Over the last few months, I’ve been having a growing dissatisfaction with my career and specialty. It hit an all time high two weeks ago. So I packed my bags and went to Trinidad. I needed to get away. Something about my life felt very unnatural. When I came back from Trinidad and returned to work, the feeling compounded. I’ve been trying to understand this. Why do I always start something with huge amounts of enthusiasm only to hate it 3-4 months later? This is my pattern. Tennis, Track, Field hockey, Travel nursing, Med surg, Nursing school, Nursing, middle school, high school, I always start off super excited only to find myself despising what I do later and wanting to quit. Now it’s the NICU. “I’m so over it”.
I keep saying that that these experiences make me feel institutionalized and unnatural. I certainly don’t feel free. There’s so many rules, so many expectations on how I’m suppose to act or say or do or dress. In nursing, many hospitals make it so that you HAVE to say specific things to your patients. You have a mantra you have to repeat and it’s so robotic. Sometimes in social settings within these organizations, there’s the expectation that one has to be a certain way in order to fit. What about my creativity? What about my freedom?
This has always been something I struggle with. Not feeling like I belong in any particular institution or system and knowing that I’m an outcast, even when I have a good relationship with everyone else there. I keep coming back, hoping something will change within them, that maybe I’ll find a mainstream system that works for me and allows me to contribute while still feeling natural. But once again, I feel like I’m being asked to let go.
My mom is a saint. That’s what I tell people if they ask. She’s the type to give you the shirt off her back if you are shivering in the cold. She’s the type to give up her bed and sleep on the floor if someone comes to visit. She puts herself last. Always. That said, I expected a deeper connection to her than what often seemed to manifest.
Last weekend drew the last straw. I noticed that whenever we would talk, I’d become angry and she’d become confused. I felt like my needs weren’t being met whenever we had a conversation. I’d feel exhausted. I knew that for years whenever my mom came home, my initial reaction would be to just go to my bedroom. Well that weekend, I discovered why.
I told her that for years I’ve tried to get closer to her but often feel as though I can’t. I told her that I am often disappointed and I apologized to her. I realized it was my own expectations I had of the relationship and of her that disappointed me the most. In a sense: greed. My greed. I wanted more and more and more from her and what she did provide never felt like enough. At that moment, I knew it was time to let go. She is who she is and trying to make her into what I want or trying to create a relationship with her the way I want isn’t fair to her and is painful to me.
I understand now that even though she is my mother, she’s not mine. Her job isn’t to make me happy. Even if I knew this, I think subconsciously, my actions (leaving the room whenever she came home, becoming angry and having outbursts when she didn’t react to something in the way I wanted) were proof of my honest feelings and beliefs. I’m not in control of her anymore than she is in control of me. So, I’ll end with this poem that keeps being called to mind.