Real Relationship Advice
A while back, I found out that one of my favorite teachers passed away. Sister Leticia was an Irish nun who was rail thin, precise and I’d heard rumors that rulers were standardized on her posture. Sister Leticia was one of those teachers that make an indelible mark on your psyche, that forms you and makes you who you are. No, this is not another Catholic horror story but an homage to a woman who had a hand at making me ‘me’.
When I was in 7th grade I decided that I wanted to be in Student Government. Since I was in 7th grade and had sized up my opponents who were all 8th graders, I thought my best shot was running for Commissioner of Religious Affairs. My opponent was a nice, shy girl and I was more outgoing and had more friends. I ran on ‘a chicken in every pot’ type of platform, promising things I had no business promising. I’m pretty sure I even promised sweeter communion wafers and less kneeling during mass. I won and proceeded to make my mark by not attending meetings and doing absolutely nothing.
My teacher, Sister Leticia, one day dragged me out of class and, in a rage-filled whisper, dressed me down and proceeded to detail my irresponsibility. I tried to lessen my verbal beating by telling her that I planned to resign. Sister’s reaction to this is etched in my brain. She said to me, “No need for that, you’re going to be fired!” That same day, I submitted my letter of resignation to the Student Council president. I remember being very contrite and echoing the verbal mortification I had suffered earlier in the day. Needless to say, this was a shame I did not let go of.
Fast forward 35 years and I am not that little girl anymore but, the other night, I clearly heard Sister Leticia’s voice reminding me that I was going to be fired. I quickly analyzed why her voice should be making a special appearance in my head. It was a few days after my first 30 year reunion planning meeting (that I chose to be the organizer) and also a few days before leaving for DC for the Shot@Life Summit where I was chosen as a champion. In other words, Sister’s meta-message was ‘don’t f*&k it up!’
Of course if I am to look at this rationally, since 7th grade I have held many positions where I was responsible. I have run million dollar programs, been responsible for the care and treatment of countless clients, not to mention severely mentally ill individuals who liked to hurt themselves when it was inconvenient for me. If anything, one can say I was overly responsible. However, these two jobs have me resurrecting a shame and its accompanying sound track.
I think that it is time to discharge Sister Leticia from being my overzealous Jiminy Cricket. She taught me so much but if I am to grow, I cannot approach my jobs with this albatross of shame from something I failed to do in elementary school. Yes, many people are depending on me to organize a reunion but the only thing I can do is my best. Yes, the U.N. Foundation expects me to be the best Champion I can be for their Shot@Life program. My work has the potential of saving a life. Once again, all I can do is my best. Thanks to Sister Leticia, my best is pretty damn good.
So, this journey is not only a chance to rid myself of a useless shame but also a chance at rewriting the script for that little voice in my head. So this really is more than a shot at life for me. It is my shot at redemption.