On February 14, 2012 I wrote this post about some of the little ways that I try to edit what I tell people about my health. I started out just wanting to write about the frustrations of coming up with different half-truths, but by the end of the post, I’d realized how much energy I was wasting on hiding something really major about my life. And I had no good reason for why I was doing it. At the end of the post, I vowed to stop. And I did.
Now, more than a year later, I’ve mostly adjusted, though in some ways I’m still getting used to this. Sometimes when someone asks me to make plans, I start to come up with an “excuse” instead of the truth. Most of the time, though, I just tell it like it is without hesitation. I give the real reasons why I can’t attend an event. I tell people upfront that I may not make it to their party – and why. I tell stories with socially-inappropriate (in other words: honest) details about health issues. I mention my health issues to mere acquaintances. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s embarrassing (though I actually don’t embarrass easily, so it’s not as embarrassing for me as it might be for others.) Sometimes the person I’m speaking with gives me an odd look, like they think I’m crazy or they’re scared of me. The thing is, if they have an issue with me, then I’m perfectly happy not talking to them. And I think it’s better to find that out sooner rather than later. Plus, I have no reason to be embarrassed: this is my life, my reality. Why should I hide it? And really, watching you change your kid’s diaper is a lot more gross than hearing about the time I had to collect spit in a vial for a test. I think a lot of my talk makes people uncomfortable because they don’t know how to relate. It also worries them that this could happen to them. But that’s their problem, not mine.
So yeah, some of my awesome truthfulness isn’t well-accepted by others. I’m ok with that, because it’s fantastic for me! It’s so freeing to be honest about all of this! I don’t have to worry anymore about how to explain something, what to say, excuses to make, remembering what I told someone (because everyone hears the same truth,) or any other bullshit. It’s all out there, open and honest, in public.
I should mention that there are still boundaries. I’m not posting about my bowel movements on Facebook. I’m not tweeting every single detail of my health issues. I don’t go out of my way to talk about this crap every day. It’s just that when it comes up naturally, when it’s relevant, I don’t hide it. I don’t hide it at all.
It’s so freeing!
Is this the right move for you? I have no idea. Only you know your friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, and social situation. Only you know your own comfort level. Maybe you should do it and maybe you shouldn’t. That’s a choice for you to make. All I know is that it’s right for me.
There’s a party tonight. I told the host I’ll be there if I feel up to it. Every time a friend asks if I’m going, I say that I plan to go if I feel up to it. And you know what? I’ve never felt less pressure about attending a party! This is awesome! So thank you to all of you who are reading this. And an extra thank you to all of you who write comments and tweet me. You have helped me to be more forthright online, and that has led to me being more forthright in person. Thank you for your support! I’m still sick, but I’m a lot happier.