On Ailing


I have too many friends who aren’t healthy at the moment: injuries, cancer, infection, and a couple of cases of severe pain with unknown causes. I’m still having fun with that last category myself, as well as coming to grips with how extended illness can change people and perspectives. So I’m seeing more articles on the topic than usual and paying attention even when I may not have the time and energy for everything I want to do. I need to share two of these.

She was arrested because she refused to follow the unspoken rules: as a woman, it is your job to make the people around you comfortable with who you are. And her scars made someone uncomfortable.

We are conditioned to believe that our beauty lies in our ability to bring aesthetic pleasure to others. We’re taught never to leave the house without makeup, just in case we run in to Mr. Right. We spend childhood daydreams imagining our wedding dresses. Come middle age, we spend our hard-earned money on wrinkle creams and Botox. We’re taught to look beautiful. And we’re taught that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But what if that’s not true? What if the things that make me beautiful are things with which you’re uncomfortable? What if the beholder doesn’t matter, because the things that make me beautiful are an intrinsic part of who I am?

of Scars has a short and sweet post on the intersection of expectations, appearances, and being an ill woman in public.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”.

Christine Miserandino explains what it means to be, not so much sick, as not healthy. It is a must-read.

Be well, everyone.

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