If you live in a culture where sickness is seen as weakness and weakness is thought to be bad or deficient or shameful, then honest dialogue about struggle and proactive stances on healing will be limited. With a strong breath coming from my own chronic illness-kissed body, I want to say some things.
Responding to crisis and medical needs well means listening thoroughly to the voices of strong survivors and brave healers. They can lead with conviction. Being impacted by illness does not make you weak or invisible or inferior or a burden, but I am heartbroken that many of you who are physically-hindered have come to these wounded places righteously. I see your strength, your courage and your perseverance. I see the value of your whole person and want to hear your informed truth on how we can change as a society to be better life-livers and crisis-handlers. I’m honored to stand among you.
To our healing professionals, I am touched by your wordless advocacy. You work with honor and courage and sacrifice. With heart-full sincerity, thank you.
If you are not a person affected by illness (I celebrate for you!) and not a professional healer, I beg you to be a part of creating a world where healing is less effort. Tolerate better conversations where struggle is being shared by those working hard to heal (without interruption for listener self-soothing). Your unsolicited advice or distracting disbelief comes from a place best processed outside the presence of the one working hard to heal. Just listen to their stories. Understand their journeys. Be ready to meet the expressed need, not the one you pre-decided would make you most comfortable. Your inviting, compassionate, and often quiet presence will become medicine to those who need it. And, when the time comes, use your interrupting energy to halt the movement of others who are uncomfortable acknowledging struggle. They need you to be strong. They need you to show them how to listen first and act second.
We need you to work less at convincing yourself (through attempts at convincing us) that we are brave. Just treat us as brave. You follow the brave into the areas they know.
And, when a person in power attempts to stifle brave voices, simply don’t let it work.
Reflections on lessons learned from being a therapist and adoptive dad.