I can't say I have ever been suicidal. I have certainly had some very low points in life when I thought I'd be better off in a grave than facing some of life's trials, that much I must confess. I've been in that kind of mood lately because I'm having trouble seeing my way clear of the debris and because of the cruelty of other people. Last week, out of the blue, a nurse I supervise went directly to a physician and told him in no uncertain terms what she thinks of me. As this department is new to me and me to her, I wondered how she could reach such conclusions after only 3 weeks. The reaction of the rest of the staff has been so positive that the cutting words of this woman were like a sucker punch. In fact, it was a concerned staff member who brought the matter to my attention. The admonition was startling for its simplicity.
"I know evil when I see it. You need to be aware of it, too."
Apparently, this is not the first time the staff has seen this person in action. They, too, have been on the receiving end of her attacks.
I have two choices when something like this happens. I can ignore the person, feel hurt, and let them continue with their destructiveness, or I can nip things in the bud. The latter involves some risk. If you think what you've heard to date is bad, it's usually nothing compared to what you're going to hear when you confront the person. What's more, it does the injurious party no good to let them continue unabated. I don't know why I've been targeted but I can't help but feel that I am more fortunate than this woman is. Is this one of God's reminders to us that someone in our midst is in need of His graces? You may recall sometime back I kept encountering people who spat at me on the street. It was my conclusion then and it is now that such offensive behavior is the only way someone will notice these folks and intercede for them.
I was not wrong about what I was going to hear once I confronted this person. The litany was as bad as the gossip that had been repeated to me and completely unfounded. I realized then and there that this person was resentful of me and she was taking the things that the rest of the staff found so refreshing and twisting them to soothe her jealousy. What a way to go through life, verbally tearing people down because you feel inadequate, inferior or perhaps even threatened by them.
To complicate matters for me, this person is related to someone in a position of authority, so I may very well find myself in hot water for nothing worse than doing my job in a way a lot of people admire but which this poor soul finds unbearable. I have to be very careful because while I feel pity, I cannot assume the role of judge and jury. Judge the actions, not the person, we are reminded.
Needless to say, coming so close on the heels of the other great trial that only ended for me a short while ago, I felt like I wanted to retreat. Actually, what I wanted to do was crumple up in a corner and give up. We have an expression that nurses eat their young, but the truth of that matter is, some of them will eat anyone. It is ironic that a profession dedicated to the care of the sick and helpless is marred by some very ugly characters. There is even a fancy name for their behavior and it's called horizontal violence. Most healthcare institutions have zero tolerance for this behavior because it can affect patient safety as well as morale for the rest of the staff. I certainly have no tolerance for it and have never permitted anyone under my supervision to attack, slander or intimidate other staff members.
I tried to pray for this person, but to be truthful, I prayed more for myself, that God would either find some way to remove me from this situation or grant me His protection from this person. And while I didn't crumple up in a corner, I found myself unable to go to work today. What happened actually made me physically ill. I demanded of God to know when this kind of nonsense is going to come to an end. Silence.
I spent the day going through old papers and clothes and straightening up. I found things my children had made for me when they were very young; a Mother's Day card from the youngest with a crudely-made bookmark that I was supposed to use to remind me of her; another Mother's Day card from my son with all the things he likes best about me. (I was fascinated to see that of all things I can do, he thought running was what I did best. How things have changed). I found horse show newsletters and announcements and remembered how successful the oldest was on the local circuit. I remembered how happy I was to watch her ride in the field and to watch the snow fall in the woods and barn cats playing in the hay loft. I remembered how precarious the youngest daughter's infancy and toddler years were because we had no medical answer for her problems. I remembered all the heartache of having a son who was different and suffered because of the cruelty of other children and even some teachers. Then I found his high school program that listed all the awards he won because he was finally among those who could appreciate him for who he is, not what they thought he should have been.
I went through all of these things and realized how quickly their lives and mine have gone by, and here I was, because of a little hurt, wanting my own to speed by quicker than it has.
I realized the only reason I'd made it this far is not because of any personal strength or ability but because of the rope God threw me at the height of each storm. The realization that each hurtful episode, each trial demanding perseverance I didn't think possible, was a little piece of His Cross.
St Therese, writing to Celine about their father's illness, found this trial a profound gift from God, an affair she thought had been directed by the hand of Jesus, and she remarked that eternity would not be long enough to thank Him for this gift.
I try to remember this every time I think I can't take another step, which seems to be happening increasingly of late. Some day, this exile will end, and as Jesus reminded Faustina, with it the opportunity to earn merit for Heaven.