Saturday, September 24, 2016

Living with a Chronic Condition: Don’t Have Time for the Pity

In 2021, I wrote what has become a very popular post Dating and Finding Love When Living with a Chronic Disease. Recently updating the post, I re read the comment There are people that look for partners with health issues so they can be in a relationship where they “can take care of you.” I could do a post just on this type of individual.

So here’s the post on why you don’t want to be involved with people who pity or feel sorry for you because of your diagnosis. Yes, we can all use a helping hand and we like it when people “get us” but pity is degrading. In fact it can keep people stuck in believing that they are their diagnosis.

When people pity, they feel guilty when they interact with that person, so it becomes ‘painful’ – and that ‘pain’ gets transferred to us, so that people who pity see US as painful! Never mind that what’s painful is their reaction to us, and choosing to see us as a pitiful thing instead of a fellow human being. (Brilliantmindbrokenbody

Stella Young at her TED talk nailed it when she noted that disability is being objectified as a form of what she calls “inspirational porn.” ...we're objectifying disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, to motivate you, so that we can look at them and think, "Well, however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person."

The “I’ll take care of you” person expects something in return. You can become the default or built in excuse for their not doing certain things-e.g. the co-worker that shows up late for work every day and asks for additional vacation because of caring for a sick spouse. The trade off may be your putting up with some pretty unacceptable behavior. Bottom line, if someone tells you, “but I just want to take care of you,” run for the hills.

As noted in the original 2012 post, The important point is that you don’t need anyone feeling sorry for you because of your diagnosis. Relationships work best if they are on equal footing. Each of us comes with our strengths and our issues.

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