My brain’s in a fog today. Or, I think, my brain’s in a constant fog now. Funny thing is, the rest of the world doesn’t care that you’re in pain. The rest of the world doesn’t care that you’ve been put on new meds, and had the dosages on your old ones adjusted, that interactions are taking you by surprise, and side effects and withdrawal are bogging you down. The world doesn’t care about the drowsiness, the confusion, the fatigue, the endless state of futile frustration that accompanies chronic pain and/or chronic illness. The rest of the world expects you to pretend you’re fine, even when you’re not.
I’m never really “fine.” Chronic Illness Cat totally gets me.
I usually give the rest of the world that leeway. I usually paste on a smile when dealing with strangers, I put forth my best effort to be kind and polite, even when I don’t want to.
But sometimes I just can’t do it. Sometimes I can’t create that psychological dissonance that allows me to interact with people way over there in Rational Land, while telling my body and my pain to stop trying to push its way in. I can’t ignore it, but I’m expected to pretend that I can, I’m expected to tell other people it’s okay for them to ignore it. Even when it’s not. Even when it’s absolutely, 100%, not in any way okay. My problems shouldn’t be their problems, even though they at least passively accept and sometimes create those problems themselves. They’re fine living in a world unkind to me, inaccessible to me, and I’m the unreasonable one when I object.
For a long time, I’ve been tired of privileged people telling me to be a good little minority. Come now, don’t criticize the “male feminists,” they’re clearly not misogynists just by declaring themselves so. Hush, don’t object to the “straight allies,” they’re at least supporting your basic human rights. Shh, don’t go off on one of your socialist rants, the rich people are talking about their money that they all clearly worked hard for while you were dining on that tasty tasty welfare lobster.
Yet somehow, it’s different dealing with the ableism I encounter now. And I’d dealt with ableism in the past in a lot of different ways, but never anything like this. Because this is forcing me to acknowledge that even the best-intentioned people around me, even my closest friends who I know love me dearly and would never want to hurt me, they just…can’t understand. And this lack of understanding often comes hand-in-hand with sincere attempts at kindness, which just drives home the point even harder: They don’t get it. They’re trying, I know they are, and when I voice my objections, they react humbly and with kindness.
But I’ll always have to voice those objections. And I’m just tired. This fatigue, it’s bone-deep, it’s smothering, it’s wrapped bloody tendrils ’round my brain, squeezing tighter with each heartbeat. This is a fatigue not just of mind or body, but of soul. And it’s a sort of crushing loneliness that I haven’t learned to handle yet.