I recently read an article about a woman who was suffering from some sort of chronic problem. On the scale of horrific issues with “10” being a fatal disease and “1” being ugly (but functional) feet, this woman’s problem ranked around a 3, in my opinion.
“I ask myself, why me?” she says in the article. “It’s hard to accept that I’ll be struggling with this for the rest of my life.”
I dunno, maybe it was the emotionally manipulative picture of the woman looking off to some faraway point, holding flowers in her hand, that set me off.
“Oh c’mon, REALLY?” I shouted at the article. “You are going to obsess over THAT? How about a trade? I’ll gladly take what you’ve got and you can have my profound hearing loss and rumbling tinnitus. And to sweeten the pot, I’ll throw in my functional (but ugly) feet!”
For a few long moments, I was deeply irritated. At least she had medication that kept the issue more or less under control. I felt insulted that someone considered such a problem to be on par with the daily challenges of my hearing loss. How could her issue compare to my life of communication struggles? How could she even guess at the inner cacophony I listen to 24/7?
And then I calmed down. Who was I to assume anything about her, that she didn’t have more than one item on the ‘horrific issues’ list? I’d never lived through her problem and had no right to judge whether it was more or less challenging than severe tinnitus. Why did it even matter? Disability is not a contest.
We all feel the burn of self-pity, the big why me, on occasion. It’s normal to dip into the dark side and wail that no one else has ever, ever experienced heartbreak like ours. In the history of mankind, no headache has ever pounded as hard at the walls of the skull. No itch has driven anyone else quite as nuts as our itch. And how on earth can the buses go on running, when we are suffering so terribly?
Some believe it’s the will of God, or maybe karma. All I know is that an extended self-pity binge doesn’t help me hear better; it just makes me miserable and less pleasant to be around.
What’s the answer to why me? Maybe it boils down to just two words: that’s life. Our bodies, those organic towers of power, are prone to breakdowns and vulnerable to germs, mutant genes, and junk food. And who said that life was supposed to be fair? Fair would be that, regardless of our issues, we would all have equal access to solutions and supports, rather than discrimination and stigma.
Why me? Who knows?
The woman’s problem is not trivial and it’s shared by many. I hope that at least one person reading the article was able to draw strength from it—the same gift that I get from connecting with other people who have hearing loss and tinnitus.