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Chronic Snarkopolist: Finding the Sweet Spot

Post Published: 07 July 2011
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Category: chronic autoimmune conditions column, Chronic Snarkopolist, Column
This post currently has 6 responses. Leave a comment

Hello my loves!

Lately I have been working to share “the sweet spot” with people –  one that allows them to hear the truth without over sharing too quickly. I once told someone, “I simultaneously feel too much and too little.”  That is the ultimate paradox.  Many times throughout life I have chosen paths that would keep me alive or keep me healthy.  These paths have not been, “the normal route.”  I could be angry or bitter. I could complain. Mostly though, I believe my actions were the best I could do with what I had at the time.  I do, however, feel diminished sometimes by it.  Especially when I am meeting new people and I feel judged.

Especially when they ask pointed questions. “Why would you do that?”  I could share. I could explain.  I could put it all in context.  Or… I could let them assume that I was a big giant dork who didn’t know better.  If I unravel the mysteries of myself too soon, I seem like an over-sharer.  Meanwhile, they asked me a question.  I have nothing to shame about my life. I did no harm. I didn’t even end up screaming or pulling anyone’s hair on daytime television.  And ultimately, along the path of my life, I have reached out and done much good.

When I have messed up, I have apologized.  And even now, I am looking to what I could have done better and learning from it.  I listen to you.  I ask questions.  There is no “right” way to do many things.  Often we simply “cope” during the most difficult periods of our lives.  When we experience the deepest losses we manage and we struggle.  And afterwards we put the pieces together and we spit out the bones.

Currently I am dealing with the sharing part of life.  Where when I listen to “normal healthy people’s stories” I have to work to make my own stories not sound either stark and shielded or, “sharing waayyy too much.”  I struggle against my own fears of rejection and loss too.  Sometimes, especially in romantic encounters, “who wants to date a sick girl” resonates for me.  No matter how I present myself, I presume that others will view me as only having one (sick) identity.  I am not trusting them to be better or be more than they are.  We fear what we do not know.  Sickness is something we fear or avoid.  I bring my past experiences with me.  I have been rejected so many times I have to actively work to have trust that people really want to know me and are not going to reject me out of hand.  And, when I do get rejected, I have to tell myself, “This is a normal experience. Everyone faces rejection.  If not illness, then something else. Life happens to all of us.”

There is a story I love.  It is one of healing.  It is a story told by Barbara Bloom. “When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”  I hold this notion with me all the time.  I think of everyone’s scars, their thyroidectomy scars, their mastectomy scars, and our emotional scars (like being rejected and feeling vulnerable).  Everyone’s scars make them more beautiful to me.  We have so many stories to tell of our courage and what we have gone through.  We take turns filling each other with our acceptance and our recognition of courage and endurance.  This is our gold.  We become more valuable to the world and to each other for what we share and for our experiences.  Not because we are perfect and unsullied.  But because we are indeed strong and beautiful and we have heroically gotten up each day and reached out to each other.

I am still finding the sweet spot in every day life.  I am figuring it out person by person and situation by situation.  I don’t know when I am too much.  And I don’t know when to reveal less or more.  Sometimes I err on the side of privacy and sometimes I over share for the sake of honesty or integrity.  I suppose there may be better ways? I would love to know how you do it.  I would love to have your experiences in finding the sweet spot or if there is such a thing.  Do you expect people to handle you? Or do you make it easier for your listeners and those you share with?  Have you been rejected because of past experiences relating to your health?  Even if health isn’t your entire identity, if you are chronically ill, is there any other way to navigate life when people ask us questions and we want to get to know them? How then do you share? How does you reveal your lives? What are your strategies? Please tell me! I must know!

I will see you same time next week! Kiss kiss!

-Melissa

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6 Responses to “Chronic Snarkopolist: Finding the Sweet Spot”

  1. Jody Schoger says:

    You are gold to us.

    Who you are is enough for a lifetime – yours, mine, ours.
    xxoo
    jms

    • Melissa Travis says:

      My dearest Jody,
      You have filled my broken spaces in a thousand times and healed me more than that!

      Thank you for seeing me and recognizing me and loving me.

      We are all healing each other along the way!

      x
      Melissa

  2. Susan says:

    I’ve had fibro for 35 yrs. Some yrs really bad. I was on morphine for 5 years and then Cymbalta. I was a zombie. I lost friends and I have few memories of those yrs. I got muscle damage and pulmonary hypertension from Cymbalta. I had a horredous -8 month withdrawal from Cymbalta that included hospitalization with atrial fib, two suicide attempts, and a whole list of horrible side effects. I am not alone. There are many of us. I am still struggling. I nearly lost my marriage and my life. Cymbalta changed my personalty. I will never be the same. I do not trust the FDA. They are corrupt and to many doctors drink the kool aid the drug reps pour. I do not trust most doctors now. Many years ago I worked for a doctor who would never talk to a drug rep. I never really asked why. We never took gifts from them. I knew he was a wonderful doctor. Now I know he was a great doctor.

    Now I deal with my pain with supplements and meditations. I’m trying to learn to ask for help when I need it. That’s hard for me.

    Every time a commercial for a drug comes on TV I want to throw my remote at it. But I’m getting better, I DVR and skip commercials or mute them.

    As Forrest said, life is a box of chocolates…

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dear Susan,
      I am so sorry to hear about your painful issues. And I’m proud of you for learning to ask for help. We are all in this together. And I hope you find supportive people here, and in the healthcare community as you move forward through life.

      I support you in anyway that works. And thank you so much for writing in and sharing your story. Our bodies are so different and respond so individually.

      Please keep sharing.
      x
      Melissa

  3. Ahh the good ole’ sweet spot. At first I’m sure I divulged more than what they were asking for or so it seemed. I have lost many friends to this illness monster. So much so it seemed I was having to make a whole new list of friends. Some where along the way I started gauging who to share what with and just how much as well as learning to feel out those that really just don’t want to hear about it at all. So now I use my “share gauge” on each person that comes into or around my life so that we can meet somewhere in a comfortable middle. You know I love you and you look marvelous with those cracks of gold!
    Lisa

  4. Tasha Weishaar says:

    “who wants to date a sick girl?” This unfortunatly has been my question for weeks. So I sit inside and sulk. We just have to keep getting out there and being who we are. If they don’t like us that way then to heck with them right?? I have tired to explain that its not my normal self but who knows if they or..he …really listened. I’m guessing not as we are not together. I just need to date a thyroid doctor..any free???

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