I’m not a very assertive person. That’s not to say I’m not loud or bubbly, I simply have a hard time putting my opinions or thoughts out there in person.
For example: I’m always afraid to get into a political debate because I’m afraid I’ll come out looking dumb. I’m not college educated and I certainly am not worldly, but I know what I think is right. Do I have facts? No. Do I have pie charts and graphs? Not at all. But I know if I feel something is right. And while I want to defend my feelings to the ground, I typically bow out because I just don’t want to be outdone by someone who knows something with percentages. It’s silly, really.
Mostly, I have a hard time being direct to people who are standing in front of me. Regardless of the issue. Even if it’s in the person’s best interest that I tell them what’s up. Especially if that person is hurting me. I just don’t have it in me to say, “Hey, you’re hurting me.” I just let it be most of the time.
Lately I’ve been finding that not being direct is directly affecting me. In one instance alone, I’ve been allowing someone to treat me poorly simply by omission and ignoring. And while I usually would find that as a sign that that person probably isn’t good to be in my life, it makes me sad because I honestly don’t know what I did wrong. But am I direct enough to ask why? Nope. Which in turn is my own issue. And I guess I’m OK with that.
Today, however I finally was able to be direct.
At work, I had a patient who was anything but patient. She was rude, angry, weepy and plain unpleasant. She blamed all the world’s problems on gays, lazy doctors and poorly written novels. (I didn’t have the heart to mention to her that the 17th installment of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series that she was reading isn’t top quality. But you know. I wanted to.) She treated me poorly by demanding ridiculous things of me and then wouldn’t say thank you, instead she would say, “I’m a nurse, too, you know. This is what we’re supposed to do.”
And so I finally said to her, “And what is it we’re supposed to do? Be doormats?”
She stopped, blinked and smiled. “Well, I guess you’re not are you?”
And so after nearly 8 hours of listening her complain about how her back hurts, how McDonald’s fries aren’t as good as Wendy’s and why on God’s green earth would her friend bring her McDonald’s fries when any idiot knows Wendy’s fries are better for you because they’re naturally cut, and can you believe that doctor actually told her she should watch her weight, and why are my sheets crumpled? Don’t you know that 20 years ago, a Nun would have slapped you silly with a ruler? I got tired. I simply got tired. Everything was wrong and nothing was right.
I asked her, “Why does your back hurt?”
“Well, I don’t know.”
“Don’t you think you’d like to find out?”
“Well of course.”
“So why do you refuse these tests?”
“Because my back hurts.”
“OK, why not take the pain medication prior to taking the test?”
“No! No. Stop making excuses and own up to this. Your back hurts. It hurts. You cry about it hurting. All day you tell me it hurts. Find out. Stop being afraid and find out.”
“You’re right. I will.”
And she did.
Does this mean I’m a changed woman and will be more direct to everyone? Probably not. But did I have ridiculous amounts of adrenaline running through my veins at that exact moment? Heck yes. And I probably could have fought a bear and won.
We all have flaws. I am flawed. Of course I wish I could be better. But sometimes, when I’m standing there in that exact moment and things are happening and I’m being talked down to, I have such a hard time saying no. I have a hard time standing up for myself. And most of all, I have a hard time with being afraid of looking stupid.
But today? Today I said no. And that will have to do for now.