I’ve spent the last three days doing nothing else but working my ass off as a travel nurse for a company that treats its nurses like shit, and reading Julie Deneen’s book, wanted: a memoir.
The work situation has been a bit disheartening considering it’s Nurses’ Week.
Sure they gave us cheap, nylon backpacks with the company logo splattered across the front announcing how much they care about their nurses, along with a daily assortment of overly sweet cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, and root beer floats served up by administration down in the cafeteria for those who could get away long enough from caring for patients to enjoy them, but did any of us get a freaking lunch break? Hell no!
Added to the irony is the fact that this company is running a HUGE ad campaign–and let me tell you it’s really, really HUGE, and probably quite expensive–about how much they care about and respect people. I guess people doesn’t include their nurses who are expected to work for 12 and a half hours, day in and day out, without food or water.
How anyone retains their compassion and gives exemplary care under these conditions is beyond me, but I’m supposed to make sure that each and every patient knows I have the time for them when time is the last thing I have.
I’d be more sympathetic to the plight of this company if this was a critically acute situation for this facility–I mean if a hospital is bringing in a traveler then it only makes sense that they are having staffing woes–but it is not.
This place has been running without adequate staffing for a long, long time, and they have no plans to fix it. There are no positions posted despite the fact that they desperately need more staff. They are intentionally filling in their perpetual staffing gaps with travelers and burning them out one after another. I’m just the next in line.
I’m doing my best. But I can promise you that there isn’t enough money on this planet to induce me to extend this contract if they ask. I’m taking the best care I can of the women and babies God puts in front of me, and when it is over I’m taking my money and going home for a much-needed, long vacation.
I’ll walk away from this job debt-free, and with enough money saved for next year’s vacation in Barcelona, which is not bad for 13 weeks of work. But I promise you that they are going to make me earn every single cent before I’m done.
One of the saddest parts of this job are the nurses who are stuck there. In just a few weeks I get to leave, but they can’t. In their collective powerlessness they’ve resorted to the most pathetic and ineffective coping mechanism weak women have: Gossiping. What makes me really sad (and a little mad) is that these nurses actually do have all of the power. They just don’t act like it.
And I must remember that I’m there to care for patients and make money, not help these nurses grow a backbone.
wanted: a memoir
So I’ve been looking for some diversion from this job, and I found it in Julie Deneen’s riveting book about her reunification with her biological father, Greg, called wanted: a memoir.
Let me preface this review about Julie’s book with this disclaimer: I love Julie Deneen. If there was a Church of Julie Deneen I’d join and lobby for the job of High Deaconess.
Julie helped me during one of the darkest days of my life, and she ministered to me in such a profound and beautiful way. I appreciate her more than words can say.
Julie is a true Warrior. She lays it all out there and makes no apologies for her truth no matter how hard or unpalatable it is. I have long loved and respected her gritty honesty she shares regularly on her blog, JulieDeneen.com.
I wouldn’t write about Julie’s book if it sucked (she did not ask for this review), but it is hard not to love her book when I already care so much about her.
But I’m not writing this post because I like Julie.
I’m writing about her book because I COULDN’T PUT THE DAMNED THING DOWN! And after spending all last night dreaming about Julie and her dad and how their story speaks to my own life, I knew when I woke up this morning that I would write about it.
That said, I had NO IDEA what Julie’s book was about when I bought it. She mentioned her memoir once to me in passing during a phone call, but I thought, “Hey, she’s a blogger. Of course she has a memoir.”
But Holy Crap!!
Genetic Sexual Attraction
Wanted is a real-life psychological drama about an adopted girl who grows up and reunites with her long-lost biological daddy, and how their relationship turns from sublime to malevolent in the span of a few months.
The book opens on a beach in Hawaii with a happy daughter and a seemingly doting father. But Julie wastes no time in letting the reader in on their dark secret. She and her dad suffer from a phenomenon known as Genetic Sexual Attraction.
This condition is more common than you know and happens when genetically-related people meet as adults and find an overwhelming sexual attraction for one another. (For more information about GSA, you can watch Julie and her partner, Carly, talking with Dr. Drew or listen to this much more comprehensive podcast with blogger, D. J. Paris.).
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
What struck me about Julie’s story is how far she was willing to go trying to secure her father’s love. Spending most of her life without him, all she wants is what most little girls have: to be loved and adored by her Daddy. So when he demands sexual favors in return for his time and attention Julie finds herself trapped. Unwilling to live without him again, Julie compromises herself to keep him in her life no matter the cost.
What troubled my sleep is how often I’ve done this very thing in my own relationships.
As a teenager, I spent my 16th year letting my dad feel me up and treat me like his girlfriend in return for his affection, attention and protection from his rage. When he found out I was sleeping with other boys he acted more like a jilted lover than a father, calling me nasty names and beating me up in the hallway of our house.
Julie’s book brought some aspects of my sick relationship with my own father into question.
Did he nail my windows shut and take the door off my room to keep me safe, or to keep me for himself? When he held me up against a wall and spit venomous accusations in my face that I was “such a slut that not even the Pope would be safe if left alone with [me]“, was he talking about me, or was he alleviating his own guilt by blaming me for his atrocious behavior?
And what about the relationships I’ve had since my Daddy?
I had therapy for years getting over my issues with my father until I’ve finally reached the place where I can freely express myself sexually with my husband without worry over what my Daddy will think.
But what about my relationships with women? How have a compromised myself with them for love and acceptance? How have I let women walk all over me just so they will be my “friend”?
These are really painful thoughts.
I recently had the experience of having someone I trusted, and who knew many of my secrets, throw them in my face after I refused to continue doing something that was hurting me. I’m still recovering from this betrayal. I might never really recover. I’m not sure I want to.
Because never again do I want to I compromise myself to win anyone’s love.
I now know that the minute someone tells you that they will only be your friend–or your lover, or your daddy–if you keep behaving in ways that only benefit them–and hurt you–the relationship is not one of love no matter how much they tell you it is or how much you want it to be so.
This is a hard lesson for a girl who learned young that she was only worth loving if she traded herself in exchange for it.
I never want to forget Julie’s powerful story of unrequited love, betrayal, self-discovery and recovery. While her situation might be unique, the choices she made betraying herself in her desperate efforts to win her father’s love speaks to all of us who have experienced the gaping wound of parental abandonment or betrayal.
I’m sure there must be moments when Julie regrets writing such an honest and vulnerable book, but I want her to know how much her story meant to me.
And here’s some Tina Turner just because she’s an amazing over-comer, too.