This is more for the spoonie supporters, unless a spoonie out there needs to hear this. I have been getting this a lot lately, “I’m sorry I shouldn’t complain, you’ve got so much going on.” It’s true, sometimes I may have to dig deep for sympathy but most of the time I love to hear what others are going through. Most importantly, it’s okay to talk about you!! What I am going through should not impact how you talk to me. I want to hear your thoughts and feelings. They didn’t disappear because I had to go to a doctor’s appointment. Your experience is valid.
Often, I love to hear what others are going through. It brings me back to the normal world but it also brings me into your world. If you’re someone I care about, I want to hear about your life, your trials and tribulations. Although, our lives may not parallel that doesn’t make your life any less difficult. If I sat here and tried to tell you that your life was perfect because you weren’t sick, that’d be a load of bullshit. If someone is telling you that, no matter the circumstance they are in, run as far and as fast as you can. Given, if you try to tell me that your one doctor’s appointment was exactly like mine, I may be a little upset. Ask anybody in the chronic illness community and you’ll probably get a similar response. Going to the doctor when you’re healthy is a completely different experience. I know this having been in both states myself. Again, that doesn’t mean your appointment didn’t suck or feel aggravating. I’m simply saying, don’t tell someone your experience was the same. For most people, no one experience will not be the same. There will be factors unique to us that change our perspective. That doesn’t mean we can’t sympathize but I’ve learned that a quick way to piss people off is to tell them that your experience was the same.
To my Spoonies, let others have feelings. I know it can be tough. Maybe you’re already doing a great job at this, in which case, ignore me. However, if you’re struggling to empathize with your support system, please take a step back. Everyone has feelings and you have to be able to let them express that. You’re not an island. There are topics that may be difficult to listen to, in which case, it’s appropriate to set boundaries. Say that you are setting your boundary, don’t shut them down. Explain why you can’t listen to them right now or listen about that topic. If you tune out, they are left feeling invalidated and hurt. No one deserves to feel that way. Especially the people who go out of their way to take care of and support you. They are going through this experience in a different way. For me, listening to my family explain how difficult it is to see me sick is frustrating. It seems like we always get into a battle of who has it worse. In reality, we should be bonded by this unique situation.
It’s important to remember that everyone is experiencing something. It may be the best time of their life and they need to express joy. It could be a difficult time in their life and they need to share their fears and sadness. Either way, discounting what someone else is going through is not only hurtful but a way to lose support. I believe that no one has it worse than others. There are situations that set us apart but everyone goes through struggles, even if they’re not at the same time. We are given challenges to overcome them, not sit in them and sulk. The message to hold on to is, be kind. Listen to others and acknowledge that you are there for them and that their struggle is valid. Give them a hug or whatever you have to give them. Set boundaries if it’s too much but if you can, help them find support (Self Promo: Like in my article ‘Building a Support System’). Don’t isolate them or yourself. Don’t push people away who are trying to give you love and support. Most importantly, share your feelings, don’t bottle them up. I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, take a second, take a deep breath and remember what you are grateful for!