See published article and reader comments HERE
I had a doctor appointment today. And I left feeling punched in the gut. Not because of the bill or any procedure endured…it was due to good ole fashion humility. Yep, a big old slap across the head gave me some insight and in turn, made me feel like a jackass.
I am a neurotic person. I have my strange idiosyncrasies. One of these flaws is a just a bit of obsession. I wouldn’t call it OCD per say, I am not compulsive. But I will fixate on something much too deeply for much too long. Every day I learn to deal with it more and more. But I gotta tell ya, being an editorial writer is so not conducive to my healing.
I started writing letters to the editor at 14. By 16 I was writing commentaries for the high school newspaper. Needless to say I was kind of a loud mouth early on and it hasn’t subsided as of yet. This need to inform and be informed seems ingrained. My inability to stay quiet seems just a part of me as my obsessive qualities. I only wish they worked better together.
When my doctor asked me what I do, I told him I wrote editorials for Patch. He asked how I liked it and I jokingly said, “Well, it’s keeping me in therapy.” Tongue in cheek, I made clear…but there is truth to it. Doing the kind of writing that I do creates an obvious critical reaction. And criticism has always been very difficult for me. But add the neurosis and it ends up causing tension, irritation, self doubt, anxiety and insecurity. You have to have a tough skin to do this. And my skin is so thin, the phlebotomists always love me.
I am also over-reactive when it comes to guilt. I feel guilty about things I never said. I feel guilty about living when others die. I feel guilty having when others don’t have. I feel guilty for wasting time feeling guilty. Because of this, when I think that my writing may hurt someone – the Sophie’s Choice-like guilt ensues.
So what I have is a need to voice my opinions and try to stand up for what I believe in. I have a terrible constitution for criticism. I obsess about things to the point of upset. And my guilt gauge is always in the red.
I told my doctor, whom I have always really liked and with whom I feel very comfortable, that it is my fault for having such a big mouth. He then said to me, “It is hard hearing so much criticism, isn’t it?”
And…POW! That is when I was sucker punched.
He mentioned that it has been disheartening reading complaints about Wheaton (All Saints) in the media – especially the extent of the hostility in the reader’s comments. Insta-guilt. Right in the gut. But this time, I had reason to feel guilty. I have criticized Wheaton in the past years. I have had concerns and issues and I complained about Wheaton publicly. And I did so without really considering the ramifications.
And one of the biggest ramifications is hurting the professionals who have been more than kind, caring, respectful and thorough with me. One doctor I have had for nearly 10 years. Another, over 15. Both of them and their supporting staff have been remarkable to me and all of my annoying issues. I am not an easy patient. And they have been top notch every step of the way.
There were issues with the organization itself. And I had a few bad experiences. But I do wish I had thought about everyone involved before spouting out my anger and fear. Some things were wrong. Some mistakes were made – but not by these these particular professionals. Being their patient, how would they know if what I wrote was regarding them or not? I probably made that disclaimer, but I don’t know for sure.
The point is, I have a big satchel full of mistakes, missteps and misunderstandings. I want to take responsibility for this load and use its weight as a reminder to use some restraint, to take extra time and to be more thoughtful. I do not feel I have ever been mean or uncivil in any way. But sometimes a better filter is needed. Benign words can form malignant sentences if one is not careful and aware.
The thought that I may have used words to hurt this doctor in the past – as unintentional as it would have been – really bothers me. He has been so patient and understanding through the years. I hate that it is possible I made him feel the same way I feel when reading personal criticisms towards me on Patch. So…guess what I will be obsessing about for the rest of the week…
P.S. I would like to offer a general apology to anyone I may have offended, do offend or will offend in the future. It is never meant to be personal. Whether you work for or represent Wheaton, Unified, Wisconsin or any other criticized organization; I feel your pain even though I may be one of the people who have contributed to it.