“When the Well-Meaning Annoy You”
Preparation: Read Chapter Six this week.
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.
Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.
Over the years I’ve spoken with many chronic illness sufferers. There is a common bond among us, a common language, a common understanding, even when we experience widely varied illnesses. We “get” each other. We also understand one another’s widely varied symptoms of pain, isolation, fatigue, sleeplessness, brain fog, and more. In addition, we know the experience of being misunderstood or not believed when we have made the effort to explain what is happening to our bodies.
On the other hand, we all know well-meaning healthy people who genuinely want to help us, but they don’t understand. We have all have heard “helpful” platitudes similar to these:
“But you don’t look sick!”
“Oh, I understand! I’m tired, too.”
“It must be nice not having to work.”
“Have you tried such-and-such a diet/exercise/pill?”
“All things work together for good.”
“God will not give you more than you can handle.”
“Just be positive, you’ll get through this.”
“There are a lot of people worse off than you.”
“Illness is caused by stress. You need better coping skills.”
“If you prayed and believed, you would be healed.”
No wonder we answer “I’m fine” when asked how we feel!
Here are some of Kimberly Rae’s comments on the subject of well-meaning friends:
“The truth is, there are some days I don’t want to hear the right answers. I already know the right answers, but I’m so tired…so very, very tired. and I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being so out of control – of not being dependable anymore. I’m tired of having to fight and fight every day in a war I know I can’t ever fully win.”
“Those times, it’s almost as if I’m tired of being strong and I just want to be miserable for a little bit. I feel yucky physically and I’m tired of the energy it takes to not feel emotionally yucky too. “
“I’m going to give you my theory on the yucky times…The two most obvious options are to stuff the feelings or go with the feelings. Neither choice works out very well.
“It goes back to the accepting and adapting idea. First I need to accept that I feel this way – to God, my husband, or a good friend. Just saying it out loud has healing properties in it. Then I need to adapt to the situation.”
“I get away by myself and focus on something else, and somehow just a small break of a couple of hours makes a huge difference…Giving yourself some kind of a break from the stress is a coping mechanism. It doesn’t mean you can’t handle your condition, or you’re a failure. It means you’re human and you sometimes get overwhelmed by a problem that never goes away.”
Let’s talk about this topic. Tell us how you feel. We understand.
Group Study Questions
1. What phrase do people say that gets to you the most?
2. Why? What do you feel it implies about you or your condition?
3. How do you want to respond? In your flesh? Be honest.
4. How do you usually respond (outwardly)?
5. Do you feel it’s wrong to admit you are feeling frustrated with you condition? Why or why not?
6. What would feel like a break to you?
7. Who can help you get a break? Would they be willing?
Give yourself permission to take a break sometime this week. When you do, enjoy it without guilt.