“I can’t disguise myself with a wig and dark glasses – the wheelchair gives me away.”-Stephen Hawking
The Disguise of Contentment
Do you have certain thoughts when you see an elderly person slowly getting out of the car in the handicap spot at a store? What do you do when you see an elderly person in a store having to use a walker to walk with? What about those with obvious disabilities?
If you were to think about it honestly, you probably don’t give it a second thought. That’s who is supposed to be using those parking spaces and walkers, right?
I recently changed my Profile Picture back to my real photo. I was hesitant to do so because I was worried it would take away from the impression one gets from my writing. I know how when I read someone’s work the image used does sometimes add or take away from what I am reading but eventually I no longer even see the person as I read more and more of their work.
Now, look at my picture. You see a man that’s 6’1”, fairly clean cut, broad shouldered, some say rugged looking. I think rugged means someone who has been out in the rugged weather to much and is worn out looking, but okay, I can agree with that. When I wish I can assume the role of a bulldozer in crowds, politely so and people tend to get out of my way. This has usually occurred in the past when someone has held onto my shoulder and others are holding onto them in order to follow me through the crowd. Teenagers love me for this.
The rugged guy is leaning on a rail over a beautiful river, and somewhat smiling at the camera or at least not frowning. In other words you see the picture of contentment.
“Illusion is needed to disguise the emptiness within.”-Arthur Erickson
I’m the one that gets out of the car slowly from the handicap spot. I don’t use a walker in the grocery store, I lean on the cart instead. I’m the one that walks slowly forcing anyone with me to take their time. I’m the one that people have to get things from the bottom shelf for.
I’m the one that people look strangely at as he gets out of the car. I’m the one they look strangely at as he shuffles through the store. I’m the one that gets left behind as people walk on ahead. I’m the one that can’t get anyone to help get things from the bottom shelf.
I’m the one leaning on the rail for support. I’m the one hoping he doesn’t fall into the river as spasms of pain shoot through his body. I’m the one holding his dark glasses so he can have a normal picture of himself while hoping the earplugs blocking out the sounds don’t show up. I’m the one hoping the smile reaches the eyes in time before the click of the camera happens.
But what do you see?
Do you get yelled at as you get out of the car because you ‘look’ healthy? Do people stare at you as you shuffle through the store because they think you are on drugs or drunk? Do store employees chuckle when you ask for help as they walk away believing you are in jest?
Did you have to spend two hours of pain in a car . . . one way . . . to have your picture taken over a river? Do you have to hear the grinding of neck bones and the snapping and cracking of back bones every time you take a step?
Do your fingertips ache and hurt and feel like nails are being hammered into them every time you hit a letter on your keyboard? Is that keyboard your only escape and healing and chance at distraction and happiness? Do you pound the nails deeper or give up happiness?
I didn’t write this as a complaint about some of what I go through. I wrote this to show you that you don’t know what is on the inside of a person. I don’t go around wearing my illness and pains on a t-shirt or make it obvious. Just know that when you see people that there is a reason they are the way they are. Maybe it’s not a physical thing, it might be they are shy and don’t want to be bothered. There is a reason for it. Respect it. I walk slower, I move slower, but I ‘look’ healthy. And I am fine with that.
But here are some things I am not fine with:
- A relative, knowing about my amnesia telling me to not forget about my family and then saying it was his attempt at a joke.
- A person assuming that if I build up the courage to ask for help that I am just joking
- A person assuming seeing me walk upright at a decent pace means I have been faking it
- A person assuming because I have a blog and type a lot that I must be okay
- A person assuming that because I can type that I am not exhausted and barely hanging on
- A person assuming that because I can give words of encouragement and love that I must not feel pain inside
- A person assuming that because I feel pain inside that I cannot give honest words of encouragement and love
Two things made me think to write this, one was a comment recently and the other was a thought I had.
“Friends may not know who you are, but they’ll never forget who you were.”-Ronovan
“The best live among us in disguise.”-Louis Dudek
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