I know I’m not the easiest person in the world. And I’m fine with that. I wasn’t put on this earth to be easy. To acquiesce, be amenable, soft, gentle, a peacemaker. I’m here to rock the boat. To push. To express my views passionately. To be direct. To feel deeply. To get people excited and help them feel alive. To be honest and vulnerable so that others feel comfortable being honest and vulnerable too.
Some of my very closest friends told me years ago that they ask themselves “What would Sarah do?” when they are confronted with a challenge (whether it be receiving an undercooked dish at a restaurant, discovering that a newly bought item is already damaged, or having an experience of being treated unfairly). Because I have never had a problem sending back the undercooked dish, asking for a discount on a damaged item or insisting that I be treated well. The fact that my friends ask themselves this question used to embarrass me, back when I thought I was too much. Now, though, it makes me proud. I’m proud that I know how to stand up for myself and help others do the same through my example. I try to be polite in my directness. I don’t always succeed. I try not to make people uncomfortable. I sometimes fail. I understand the value of tact, and there are certainly times when I should be more tactful. But tact can sometimes be overrated, particularly when it takes priority over acting in defense of what’s right.
I had a recent experience that reminded me that not being easy is A-OK. Over the past 4 1/2 years I have seen countless health practitioners with the hope that someone would be able to help me find the missing puzzle pieces that could put my health back together. One practitioner dropped me as a patient a few years ago because I asked too many questions and pushed her on things that I thought she wasn’t addressing. And I was almost dropped again by my current provider, a functional neurologist. He is the most knowledgeable person I have ever worked with and has helped me more than anyone else I’ve seen. I trust his expertise 100%, but I was having a hard time with some of his practice policies. I had tried to have a conversation about this with him in the past, but his office manager had prevented me from speaking to him as he prefers to focus on his treating his patients.
A few weeks ago I committed to doing some intensive brain work with him over the course of 3 daylong sessions. Our first day was fascinating but exhausting. He did not mention that I might have problems with sleep and mood afterward. I barely slept that night, and not getting enough sleep can leave the chronically ill practically non-functional. Normally I would have slept half the following day today in order to recover. But I had another all day session scheduled with him. Needless to say, when I arrived at his office I was not at my best. My body ached all over, I had brain fog, was super irritable and started crying as soon as I saw him. I felt that I had to talk with him about my frustrations. He was resistant and expressed concern that I was wasting valuable treatment time talking with him about something that his office manager should be discussing with me. I was reactive. I pushed. I was substantial. AND…I finally got him to explain his policies in a way that I could understand and accept. But I was almost “dumped” in the process. I could tell that he felt I was too much; that maybe it would be better if he were to pawn me off onto another provider.
Under different circumstances I would have considered switching providers, but he is the best I’ve found, and I’m not willing to go through the hassle and potential misery of trying someone new. And since that visit relations have improved. He has been considerate and conciliatory. He has acknowledged that he could have better managed my expectations. I am currently doing intensives at his office again. As it turns out, “What would Sarah do?” kept me on course.
It’s not fun for me to have experiences like these. But they are important if I am to live true to myself. I am strong. I am a warrior. I won’t back down. And I will never be easy.