Eighteen years ago I became a parent, responsible for another human being.. It was daunting but so worthwhile and has changed me a great deal. Yet I am still the person I was back then, my need for answers, asking questions, not content or complacent, seeking improvement in what I do. However my work, the way I do it and my assessment of myself has fundamentally changed, I’ve slowed down, become more reflective and seek to be kind, compassionate and curious. Watching my daughter grow up and responding to her needs has been tricky at times, it has surfaced some deficits for me that I have found difficult to understand. I am currently exploring how to let go of long held habits of thinking and emotional flashbacks, now I know what they are it is helping.
Helping people is my thing, I love it.. Listening and then responding with suggestions of what to do and offering possible explanatory frameworks. I am enjoying this work with students but it has also brought some painful stuff up for me. When I started nursing in 1979 I was utterly miserable. IT is no exaggeration to say that I have been traumatised by those early experiences. I worked on a ward for older people that was not what I expected, nursing was task based and I was mocked and bullied by staff on the ward. I was very unhappy and I learnt how to keep going and keep out of trouble, I didn’t learn about nursing care and respectful interventions for helping older people recover from illness. I stayed in nursing because after 6 weeks of enduring the humiliation on the ward I spent a fortnight with a district nurse. It was fabulous, person centred and everything I thought nursing would be.. My future was now clear I wanted to be a district nurse and sought to grit my teeth, put up, shut up and work towards that ambition. I disliked hospital nursing and found it difficult, total institutions make me feel uncomfortable, unaddressed unthinking and assumptions always trouble me. I didn’t know that then but looking back to that experience I had a horrible time. Yet I didn’t leave, I was always a good girl, keen to do the right thing and not let people down. I also didn’t have anywhere to go, no room back with my family and no sense that I could go back.
My horrible experience of 4 years ago has really helped me forgive myself for staying in nursing and also examining that experience has helped me understand why I got so distressed with colleagues. I also now understand why I couldn’t do anything about it and why I cried so much. Four years seems a healing time and I now feel I can use that experience to help others in a constructive way. Using my learning to protect others and to prevent toxicity building … I don’t want anybody to be treated the way I was back then… We need to help people to feel that they can call it, stop it and address the behaviours that exclude, encourage complacency and selfishness.
This Sunday has been very different .. Celebrating a wonderful young lady who I am proud to know and she has taught me a great deal about the value of friendships and the importance of self belief. The reciprocity of parenting and relationships is probably the greatest lesson I have learnt.