You know the saying, “When you assume you m
ake an ass out of you and me”? Assumptions can cause unnecessary resentment, stress, jealousy, and unjust judgment upon those that assumptions are being made on. Recently a friend shared that a mutual acquaintance asked her why I needed my wheelchair. My friend replied by naming one of my conditions, but couldn’t remember what the other ones were. She went on to tell me that she realized she should have just told the other person to ask me directly since I am the one living with said conditions. For this I adore my friend. While she doesn’t fully understand my conditions or always remember what they are, she knows I physically hurt and is always caring. She also realizes that she is not the one to be offering answers about my body.
Yesterday while at church, a friend who hasn’t been to church in the past month because she was in the hospital was able to attend. She used a wheelchair because she is still very weak. As we sat side by side in our wheelchairs people came over to share how happy they were to see her. So far so good…. then someone mentioned how nice it was that she was able sit and relax in her wheelchair. She was exhausted from her pain and although she said nothing her expression was one I knew well. The one where you really want to explain how you feel, but are in too much pain to say anything. After the other person walked away I turned to her and said, “Let it go..they don’t understand that there is nothing relaxing about sitting in a wheelchair when your body is consumed with pain. I doubt they will ever understand”.
This got me thinking about all the assumptions that have been made about me throughout all my years of living in pain.
#1. If I am happy I am not in pain or I am high.
#2. If I am using a wheelchair I must not have use of my legs.
#3. If I am using a retail store provided electric scooter, I am just overweight and lazy.
#4. That there is a cure for my incurable conditions.
#5. That using a wheelchair is fun.
# 6. If I am sad, I am depressed.
#7. If I need a nap, I must not be medicating correctly.
#8. I must not hurt that bad if I am seen outside of my home.
Those are just a few of the assumptions that have been made and my reply for those who were brazen enough to vocalize these thoughts to me are:
#1. If I allowed my pain to control my emotions I would be crying 24/7.
#2. Just because I can stand and walk a few steps doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
#3. I am the same person with the same conditions that you saw using a manual wheelchair last week. The only difference is today I had to venture out on my own and didn’t have the strength to lift my wheelchair out of the back of my SUV. But I was able to push through my pain to make it from my SUV to the store’s front door.
#4. What makes you think that if there WAS a CURE that I wouldn’t want it?
#5. Fun???? Have you ever had to use one? Do you understand how hard it is to go up even the slightest incline when your entire body is wracked with pain?
#6. Why is okay for you to express sadness but not for me?
#7. I am not over medicating… Over whelming fatigue that hits without notice is just one of my symptoms.
#8. I can not wait for a low pain or pain free day to leave the house. First there is no such thing as a pain free day. I have to decide on a daily and sometimes hourly basis if I am willing to push through that moments pain.
Just as able bodied people shouldn’t make assumption about those of us with invisible disabilities, we shouldn’t be making assumptions about what they are thinking. An example being don’t always assume that the reason someone hasn’t asked you to join them for outings for a while doesn’t want to spend time with you. This assumption slapped me in the face when I learned that one friend was going through a tough time. Had I not whooping it up at my own pity party, waiting for her to reach out to me, I would have realized that she needed me to be reaching out to her, even if only to lend a shoulder to cry on. Most often though the reason people stop asking me out is because they assume that I won’t be physically up to attending. Why? Because they assume I only leave my house when I feel well…. I WISH!!! The assumptions never end….
What are some assumptions that have others made about you?
Till next time,