In my former life I would occasionally encounter people who would voice their opinions on how I should live my life and what I should be doing… More often when I was young and trying to make my way in the world. Lots of opinions and lots of learning.
Parents, family members and the occasional friends might offer advice and sometimes the odd stranger might also be compelled to give me the benefit of their wisdom. Sometimes they were quite meaningful but in the end I had to make the ultimate choice myself.
Back then I could choose to listen, consider or ignore the advice. It was my choice. And I was given the respect that I was entitled to and capable of making my own decisions. Occasionally I would have to remind someone of this, but not often. Generally I was free to choose for myself.
I contrast this to now…
It seems so strange to me now that when I am far older, wiser, and have lived through so many different events and challenges, that I seem to attract far more unsolicited advice and judgments than I ever did before. Why? It seems to be because I got sick and people will somehow equate this with bad decision making or abilities.
Some people have somehow have equated my failing health to mean that I have failing intelligence or that I am somehow not entitled to respect because of my new challenges.
People whom I have never met or who have no idea what medications, tests, therapies, alternative options and efforts I have been through or tried, have taken it upon themselves to judge me and tell me what I should be doing. Or feel comfortable in being able to judge every choice I now make.
It’s completely ridiculous!
I got sick not stupid. I got sick not lazy. I got sick not unworthy.
The truth is that a lot of the people I avoid and the places I avoid is because of the constant judgements and personal opinions that I receive. It seems like it’s everywhere!
I truly think that some chronically ill avoid talking about their health because we dont want to listen to people’s unqualified opinions.
“Eat more. Eat less. Do more. Pray more. Think positive. Try this supplement. Don’t do this. Do more that” … and on and on.
Doctors, therapists, strangers, friends, family, Neighbour’s, almost everyone we encounter can feel compelled and allowed to tell me what I should do and how I should be doing it on a whole range of topics. It’s truly unbelievable and incredibly annoying and frustrating.
For years now I have tried to remind myself that some people are well meaning but even that becomes very hard and strained after awhile… and people should remember that they still need to earn the right to share their feelings and thoughts through years of respect, friendships, love, honesty, understanding and loyalty. Truly knowing us and who we are is essential before making judgments or offering advice.
I am still a human being and I still have rights to be able to make decisions and plans for whatever life I still have. And I should feel able to exercise these rights as well.
Yes I may have changed. I know I have. My personality and my physical abilities have undergone a lot of changes but this has not resulted in me becoming a non person or without rights.
So many of us living with disabilties and chronic illness are still beautifully unique and wonderfully human. We still have a right to choose and live in whatever manner we decide, without having our decisions and motives scrutinized and judged by so many people out there.
I am sure most people enjoy these rights and want respect for their choices too, so why wouldn’t we also want this? just because we got sick doesn’t mean we stopped being human, worthy or valuable.