Why when we receive compliments we find those positive words and phrases so difficult to believe and own? When Thomas was 12 years old Tommy and I were recommended to take him to a well known neurologist named Arnold Gold up at Cornell hospital. He was like a star in the world of neurology and he did not take insurance. I believe his fee for a consult at that time was 600.00. We arrived for the appointment and none of Thomas’ documents, MRI reports, psych evaluations; nothing had arrived to this man’s office. We were devastated because the doctor was talking of rescheduling the appointment and this one was already hard to get never mind that Tommy had taken off from work, the cost of parking, etc…. Dr. Gold, after hearing us out decided to continue with the appointment after listening to me promise that I was a great historian when it came to my son. I remembered every doctor we saw, every hospitalization, every medication he trialed, you name it.
So we started at the beginning and Dr. Gold was amazing. He took the most thorough history anyone ever took from me and gave Thomas the most thorough neuro exam he had ever had. And he had had plenty of neuro exams in his lifetime. At the end of the appointment all of Thomas’ documents, papers, reports, etc…miraculously appeared (they were sent to the wrong floor) and Dr. Gold was very pleased because he was now able to review all of Thomas’ tests and form his own report about my son.
When the report came in the mail I almost fell over. Dr. Gold began the written report writing that he enjoyed meeting Thomas’ “tenacious mother”. I had to look up the meaning of tenacious! “If someone calls you tenacious you’re probably the kind of person who never gives up and never stops trying – someone who does whatever is required to accomplish a goal” I stared at that word: tenacious. Was that really me? I had a hard time believing that I was “tenacious.” My husband agreed with Dr. Gold and it took me a while to actually own the compliment.
The most heartfelt compliments I’ve received are when they pertain to me as a mother and me as a nurse. Those are the ones that I’m like “really??” *blush* and say thank you and then have to talk myself into believing what was just said is actually true. I know you can relate. I like to compliment other people and I mean what I say. I know I wish o could accept a compliment and internalize the kind words. Someone wouldn’t say something if they didn’t mean it right? As I’ve written in the past I like to tell people how I feel in the here and now. If I see someone with great hair I’ll compliment a stranger, why not?
What’s the point in saying good and wonderful things at a funeral when the person isn’t there anymore? I think we all need to compliment in the moment. If it’s not well received, that’s on them.