We May Not Understand Each Other, But...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it isn't so." -Lemony Snicket

There are a lot of misconceptions about POTS and other invisible illnesses. People don't know what we're going through, because they can't see the affect it has on our bodies. It's not something you'll just notice about someone you see on the street. If you're never told, you may never even realize if someone you know has POTS.

One of the most common misconceptions about POTSies (and a lot of Spoonies in general) is that we are lazy. That we're not trying hard enough, or that we choose to sit around all day moping, or that we don't want to get better badly enough so we aren't doing everything we can. And most of the time, there is nothing further from the truth.

Probably one of the most frustrating things to be told is that you "just need to get more exercise." Now, in no way am I trying to downplay the effects exercise can have on improving your overall well-being, or in its importance in managing dysautonomia. But saying that we "just need more exercise" implies to us that we're lazy, that our suffering is our fault, and most of all, that you don't really understand what we're going through.

Because POTS is not laziness. POTS is not lack of exercise or motivation. POTS is not a need for fresh air and sunshine.

Do you think that because I don't go to an office every day, or wake up at dawn-thirty to catch the school bus, or walk four miles every day, that I just sit around do nothing all the time?!?! Do you think I'm stubbornly refusing some "life-altering" treatment simply because I'm lazy?!?! Do you think that my life is easy because I'm home so often?!?! Do you think I want to be home all the time?!?!


I know you can't understand that I sometimes physically cannot do anything but sit. I know you can't understand, because I couldn't understand either. Until I experienced it. Until you feel such complete physical exhaustion (which I hope you won't for a very long time), you can't understand. But just because you don't understand doesn't mean it's any less true.

It's hard to say that we can truthfully understand the sufferings of another. On the one hand, it's not as though our lives have been all fricasseed frogs and eel pies. We've had our share of hard times and difficult circumstances.

And yet, you cannot truly understand the depth of someone's pain unless you've walked a day in their shoes. Unless you have personally gone through what they have gone through, you cannot ever understand. Unless you have experienced a very similar ordeal, you cannot understand what it does to them.

But that doesn't mean we cannot understand that life is hard. I may not know what it's like to lose your father or mother, but I do know what it's like to hurt. I may not know what it's like to have cancer, but I do know what it's like to be sick. I may not ever have had to move away from your friends, but I do know what it's like to feel out of place.

We have empathy for things like pain, loss, and fear, because we have experienced them in our own way. And though they may not have been the same for us, that does not make them any less real.

So, no. You cannot understand what I am going through. And I cannot understand what you are going through. But I know that you have suffered in your own way. I know that I'm not the only one hurting. So even if we don't entirely understand each other, I can care for you anyways. I can bear with you anyways. I can pray for you anyways. 

I can love you anyways.

That's the kind of love that only God can give through us. The ability to love someone you do not even understand....

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:13-14

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