We all have a self that we portray to others that is different from who we are when we’re alone. Some people are closer to portraying their true selves than others, but we all do it. Our desire to be accepted runs very deep, particularly in Western cultures. The irony is that we all want to be accepted exactly as we are, and yet we modify our true nature to comply with what we think are adequate social norms.
As someone with an ‘invisible illness’ — that is I’m not missing any limbs so it’s hard for people to understand the challenges I face each day — I certainly have my skeletons, but my motivation isn’t quite about acceptance. It’s more about avoiding non-acceptance. There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end a look of pity or hearing a tone of burden or irritation in someone’s voice.
Many people with CF will joke about how much we try to ‘slide’ into our daily lives with the hopes of going unnoticed.
Here are 10 things I hide:
1. I can take 10 pills before eating a meal in public quicker than Flash Gordon.
2. I’ll ride the elevator or go to my car during the day for no reason just so I can have a coughing fit in peace.
3. There are literally only 7 people in my life whom I feel comfortable with doing my daily breathing treatments and physiotherapy in front of
4. I can rock a wicked ace bandage to hide a PICC line
5. I avoid romantic relationships because I don’t want to bother someone with my coughing at night and in the morning, or see me with IVs to the hilt, or ever be considered a burden.
6. My close friends are the only ones who I allow to see me be vulnerable and scared about my disease — and even that is only parsed.
7. I can stuff my anxiety down with humor, but when I’m alone it can be quite electric
8. I’ve only recently begun to seek the advice and support of others with CF because until recently, I didn’t allow it to be real (Shout out to Ronnie Sharpe and Brooke Sterling).
9. I lay on my side during Savasana in yoga class or leave early, so that I don’t cough and disturb others
10. I put on a brave face as much as I can even when I feel like I’m falling apart
I know a lot of my desire to avoid pity or stigma is my own to deal with, but there have been situations in my past that have shaped me. So, I work each day to accept of who I am and ignore the rest.
Having this illness has made me who I am. In many ways, I’m actually grateful for what I’ve learned. The funny thing that I’ve noticed is that what we hide is often the things that make us who we are — unique, special, human.
What do you hide?
– Your Charmed Yogi
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