TThere are always going to be those “there’s your foot, stick it in your mouth” things that people say without thinking, or in some cases they are thinking, they’re just being rude. When it comes to someone being combative or cynical about something they don’t understand it’s hard to keep your composure. People have this need to be judgmental, and whether I’d like to admit it or not I know I am sometimes too. The difference is -I keep it to myself so people’s feelings don’t get hurt. Like mama always said “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
I had to deal with a lot of this judgment after leaving school. A lot of people thought I was just a dropout, others thought I’d gotten mixed up in drugs. It didn’t help that at the time we hadn’t the slightest clue what was wrong with me or why I was in so much pain. So, when people asked me why I stopped going to school I didn’t have an answer, which only fueled the gossip. People thought or assumed that I was faking it. I understood to a degree. My brother dropped out in gr.8 too so a lot of people figured that I was following suit.
This has died down and though I don’t really liked to explain my life story when asked why I left school I will if it will stop them asking. It seems like the same people would ask me 100 times, almost like one of the times they’d expected me to “come clean” and tell them it was just because I didn’t want to go.
Some of my family members have been the hardest to deal with in regards to this problem. Even after all of the surgeries and medical drama, even after I was told with 100% certainty that I had a tissue disorder, I can still feel the doubt and judgment whenever I’m around some of them, especially those closest in age to me. One incident in particular has been on my mind a lot for the past few months (I know, let it go already). We were sitting together at one of my cousins’ wedding receptions in late October. The questions started again and I was asked why I couldn’t go to school (for the 1000th time). I replied that it was because I couldn’t sit for very long. They then retorted snarkily “you’re sitting right now.” This stung for a few reasons. Having been through so much after having to leave school; the depression, the anger, the heartbreak, not to mention the pain, to have someone belittle that, to make you feel like all of those things you felt don’t mean anything to them, hurts. Second, it hurts because we’ve been through it so many times, and yet they still feel the need to challenge me in regards to one of the hardest periods in my life. They’ve heard me tell them why I left school time after time, so the best I can understand they’re constant need to bring it up is to hurt me or make me feel bad about myself. I feel like they among all people should be there to support me. The looks they give me during these pleasant conversations are all the more hurtful. Looks filled with sarcasm and criticism. It’s like an eye roll without the roll. I wish I would’ve said what I had really wanted to in that moment. But I doubt even that would have changed their response. All I could come out with was “but I haven’t been sitting for very long…”. I really wanted to just get up and leave. I felt gained up on, embarrassed, inadequate and also angry. Ignorance is the best word I can come up with to describe their attitude towards my condition and how it’s affected my life. It’s enough to have to deal with these emotions and the physical pain, things they can’t even imagine, yet making it worse seems to be worth it to them to make themselves feel more adequate, if that’s even the payoff. I really don’t understand it.
Chronic pain is a complicated machine. How much pain you’re in or how long your body can tolerate something from one day to the next isn’t that simple. It depends on several factors like what you’ve been doing lately, how much, how well your painkillers are working and so on. If I was still sitting at the table that day it was because I wasn’t in too much pain to be doing so, yet. Simple as that. Just because I can walk around the block 5 times one day doesn’t mean that I can the next, just because I can sit for an hour without getting up today, doesn’t mean I’ll be able to tomorrow or the next day. Besides, at school you’re sitting in an uncomfortable desk that offers little room for position adjustment (especially for someone my height), hour after hour, day after day. That’s completely different from sitting at a banquet table for less than an hour, once out of a handful of days. Not to mention having the freedom to slouch and stretch my legs or get up and walk around if need be.
It’s safe to say that the comment is still bothering me and it probably will for a while to come. I just get so tired of having to answer to other people for something they don’t even try to understand. Not once have they researched my condition or actually sat down and talked to me about it without it being centered around judgment and criticism. Even if it’s not being made verbal, their expressions often offer more than their words. It’s not the best feeling when you have to be stressed and fearful about what seeing your family will entail.
These negative encounters keep occurring, and I keep leaving without saying what’s truly on my mind. So this time, even if it doesn’t get read, I’ve said how it makes me feel.
“The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.