Rising Above It

By Leah Barker

I apologize for the poor grammar; I needed to get this off of my chest on a time-crunch before work!

I suppose I should start off by clarifying exactly what “It” is:

Hate. Cruel Words. Mocking. Carelessness. Hostility. Insults. Ect…

I’m writing this post in retrospect after I received a very hurtful message from someone who I once considered a friend. In my anger and pain, I posted the message on a Huntington’s Disease Support Group page in hopes of finding some comfort (which I did times a million because our community is awesome), but I was also wisely counseled into letting go of my hurt and rage. I also began to realize that my experience was one that many have shared and continue to share. Below are just a few examples from a small community in a big, big world:

Makes you kinda sick to your stomach, huh? I know it did for me.

And guys, this kind of thing happens to people with all kinds of mental/physical illnesses. The worst kind of people will see your sickness as your most vulnerable spot and then use it against you when they want to hurt you. It can hurt, and often does. It can make you angry, depressed, unsure, and left feeling with a need to retaliate, but you know what?

“It” doesn’t have to. 

I know first-hand that words like these can cut especially deep if they are coming from someone you love, but a person who claims to love you and care about you would never cross a line that thin. “It” has a name, and it’s called abuse. You do not need to have someone around in your life who uses your willingness to confide in them (with something as serious as an illness) to curse you with the same mouth the words “I love you,” come from. It is okay to cut people out of your life, but first and most importantly, you have to leave behind the grudge, the anger, and the hurt.

You can start by ignoring their comments altogether, no matter who they are. Trying to rationalize with a person who is irrational enough to use hate this way usually only adds fuel to their fire.

You then have to consider the “why” for their reasons of saying such hurtful things, and the answer is always the same: Because they feel insecure in whatever situation you both are in and they need to make themselves feel bigger and better by taking advantage of you.

Do you know what that means?

It means that the problem is not you, so you cannot let yourself feel belittled or low. Most of the time, people who hate like this have absolutely no idea what it is like living with whatever illness you have, or else they would surely be kissing your feet rather than speaking to you in such a heartless manner.

I will make an exception to this when it comes to Huntington’s Disease, as when someone is sick with it, they become extremely mentally unsound and are prone to say all sorts of unkind things that they don’t mean. I know it still hurts.

But look, this person or these people who use your illness against you wake up every morning, go to work, come home, pay the bills, and lay their heads on their pillows hoping to live a long and prosperous life.

You wake up every morning (with HD, with ALS, with Manic Depression), go to work (with Parkinson’s, with Tourette’s, with O.C.D.), come home (with Alzheimer’s, with Paranoia, with Schizophrenia), pay the bills (with MS, with Bipolar Disorder, with Dementia), and lay your head on your pillow worrying about how long your disease will allow you to live, long-term healthcare plans, medical bills, coping mechanisms, advocacy, and passing your illness along to children you might never get to have.

You are living your life times two. “They” don’t get that. They don’t understand that you are stronger than they could ever hope to be in every aspect because you do everything they do, but with a serious, incurable, fatal illness. And I’m not using those words to make you feel down, no, completely the opposite. When someone attempts to use your illness to make you feel small, I want you to look in the mirror and remember that you are amazing. Look at yourself, living your life, even if you’re having a hard time. Especially if you’re having a hard time. Look at yourself and realize that the people who see your illness as a weakness are blind, so do not hold anything against them. Your eyes, perhaps because of your illness, are wide open. And that this hateful person, who does not have to struggle with your illness, still needs to stoop down so low in order to make themselves feel better. “They” are the ones that are sicker than you, but not in a way that brings about strength.

Drop them. Leave them behind. Ignore them. They don’t deserve an explanation, and you don’t owe anybody one. Block out the hurt and the pain because when those words were said, they came from the other person’s hurt and pain, and it does not belong to you.

Even at your weakest points, you are stronger than them because you’re alive, which means you’re not giving up.

Rise above it.


2 Comment

  1. sthomason18 says: Reply

    Perfectly said! I remember the wise teaching, “If someone calls you a chair, does that make you a chair?” That, and my mother’s advice to “consider the source” have made it easier for me to let go of the hurtful things people say. Life is too short and too precious to put up with verbal abuse–any kind of abuse–so it’s important to recognize it for what it is and to remove toxic people from our lives.

    1. Exactly right!!

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