She was just 17

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

I was afraid to go to football games and basketball games.
I was afraid that they would look at me.

I was conditioned to believe I was short fat ugly and stupid. I’d sit in my bedroom, record playing, lights out…. Alone. On one of the biggest football nights. Over and over again.

I was short but I wasn’t fat or stupid or ugly. I had long red hair that curled naturally. I was a mixture of Irish and Italian but obviously carrying the recessive gene.

“You look like a monkey” as my mother looked at our Easter pictures …. Picture after picture of my mother’s distaste for me.
Deborah would you like more potatoes? Laughter, taunting, ridicule …daddy running into the walls after his case of beer. Losing his IBM director job, losing his accounting firm job, losing our lake house. My only solitude.

Watching my friends go off to college… and I was told I had to stay at home and go to a community college and become a nurse.

I never wanted to be a nurse.

In my dreams I was this journalist for the New York Times, with my one bedroom condo in Manhattan….
Instead I did what I was told and stumbled through Nursing school.

When I graduated, the ER at a small hospital in a small town urged me to come on board. And I eventually was promoted to manager.
Big fish in a small tank.
I wrote policies and procedures and bought defibrillators, held hands with Joint Commission and did staffing and taught BLS (CPR) and eventually had our staff get their ACLS certification… which was a big deal back then!

GSW’s, domestic abuse, cardiac arrests, respiratory arrest, delivering babies and catching the placentas and too many children with parents who were their abusers.
Child abuse wrecked me and I had to leave.

Adult ICU caught my eye and I joined the team. ICU was addicting. Ventilators and dialysis and central lines and PA Lines (Pulmonary Artery/Swan Ganz) and arterial lines and CRRT and CPR, multi system organ failure and a team of doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists that became my new family.

And along the way I met the one. I thought.
My magic man, my last hippie on earth who dazzled me and charmed me.
And though i was deemed as short fat ugly and stupid by my parents, this man lifted me up. I was on fire. Until I wasn’t.

He was not a good man. To me. A narcissist who never had enough. Women. I was so naive I didn’t know.
Not a good man but we created good children. So I kept on and on pretending it was a good marriage until his death.
And I was finally free.

I haven’t been on a date since. I’m too afraid of making that same mistake. So I don’t.

Retired from nursing, I sometimes miss it but not enough to clock back in again.

I may never know why parents create such beautiful children and turn them into frightened animals.
I guess there was not a lot of therapy back then. Obviously not enough self awareness.

You can be whatever you want
Especially when you lift that veil of
discouragement. Of negativity.

I am not sure of why I am here… maybe this is what I was supposed to do all along… was write about what everyone was trying to hide.

Write about the insecurities, the hate, the anger, the addictions, the abuse. Write about triumphs and tragedies of ICU nursing. Of peaceful dying and deaths and brutal dying of CPR and cracked ribs and ventilators and last hope treatments to patients who are futile but families insist on “everything.”

I finally opened up the curtains in that large dark house that kept all of the secrets.
But in the end, everyone knew the truth
We just didn’t speak it back then.

I’m here now loud and clear to open the curtains of lies and deceit and betrayal. The curtains are opened along with the windows.

Let the light in.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

2 thoughts on “She was just 17

  1. Debbie as a retired RN if 41 yrs, I stumbled on your blog today. Excellent writing and I enjoy your candor and willing to put it all out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘I may never know why parents create such beautiful children and turn them into frightened animals.’ I took a deep breath in when reading this line. Your writing is gripping. Keep going! I’m hooked.

    Liked by 1 person

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