It’s been a challenging week. I’ve been double- and triple-checking my disability submissions to try and keep things on track, and my nemesis – Aetna – has suspended my claim with my employer. They haven’t outright denied me, but I only got 33% of a normal paycheck (vs. 100%) so, you can understand why this topic has my attention.
As a true entrepreneur, there are two things that one has to keep in check – their passion, and their ability to earn a living (or, to clarify – to find a way to subsidize their passion). Keeping the financial ship of a life out of dangerous waters is always a challenge, but it can be done with enough foresight and pre-planning.
While money is important, it’s not my god. I’m willing to sacrifice my savings on this adventure into embracing disability, but I’m trying to be cautious vs. entitled or avaricious. If they say I’m not sick enough and must go back to work, I’m trying to embrace that possibility and accept what comes as gracefully as I can. While also being determined to fight for a fair hearing and evaluation.
Because my situation is based on a worsening of health from a birth defect, I keep waiting to be told, “So sorry. We don’t have to cover you for that. It’s YOUR own FAULT”.
Being refurbished, one grows up hiding their reality from others, to the point where you can’t keep track of who knows what. You don’t think of yourself as a liar, as the shading of the truth is part and parcel with your social “game” for how to get through life on your own terms. You also tend to think that people who have lived with you know everything, and you think that acquaintances know just what you choose to tell them. Wrong. Wrong on both counts.
In my now 50+ years of consciously trying to pass for normal, people get let in and out of the verbal intimacy door, depending on circumstances. You as an individual can’t (nor should you) have full recall of years and years of passing conversations and snippets of life. It’s just not practical.
As you make the choice to stop hiding, though, years and years of learned defence mechanisms begin to fall away, and you have to learn new methods of communication. 100% honesty. 100% of the time. And no blushing for telling the facts of your reality. While also still running a new version of the social game so that you can continue to live life on your own terms.
You can still shade things to appear less like social “prey” and more like a stronger animal, as the prevarication game is still a big part of life. Also, while no one wants to think about your travails 24x7x365, you tend to be more matter-of-fact in your responses, which can be quite unnerving to others. People need their window curtains and fairytales to make their own lives bearable, and it’s not your job to be Debbie Downer when answering questions. There’s a fine line between answering a question and information overload, and I don’t want to put someone asking a simple question to sleep.
That being said, though, I find my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are being challenged by other retirees, handicapped or not, who are also dealing with health issues 10-20 years later in life than me, and who haven’t embraced their own situations while they are also trying to understand mine to see where I fit in the pecking order for their own social game.
This weeks’ situation involved a number of arthritis-specific classes where I’m trying to get into the pool daily to help unkink my right shoulder and inner arm (the crook) to keep mobility despite the pain, and the instructors and other participants are after me to “feel the burn”.
No, thanks. The right side already burns on its own. I’m trying to simply feel better without doing additional damage.
Since we’re having lots of “public” conversations where I inform or remind the teachers that I’m doing ok and are modifying the exercises per the YMCA’s own mandate to know your own limitations and not hurt yourself, it’s been quite an interesting series of verbal pushbacks to keep the instructors on track with their own guidelines. It’s very time-consuming and distracting to deal with them challenging me for more details to try and determine if they should be pushing me more, “encouraging” me to feel the burn and get my lungs and heart rate up, or adjust themselves to the fact that I know my limitations and have things under control, so they should just teach the class. I’ll keep up where I can, and moderate where I must. It’s all good.
Clearly, though, I need to be in the right headspace to have these conversations, or I babble on like Edith Bunker (photo credit above, from the TV show, “All in the Family”).
The most interesting intrusion for follow-on conversations comes after the the teacher is done, and other curious folks get involved in trying to determine if the robust, younger fat woman is a hypochondriac, will get better, or is dying-right-this-minute! (My own interpretation of the people who are focused on just that part of my story due to their own mental ruminations and internal conversations).
Usually, it’s either one of the faithful asking if I’ve prayed to Jesus for guidance, or inquiring if my faith sustains me. While we all know that faith in terms of the social game refers to some sort of higher power directing life as he (or she) sees fit, answering this question honestly contains a wealth of social land mines that can be triggered if the questioner takes offense at one’s answer.
I don’t get fashed* over what someone believes, unless they are trying to restrict my choices, or it has a direct bearing on my life (small picture thinking for this post, as it’s not about any other “activist” tendencies I might otherwise practice in life). Generally, I try and be respectful as this is usually an intimate conversational moment, where you delve deeper into who other people are as you get to know more about each other over time. It’s not about being a flag-waving activist for a cause (unless that’s how you play your own social game).
So, I tell you all that to tell you this; I’m very amazed at how many people want to know if I’m worried about the after life, and worry about my comfort in not needing to have a strong belief system with guaranteed answers.
I’ve been dealing with this breathing hassle all my life. I’ve had the last rites a few times as a baby and a yonger child, when my mom was in charge and there was yet another prayer fest, and I can say I don’t mind that system of response, even if it’s not my own. Having done the fire drill a few times and survived, I try not to get all stirred up over something that’s clearly out of my control.
So, it’s quite entertaining for me to be comfortable with not having any answers based on belief, and have that be mind boggling to people who have embraced their deity as the only possible solution for end of life questions. And, I have to be careful not to laugh visibly, thus offending someone due to my failure to remember that every minute of every day spent in the company of others is truly a social game.
All without losng my own perspective that I don’t have to believe someone else’s fairytale for them to have a happy ending, and that I don’t have to be a person of any specific religious faith in order to be able to journey to whatever next adventure awaits each of us.
For another voice on this topic, please check out the latest blog by Two Rooms Plus Utilities. Very interesting post from my perspective.
* To save you from running to the dictionary – I have quite a few gaelic phrases in my vocabulary from my great grandmother, and not all the slang has made it into an American English dictionary. Translation = [Dinna fash yersel’ = Scots for “Please do not trouble yourself.”]