“I see your point, but…”
“I hear what you’re saying, but…”
“I know you have to do your own thing, but…”
As soon as you add the word “but” to the statement, you’ve nullified everything that came before it.
“I see your point, but…” (You’re wrong, and I am right.)
“I hear what you’re saying, but…” (You need to shut up because you’re wrong.)
“I know you have to do your own thing, but…” (Actually, you don’t. You need to do what I expected you to do.)
“You did what you needed to, but…” (You didn’t do what I wanted you to, and it annoys me.)
“You put a lot of effort into it, but…” (You fell short of the mark and you should have worked harder.)
This is grating on me because I’m getting it a lot lately. It’s irritating and it’s dismissive, and it lacks communicative ability. Most of the time it’s just something people use because they can’t think of another way to say what they think; the reality is that it’s a passive aggressive way to tell someone else that they’re wrong, or they’ve done something the person speaking doesn’t like, approve of, and wants changed.
It’s been brewing in the back of my head for a while, but the catalyst for I’ve-had-enough-dammit came in the form of email that took me to task for declining an invitation (order to appear?) to be part of a book signing on the other side of the country. Never mind that I didn’t need a reason other than I’ve never done a book signing and I don’t want to; it felt like every similarly worded criticism I’ve gotten in the last six months boiled over in that one email.
“I know you can’t hear on the phone, but I’m calling you anyway.” I don’t believe you, so I’m calling and you better pick up.
Hey, guess what? I gain nothing by telling people I have hearing difficulties, especially where the phone is concerned. Not being able to hear on the phone is nothing but a pain in the ass. If I have to take a call, I sit there struggling to understand what the person on the other end is saying. I can hear them speaking, but it’s a garbled mess and I have to strain to make sense of it. I have to guess a lot, and I’m wrong a lot. It doesn’t matter who you are; if you’re on the phone with someone and 75% of the conversation is them asking you to repeat what you just said, and they still don’t get it, you start getting irritated.
I end nearly every phone conversation with a bitch of a headache and feeling a little bit diminished, and even a little bit sad. I’m losing my hearing—not just on the phone—and I know it; I don’t need you to make me feel like crap about it.
You have my number? Text me. I can still see and read. Or email me. Message me on Facebook. But if you’re upset with me for not calling…that’s on you, not me.
“I get that you have a bad back, but you participated in those walks.” If you can do X, you can do Y, and because you chose X you obviously don’t care enough to do Y, so you suck.
“You can’t travel, but you went there.” Mostly, I don’t believe you, so show up here, or else you suck.
Yes, I did those walks. I’m not sure what you think those walks were like, though. I had a metric ton of fun on them because I was with friends, but don’t get the impression I was bouncing on soft fluffy clouds farting sunshine out my ass. Those walks took a lot out of me and took a while to recover from. But I can walk reasonable distances. And guess what? Walking is very good for your back. Training walks may be what keeps me out of a wheelchair.
But hey…I also didn’t say I couldn’t travel.
What I cannot do is travel alone.
Atlanta wouldn’t have happened at all if not for DKM. I can’t travel alone, especially flying. On the best of days I’m a tense flyer; the idea of hurtling through the air in a giant lipstick tube bugs the bejeezuz out of me, but to it I now have to add uneven cortisol levels. You know that feeling of fight or flight? That’s adrenaline and cortisol at work. Put me on a plane and my cortisol levels soar. My adrenaline jacks up.
That’s probably not so unusual in anyone doing something that scares them…but then you add reactive hypoglycemia to the mix, and you have plummeting blood sugar levels. Either one of those separately should be easy enough to deal with, but if you put them together it’s a recipe for some not so good things to happen.
The real problem is that when I have skyrocketing cortisol and my blood sugar is plummeting, I don’t always recognize what’s happening. I get twitchy and irritable, but I don’t necessarily realize what’s happening. By the time I might figure it out, my blood sugar could be in the toilet and my blood pressure so high that something inside is going to have to give. And by then, I’ll either be out cold or dead. I’m not too fond of either happening. The former might have strange people digging through my pockets; the latter is a bit too permanent.
The first day in Atlanta I felt wrecked. I spent the day plastered to the hotel room bed for the most part, playing with my iPad because I didn't have anything else in me. I ate breakfast because DKM got me out of the room and down to the restaurant; I ate dinner because the team got together for it. Otherwise...yeah, no mental faculties to push myself to get food on my own.
In addition to having DKM’s supervision, I also had dozens of people out there walking with me who knew I might need help. On day three when I got separated from my team and walked alone for the last half, no fewer than 5 people on every mile checked to make sure I was all right. The word was out; look for the woman with the neon pink hair and pink cammo pants. What seemed like coincidence at first became obviously organized because the questions were the same and quite pointed.
How do you feel? Are you drinking? Have you had electrolytes? When was the last time you ate? What did you eat? Have you had any sugar? Any salt? Are you sure you’re all right, because I can get you a sweep van.
One stubborn walker wouldn’t go ahead of me until I’d slugged back enough of the sports drink in my bottle to be deemed sufficient. He was probably right, too, because I started feeling a little spunkier after that, for a while anyway.
Atlanta was possible because DKM chaperoned me, and all along the route people had my back. If I didn’t have a teammate walking with me, I was surrounded by people who were aware that I might need help at some point. I was also surrounded by people who might not have been aware of that, but were ready to spring to help anyone who looked like they needed someone.
If DKM hadn’t been going to Atlanta for the walk, I wouldn’t have gone. If I hadn’t known I would have help along way if needed, I wouldn’t have gone.
So yes, I can travel, as long as I have someone with me—someone who knows what to do if I get into trouble. Someone who can recognize it, because chances are I won’t realize anything with me is off until I’m past the point of being able to do anything about it.
I don’t travel alone. Period.
I’m especially not traveling for a book signing that would require the Spouse Thingy to burn off vacation days and for me to spend several hundred dollars for books I would then have to spend a hundred or so to ship, then spend a few hundred on a hotel room, then a rental car, and food, and incidentals…all with the very high risk that I wouldn’t sell even half the books, and would probably sit at a table for hours on end alone, worrying about what the hell I’d do if my meds wore off.
“I totally understand that you don’t want to do public speaking or book signings, but this one is different.” You’re a writer, you should be good with words, and I promised my friend who owns the bookstore that you’d do it.
No, this isn’t different. And being a writer does not equal being a public speaker. I stumble over words when I’m speaking; I get to go back and edit them when I’m writing.
I appreciate you asking, but…