Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ignorance that Leaves Me Speechless

The other day, one of my college "friends" asked me if I could come to one of her events. We just had a snowstorm, so I mentioned that while I would like to go, I was nervous about safely walking through the snow and ice.

"Well," she said, "I think you need to stop being so worried about snow and ice. I walk in the snow and ice all the time and I'm fine, and I walk a lot farther than you do."

Um. WTF?!

I took a few moments of silence to recover, and then I said, "I don't think you understand."

I explained, briefly, about how if I fall and get hurt, it's not like I can just use crutches for a few weeks and then be all better. A bad fall could set me back for a lifetime. I told her that, years ago, I fell and broke my leg in a bad spot and I had to get emergency surgery and withdraw from school. I explained that my surgeon didn't think I'd ever be able to get rid of my crutches after that, and that six years later, I'm still recovering from that injury.

And then she looked at me and she saidI kid you not"Yeah, it was tough when I broke my foot. Sometimes I can't run as fast because of it. But you won't fall again. You should come to my event!"

I can't make this stuff up. She fractured her foot in October of 2012a year and a half agoand our situations are nowhere near the same. Sure, she wore a cast for a few weeks and I bet it was annoying. She couldn't run on the cross-country team while it healed. But there was never any doubt that it would heal, never any doubt that she would walk again. She didn't have to get emergency surgery and she could still go to school without worrying about her leg imploding. And it's hard for me to sympathize with the fact that "sometimes she can't run as fast," because I can't run AT ALL.

Sometimes I just want to shut my eyes and bury my head in a pillow and try to forget about all of the ignorance in the world. It's almost as if she's trying to make me feel bad for having a disability, and it seems that she's always trying to equate her own experiences with mine. I love when people can really and truly empathize, but having a broken foot for a few weeks is NOTHING like having a lifelong disability, and yet it seems as though she always tries to make it seem as though I'm being melodramatic.

As I'm writing this post, I'm trying not to let myself get upset, but for the love of all that's good in the world, sometimes it's so freaking hard NOT to get upset. Sometimes I want to sit in the corner of my room and put my head in between my knees and cry until I'm all out of tears. Because sometimes life's just hard. And I know that struggle is part of being human. I know that even the girl I'm discussing here has experienced that.

But somehow everything seems so much harder when someone dismisses your struggles. She thinks she knows what it's like to walk in my shoes, and yet she's never been told that she'll never walk again. She's never listened to her brother break down and sob next to her hospital bed as she wished with all her might that she could take the hurt away. She's never laid in an emergency room and seen the panic on a surgeon's face as he realized that immediate surgery was needed. She thinks she understands, but she doesn't. Not at all.

She always seems to be trying to convince me that her fractured foot was so much worse than anything I've ever been through. The more I think about this, the less sense it makes.

There is no way she could walk a mile in my shoes . . . especially if it was icy outside.

24 comments:

  1. Wow. That takes the cake. I can't believe she thinks her situation is at all similar. Stick to your guns. Heck, if all else, tell her you really don't want to go to her stupid event. Obviously she has an incredibly thick skin so you shouldn't worry about offending her! Hugs, K. She couldn't walk a yard in your shoes!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I needed that encouragement! Giant hugs back! xo

      Delete
  2. Oh sweetheart. It sucks so much. So SO much. *HUGE HUGS*

    But I do love your spirit and your snark at the end.

    And in this, I know how you feel. Ignorance is *so* incredibly painful.

    "Oh I KNOW - it took us months to get pregnant - it was awful"

    "You didn't take a test - maybe it wasn't miscarriage."

    "You could adopt"

    "I know people who adopted and then she got pregnant RIGHTAWAY"

    "Hey, I could surrogate for you - I'd totally do it"

    Time to smash your head repeatedly against the wall, pray for the ability to hold your tongue (and your fists) and that the Stupid will take itself off and find someone else to pester.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lizzi~ *HUGE HUGS* back, my friend! I wanted to smash my head against the wall just reading the comments that you've received, too. UGH. Ignorance really does hurt.

      And thank you for getting it...as I was writing this post, I thought of you and wondered why there can't be more Lizzi's in the world -- because I feel as though even though our situations are drastically different, you understand what I'm going through. And that is amazing. Thank you for being you. xo

      Delete
    2. Sometimes I do, most of the time, my friend, you are educating me in the most wonderful ways about how to be a better person, and I thank you hugely and from the bottom of my heart for doing so.

      *MORE HUGE HUGS*

      Delete
  3. I had such a similar conversation with my supervisor the other day who couldn't understand why walking in snow is so difficult. He didn't understand why falling is so dangerous. I could have used that moment to educate him, but sometimes I'm just not in the mood. Thanks for this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by. I know exactly what you mean about not always being in the mood to educate. I feel that way all the time, and sometimes it's okay just to let it go. I'm sorry to hear you went through something similar. It's so frustrating, isn't it?

      Delete
  4. Time for the so called friend to be an aqaintance. I know you are so lovely and it's hard to imagine ignoring or distancing yourself but you need too xx there are many more people worthy of your friendship xxx some people are just selfish and annoying!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bron~ Thank you. I SO agree. I've been trying to distance myself from her for months since this isn't the first time something like this has happened, but it's hard because she doesn't have a ton of other people to fall back on, so she continues to gravitate towards me and a few select others. I've just about had enough though! xo

      Delete
  5. I feel your pain, isolation, frustration, and even anger, but from a mother's point of view. I get lines like, "just make her behave" and "now that she's not having seizures ( after 12 years of having life threatening seizures) you can attend our church event" as if she's suddenly cured of massive brain injury caused seizures, no longer moderately autistic and bi-polar, and is no longer a "2 year old" 15 year old! Of course there's never any mention of helping to babysit so we can attend the event! Hang in there K! There are some people who understand!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sylvia~ UGH. I'm so sorry you deal with comments like that regarding Bethany. Some people really just don't understand! Thank you for being one of the people who does. xo

      Delete
  6. Does she frequently say things that indicate that she doesn't *really* think you have a *real* disability? I ask because it seems like that might be kind of a new trend. It's not just that people think it in passing, they get the idea stuck in their heads and they are convinced they have ferreted out either someone's lie or their self-delusion.

    Sadly, there's probably nothing to be done with her. You could try to sit down and have a heart to heart to explain that disabilities you can't see can still be very real and profound. On the other hand, maybe she's just a narcissist and is incredibly selfish to everyone, in all situations.

    Either way, have a good cry or a good swear, because this behavior sucks,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew~ Hmm, that's an interesting thought! She seems to be more on the clueless side...once she said something to me like, "Wouldn't it be AWFUL to be handicapped?" (awkward!) I definitely think it's more selfishness than anything, because a couple of my other friends have had their feelings hurt by her too, and my disability is VERY visible. It's quite obvious that I have a mobility impairment from the way I walk. In fact, she's talked about it in a mocking sort of way before; that was about the time that I decided we'd be better off as acquaintances, but distancing myself from her has proven difficult because she constantly tries to stay in contact. *sigh*

      Thanks for stopping by, Andrew! I always appreciate your insights and advice!

      Delete
  7. I can relate. My friends have found it easier to go places without me since I use a wheelchair. When I go to the theater they don't sit by me. I cry from the exclusion. I always thought true friends were supposed to be inclusive. When you have a disability they are only inclusive when it's convient to them. I cry and write songs about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry, Tuesona..this hurt my heart to read. I am so sorry that you've been dealing with problems like that! True friends ARE inclusive; I have a ton of really awesome friends who appreciate me for who I am. Those people who don't sit near you in the theater don't sound like friends at all! You deserve better than that...keep your chin up and try to find people who understand how awesome you are! Please let me know if you'd like to talk sometime. I will be thinking of you!

      Delete
    2. Thanks I do need a friend. I enjoy getting to know people who relate to me. Nice meeting you. Hope we talk again

      Delete
  8. Cut her off. Just start to be conveniently busy all the time. This girl has a problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She really does . . . I'll try my best to distance myself! Thanks for your input. :)

      Delete
  9. I know you have amazing friends because you write about them often. SHE is not one of them. I also know how hard it is to cut people off when they are clueless about your life (trust me, I have some that I should be cutting loose too). But you shouldn't be made feel like that ever. xo

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi there! My name is Lindsey, I'm a nursing student from MN. I'm looking to pursue a career as a pediatric home health nurse, particularly through pediatric home services. While looking at their site I indirectly ended up on your blog through Tatum from Aint No Rollercoaster. Isn't it funny how the internet works in that way? Anyway, I just wanted to comment and say you are a PHENOMENAL writer and your blog is inspirational to say the least. You can consider me a follower :) As for the situation you're currently facing, it's disheartening how insensitive some people can be. I have had some poisonous friendships that have certainly been easier said than done to shake. It makes you value those who shed a positive influence on your life that much more. Take care and keep your head up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Lindsey! It means so, so much to me that you found my blog and took the time to leave such a nice comment! I wish you all the luck in the world as a pediatric nurse . . . what an awesome profession to pursue! Thanks for making my day with your words. :)

      Delete
  11. Hi K!
    This illuminates why I don't share with people, when I am in pain I just try to keep it to myself. Everyone's different. Everyone has different pain tolerances, abilities, likes and dislikes. Even two people with CP have different life experiences because they are different people. It would be nice to be able to just complain and get empathy like other people do. Life is a frustrating place when people are eager to tell your story for you. The public is entitled to their opinion, I suppose, but that doesn't mean because random stranger thinks their life is similar doesn't mean it actually IS,and just because a person thinks he or she is being motivating, doesn't make it the case.
    But you know yourself. As much as these times are stinky, hold on to your truth because it matters.

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. Thanks! :-)