I usually hope that being chronically ill has softened my edges. I hope that it has made me more observant of whether or not something is accessible, that I understand that everyone has stories I do not know, that illnesses are frequently unseen. That I am always aware of the fact that there are those who are far worse off than me. I hope it has made me more accepting of the fact that things impact different people in different ways, and a small problem to one person may be an insurmountable barrier to another.
Occasionally, though, there are moments when being hurt and sick all the time change me into something that feels like broken crystal in every way, an invisible weapon of razor sharp edges. There are times when rage and jealousy rear their dark ugly heads and I find myself wanting to scream at someone for complaining about mild allergies, a busy social calendar, or a frickin’ hangover! I want to shake them and scream about everything I can’t do!! I want to holler about how they made choices, they could make those choices!!! I want to cry and kick my heels and pound my fists on the floor like a small child, wailing about how I wish I had the chance to have that particular problem at all. It costs, in those black moments rimmed with the red of pure fury, to put a smile on my face and sympathize, as I sometimes must do.
But it costs far more to lose it. It can cost me a friendship. It can cost me a connection to another person, one who may legitimately just need the space to process a decision or an emotion. It can belittle another human being whose fault is not being me. It will cost me a part of myself, as well, in the end, to give in to my own enraged impulse. Yes, occasionally there may come a time to gently point out that, compared to others, things may not be so bad, and perhaps a little perspective is in order. But that shouldn’t be a gut-reaction from my own pain and frustration… and so I will continue to struggle. And when I lose that struggle, as occasionally I do, to apologize humbly and with whatever grace is lent to me at the moment.