Tuesday, June 06, 2017

How nurses cope with being a nurse

Nurses carry around so many stories. A lot of them are tragic. They are stories of suffering, loneliness, death, pain. A nurses career is a lifetime of those stories.

If you want to continue to be a nurse, you have to learn to cope with having to take in all of these experiences. You learn to put them in a box. It reminds me of what a soldier does after a war. They put the war in a box in order to go on with life. The box may never be opened.

Nurses talk to each other about being a nurse. Mostly we complain to other nurses about how hard nursing is.  We laugh about the absurdity of things that happen. We rarely talk about feelings. That is taboo.

We are the strong ones.  That's what we tell ourselves. It almost becomes a badge of honor to be able to handle anything without falling apart. We fear looking weak.  If we let our feelings come forward, we might fall apart.

So we carry around all these stories every day for years. They are a heavy burden. They weigh on us. They make us grow weary.  We grow exhausted with hearing the tears, anger, cries, shouts, that go along with the stories. So we invent the imaginary box in our mind. We put all of it in there.  We close the box tightly on the way home from work.  No one outside of other nurses would understand what's in the box.

Every once in a while something refuses to go in the box. We carry that story around for a while. These things are too big to fit in the box. Time makes the story grow smaller and it then goes in the box with the other stories. Those kind of stories leave a little mark on our soul. We are only human after all.