Monday, July 9, 2012

Do you want cheese with that?

As an individual living with an invisible chronic disease, I aspire to words like strong and stoic and determined. Often I’d rather suffer silently, squeeze my own hands rather than someone else’s, and let whatever is hurting pass. Complaining seems synonymous with failure and giving up and being weak. And every time a thought of that nature enters my mind, I think to myself, ‘Do you want cheese with that whine?’

If it were anyone else, I’d probably be coaxing them to talk and offering my hands for them to squeeze. Be it pride or a learned skill, I find it difficult to complain about my internal workings.

Maybe because I put words like ‘complain’ and ‘whine’ on the same plane. Maybe because I consider whining the same as letting someone know something hurts. Maybe there aren’t words intricate enough to explain the pain. Maybe because I don’t want to bother those I love.

If my illness were only temporary, I think it would be easier to complain. But the unpredictable chronic journey that stretches out before me makes me think I have a complaining maximum, only to be employed tactfully throughout my life. There are people who complain about everything – and I think that if I say one thing about my incurable disease that it puts me in the same category. In other words, I’m in search for a happy medium.

I remember in school when we would draw lines with rulers and my teacher told us that there were no perfectly straight lines. I recall being extremely confused by this statement, since the ruler was straight and it looked straight to me. I picked up the ruler and looked at it carefully and ran my finger along it. Sure enough my little plastic ruler was worn along the top and ever so slightly bumpy. Nothing is perfect, least of which am I. 

Here is my advice to myself: if it hurts, speak up. Say things with intention not for attention. I have a voice for a reason, and can’t forget to use it when my body needs me to do so.


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