Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The First Time I Stood Up For Myself

Elementary and high school don't count. I remember defying a group of girls who didn't like me. They wanted to drink a beer at a slumber party. Only one adult in that house drank beer - the birthday twins' mother who made the girls invite me. I knew she'd notice a missing beer. Double strike, the girls wanted to take the beer outside which meant discarding the can. On an Air Force Base. My father was Vice Wing Commander. We'd get caught. Whether I understood that those girls wouldn't be my friends if I complied or not, I don't know. I didn't yield because I didn't do stupid.

I had little patience or like for my peers in high school, but whether you're a lemming or a condescending bitch, a high school attitude doesn't work in real life. I couldn't just ignore people and refuse to engage. I had to dull my tongue. I missed a spot or two.

The first time I truly stood up for myself was when a surgeon told me I had a low threshold for pain. For three years I was made to feel like a hypochondriac because my kidney pain didn't manifest in a textbook location. My primary care physician and a gynecologist checked my ovaries and treated me like a hysterical Victorian woman who suffered from having a uterus. By the time I was in a hospital bed post-op, I'd had enough.

The doctor informed us after the surgery, he didn't have to take a rib. We had no idea he might. He also said the surgery went so well, he didn't insert a stint. Okay - groovy. I was in the hospital nine days because of his decision. On the fourth, I was still on morphine and my JP tube left on suction was very painful. (They only fixed that if my father requested. Not me. Not my mother.) 

I was twenty-five and my parents wouldn't fight my battle for me, but my mother understood. When the women in my family get angry, tears form. It's obnoxious. She said something to me - I've never remembered what - and I turned to Dr. Full-of-Himself and said, "I'm not crying because I'm in pain. I'm crying because I'm so angry at you." 

His attitude changed. We discovered I didn't know I was in charge of my pain meds. I was waiting for the nurses. Finally, I was scheduled for a second surgery to insert the stint and less than forty-eight hours after that, I was home. 

Life is full of turning-points. Some mean craning your head to look down a new path. Some are full swivel shifts several degrees. A few will change how you act in the future.

Working in the real world is vastly different than the nursery-like atmosphere of college. It took a truly insulting firing and a probation at another job to teach me to document everything. I love email. It's the best form of communication. Not only is it a record, my voice doesn't shake and tears don't throttle my voice. I took many injustices on the chin and defended myself with email documentation. I rolled with life by being accountable for my actions.

However, until a year ago my efforts were purely self-preservation. Last year, I published my first novel. I made mistakes. They are mine and cherish them. No one made me skip paying an editor. No one made me pick a particular blog-hop. My roll-out was weak but I wanted to do better. I hired professionals to help me understand branding. I was so proud of my first novel, I sought out a writing coach to help me get the second novel written in a timely fashion. I came alive.

Since last year, I'm no longer surviving to get a paycheck. My writing is my passion. My brand, my books are me. I will fight for them like I've never fought before. Everything in life was practice for this turning point.

So I won't apologize for knowing what I want, for knowing who I am and what I expect. I will make mistakes but I won't apologize when I have to give tough feedback to a professional I've hired. This is my book, brand, website, launch. I am passionate about it. I will not apologize.

I'm not crying because I'm in pain. If I'm crying, it's because I'm so damn angry. I hate those tears but they're as much a part of me as my defective right kidney. And I will stand up for myself no matter how much my voice shakes or someone makes me feel like a whiny diva. I will stand up and defend myself with documentation. I will demand my money's worth and I won't apologize. This is my creation and it deserves everything I've got.