I was talking to my husband yesterday about how I sense that people are becoming more and more reticent about sharing their true feelings and thoughts. They no longer share what is truly on their minds.
I wondered why?
Have we lost the art of communication and expressing ourselves? Do we feel that most people don’t truly listen or care? Or is it both?
I find myself saying less and less these days and sharing less and less about my life in general as I am not sure how this information is received or used. Most of the time I have wondered if sharing my personal views on life, the world, politics, health or goals is really of interest to people. Sadly I have seen that most people simply switch off or talk over you. Regardless of the motives I don’t see this behavior as conducive to sharing.
I also noticed that this has become even more prominent since my health changed. People seem to stop listening if they know your chronically ill as though I have nothing relevant or valuable to share anymore. This always strikes me as odd as it is often those who have serious illnesses or battles that are able to see the world in very different ways and actually have so much to offer!
I dearly wished I had listened more to those who had battled illnesses and health when I was younger but it was not the social norm to seek out their advice or offer empathy to such people. We tried to avoid such confrontations for fear of having our behavior or beliefs questioned. We didn’t want to confront the possibility that there are things in this world worse than not getting that job or going on that holiday. We don’t want to know that there are things that are beyond our control and that life can be unfair and painful.
Often it is the opinion of healthier people that our thoughts and ideas are devalued because we are no longer like them. We have fallen through the cracks and, worse still, it is all our fault. Our health is interpreted as character weakness. People also seem to think that by spending any time or listening to the chronically ill it may mean that they have to offer empathy or help. It seems to discourage people from interacting, it certainly discouraged the people that are not predisposed to helping or caring.
The social and political landscape is not a kind place for the disabled and ill either as invariably we are demonized in public policy and labeled as expenses and leeches on society. However if you asked any able bodied person what they would want if they became suddenly and permanently ill they would all agree that they would want care and support… a bitter irony indeed.
Whenever I find myself in conversation with the able bodied world I find myself restricted to topics solely about them and their reality. How is their job? How was their holiday? How are they feeling? What are their experiences? It seems irrelevant now what my thoughts and experiences are, contrary to when I was a healthier version of myself.
When I was healthier people listened with interest and engaged with me. I felt far more heard and relevant than today, despite the fact that I feel far more mature and grown as a person. My experiences and challenges have given me far more knowledge and depth than I could have ever imagined. It has given me more feelings.
I recall explaining to my husband that life for me now is similar to the matrix movies of the nineties where the protagonist becomes unplugged from the world of the matrix and sees life in a much more aware way then all other inhabitants who are still locked inside their realities. It was an analogy we both appreciated and agreed on.
But why should it be so?
Communications these days seem to be far more directed at goals. People want to hear from and talk only to those that support their agendas or that can help them in some way. Today there is this need to be perpetually busy and people seem to focus all their attention on acquiring and obtaining rather than being and growing. Communication is limited to these pursuits and it doesn’t seem to have a qualitative substance to it. In short, there is far less emotion and feeling in communications today aside from those that the media will direct and design for us.
The less people are feeling and sharing the colder and more isolated we are becoming and I am convinced that this will impact even the most able bodies people and rises in mental illnesses as well as physical illnesses will ultimately result.
I feel confident in saying that I, like many other chronically ill survivors out there, prefer conversations with meaning and emotion (even joyful and calming) rather than much of what today has on offer, which is why I find myself talking and engaging less and less in the mainstream rhetoric.
I am careful with who gets my time, energy and emotions now as today the most precious thing that I feel I have to offer are my thoughts and feelings. Therefore I am committed to only sharing these with those who truly appreciate it and those who also offer emotional depth. I know that I can’t be alone in these standards and I commend all those out there that have placed similar value on their time and emotions, regardless of their health status.
I would much rather have fewer social interactions with real meaning than have numerous ones that are superficial and unfulfilling.