rely on. I never get my hopes up. I struggle to believe someone will not hurt me. I do not get invested, despite my feeble attempts to convince myself otherwise. I am not running, I am simply avoiding disaster! It’s called being smart. It’s not me, it’s you and I have all the evidence to prove it. 

I thought I had found the magic ticket. Date lots of people and avoid commitment. You can have fun and still not risk rejection. Don’t you dare hope for a happy ending and you will never feel cheated. Bingo! That was such a great idea. 

Until it backfired. 

I met someone who makes me want to be different. I find myself telling him things I don’t tell anyone. I laugh at his stupid, I mean hilariously clever jokes. I don’t find it intrusive when he contacts me. I don’t want to avoid him. He doesn’t get on my nerves. I like him. I enjoy him. He is brilliant, witty, sexy, funny, strong, reliable, clever, warm, caring, handsome and the list could go on… but you get the point. As a side note: he is often exactly right. I mean to the penny. It’s like he knows everything! 

I don’t want to spend time with other men. I only want to be with him. A lot. 

Admitting that was hard at first. I was scared he would not feel the same way. What kind of man would want to date only me? It’s funny because I was the one who insisted I was not interested in a relationship and he agreed to my terms. I mistakenly thought I had simply added one more opportunity for dinner and adventure. Ha! The jokes on me. 

So, now what? Remember that scar? It’s still there and I can’t hide it if I want to actually be present in this relationship. I have to own it and accept the fact that even if my father’s rejection wasn’t my fault, I am still affected by it. I have to acknowledge I am working to overcome my own defenses. This doesn’t mean I get  to keep the walls up. It will never work if I don’t allow myself to believe him. All I have to do is pay attention to his actions, which are completely congruent with his words. I just need to trust the way I feel and act accordingly. I need to focus on the situation as it is now. I don’t need to project what I think might happen at some unknown point in the future. 

So, I am going to enjoy this great guy. I am going to have an open heart and trust myself. I am going to own all these wonderful and fun feelings. It is time to stop trying to convince myself I am wrong about him. I am allowed to have optimistic hope. It’s okay to be excited. I don’t have to fight happiness. 

Today I get to be enough. I am not going to miss the beginning because I am too busy crafting the end. I’m going to celebrate where we are. It’s a good place to be. 

There Are No Victims

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There are no victims, only volunteers. 

Wait. Before you get all pissed off and start telling about all the terrible things that happen to innocent people, let me explain. 

Life is hard. In fact, it fucking sucks sometimes. There are bad people who do bad things. There are accidents, illnesses, and other unspeakable tragedies. It’s horrible and completely unfair. 

However, I choose to believe I have an obligation to rise above all the bullshit. I can choose to stay a victim, and choose to let life’s hardships keep me down. It’s a choice to allow my past to haunt me. 

All that sounds great, right? 

The problem is that regardless of what I choose to tell myself the past is still there. I still bear the scars of things I had no control over. All it takes is one negative incident and I am at risk of feeling all the feelings I have worked so hard to overcome. 

I was talking to a friend the other day and I realized no matter how much work I have done my automatic response is still to abnegate all the good things in my life. To discount my accomplishments. To feel like I am not enough. The drive to prove I am worthy. Worthy of what? I have no idea. 

So, the struggle continues. I make the decision to not be a victim. It’s not an automatic response. I decide. I choose. Sometimes I choose wrong and wallow in self-pity. Other times I choose rationality and put the regrets away for a bit. Until there is another blow to my ego. 

Frankly, the cycle sucks. It’s still better than just being stuck as the victim. 

The saga of the girl with daddy issues shall continue… please tune in next time. 

Daddy Issues and Contact

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Poster image taken from IMDB

I know I am late to the party. For some reason I had never seen this movie. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Now, I am not going to get into semantics about the movie, I just want to talk a little about how it influenced me. We all know I am rather self-absorbed and the most important part of anything is how it all influences me. 

Daddy Issues

The biggest question bothering me as I watched the movie centers on the girl, who is looking for her father. Are we all constantly seeking a dad? Are men slaves to this as well? I am usually quite sensitive to this topic in literature and movies which leaves me wondering if this is simply due to my lack of a father. Do people with good fathers have this issue? I found myself thinking David Morse was cast perfectly as the doting paternal figure. Then he died. Sigh. 

There was a small part of me wishing she actually found a way to communicate with her father. Then, he made certain she understood he was just a hallucination. Once again there are no answers about whether or not our “souls” continue to exist after we die. Come on Sagan, throw me a bone! I found myself wondering if she felt closure after she saw her “father.”

My father is not dead. At least not as far as I know. I don’t imagine I would get any relief or closure if I saw him again. I think it would be more of the same bullheadedness that I inherited from him. While I cannot imagine completely turning your back on your child, I also know there is something so irrevocably damaged he simply lost capacity for maintaining a relationship with me. I am okay with this. Even if it still sucks sometimes.

Love Interests!

Look, this was NOT Matthew McConaughey’s finest hour. He was quite flat throughout the movie. So, while I am acknowledging the fact he was not my kind of dude, he did something I love. The whole compass thing. Come on! I know it is cheesy. I have had secret fantasy for years about a guy giving me a compass. Tom Hanks did it in Big! It is seriously the sweetest gesture to me. So, Mr. Right if you want to win my heart, all you need to do is give me a compass and say something incredibly charming about wanting me to always find my way home to you.

This would serve two purposes. First, it would indicate you pay attention to the cheesy, sappy crap I pretend I don’t like. Second, it would show you have been reading my blog, AND paid attention. You would win all the way around. There is absolutely no downside to presenting me with a compass.

Theology and Terrorists

This movie did a fairly good job of highlighting the struggles people in this country face when they are not religious. Her lack of faith almost prevented her from being the person who got to go on the grand adventure. The only thing I know is I value religious freedom. This includes the right to not have a religion and not be persecuted.

The bomber was relevant even for almost 20 years later. We are still using bombs and weapons to attempt to prove theological points. I still find it disgusting. I cannot wrap my head around how people get from “I want to save lives” to “I need to kill you.” Pro-lifers shooting doctors. Muslims shooting up Christmas parties. Strange dudes opening fire in a bible study. I lump all of these people into one big group. Anyone who fixates on some ideology and uses it to justify hate and murder is just a douchebag. I have tried to convince myself they are mentally ill, however I just don’t buy it.

Love Letter to Science and Progress

In the end I suppose the story is really a love letter to science as a tool to achieve progress. I loved the point about taking small steps and evolving through it. This is an important lesson for me. I find myself wanting to rush through every thing to get to the end point. Perhaps I need to relish the small steps I continue to make.

There is something beautiful in the little victories.

As a species, I feel like humans have a gift of curiosity. This eternal drive for knowledge and answers. We would cease to have ambition if we had all the answers handed to us. I will never run out of questions. This means I will have to wake up and not be excited about what I may learn that day. We cannot stop looking for solutions just because our first attempt failed. We have to continue on.

Stop using real footage out of context

Robert Zemeckis did a pretty good job on this movie. I did not like all the news coverage and CNN footage. It seemed jarring. It was cute when he did it in Forrest Gump, but he needs to find a new trick. Rather than making the movie seem more likely to be possible, I was distracted trying to remember what Bill Clinton was actually talking about in that clip. I did not like it.

Jodie Foster.

I related to Ellie as she went through her journey, and Jodie Foster somehow manages to suck me in with her understated charm and quiet demeanor. She manages to play strong women without making them overbearing. This is a skill I wish I possessed.

I am always uncomfortable when she is dealing with some romantic entanglement. Why is it always so awkward?

Pleasantly Surprised

Contact was worth the time I spent watching it. While there were not many answers, it left me satisfied. I really don’t know how I managed to never see it until now.

Daddy Issues- Veteran’s Day Edition

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 I would not recommend watching the montage videos of soldiers coming home to their family if you have issues with your absentee father who was devoted to the US Army.

When I was a little girl, my father was stationed in Germany. I did not know much about it, however I imagined him there patrolling a chain-link fence which was erected to keep the bad guys away from the regular people. I obviously had no idea what the Berlin Wall was and in my mind my dad was a hero. I did not mind that he was not there for me, he was busy saving the world.

Fast-forward about 30 years. It has been almost 20 years since I have spoken to my father. I was minding my own business, playing on Facebook, and I opened a link to a video of soldiers coming how to their families. I felt like I had been kicked in the chest. My father never even told me when he was being deployed, much less when he came home. He had become a mystical figure to me. Not a father at all.

I suppose if I am being fair, it really has nothing to do with his status as a soldier. The fault lies strictly in his refusal to be a father. I always imagined by the age of 35 I would be “over it.” For the most part, I am doing well. I know it has nothing to do with me and all that jazz. The only part that sucks is when I am caught off guard and wishing I could go back in time and he would be a different person.

I continue to grow and learn how to be a better person. I am fully aware of my issues about this topic. I own them. I am fine. It is okay to feel the emotions and to be honest about my disappointment in regards to the person who gave me half of gene pool. I don’t have to be him. I can learn from his mistakes. I can forgive him for failing to be the one thing I needed him to be.

Daddy Issues Part II

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It’s the middle of January *2006. I have been a nurse on the night shift for about six months. My patient load tonight is insane. Part of it is my fault. I ask to keep the patient at the end of the hall even though the rest of my group is at the other end. The thing is, I am worried about him. He is in room *417. *details and names are changed for privacy.*

Mr. 417 has been in the hospital for several weeks. When I first meet him, he is a cantankerous grouch. He does not like being stuck in bed with the tube snaking out of his nostril and connected to suction. He is unable to eat, so we continuously drip nutrients like lipids, glucose, and vitamins into his veins.

I am still inexperienced, and completely naive about the seriousness of his condition. Yes, he is quite old, but has always been healthy up to this point.

I dote on my little cranky man, pick up extra shifts, and ensure that he is well cared for. Mr. 417 is excessively difficult to please. Everything has to be just so, and I have our routine down pat.

It is three in the morning. I have been running from room to room all night. I am doing a bowel prep for a colonoscopy in room 405 and the patients in 402 and 407 are call light happy. I am in Mr. 417’s room about every 20 minutes to check on him, and to try to find some relief for his discomfort- all to no avail.

I am busy giving a bed bath in room 405, and unable to check on him from 0235 until 0300. When I finish my tasks I hurry to check on him. What I find is a new nurse’s worst nightmare. I run to get my charge nurse, and we get an ABG and a CXR. Obviously in shock. I have to call a doctor and get some help for my patient.

I pick up the phone and dial the number. I ask the answering service who is on call that night. When she answers, I promptly hang up and burst into tears. I am one of those annoying people who cry at the first sign of stress.

Oh, the call light is going off. My patient in room 405 has tried to get up and navigate her way to the bathroom without assistance. The Golytely effects hit her rapidly. There is a very large problem all over her room. We do not have a nurse’s aide tonight.

I have to call the doctor. Let’s call him Dr. Snape. Everyone knows that is not his real name. In my hospital, he is infamous. This is a man who does not like to be woken up. Nurses dread calling him, and almost everyone has a Dr. Snape story. His reputation is legendary. He is also known as one of the best doctors.

I beg my charge nurse to call him for me. She refuses, however we do have an impromptu practice conversation. I take notes. I gather his chart, and make sure I have current vital signs, I&Os, and lab work available.

I take a deep breath, and with shaking hands call the answering service back. I sit there and silently rehearse what I am going to say. The phone rings, and the call is transferred to me.

I ramble my rehearsed speech, my words hurried and breathless. The patient’s name, room number, admitting diagnosis, admitting physician, and why I am calling. I do not stop speaking until I get all of that out, then my voice trails off uncertainly because I do not know what to do next and I have yet to take a breath for fear that he will interrupt me.

Dr. Snape is silent on the other end for a few seconds and I am shaking with anxiety. He starts asking questions. He wants details. Not only about tonight, but about the events that have led up to tonight. Who was his surgeon? What did they find? What medications is he on? How long as he been on them? Is he fluid overloaded? Did he smoke? What did he do for a living? When was his last set of cultures drawn? What is the plan from oncology? Where is his family? What does the patient want? Does he know how sick he is? Does he have children? I am fairly certain he asked me who the man took to senior prom. (looking back, it seems that after a minute, he was testing me.)

Then, this exchange:

“What was his respiratory rate before?” I nervously double-check my notes.

2000: 22

2100: 24

2200: 22

2300: 22

0100: 24

0300: 39

I respond “Between 22 and 24.” Without skipping a beat Dr. Snape asks “Wouldn’t that be 23?”

I have been on the phone, shaking, and speaking in rapid, unsure answers for what feels like an eternity. I miss the joke. “Ummm. Yes, sir. That would indeed be 23.” The nurses are gathered in a curious and supportive circle around me. There is a titter which feeds my anxiety. I wish I were anywhere else in the world at that moment.

When Dr. Snape asks who the respiratory therapist and charge nurse are- I am so relieved. I hurriedly respond “*Nurse Ratchet, would like to speak to her?” and without waiting for an answer, I abruptly put him on hold, transfer the call, and burst into tears. I am convinced I am an utter failure. I contemplate switching careers. Then, I rush off to take care of Mr. 417. I have to transfer him to ICU. I see Dr. Snape in the unit when I am dropping off the rest of the patient’s belongings, and I avert my eyes and scurry away.

The rest of my night is a mess. I worry about my patient, and I have a ton of things to do since my routine was interrupted. I go home that morning feeling like a terrible nurse, and wondering if I am even capable of this job.

The next day, I walk into the break room at the beginning of my shift, and find this in my mailbox. *It has been edited to leave out identifying information. *IMG_7835Well, that is weird. What does this mean? Isn’t that my job? Oh, well I am flattered. Obviously. I still have it after all these years. It lives in a metal box. Along with a copy of the recommendation letter he wrote for me when I was applying for a fellowship after grad school.

This night is one of the defining moments of my career. It is the beginning of my relationship with one of my mentors. It took me years to get over being too intimidated to speak to him, but once I did, I was pleasantly surprised.

Night shift nursing brings about a completely different relationship with physicians than day shift. You typically only see physicians when there is a crisis. For many of them, they have been awake all day working, and this is the time they should be at home asleep. It makes it difficult to foster overly friendly relationships.

However, given enough time and exposure, you eventually do. Over time I learned how to be prepared for my encounters with them, and that made their job easier, which helped reduce some of the stress. I learned how to see them as people instead of doctors. I like them a lot more as people. Totally less scary.

One day, after I had been working closely with him as part of my clinical training for nurse practitioner school, I mentioned that night. He immediately remembered. He did not know it was me though.

He was an awesome teacher while I was learning how to be a mid-level. He sought out chances to challenge me, and he was quick to correct and to give me feedback on the job I was doing. Now, to be honest, I hit the jackpot when I chose preceptors. I picked them for their willingness to teach, and they all gave their time and expertise generously. I am so grateful for these physicians and nurse practitioners.

But, this is about Daddy Issues. How on earth does that apply to this nursing story. Well, duh… because it is my story. Remember me? The girl with daddy issues?

I started noticing a trend to my relationships with a few of my mentors. Especially with ******* (you know, Work Mommy) and the one who became Work Daddy. The two of them were the ones that I sought out for advice. I respected their opinions, and felt that they understood my goals and aspirations. The joke became that they were Work Mommy and Work Daddy. (Don’t worry- Work Mommy has a story too!)

Now, while it was initially a joke, I see how it is applicable. As I mentioned in Daddy Issues Part I, parents are our first mentors (or they should be, anyway) and when your mentor is also somewhat responsible for you as an employee, it is easy to see how mentorship could be similar to a parental role. These are the people I come to when I need help. They are the ones who offer guidance and recommendations for my future.

It is their opinions I trust. I feel like they have my best interests at heart when they offer me advice. I am never afraid to tell them when I do not know something, and I am not afraid to take chances and risk looking foolish for asking questions.

Mentors are so important in life. They are coaches who develop skills. They are people who are interested in how your career affects you personally. In some instances if you are lucky, they become friends.  — although, that may change if Work Daddy finds out I called him Dr. Snape.

***I would like to point out that Alan Rickman is a very commanding presence. Also, Professor Snape did kinda turn out to be a hero in the end- He always looked out for Harry, and tried to protect him. This is where the pseudonym came from.

One last thing, I am so grateful for the experiences I have had with my mentors, and I would not trade any of it for anything. Quite basically, I am a lucky girl.

 *** update. Work Daddy is no longer my employer, however he remains a treasured friend and mentor. ~10/29/2015 ♥️LQ

Daddy Issues. It’s not about sex.

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Okay. Before you read any further… if you are expecting a post about sexual exploits with older men, you are going to be so very disappointed. I am quite cognizant of the fact that my grandfather reads this blog. (Wait, you are insinuating that there may be exploits to write about!) But, that is absolutely not the point. This is a blog about the weird daddy fantasies I have had for as long as I can remember.

Hehehe. See what I did there?

So, to put some context to this I should probably explain that I do not have a relationship with my father. It’s okay. I don’t mind all that much. I have had lots of therapy, and I realize it has nothing to do with me yadayadayada. Frankly, it is his loss. I am awesome. However, I would be completely disingenuous if I pretended that I did not wish I had a relationship with him. So, for most of my life I have been moderately obsessed with the fathers of pop culture. (Oh, one important thing, I have not been lacking in the male influence in my life- I have lots of people who have selflessly stood up and assumed that role. I have a wonderful loving family, and it’s not like I have been deprived of male attention.)

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See? He is such a good dad! Who doesn’t love dad hugs?

I am obsessed with TV shows and movies that have a man who is excessively paternal. Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) is the best dad. He has a teenage daughter (well, I think she is in college now) and they have a really cool relationship. I have always wanted that kind of relationship with my father. You know, the guy who frets over me, and is seriously protective and proud of me. So, it’s quite entertaining to imagine that this fictional character is actually my dad! This is common for young women (ok, almost middle-aged women who did not realize the teenagers were no longer their peers.)

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This must be a dude thing. My son kisses us on the forehead. It’s kinda sweet and condescending at the same time. I am leaning more towards sweet.

More about this style of dad. He is fun. He loves to play games and keeps up with what the cool kids are doing. He is not afraid to take his daughter to see a boy band. He has a relationship with his daughter on her level. Why? He likes her as a person! She is not a piece of property that he owns. He plays laser tag IN THE HOUSE! Decorates and dresses up for Halloween. This is a cool dad. My inner kid loves this guy.

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Well, if dad is a big kid- its probably best that granny is there. Even if she has a green goo face.

Now, what about the girl who is closer to my age? Maybe even a little closer to my own experiences?

Elizabeth Keen and Red Reddington on The Blacklist. There is some controversy as to whether or not he is actually her father, however he is so paternal and I am convinced that he is her dad. Which is probably the goal of the show’s writers anyway. (Side note: I just learned that paternal and paternalistic are not at all the same thing. Paternal is fatherly, while paternalistic is bad. Like dictator bad. hmmm.)

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I don’t really understand why she spends so much time in a hospital bed. Maybe she should be a little more careful. No wonder she needs a dad.

This show does a phenomenal job of demonstrating that even strong women are drawn to father figures in their lives. I mean, this chick carries a gun, and has all these smart FBI agents following her around, yet she still seeks the approval of the one guy who seems to actually be protecting her. Although, I would think that he could have done a better job protecting her by leaving her alone. Until you factor in the fact that her career went from zero to hero in about one day due to his interference. This is my greatest downfall, I can see way to many sides to situations. I never should have been a debater in high school. It has destroyed my decision-making abilities.

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - October 3, 2013

I am pretty sure my fantasy father and I would share a bench in NYC- and somehow be this comfortable with each other.

So, the point is not whether or not Red is her father. The point is that their relationship reminds me of the relationship that I imagine my father could have had with me. Your father should be your first mentor. The first man who offers you guidance and advice with your best interests in mind. With this imaginary father, I know that he would never encourage me to do anything that was not good for me. A dad has no ulterior motive, he only wants to see his daughter thrive and to reach her fullest potential. This is the fantasy that I have. This understanding of the fictitious nature of my fantasy is what allows me to know that it is okay that I do not have a relationship with my father. He is not that kind of man. I am better off with my imagination, and borrowing characters from cheesy crime shows.

Now, in the real world the relationship I have with my mentor at work (whom I fondly refer to as Work Daddy- although rarely to his face) has been instrumental in my success professionally. When I was a baby nurse, I had to call him in the middle of the night. I was terrified. I had heard horror stories about the perils nurses face when they wake him up…

*So… I have Daddy Issues. I figure there are lots of women who do. It has nothing at all to do with sex or romantic relationships. I think that people are drawn to the ones who have their best interests at heart.