Stuck in the Middle – A Little Empathy Please?

The Years Between College and Retirement

By Luna Golightly

I’m in my mid-30’s. I’ve had AI arthritis since I was in my mid-20’s. I’ve had four major surgeries and a stroke since I was barely 19. I tend to downplay my woes due to the majority’s reactions. Here’s a small sample of what people say to me about my chronic illness.

It's never easy to be in the middle.  A little empathy PLEASE!
It’s never easy to be in the middle. A little empathy PLEASE!

“Think about the suffering children. At least you didn’t suffer in your younger days.”

I DO think about sick children. Like you, it makes me sad. In fact, in my younger and more active days I volunteered to work with disabled children. I want to do it again, despite the pain in my joints. I’m currently looking into GOOD charities. It’s worth it just to see a child smile. That doesn’t make me ache less, though.

Tiny Tim, now he's get sympathy!
Tiny Tim, now he’s get sympathy!

“Think about older people not being able to get around.”

This is where I get a little selfish. I think about them and, like with children, it makes me sad. I also feel like I’m looking at myself in 30 years and it’s terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Arthritis doesn’t get better. It just goes on and on and on and on and….

Seniors, when they had the moves.  Hey, they could think about the children, but no they get sympathy.
Seniors, when they had the moves. Hey, they could think about the children, but no they get sympathy.

“You should get a job and get out more often.”

I agree with this statement but I don’t really appreciate people pointing it out. I’m actively seeking a job. It really, really isn’t fun staying home all the time. It really, really isn’t. At the same time I get anxious about being not a perfectly reliable worker. So, thank you, Captain Obvious.

“You don’t need pain meds. I’m older than you and I’m not on meds and I get around just fine.”

GOOD FOR YOU.

“You should lose some weight. You’ll feel MUCH better if you drop just 20 lbs.”

Sigh.

“You should drink doctor-unapproved health drink and healthy supplements!”

No thank you!

“You’re just lazy.”

DON’T. Just DON’T.

Sick cats get more sympathy than the middle aged person with a chronic disease!
Sick cats get more sympathy than the middle aged person with a chronic disease!

 What I’m getting from this commentary is that I should just buck up because other people have it worse or at a different age. There are people who see me as weak, pathetic and whiny and I see these people as devoid of empathy and plain old mean. I have TONS of empathy for chronically ill people of ALL ages. I wrote this as a person far beyond childhood and far from retirement age. I don’t want pity. Never pity. All I want is the same empathy as people give to adorable children and cute old ladies or gentlemen.

Was devoid of empathy and plain old mean. I have TONS of empathy for chronically ill people of ALL ages. I wrote this as a person far beyond childhood and far from retirement age. I don’t want pity. Never pity. All I want is the same empathy as people give to adorable children and cute old ladies or gentlemen.

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2 thoughts on “Stuck in the Middle – A Little Empathy Please?

  1. Mikki

    omg – well meaning but clueless people giving advice. About as helpful and a pile of rocks on your head. Well, I can’t empathize with what you’re going through but I can sympathize and be supportive. I too have people in my life who are always giving me advice – jeesh, I’m old enough to make my own decisions damn it… so are you. Can you tell these people to F off or do you have to endure the grief from them? Hang in there dear person it’s always safe to vent with me around 🙂 much love and hugs Mikki

    Like

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