“No one will marry you, you’re too expensive [because you are sickly].”
I was less than worth-less, I was costly. Through no fault of my own I was a “sickly” child. Prone to pneumonia, gastroenteritis, colds, & infectious diseases, I was a burden. In my family of origin, love & money were entangled, & not being a cost-effective child was just one of the many, many shames heaped upon my little body.
Stigma is shame. Our culture still shames illness & disability. We heap particularly unsympathetic shame on people with invisible, undiagnosed, & controversial diagnoses, syndromes, disorders, & diseases.
“You’re such a hypochondriac” (using the common misinterpretation of the term, when what they mean is “you’re TOO SICK & it makes us uncomfortable.”)
“You’re being over dramatic/hysterical (mostly reserved for girls/women).
“You just want attention, are faking, are crazy”
You get the point.
We do this judging all the time. We internalize your judgement. We question, we weigh, are we WORTHY of concern? We internalize it. We second-guess. We feel weak when we finally give in in agony & seek treatment, bracing ourselves for the inevitable judgement we will likely encounter.
We need empathy, compassion, & reassurance for our anxieties. We don’t need your judging & shaming, we have enough of our own.
Repeat after me: I am taking care of myself. Sometimes that means I have to say no, even though I may be disappointed, or disappoint others. That is okay. Taking care of myself, body & mind, has to be my first priority if I am going to heal. This is not selfishness, it is self-care. I will not continue emotionally or physically abusing myself on behalf of my past or present abusers. I will replace their undeserved hate, guilt, and shame with compassion for myself. In this manor I will learn to trust myself to take care of me, and that is loving myself.
December 26, 2016
It was just Before Christmas in the PICU when the second of two brothers was declared brain-dead. The parents couldn’t bear being present this time. It was late at night when we gathered in the room. The intensivist and I, the respiratory therapist shared a wordless conversation. He switched off the ventilator. The monitor screamed until someone turned it off. With silent tears, we all went about our jobs. I wheeled the machine out of the room, as George Winston’s Thanksgiving played softly. I held it until the elevator doors closed, then sobbed all the way to the basement equipment room. I refuse to harden chanted in my head. I refuse.