I knew that I’d strike some nerves with my writing. I knew that things I had to say would be unpopular. I knew that some of the things I’ve been hiding in this head and heart of mine (even from myself) would not sit well with the world at large; but I also knew that they were things that needed saying. And, you know what else? I’m not even close to done!
Instead of being angry or sad at how suddenly popular I am, as a “topic” in passive-aggressive commenting, article-sharing, and status-updates amongst the chronic illness community, military community and more, I’m more, shall we say, interested. Wait, can you be a "topic" of passive-aggressive conversation? Isn't the point of passive-aggressive conversation to pretend there is no topic? I get confused because it's a conversational art that I choose not to partake in, so I'm rusty at it.
Passive-aggressive conversation, is, by the way, my least favorite type of conversation. It’s the conversation of cowards. If you can’t stand toe-to-toe with someone who hurt you, made you angry, or upset you, and say so, then slink to your corner and lick your wounds; don’t pull some bullshit out of your pocket and pretend it isn’t about them, so you can retreat to the safety of non-battle when they defend themselves. Either be brave and strong in your convictions or shut the fuck up. “Oh, that wasn’t about you,” is the biggest lie we tell others, and ourselves. Man (or woman) up!
Getting sick has a way of teaching you to be introspective. You learn to recognize all the really shitty qualities about yourself. This forces you to figure out how to either love these qualities, or how to work with them to make you a better, more rounded person. For example, I’ve learned that my tenacious, no bullshit attitude has made me one hell of a fighter. I’ve also learned that my forcefulness can get me in the door with difficult-to-see doctors. But, I’ve also learned that I can be too pushy, and too quick to anger. I’ve learned that I have to wait a day. I have to take breaths, not only to save relationships, but to protect my health.
In addition to learning good things about myself (which no one wants to hear), I’ve learned some awful things about myself. I’m quick to let others care for me, and I don’t always reciprocate. This is something I remedied when I realized it. I felt awful when I saw how hard my husband was willing to work, tirelessly. Now, he cares for me, and I care for him, in ways I am capable of. I learned that when I am suffering, I am quick to anger, in every area of my life, but never at my family. I take it out on strangers. I’ll snap at a grocer, a deliveryman, anyone but my family.
This made me feel guilty when I realized it. Strangers don’t deserve it! How dare I? I wish I could apologize to every stranger I snapped at. But, all I can do is know now that’s my pattern, and try very hard not to do it anymore. I could go on, but the point is that I have made a concentrated effort to recognize my poor behaviors and to change them. I don’t simply say things like, “UPS always rings the doorbell when I have a headache! Don’t they realize that people home during the day are probably sick! Ugh!”
Since I’m sure that many of my readers are dying to know what I’ll say next “about” them, I’ll say this: when I see people who can’t recognize their own shitty behavior, or see themselves as capable of having shitty personality qualities, it makes me feel sad for them. I don’t wish some horrible illness on them, to teach them a life lesson; but I do wish them the ability to see themselves from the outside. I do wish them the ability to see themselves as others see them, something I was able to do when I got sick. I wish them the ability to see situations from a non-defensive, “ugh, she’s such a bitch, I’m never responsible for anything! It’s clearly her fault” blameless spot (of course not said so clearly – remember this is a passive-aggressive conversation!). I wish them a place where they can learn to use their flaws as strengths. In other words, I wish them the best.
There’s your fuel. Add it to your fire. Enjoy.
If there is anything more annoying in the world than having people talk about you, it is certainly having no one talk about you. --Oscar Wilde
**As a side note, I’d like to point out that nothing I’ve said has been a passive-aggressive comment. I’ve merely protected others' identity. I’ve been pretty clear about things that offended or upset me and pretty clear about why. I simply leave off names and identifying information. But, if someone has read about themselves, or who they perceive as being themselves, and they get upset, perhaps it's time to ask yourself: am I angry because someone said something "mean" about me? Or, am I angry because I'm ashamed of myself or my behavior? Or, am I angry because she's, potentially, a little bit right, and that stings? No one likes hearing that they aren't perfect. It sucks to hear. I didn't like learning it either. Welcome to the other side.