Abstract A patient's experience unfolds through a nurse's personal conversation with herself. Conveyed through three voices, the nurse's dialogue highlights her many internal struggles; those with her conscience on what she understands to be best practice, those important to her as a person, those of an ethical nature that profoundly affect one's search for meaning, and those in the personal–professional realm driven in part by institutional culture. These multivoiced knowledges are confronted in ways that foreground language and understanding as performative acts. At the same time, another journey is co-constructed with the reader, one that weaves in-between the symbolic and the real, engaging the imaginary in (inter)play. The nurse's response to the inner conversation with her ‘self/selves’ problematizes practice, illuminates the patient's perspective while highlighting the nurse's sense of her marginal position. Insight into reified and hegemonic assumptions, strategies of how control is maintained through organizational surveillance, trust and moral agency help to foreground personal expectations as the nurse begins to grapple with her own feelings of betrayal. Tackling these insights offers opportunities to rethink oppressive practices in the provision of care. It also enables an alternative appreciation of the everyday dilemmas confronting nurses and offers new meaning to practice.