When you see me in public I’m putting on a show. Curtains and…action. Seriously. All the world’s a stage.
Especially when you’re sick. And I mean sick.
Whether you have cancer, ankylosing spondylitis (AS), multiple sclerosis (MS), lyme disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), etc etc etc, or a mix of more than one extreme disease, you’ll probably relate to the desire for “normalcy” in this post.
Most of the time, when people ask for help, they really need it.
And many of us are scared to ask because we’re afraid we’ll be attacked for it. A good friend recently put a crowdfunding page together in an effort to help me resist homelessness and survive the winter while I seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Today, another friend shared the YouCaring link (edit 2/10/16: link no longer live) on her facebook page in support of me.
What happened next shocked me. Someone commented on my friend’s post about the youcaring campaign to help me. And it wasn’t supportive.
It was along the lines of, “When I am hurting I still get up and go to work. Your friend should find a job, she can work.”
I engaged in conversation with this person over several hours and took screenshots of the whole interaction, knowing the person might later delete her comments (which she did).
My effort was to see her side of the story – and in the end it came out that she had lost a child years ago and she was projecting her grief onto me in the form of hatred and judgment. It was very sad and all I could do was continue repeating that I would be happy to talk with her in person so she could learn more about ankylosing spondylitis.
Those of you who have been reading my blog, and those of you who know me personally know I’m good at sharing important, gruesome, sad, exciting, powerful pieces of my life so others’ lives may be impacted positively. You have seen that I use my voice to make a difference. You’ve witnessed as I have raised thousands of dollars for the Arthritis Foundation, as I’ve shared my story openly on my blog and in local and national news stories about healthcare. Those of you who know me best know that I love hosting potlucks – what you may not know is that I love hosting potlucks so much because I love bringing people together who would not otherwise meet. I love creating community, introducing strangers, being a nucleus to a gathering.
I choose to have conversations with people who sit on street corners with signs that say, “homeless, hungry, please help.” Because, as J.K. Rowling says, through Dumbledore, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” Continue reading I choose to be beautiful→
Many of us are aware of the U.S. Marine Corps tagline, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.” There’s also a similar, often-referenced quote by Lance Armstrong:
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
By these definitions, my body is a tomb of never-ending weakness and I’m in a perpetual state of temporary pain (and in my case it doesn’t matter if I keep fighting or quit, the pain is still right here with me). Don’t believe everything you think, it was created by someone else’s perspective first.
When people freak out about bruises or scrapes on my body I have never understood the reason. What’s the big deal? Only in these aesthetic instances can I spout the “pain is temporary” mantra and people will understand that I’m just good at sucking it up, so to speak, and they leave it at that. Most people do not understand that there is deeper, unseen pain that can last forever in our temporary bodies.
I didn’t plan on writing this piece about #BlackLivesMatter. I wanted to watch how it all played out without getting too involved. Truthfully I was afraid that I would say something wrong that would make me look unintelligent and uninformed. Then I realized that by being silent about it, somehow I was allowing more damage to happen. I write this from a place of vulnerability, love, and hope. I’m willing to be brave for those whose voices are drowning in fear. I hope to amplify the voices of my black brothers and sisters as they scream, even when it seems no one is listening. I hope to be corrected, as needed, by those whose lives are in danger and whose shoes I can never occupy. I will keep listening.