Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Sympathise and duck

Posted by Oli on Monday 7th May, 2007

It’s been, all in all, a pretty good bank holiday.

I was feeling a little run down at the end of the week – not sure why as I’m not sure I’d been massively active – so Saturday was spent very much in chill out mode not doing anything beyond reading the paper and sitting on the sofa.

Sunday I went over to Mum and Dad’s for the afternoon to watch the end of the Championship footie season, willing on the Saints to their playoff place, which they secured thanks to a handy 4-1 win over Southend (was there ever any doubt…?), after which we had a gorgeous roast, shared with my bro and his other half. It was good to catch up with them, and nice to see them again so soon after the last time, since I’ve got rather used to not seeing my bro for pretty extended periods of time.

Today’s been a bit harder, largely because yesterday took it’s toll. My Godson came up to visit with his parents, my mum having laid on her usual lunchtime spread for guests, and K and I popped over for food and games.

Sadly, my chest only lasted for about an hour after the meal before deciding that sitting on the floor playing loud, shouty games was not in it’s order of the day, so set about making me feel decidedly uncomfortable with a dedication that really should be admired.

What really hit me today, though, is how some people choose to sympathise with you when you feel unwell. My problem at the moment is that when I get tired (which I do, very easily), I very much lose my ability to put a happy face on things.

I’ve thrived – as some of you will know first hand only too well – on always keeping not just a stiff-upper-lip, but one that’s ever so slightly curled up at the edges; a mirthfull demeanor no matter the inner “turmoil”. Now, though, my reserves are depleted to the extent that any moment of flagging in the day means that the positive spin and happy vibes are the first energy-drainers to be lost.

What I think that means to people on the “outside” is that for the first time they are seeing me in a different light – I guess for the first time I look like I’m suffering. And boy do I hate it – there’s nothing worse in my eyes than other people seeing how hard things can be.

I’ve no problem with telling people how hard things can be, as long as I can do it with a smile on my face and do my best to laugh it off in the process, but when people can SEE how much it sucks, that bums me out like nothing else and there’s nothing I can do about it, because I don’t have the energy to fake it.

What’s more, some people seem to think it helpful to show/tell me how much they appreciate the shiteness of the situation. I know it’s good-natured and well-intentioned, but when people tell you that they know it must be horrible, or say “it must be really shit right now” – it really doesn’t help at all.

I’m well aware of just how completely, head-screwingly, eye-gougingly, heart-breakingly pathetic my life can be on my bad days at the moment – I don’t need someone to tell me it must be horrible. It is. I live it.

I know, too, that much of my reaction is just tiredness and not being able to rationalise the thought process, but it just seems like a spin-off of the affected sympathy you get where people try to explain that they know how you feel because they once had a cold so bad they couldn’t breathe through their nose at all, and that the doctor thought that if it carried on any longer they might need ANTI-BIOTICS!

I know it’s well intentioned, and I know people can feel awkward and that they have to say something to show their support, but please, next time you see me, don’t tell me how much you appreciate how hard my life is: just give me a hug.

The funny thing is, I know that the opposite extreme annoys me just as much: the people who try to belittle what I’m going through by comparing it to other people’s problems. The whole, “everyone has something to worry about,” line.

Again, I appreciate the attention, but actually, frankly, in a game of “How cruddy is living in your world” Top Trumps, I think I would probably take some beating. So telling me that you’ve got a friend who’s got an in-growing toenail AND has to walk the dog twice a day AND has to look after a child alll the while needing to make sure they can Sky+ the football doesn’t do a whole lot for evening out my perspective on things.

Like I said before, I know that much of this is tiredness, but the fact is that I’m a tired old grouch a lot of the time now, so I guess I’m thinking of this as a primer for how not to make me throw things at you the next time we talk. Or at least as a warning to duck once you’ve finished speaking.

I guess the whole thing comes down to the simple things in life. If in doubt, hug it out.

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3 Responses to “Sympathise and duck”

  1. Emmie said

    Hi Oli
    Just to let you know that you are top of my priority list of things to do tomorrow on the way to the hospital! Soz I didn’t ring (AGAIN!) today, I’ll fill you in about it tomorrow. Anyway, keep on trucking buddy and I promise not to say anything inappropriate tomorrow (well, not without an escape route in sight anyway ;o)
    Hugs xxx

  2. Jac said

    You made me think about an incident at the weekend, where feeling pretty crappy, I had dragged myself a family event where someone said to me “You are looking really well!” and I quickly snapped back “Really? Well I don’t feel it!” I was pretty horrified with my response, as its very unlike me (would normally say “oh thanks, yes I’m fine”)

    I spend most of my time hoping no one will notice I am feeling unwell, and the other half being annoyed that no one understands the fact I am trying to put a face on it, but actually feel crap. Sometimes no one can say the right thing – maybe I will just go for the hug approach. Sounds like a good idea 🙂

  3. Emily said

    lol sounds awfully familiar…mind you I would generally nod and smile, and then take it out on my poor unsuspecting family (hey they are blood related, they can’t just back out of being my cheering squad so it seemed the most sensible option).

    Hugs for you then 🙂 xx

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