How many times do you start a conversation with, “How are you?”, and the person answers honestly? If someone asked me that right now, I’d mostly likely say that I’m doing just fine and maybe a tad bit tired.
But what happens when someone answers honestly? Because if I were to answer honestly it would probably sound like a long run on sentence of blubbering words followed by a few tears. I would probably say that stress makes me tired, and it is really hard to avoid stress when you are in the middle of packing up your life. Which, granted, is housed in a 500 square foot apartment and is young enough to have not accumulated decades worth of sentimental items and memories… but still.
I can’t tell you how many times at the dentist’s office (or in another situation where my medical information has to be discussed) I gloss over MG completely. They usually start by butchering the name. You have mee-uh-stein-yuh what? I flip my hair and smile, “Oh it is a neuromuscular autoimmune disorder, but I’m managing just fine. I’ve had it since I was eleven.” It stops them. They move on to the next question. The times that I do answer honestly and explain more, usually when I am having a tired day or am in a period of time where I am not managing well, it makes people incredibly uncomfortable. I can sense it, I can see it, and I can hear it. Their eyes glaze over a little, they nod their heads and look at the closest item that they can study intently. A phone, a watch, a piece of lint on their shirt. It stops them in a different way. They mumble a few words and move on.
Because it is my life, and it has been my reality, I don’t understand why it makes people so uncomfortable to see the hardship of health. It is bittersweet. I want to say to them that yes, I have this disease that you have never heard of. And yes, sometimes it really sucks. But look at what I have done. Look at what I have learned, accomplished, and overcome. I can list all the ways it has hindered me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I would be lying to say it hasn’t affected my relationships (because it is easy to become the victim). It is convenient to use it as an excuse not to do things that I just don’t want to do. I have my moments where it clouds my judgment. When I fight back and don’t allow it to define me… those are some beautiful moments.
When I can talk to someone who is facing what their next season of life has in store for them to endure, I can grieve along side them. I can pray with them and enter into fellowship with them in a way that only happens when you too have been called to endure.
When I can sing in church, “you give and take away, you give and take away, Lord blessed be your name”, knowing full well the consequences of believing that praise.
When I can step outside of myself in an emotional moment, and understand that what I am feeling is rooted in not wanting to miss out or feel left behind. I can acknowledge that hurt and move on so I can be a better wife, friend, daughter, sister.
Am I doing a disservice by avoiding the uncomfortable conversations? I don’t want to be known as “that girl” who makes things awkward. To be frank, I am getting to the point in my life where I need to be okay with it. The only way I know how to love and support others is through their honesty and vulnerability. It’s time for me to do the same. I hope you are ready to be uncomfortable.