As we Watchers know, chronic illness is unremitting, that’s the nature of it. But the reality is, chronic illness, like everything has it’s ups and downs. Some days are better than others, some weeks are worse. Sometimes we can joke and other times all we can do is cry.
This ebb and flow is good. It helps us survive. It brings us hope, it gives us relief. But it can also be a hard reality to communicate.
‘How is your Loved One?’ Someone asks.
‘Not well,’ you say.
‘Oh, but I saw them at the grocery shop the other day, they looked so good!’
This, my friends, is why it can be just as hard when our loved one is well as when they are not.
The problem with well-ness
When our Loved One is going through a good stretch, we:
Can feel silly – Have we been exaggerating their illness in the past? Perhaps we’ve made a mountain out of a molehill and they are not as sick as we thought, and all is not as terrible as it seemed.
Can feel like a liar – Have we been presenting a falsehood when people ask how they are? Could it be that we’ve been making them up into some struggling soul, when in reality they are ‘okay’?
Can feel cheated – How dare they be ‘having a good day’ that one time that someone remembered to ask how they are! We had a chance to share reality, to share the pain that perhaps we’ve been carrying tightly inside us, and we are cheated out of the chance because for that one day we have nothing too terrible to report.
And when we feel these things…
We can feel like awful people. How dare our Loved One’s happiness make us annoyed? How can we possibly get angry over the fact that they are enjoying a good stretch? And yet we do, and yet we are, and this is hard.
The problem with ourselves
I think we’d all have to agree that being ‘well’ or ‘healthy’ is a wonderful problem to have. There’s nothing actually inherently wrong with it. If that’s the case then, the problem must lie elsewhere.
I suspect it lies within ourselves.
After all, it’s not their ‘wellness’ that we begrudge, but the way it makes us appear to others. We dislike that it seems to belittle our own suffering, and we would prefer it did not make us look so silly and dramatic when we talk about our Loved One’s pain.
My friends how do we respond to this?
I think we need to let go of our fear of being mis-understood. After all, we know our reality. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our Loved One has suffered and does suffer. We know that we suffer alongside them, and we know that the presence of relief does not cancel out the fact that pain existed. There’s reality and there’s perception of reality, and one cannot change the other.
Let us hold on tightly to the truth that we know.
Yet let us hold loosely to the importance we place on our experiences.
Yes, they are important, but they are also just that: our experiences. I think there’s value in being open to the fact that we can be wrong. We can react too intensely to a situation, we can make mountains out of molehills. That’s not to say we have – but knowing that we could have is important.
It leaves us with room to honour the perceptions of others, and prevents us from moving from defending the truth to defending our own perceptions of the truth.
Lastly, we need to remember that we cannot control what other people think. It is neither within our role as a Watcher, nor our ability as a human! When we desire so intensely for other people to see us in the ‘right’ light, I wonder if it is because we are seeking validation of our experiences from them, rather than from God? Perhaps pride is overtaking a genuine desire for truth.
In the end, even if the entire world thinks we are merely exaggerating, God knows the truth, and we must ask ourselves whether that is enough.
When our Loved One is well, and we are annoyed I think we need to:
1. Accept that it’s difficult to appear to be a liar.
2. Accept that often our frustration and annoyance is fuelled by pride.
3. Remember that other peoples’ perception of reality does not really matter because God is aware of the truth.
4. Remember that all we are called to do is love our Loved One by rejoicing in their well-ness, and our community by explaining the truth. The results are in God’s hands, not ours.
// Do you ever feel like people don’t know the ‘real’ truth? How does this affect the way you love?
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