Category Archives: Speak Up

Thank a Feminist

rosie[Foreword:  I wrote this the day before Newtown and believing that a) nothing else matters when little kids are being murdered and b) I had missed my window  on feminism, I had shelved it along with a growing file of unpublished notes.  But after a tangential Facebook conversation yesterday and this TOTALLY AWESOME article that makes me love the adorable and talented Zooey Deschanel even more, I felt like I could legitimately publish anyway.  *Raises right fist*]

Have you ever seen those signs that read “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”?

Well, as the product of two teachers and a book devourer/word nerd, I love that saying.

But if you can read whatever you want – from Cosmo to The Atlantic, or, say…go to school, go to graduate school, get your doctorate, make and keep your own money, marry whom you choose, NOT marry at all, have a baby regardless of whether you’re married, NOT have a baby…ever if you don’t want to, take birth control for any reason you like, wear a bikini, serve in the military, dance in public, smoke, drink, curse, work in an industry OTHER than nursing or teaching, not be pinched or slurred at in the office, move into the Corner Office, start a business, own a business, run a business, live with your boyfriend, live with your girlfriend, vote, speak in public, run a marathon, compete in triathlon, play any sport at all, get dirty, get sweaty, be naughty, shop at Victoria’s Secret, use tampons, contradict any person you disagree with regardless of their gender, earn what you’re worth, out earn your colleague because you’re awesome, and oh, A BAZILLION other things?

Well, you should THANK A FEMINIST.

Recently, there have been a couple of bizarre comments by women (celebrities and media execs) who are quoted as saying, “I’m not a feminist but…”

The subject makes my eye twitch a little.

If you think you should live under your dad’s rule until you get married and then live under your husband’s rule, yes, you are (probably) not a feminist.

If you think you should vote or invest or dress or speak in whatever way a man decides, then yes, you are (probably) not a feminist.

If you don’t ever plan to use your pretty little head for anything at all, because well, women should be seen and not heard, then I give up.  You are (probably) NOT a feminist.

But if you think for one hot second that you’re not a feminist because “you love men” then you need a vocabulary lesson.  Hatred of men isn’t ‘feminism,’ it’s ‘misandry.’

Worse, if you think we are “post-feminist” (just like we’re post-racial, right?  *insert rolling of eyes here*)… you may need to pull your head out of whatever reality show bullshit you’re watching and pay attention to what’s happening in real life.

I’m not going to reargue what so many more qualified and more eloquent people have done before me.

Instead, what comes to MY mind every time I hear someone speak out-loud that she is “not a feminist” is a ranty parody of this:

Hon, we live in a world that has patriarchy, and that patriarchy has been cock-blocking women from full participation in society for centuries.  Who’s going to fight that patriarchy?  You?  You, Katy Perry?  We have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom.  You weep for Rihanna, and you curse the Feminists.  You have that luxury.  You have the luxury of not knowing what we know.  That burning bras, while tragic (especially if you really need the support) probably saved lives.  And our existence, while aggressive and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.  You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at interviews, you WANT me to be a feminist, you NEED me to be a feminist.  We use words like rape-culture, discrimination, and sexism.  We use these words as the antithesis of lives spent pursuing progress.  You use them as a punchline.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a woman who rises and sleeps under the very blanket of equality that feminism strives for and then questions the moniker under which it was provided.  I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way.  Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a book and read some history about your gender’s struggle in this country and abroad.  Either way, I don’t give a DAMN whether or not you think you are a feminist.

Lumpy, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc (or Why Policies Can Suck It) – Part 3

 

Josephine Rae Born 8.16.11

Part 3:  Dopey

It occurred to me while planning this post that I may start out talking about my experience in the hospital and migrate to a conversation about depression.

Do not be alarmed.

I’m actually dreading this story.  You see, I haven’t allowed myself to revisit it for fear of that evil bastard, self-pity, to rear its head.  I think the moral is an important one though, so here is my third rant in the series:

When my daughter was born, she was a healthy 8 lb. 14 oz baby.  Not bad, right?  To us, she looked like a skinny little slip of a thing compared to my firstborn who tipped the scales at 10 lbs. 1 oz.  I felt a twinge of guilt that I hadn’t fed her enough or that my constant Benadryl or coffee habit had diminished her potential for Amazonian greatness.  Still, for five days early, nearly 9 lbs isn’t a bad birthweight.

Once in my hospital room, my nurse suggested I try to feed the sleeping baby.  I asked if I should wake her to do so and she gave a non-committal reply to “just try.”  I gave it a half-hearted effort because little Jellybean was completely cashed. Being born is hard!  Sadly, the next time the nurse came in, she informed me that my daughter’s blood sugar had gone below the hospital’s threshold for normal and that she had to go to the NICU.

I was incredulous.  I asked if I could just feed her and have the sugars tested again.  It seemed like a reasonable and logical approach.  (Before you dismiss my unprofessional medical opinion, when her sister, Ginormica, was born, the nurses sagely put a bottle of formula in Daddy’s hand and a tube taped to his finger so she could feed straight away.  This happened a few times before my milk came in and we were none the wiser about HER risk for low blood sugar.  The nurses simply mitigated it.)

This time, however, Dopey, as she will be henceforth referred to, mistakenly informed me that she “had” to take my daughter away but that I could visit her in the NICU to feed her whenever I wanted.  My daughter was then taken to the Intensive Care Unit for Newborns and put on monitors for her heart rate and blood oxygen levels.  She wasn’t given any formula.  She wasn’t put on a IV.

And she didn’t come back to my room for FIFTEEN HOURS.

There are several problems with this:

  1. Newborns should be with their mothers unless there is a serious medical risk that would prevent their proximity.
  2. The NICU was full of desperately sick babies on oxygen under dim lights and parents who look gutted by fear and desperation.
  3. I had just been sawed open like a magic trick except with actual blood – which regularly made its way to the NICU floor in macabre puddles when I arrived to nurse my newborn in hopes of springing her.
  4. Hospital policy increased the minimum blood sugar level requirement for my daughter to be released from the NICU above the level that got her locked up but didn’t apply any policy for regular feedings or timing of testing.  The nurses simply took her blood sugar on a schedule whether she’d been fed recently or not.  Three sufficient test readings were required to be released and if one reading dropped below the threshold, the testing started over from zero.  Talk about stacking the deck…

In hindsight, I should have fought harder to keep my daughter with me.

I should have told Dopey that she can suck it but she cannot take my daughter away.

I should have asked for the Floor manager, a Patient liaison, my OB, a Peditrician – ANYONE with sense enough to say, “let’s not overreact or follow the letter but distort the spirit of this new policy – this is a big, healthy baby who needs to eat.  Let’s feed her and see what happens” instead of “let’s take away this newborn because we have a new policy and I want to be a good rule follower.”

Anyone who knows me at all can tell you what I think of rule-followers.

I should have fought harder to exert my will in the interest of my and  my daughter’s well-being.  I should have asked more questions and challenged authority and raised a stink that would have put Dopey in hasty retreat.

I can hardly believe I dithered and fumbled and followed.  I blame the hormones; it’s the only logical explanation for behavior that is so wholly foreign to me.

To add insult to injury, Dopey actually wheeled the empty basinet back into my room after she delivered my daughter to the NICU saying, “I’m just going to leave this here.  You’re a C-section so you’re here for four days… she might be back by then.”

I can tell you now, though I wouldn’t have admitted it for fear of being committed, that I almost broke that day.  There was a moment when the world went unanimated and a crushing excess of emotion swirled up inside me.  My vision went black around the ridges and I choked on the air I was trying to breathe.  In that moment I feared that the me that is fun and outgoing and light-hearted would retreat permanently – into the recesses where fantasy and nightmares reside, where there is a running dialogue of self-loathing and paranoia and helplessness – into the lead-lined box of depression.

This story gets complicated because when I retell it, I feel a sense of injustice rising up like bile in my throat.  I was cheated.  Even worse, so was my daughter.  I don’t care that I had to get out of my hospital bed with a burning incision and stabbing abdominal pain, gushes of blood everytime I went vertical, and the annoying catheter bag that never seemed to be emptied in order to be wheeled to the NICU during my daughter’s incarceration.

I care that my newborn wasn’t in my arms or at arms-length for FIFTEEN OF HER FIRST TWENTY-FOUR HOURS.

I don’t forgive that nurse for her carelessness or callousness.

I don’t forgive the hospital for creating a policy that ignores the mother in the mother-baby equation in order to cover their proverbial ass or to charge insurance companies for something that can’t be refused – intensive care for a newborn baby as an offset for the increasing squeeze on their maternal care fees.

But I escaped with my daughter in tow.  My healthy, fat baby hardly left my arms for two weeks after that.  And when my husband mentioned that I might
have attachment issues that need to be discussed with a professional, I reluctantly let him hold his daughter… for a minute.

I don’t know why the dark water didn’t suck me under this time.  I remain guarded that it still might.  I can only point to this – that I mentally steer myself toward what I have, instead of what I haven’t.  The feeling of being cheated (and outrage at people’s moral bankruptcy) tamped down much of my pregnancy and new motherhood joy three years ago.  I didn’t compartmentalize the negativity of a toxic environment and it took me two years to rebound.  Now, I reign my mind into the here and now and wriggle back into its comforting softness to fill up the whole space so there isn’t room for any ‘what ifs’ or ‘whys?’ to suck the air out of my happy.

And I do it every day, over and over.  And I breathe.  And I cuddle my beautiful child and know that she is 1/3 of what matters to me most.

And that’s enough.

But my mistrust of healthcare and its policies aimed at maximum profit grows.  How about you?

Lumpy, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc (Or Why Policies can Suck It) – Part 2

Part 2:  Sneezy

In her first 2 years of life, my darling daughter, Calamity Jayne, had more than 20 ear infections.  It seems that every time she caught a cold, she got an ear infection.  And she caught a lot of colds.

I feel totally cheated by this injustice.

I nursed her for nine months – throwing caution and modesty to the wind by pumping in offices, airports, and hotel rooms.  I took nursing-lunches in our car when my uber-understanding hub drove down to my office to afford me baby time during my post-partum battle.

Yet my bub was a snotty, sneezy mess for much of her young life.  She had several ear infections that lasted months because the antibiotics we used to treat her didn’t cure the infection.

Pediatricians we saw offered little advice.

Instead, we were reassured that “kids get sick.”  I admit, I was comforted that this wasn’t my ‘fault.’  As a first-time parent, I was fairly convinced that I was doing it wrong.  (And by “it” I mean everything.)

We saw plenty of pediatricians.  This wasn’t a situation where one doctor was responsible for our inability to prevent or treat her ear infections.  Our Chicago practice has more than a dozen doctors on staff.  We love being able to get an appointment at any time and having the diversity of experience, thought, and treatment that all those doctors provide.  Our St. Louis practice was smaller but seemed wholly competent in their
treatment and fairly advanced in their technology and organization.

We thought we were doing everything we could.  And our doctors agreed.

Earlier this year, we saw a doctor at our Chicago practice in her 50s.  She took quite a long time with us (a rarity among all sick-care providers) and reviewed CJ’s charts all the way back to her birth.  She was really shocked at the volume of infections and the frequency with which we returned to the office.

She raised the red-flag.

She told us she suspected that the antibiotic courses we’d been given our daughter (non-penicillin because of an allergy) weren’t strong enough to kill the underlying sinus infection.  So, although the ear cleared with the single round, the sinus infection raged on and then landed right back in the ear(s).

This made sense.

She put us on back-to-back rounds of antibiotics.  Until the cough was gone (that pesky post-nasal drip from my childhood seems to have been inherited by Big Red), we kept re-upping the antibiotics.

Finally, after three rounds, the child was cough-free, sniffles free and ear pain free.

Around this time, my sage sister-in-law also raised the issue that no child this age should be doing so many rounds of antibiotics.  Drugs, as they say, are bad, mmkay?  Well, not ALL bad, but certainly this was a disproportionate amount of unnatural toxins for the itty-body of a toddler.  That, and she might just develop immunity to the only strain of antibiotics she can take leaving her susceptible to horrible sickness that most people would, well, sneeze at.

My sis also recommended that we see a specialist.  An Otolaryngologist.  So we got a recommendation, made an appointment, and saw a specialist.

The specialist asked us why we had waited so long to get our daughter seen.

Instead of “kids get sick,” we were told that CJ was having far too many infections and could absolutely benefit from getting grommets inserted to help with drainage.  We were also encouraged to hear that the surgery might improve her mood and manner considerably.

Earaches suck.
Calamity might very well be acting out because of her constant discomfort.

WTF.

Like any parent of a toddler wants to enjoy additional fits and general obnoxiousness just for giggles!

I hated the idea of putting my precious little baby girl under anesthesia, and my growing belly was wrecking havoc on my logic and emotional stability, but I didn’t see how I could justify not giving my daughter some relief.

So we had the surgery.

And I cried buckets when she went in and buckets more when she came out.

But she’s been ear pain free ever since… for six months.  And that’s a miracle.

So, my hub and I have asked ourselves… what did take so long?  Why didn’t we know to see a specialist and get the ear tubes done after the first six, ten, twelve, fifteen, etc. infections/ rounds of antibiotics?

Sadly and cynically, it seems the clear answer would be because our pediatricians don’t get paid if we stop coming to see them for ear infections.  And was the surgery necessary?  How can we know for certain?  But we do know that the Otolaryngologist wouldn’t get paid if she didn’t absolutely endorse her speciality.

Medicine for profit is bullshit.

It makes a mess of patient care and breeds mistrust.

I want to respect and trust medical professionals.  I want to know that they have my and my family’s HEALTH in their best interest – NOT what procedures are billable, NOT what drugs they are incentivized to promote, NOT what the insurance company covers at a higher percentage.

I don’t trust any of this is happening.

Medicine is enough of a guessing game without making patients wonder if they’re actually getting their doctor’s best recommendation or the best priced one?

The system is broken and it is making us broke.

Lumpy, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc (Or Why Policies can Suck It) – Part 1

Part 1:  Lumpy

Earlier this year, I found a lump in my breast.

Since I’m not a regular self-examiner, I found it because it itched.  It was huge.

The timing of this discovery coincided with a) a report about breast cancer during pregnancy in older women and b) finishing a book where the heroine’s best friend dies from breast cancer leaving two young daughters.

What went through my head was
holymotherf*ckingshitImgoingtodieandneverseemygirlsgrowthisisn’tfairwhatthef*cknonononononono!

Or something along those lines.

What’s worse is I forgot to mention it to my OB.  For a month.

When I finally did, she suggested I get it checked. (um, yes.)

So I had an ultrasound done by a  radiology technician.  The doctor never came in, never introduced himself, never called me with results.  The results did not indicate cancer (evidently cancer shows up on film like bright white alien life) but because it was so big the radiologist wanted me to have a biopsy.  He never mentioned that to me.  Instead, my OB followed up with him, heard that a biopsy was the way to go and relayed that info to me.

So I called several oncology offices for a biopsy.

No office would schedule a biopsy without an exam appointment first, which meant not only the delay of getting the original appointment (two weeks) but also the delay of the follow up appointment (unknown time) and double the appointment with a specialist appointment (what am I made of money?).

Being five months pregnant at the time, I lost my mind.  I literally scream-cried at several people.  I’m not proud of this but it is what it is.  I had reached the point where logic and rationality left and hormones took over.

My OB and her reassuringly competent nurse took over.  They got me a few names and told me what I needed to say to get the right appointment.  The exam/biopsy by the first doctor who would see me was nothing short of violating.  I don’t know if what he did was normal or not but it was mortifying and I felt abused and disgusted for weeks.  Those biopsy results were “inconclusive” so I was told I needed to go through the process again.  I would have rather “died” but since that was actually on the table, I decided I’d better suck it up and get a second opinion.

I chose a doctor via my hospital network rather than revisit the site of the ‘attack.’

That experience was SIGNIFICANTLY better – sterile, clinical and very very public.  Rather than one dude in an office exam room, I had two doctors, a radiologist, and three nurses in the room with gloves, gowns and masks.  Two nurses were hands-on comforting at all times.  The doctors were slow and careful in their practice and talked to me about my family and in particular my unborn daughter the whole time, sharing anecdotes about their own families and offering kind, reassuring commentary.

They definitively concluded that the lump was normal breast tissue – likely a duct that went haywire under hormonal showers and would
either go away on its own or be a benign part of my breast until I wanted it removed in a simple surgical procedure.

Here’s the kicker:  my sister-in-law, a nurse in Australia, suggested that exact diagnosis when I first discovered the lump.

Maybe this was a case of CYA.  Maybe our litigious society mandates that doctors ignore Ockham’s Razor and pull as many levers as possible in our complicated and expensive sick-care system.

I have an estimated 47 separate bills from this experience – from the doctors, the hospitals, the labs, the radiologists, the techs, the
offices, the insurance company, etc.  Everyone billed me separately with terms and codes I couldn’t possibly understand.  I tried calling a few times to determine what exactly I was paying for and why more wasn’t covered by my insurance but I quite frankly gave up.

It was exhausting and confusing.  I’m pretty sure that is intentional.

Whatever the case, the system is broken and is making me broke.

_____ New Year

I love movie characters who show unglossed disdain for whiners.  I especially like the wise, old codgers who advise the desperately-seeking-happiness set to get on with the business of life and quit wallowing around like self-indulgent, spoiled inheritance brats.

I definitely think that there’s something privileged about devoting time and energy to “finding happiness.”

But that isn’t to say that I am not one of those schmoes who reads self-help/improvement books.  In fact, in 2010, I read three:  The Happiness Project, Savor, and Loving What Is.

As I think about my resolutions for the coming year – things I want to accomplish, change, learn, share, I can’t help asking if  pursuing happiness is incongruous with the value of just shutting the eff up and getting on with it.

Einstein is credited with saying that there are two ways of looking at the world – as if there are no miracles or as if everything is one.  The more I think about (and read about) happiness, the more it seems to me that maybe we just need reminding that we are, in fact, happy.

The most recent example of this is in my own household.  I haven’t been feeling very “wonderwoman” this week and it has made me testy (read: bitchy).  My poor hub did his best to dive-bomb in support while steering clear of the indiscriminate scud missiles of nasty I was firing off.  As usual, my zen master of common sense dispensed wisdom that both chastened and inspired me.

It was something along the lines of, “I hope you can be happy tomorrow.”  I am not unhappy was my instinctual reply.  Unhappy people are miserable bitches who make everyone around them miserable too…. oh, shit.

ZING.

There’s another embarassing truth at play here.  My husband is not American.  Ergo, it is more painfully obvious to him than most when I show every emotion I have at the exact moment I have it.  Americans as a rule have no filter for politeness or decorum or shame.  We are a selfish, showy lot.  It mortifies me.  I’d kill to have a stiff upper lip.  But no, I’m a bawling mess of emotions even when I’m not hormonal.

As soon as he shared his simple wish for me, I started counting up all the ways I’m lucky instead of all the previously-glaring have-nots that were bumming me out.  I didn’t suddenly pay off my debt, get skinny or move into a polished mansion.  All that changed was my perspective.  So is that it?  Is all this fuss really that easy to alleviate?

Maybe so.  At least for me.

If there is one thing common amongst my Phacebook Phriends, it is that everyone seems to have a moan or groan about 2010 to share.  I don’t know anyone who has posted something joyful or celebratory about how the last year treated them.  Perhaps that’s indicative of the economy.  Maybe every year is like this and I’m just noticing because I can easily jump on their bandwagon of crab.  In any case, each post seemed an invitation for me to one-up my acquaintences for “worst year ever.”

But what is the sense in that?

I’m a big believer in speaking your mind.  Legitimate grievances, to be fair, need airing.  The generic whining that is a poor excuse for most conversation does not, however, qualify.  Not even close.  Complaining doesn’t actually make people feel happier. It doesn’t change your plight.  It spreads your miserable dissatisfaction to others and invites the snowballing of poor-me syndrome. 

So yes, I will set out my resolutions tonight and tomorrow.  I will outline some things that will make me happi-ER and some things that will make those around me happier.  Of all these, the most important ones (and probably hardest to keep) will be to  shut up about whatever it is giving me a sourpuss (jelly belly, skinny savings, dust bunnies, etc.) and just get on with it.

It is, after all, a wonderful life.

Happy New Year.

Finding me

Do you know Story People?

It’s a beautiful collection of child-like art with simple, witty, heart-wrenching quotes like this one:

I was never good at hide & seek because I’d always make enough noise so my friends would be sure to find me. I don’t have anyone to play those games with any more, but now & then I make enough noise just in case someone is still looking & hasn’t found me yet.

I was given the book years ago by a friend and devoured it during a time I needed something a little less cheese-tastic than “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”  Story People fit the bill.  The quote above has always been one of my favorites.

I remember myself always being loud.  I write it like that “remember myself” purposefully.  (Don’t we all color our memories?)  I watch young girls with their friends with one or more of them inevitably shouting out her words so as to draw attention to herself.  I see friends or even strangers at bars or parties being audacious and looking around the room to see who is watching them.  I used to be just that way. 

It really doesn’t take any great psychological mind to figure out why people do this. 

Everyone craves recognition.  Not just being seen and heard but really being known.  It is among the greatest gifts we can give another person – to know them.  I think people seek that out in myriad ways but mine was usually to act out loud, to create my own spotlight, to shock and awe.

It strikes me that writing is a new extension of that behavior.  Writing is nakedness.  It is opening up one’s mind and soul for others to inspect.  (You have been weighed.  You have been measured.  And you have been found wanting.) 

There is both selflessness and greediness involved in revelation.  I think each circumstance and each relationship require a slightly different balance of each for success.  Inevitably we get it wrong sometimes.  And the hope is usually that we learn to get better at what to show and when.

I married a man who knows me.  He doesn’t just tolerate some parts and secretly wish there were less of those.  He celebrates me for the whole of my being.  He knows bits about me that I’ve never revealed to him.  Insight is a rare and amazing gift possessed by few.  They are the true people-persons.  It is this insight that enables one to be compassionate in ways most of us will never be capable of.

I remember my younger self with compassion – all that showy, bravado.  I’m happy she lived through it and came out the other side.

Compassion, though, is difficult to come by most days.  An Aunt of mine signs her emails with a beautiful quote, “Be kinder than necessary.  Everyone is fighting some kind of battle. ~Billie Holiday”  It makes me pause every time I read it because of its simple wisdom – a reminder that you are not the protagonist in others’ lives.  Everyone you meet is someone’s daughter or son,  mother, father, brother, sister, friend…

I believe wholly that everyone is loved by someone.  There must be some good in them.  No matter what they show you.

Recently, a classmate of mine reached out to introduce himself.  His approach was cautious and unconventional but his delivery was kind.  According to his note, if he had never read my writing, he’d only have known that young, showy girl who was just a little louder than necessary in case someone was looking for her.  He was glad to meet the rest of me, he wrote.

Me too.

Don’t drink the poison

I’m one of those all or nothing people.

I suck at faking it.  Whatever ‘it’ may be.

People close to me love and hate this with equal intensity.  I’m incapable of bullshit because I just think it a waste of time.  The rubber-band sting of immediate disappointment/rejection/truth is far preferable to the severed-limb agony of being lied to and let down after an emotional investment.

Mostly I’m referring to private live, but something happened last week in my professional life that made me pause.

I’m no stranger to work drama.  A friend and former colleague rationalized this unhappy truth by saying that I make jobs too personal.  This always makes me think of that scene in You’ve Got Mail, where Joe Fox keeps repeating to Kathleen Kelly that “It’s not personal; it’s business.”  At times, I wish I could have such a Spartan view of my work life but then again, it would take all the color from my day.

Passion is probably the thing that has sustained – me through job losses, company bankruptcies, recessions, implosions, exhaustion, demotion, and descrimination.  Sure, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way (I hope).  Sure, I’ve made mistakes that cost me financially, personally, and professionally.  My preference remains, however, to go out in a blaze of glory.  Or at the very least, with my head high.

Ok, admittedly, that is a little dramatic.  And I haven’t actually pulled a Jerry Maguire exit at any of my employers.  Once, however, two HR professionals had flown in from out of town to admit the company’s fault and prescribe no repurcussions for the guilty executive.  I listened for three whole minutes before saying, “I think we’re done here”  and walked out of the meeting leaving them with nothing to do but wait for their flight home.

When it comes to my work, I, inevitably, end up “drinking the Kool-Aid”.  I can’t give my all to a cause I don’t believe in.  Maybe that’s a defect.  But on the upside, I have never suffered through a toxic work situation without actively participating in changing that situation.

So when I found out a former client went to work at a place that gut-punched me when I was most vulnerable, I got vertigo.  As politely as I could manage, I said, “I’m sorry.  I just can’t talk about that.” 

(Pause for dramatic effect.)

I know this probably sounds childish.  It certainly isn’t her fault what happened to me.  She likely has no idea that it did.  The job is likely a great step for her career path.  I feel sad that I am so changed by that experience and that I haven’t “gotten over it.”

Maybe I will someday.  Maybe I won’t.  Some things cannot be made right, but I hear they get less pointy with time.

While likely confusing to this client, my abrupt silence accomplished one thing:  I didn’t poison her with any of my own experience.

I may be guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid, but I refuse to drink the poison.