I’ve always been a kind, generous, compassionate, empathetic person. I know that sounds like bragging, but it’s just the truth. I always want to help others and I never want anyone to feel sick or hurt in any way. A friend posted a picture on Facebook today of circus elephants and all I could think was, “Those poor elephants!” So you can imagine how hard it is for me to admit that sometimes I want others to get as sick as I am.
For a long time I’ve fought this. I’ve tried to tell myself that I didn’t really mean it when I thought this way. But that wasn’t true. The truth is, there are some people who I want to feel bad. I don’t feel this way about all people, of course, but it’s still there.
But when someone says that all people wanting prescription painkillers are just trying to abuse the system, I want them to feel horrible, chronic pain. I want them to be in pain every single day, horrible pain, can’t-think-properly pain, want-to-cut-my-arm-off pain. I want them to know it will be for the rest of their life. Then maybe after a few weeks, after they’ve had to deal with the physical, emotional, and social fallout, then maybe they can feel better.
When someone suggests that I should really be well enough to work, that a little exhaustion can’t be that bad, I want them to experience my exhaustion. I want them to miss friends’ weddings, fun outings, living life, having a job, feeling young, feeling independent. I want them to worry about ever dating, getting married, having children, having pets. Then after they’ve fully experienced the horribleness of it, then maybe they can get better.
When politicians say that the already underfunded Social Security Disability system should be cut back because of fraud, I want them to get so ill that they can’t work, apply for benefits, get denied, appeal, get denied again, and then question how they will pay rent, buy food, and live in general. After they’ve fretted and suffered for a while, then I suppose they can get better.
When someone says that we don’t need healthcare reform in this country I want them to get really sick and try to get care. I want them to see that even with health insurance, it can be very expensive. I want them to see that health insurance doesn’t cover it all. I want them to see how hard it can be to get health insurance and how easy it can be to lose it. I want them to spend dozens of hours fighting with insurance companies instead of using those hours to get well. Then they can get better.
When someone judges me, thinks that I’m not too sick to do the things they can do, thinks I shouldn’t be out of work or “acting” sick, I want them to get exactly what I have. I want them to feel the exhaustion, pain, and fear, all while “looking good.” I want them to be judged and to have to defend themselves constantly. I want them to break down crying because it’s all too much. Then I suppose they can get better.
You see, I don’t want these people to feel as sick as me forever. I’m actually not all that vindictive. But I want them to feel it for a while so that they understand. So that they have some compassion. I just want understanding and I really don’t think anyone can understand unless they’ve been through it.
I hate to admit all of this. Today was the first day I admitted my true feelings to myself. Maybe it makes me a horrible person, maybe not. But it’s how I feel and I won’t pretend otherwise anymore.