Invisible Pain and Illness

In a world full of judges, it can be hard to make decisions for yourself that you know you need to make. Every time I turn around I hear of another ridiculous judgement handed down to some criminal or selfish small-minded person who decided to sue over something trivial and avoidable if common sense had been used.

Every circle of women that gets together seems to talk about nothing but what so and so did, what so and so said, and so on. “Oh my goodness, did you hear what Stacy did?” “Bless her heart, she just doesn’t know any better than to do blah, blah, blah.” I cannot believe that woman lets her children eat, watch, do, listen to….” That father is never there for his children, all he does is work, work, work.”

These examples don’t really have anything to do with what I am struggling with today, but the attitude prevails all topics. Judgement that others have no business placing on those they know nothing about. Judgement that others have no business placing on those they do know.

How do you know what anyone is going through? How do you know what anyone suffered as a child that has formed their thinking patterns today? How do you know what that person is struggling with in an effort to make different choices? Point blank — you know nothing.

I was guilty of a current line of judgement that I am now on the receiving end of, and there isn’t much that can convict a person more than being in a pair of shoes they used to watch someone else walk in.

Invisible Pain and Illness has struck my family in two ways. First with my mother, and then with myself. A perfectly healthy looking individual can be struggling with any number of ailments that you cannot see. You can know a person for years and never know that they have an illness that will one day take their life from them. You can sit beside someone in church, work with them daily, and never know that they suffer from chronic debilitating pain. So how can you judge the person you just saw pull into a handicap space at the grocery store that “looks” normal? If you can know someone and still not know them, then how much less can you know that stranger who just snapped at her child?

There are few people who know that I suffer from Fibromyalgia and widespread neuropic pain. If there are close friends of mine that do not know that a simple trip to the grocery store can send me home in tears, then how could a fellow shopper know?

 I do not often use the motorized carts at the store for several reasons. All of them are because of my own hang-ups. All of those hang-ups are confirmed by thoughtless people nearly every time I decide to use one. I have my age working against me from the start. A 30-year-old, healthy looking girl with two rambunctious children in tow does not “look” like she needs an electric cart. But how do you know what the inside looks like?

 Lately, with my husbands pay cut, a grocery store trip is no longer a simple affair. I now have no choice but to sometimes go to 2 or 3 stores to get what we need within the small amount of money we have. This is next to impossible for me to do in one day, but I HATE spending three days of the week at the store. So I make the not so good choice to at least fit in 2 stores in one trip. Today was one of those days. I have also started going to a new store to try to see if I can save us more money on fuel for my gas guzzling van. This means that I do not know where everything is, and requires me to spend more time than normal walking the aisles.

 When I walked into the store, I felt pretty good. My pain was at it’s “normal” level, so I did not think of getting an electric cart. As I was heading out the door 45 minutes later, I was really wishing I had. As I pull into my parking space and store #2, I decide that I will use the electric cart.  I only have a few things left that I couldn’t find at the first store anyway. Half way through my shopping trip, I cross paths with a young man who thoughtlessly said,

“Wow! Now that’s lazy!”

I wanted to explain myself to him. I wanted to yell at him. I wanted to run him over with my buggy.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide my own conviction. How many times had I thought those same things about others? While I do not believe I have ever said it out loud, does that change anything? I still had the indecency to think it.

Now on the receiving end of it, I can’t believe how much it hurts.

Please, think twice before casting your thoughtless words or not-so-criptic glances in the direction of those less fortunate than you.  Especially if you cannot tell why they are less fortunate than you.


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