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Super Woman

Oct 31

Posted by: ACHA
10/31/2012 2:37 PM  RssIcon

By Christy Sillman

I have a problem saying "no" to people. I don't know why, but I just feel horrible. You could ask me to drive you across the country and I will actually take a second to think about if I can make it work—there's no possible way I could actually do it, but I'd consider it for sure.

I just love helping people. I get a high from making other people's day better/easier/happier. That's why being a nurse is a calling more than a job for me.

Unfortunately, there is a major issue with this affliction—I only have so much to give, and generally it's a lot less than what others “have,” so I'm constantly sacrificing myself to help others.

I'm chronically:


…but I can't say “no.”

What am I trying to prove? I think I want to be above-average in a normal kind of way. As a child I recognized that if I focused on what I couldn't do I would be constantly depressed, so I channeled my energies into what I COULD do. I want to do it all. I don't want to FEEL my limitations. I want to prove to the world that I can do whatever I want!

As my health has declined I've realized that I need to stop catering to my wants and to start arranging my life based on my needs, because if I don't, my body will give me no other option.

So I've started saying “no” before the crash, and you know what? It's hard. REALLY, REALLY HARD. I feel guilty, angry, upset, and emotionally drained. I feel my limitations and it sucks.

But maybe being a Super Woman isn't about doing it all? Maybe it’s about being a whole person. Putting myself first so that I can be strong enough to be that all-around awesome person I want to be.

I think the people closest to me are surprised the most by my pushback and “sorry, no can do” catchphrase. It’s not what they are used to, but then again, I’m not used to it either. Over time I’m hoping I’ll find a nice balance between committing to myself the care I need and committing to others the extra I have afterwards.

I must remind myself—in a world of ordinary mortals, just my survival makes me a wonder woman, and that’s super in and of itself.

Christy Sillman was born with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia and now works as a pediatric ICU nurse. She is passionate about working with both children and adults with congenital heart disease. Christy writes a weekly column on her experiences as a nurse, ACHD'er, and new mother, which you can read at by clicking here.

Copyright ©2012 ACHA

Location: Blogs Parent Separator ACHA Blog

3 comment(s) so far...


Re: Super Woman

Christy, saying no is not a reflection of you. It is necessary for you to put on your mask first before you put it on your child. I am sure you have heard this on a plane. It is important to be there for you. We want you around for a long time.

By madgew on   10/31/2012 3:21 PM

Re: Super Woman

Christy, I can really relate to what you're saying and it's so important for me to hear about others with similar experiences and feelings. I try to do it all, want to do it all, feel the doctors expect that I can do it all. I've spent my whole life, through heart failure, multiple surgeries while working and putting myself through school, motherhood etc. keeping up with everyone else and giving my all. Only, it does falls apart with the crash. We have to give ourselves permission to stop. Thank you for sharing.

By Denise on   11/1/2012 8:08 AM

Re: Super Woman

Christy- thanks for sharing! I think I need to print this out & put it on my mirror as a reminder; it is SO true. I especially hear you about trying to prove we can do it all. I don't like to admit my limitations...but I like being a patient in the hospital much less...!

By Cindy Wright-Jones on   11/1/2012 10:42 AM

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