Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You

Al Franken (whom I adore and would vote into the White House) had a character I didn't really care for too much on Saturday Night Live. It was the Stuart Smalley fella who always made me cringe. Sure, it was funny enough, but I believe deep down, Stuart's insecurities struck a chord in my soul.

I don't know why I've always had these feelings that I'm not good enough deep within. But there they are, ready at inopportune moments and waiting to strike me right in the gut. And always, always when I least expect it. It's because of these feelings that I overachieve. I have to be the brightest or the best at what I try. If not, I will give you a good bullshit job that makes you think I am. Or, at least that's what I tell myself.

The thing is, there are times when I don't feel genuine at all. Like I'm not a genuine knitter. Then I pull out something I've made and show it to someone I know belongs to the Knitters Guild of America, and they tell me I'm good, or that what I've made is beautiful. I have to pinch myself. It's impossible to accept a complement at face value. I don't know why. Criticism of my knitting doesn't make me feel bad about it, it just pisses me off. And I'm not mad at the person giving the critique, I'm mad at myself for not being better-that evil voice always agrees with the criticism. We had a European housekeeper at work who told me my stitches were too tight and that I knit the wrong way. I obsessed on that for months (I still do.) I try so hard to channel other knitters who say there IS no wrong way to knit. We are all individuals doing the best we can but all I hear is the woman in my head with the big mouth and that housekeeper who brought it up in the first place.

I feel sometimes like I'm really not a very good friend to my friends. I feel as though in some way, I let them down. I feel this way about my mothering skills too. I don't know how or why, but it's there. My friends (and kids) don't really say these things to me and everyone still calls, emails or hangs out so I'm perplexed at where this stuff comes from.

I'm still waiting to wake up and be told I'm the poorest excuse for a nurse that ever walked the earth. I live in fear the Nurse Police are going to show up at my door and tell me my career has all been a mistake and who the hell gave me a license to practice my art in the first place? They are going to accuse me of 25 years of faking it. Two years ago, I was nominated for and won the Spirit of Nursing Award. I was humbled to think my peers thought this of me-humbled is the wrong word, I was shocked. This beautiful award with all it's meaning was for me. Someone then made a joke that it must have been a mistake and was meant for her and that wench in my brain agreed. Now, I'm sure the person who said that to me didn't mean that, but what if she did? The award was a Lladro porcelain nurse that sits on my mantle to remind me I'm not good enough or at least some people and that voice in my head don't think so. The rest? I guess they do.

The inability to accept a complement, or believe the giver of such things means them, was the source of many an argument in the early years of my second marriage. My first husband was on a first name basis with the bitch in my brain and the two conspired to find ways to make me feel inadequate. My second (and truly only) husband had a lot of grief and damage control to do. It's a testimony to him that he has helped me through much of these feelings and taught me to accept a complement. Sometimes, he'll just say "shut up, say thank you." Although I don't talk about him much here, he's my best friend and I adore him. He is by far, the better half of me. The best thing of all is he makes me laugh. Deeply. Daily. He's wonderful and I'm blessed.

Knowing this about me now, imagine how I must have felt when I read the letter of recommendation my friend wrote for the hospice position I applied for. It was glowing and full of adjectives and descriptions of my nursing practice that made me feel wonderful to read. When that ugly big mouth deep in my soul popped up and started saying bad things to me in respect to this letter, I gave it to my friend Judi to read. I asked her if it sounded like too much bullshit to her. She (she is wonderful) hugged me and said, "oh honey, it's all true." Judi made me cry and so did my friend Sister Jeanne who wrote the letter. If these two pillars of my life say it's so, it must be. I just wish that voice would pipe down in there.

So, I've told you about my insecurities as a prelude to this: as of June 16th, I will be a hospice nurse. Be careful what you ask, wish and pray for. Sometimes, you get it in spades.


Rositta said...

You are absolutely good enough, you will be brilliant at your new calling. Sometimes people says things they don't mean not realizing they can be hurtful, once spoken words are hard to take back. We all have insecurities and someday when we meet I'll tell you all of mine...ciao:)

Rudee said...

Thank you Rositta. You are wise and kind.

Anonymous said...

All of the adjectives in the world couldn't fully describe what a wonderful mentor, friend, caregiver, hero, inspiration and most are. Like all of the things you do, you will excel at this too.

Sebba <3 xoxo