Monday, November 18, 2013

"God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle!"

i hate when people say things like this.

and the reason actually has nothing to do with the fact that im an atheist at all--as most would assume. but honestly, when people tell me they are praying for me, etc that does not bother me at all, quite the opposite. to me, i take that as "you're in my heart" and who could have a problem with that? someone taking time out of their day to think about you? that's huge. that touches me, regardless of my beliefs or anyone elses, it means someone cares.

but sayings like this, and other platitudes like "oh, itll get better." "its always darkest before the dawn." "youll get through it." sound encouraging but are much more insidious if you really sit and think about it. because what they translate into when other people say them to you is "you're fine, stop complaining." it translates to "i really dont want to hear about all this, so here's a bumper sticker to make you feel better." it avoids the actual conversations we need to have with the people in our lives. its a way for people to feel like they "helped" by being "inspirational" without actually having to help us in the way we need---by having someone *listen* and *care* and *be involved*.

these little phrases that get tossed around so often and so easily "you are so strong/brave/inspirational!" they are designed to allow people to distance themselves from the topic. they dont even have to think of their own words to do it, they can just pick a few photos of beaches with handwriting fonts on them to share and call it a day.

its a lot like "awareness", we all know how much people love to raise awareness for things we're already aware of. it's an exercise in self-congratulation--you get to feel like you did something without actually doing something. (see this brief article for more on that process: )

people need to really realize how hurtful sayings like this are despite the fact that these sayings are totally meaningless and do nothing to help anyone. and in many cases, the only thing it does accomplish is making the person struggling feel like they are failing because they aren't strong enough or brave enough. they're not trusting god enough. they're not doing enough.

we are constantly faced with people--friends, family, doctors, strangers on the internet--telling us how not enough we are. and it adds up. and it doesnt have to be said in those words. sometimes words aren't necessary. every time someone loses a central line to sepsis, every time a tube gets screwed up. every time a surgery doesnt go quite as planned or a new med doesnt work. every time i reach the breaking point and shut my feeding pump off. failure. my stomach fails at being a stomach. my muscles fail at being muscles. my intestines fail at being intestines. my body fails at being a body. and i fail at slapping a smile on my face and pretending that everythings OK so people dont get "sad".

a few days ago, my own flesh and blood half-sister took a large piece out of me, and decided it was her job to tell me how my FB posts are "overwhelmingly negative" and even suggested some "coping techniques" i could use to get out of that "negative thought pattern" including singing a favorite song in my head.

well by golly gee willakers. you mean if i just start singing sara bareilles songs in my head, i wont be sick anymore?? IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN. the fact that she even interprets the posts that i make, which, if they are related to my health at all (and you guys on my f-list know thats far from the only thing i post about), aren't NEGATIVE, they're simply HONEST. and while apparently she doesn't give a sh*t about me, there are people that do. FB is my main method of communication with pretty much everyone in my life except my girlfriend and my grandmother. i put out UPDATES on my condition because i assume if someone is on my friends list, they give a damn. (i am sometimes very wrong about that.)

anyway, these coffee mug platitudes drive me absolutely batty. its just a way to SOUND like you care without having to make the effort to actually care. it costs them nothing. and it often costs us a lot. because its not like most of us don't already have serious body dysmophia type issues or self esteem issues, its not like every time one of us fails a feeding trial or gets an infection or has to think about adding a new piece of hardware to our cyborg bodies we feel like we're failing at the most basic human level: we cannot even feed ourselves. after breathing, eating is the most important bodily function humans need. and as i have sat here over the last two years watching friends go from eating orally to tube feeds to TPN. as i have sat here watching friends struggle with one of those other basic human actions of expelling waste and become dependent on pills and supplements to go at all, and even further watching them end up with ostomies. as i have sat here and watched all of this, i have also watched people that claimed to be their friends turning away from them, dismissing their pain, and making them feel small and unworthy.

when you are trapped inside a body that cannot feed itself, that cannot expel waste on its own, that cannot breathe properly on its own, it is really hard not to feel like a failure. because biologically, we are. (i actually said this to a friend recently---that ive accepted that i am just a lemon. im a cosmic mistake, everything is breaking down and i lost the receipt so i can't go trade this body in for one that knows how to be a body.)

i wish people would more often sit down and think about what they're saying and what it REALLY means. and what it could mean to someone who is struggling, to blow off their problems with a simple "theres a light at the end of the tunnel". sure theres a light at the end of the tunnel, but for a lot of us that light is the headlight of the train that is bearing down on us too fast to stop. and the platitudes do nothing to help that.

we're tied to the train tracks with this train bearing down on us, and the people brushing us off with empty platitudes are basically standing next to us as we're tied down, bending over, and whispering "there's a train coming, just so you know. you should probably get out of the way." and then leaving without bothering to untie us.&nbsp

they did their job, right? they let us know about the train.

the rest is on us to deal with.