Saturday, March 13, 2010

With Friends Like These...

I'm warning you know. Look out. This is going to be a bad one.

If you are offended later, I don't want to hear it, because I'm warning you now that I could possibly anger someone, but then again, being that you are "My peeps," I somehow think you'll totally get this.

And truly, this can't be held in. I am LIVID, and I suspect that many of you are too.

I am livid because I have been hearing THIS for the past two years, and the last person who told me was either just the straw that broke the camel's back, or else when I considered the source, it just made me feel enraged for all the inappropriate things I DON'T say to him, which I am going to list here and now.

O.k. so let me back up...In fact, let me back WAY up...and I promise, when I finally DO write the thing I'm tired of hearing, I'll BOLD it for ya since I backed up on everyone. (If you think that is frustrating, you probably don't want to get behind me when I'm driving.)

Seven years ago, I began dating the world's sweetest man. He is a very intelligent, considerate and well-respected man, but he is also a rather shy and introverted man, a wallflower if you will, uncomfortable in social situations, bookish, careful with his words and just all around not the type of man you would expect to date...say... Dance Club Barbie.

And as luck would have it at that time, I was Dance Club Barbie.

Or at least I was the outgoing, fashion plate, social calendar overbooked, sports car driving blonde on whom he happened to develop a crush.

So when the two of us indeed began dating, many of our friends, co-workers and even family members sorta scratched their heads at the rather unlikely pair that we had become. Most people chalked it up to "Opposites Attract," or something like that.

And perhaps that was a bit of our case. Who Knows? All I do know is that attracted I was. I hadn't ever fallen so much in love, nor so deeply, nor had I ever experienced the kind of chemistry that was present between the man who would become my future husband and me. And yes, that kind of chemistry STILL exists all these years later; I can assure you. Seven year Itch? Not in this household. The only man I itch for is my tall and handsome husband.

But seven years ago, during our dating years, I imagine my husband probably developed a bit of a complex, when everyone appeared shocked that he had landed such a party girl. I can still, rather satisfyingly, see the look of shock on his family's faces when I walked in to meet them on his arm. His brothers jaws promptly hit the ground, and he swears they formed a new found respect for him on the spot.

So imagine our surprise several years later when all the, "Wow, man. You must be smooth to land her. How did you do it?" comments turned to, "Wow, lady. You are so lucky to have such a great husband with a good job whom is so devoted to you even though you are sick."

(Even though you are sick - those words BURN into me now, but we'll get to that.)

But let's stick with the past for a moment more, because I would like to point out that when the perception changed from my husband being lucky to land me to him being some sort of hero for putting up with my disease, we thought it was hilarious. The two of us spent a few years laughing about how people could switch their opinions so readily when really we had both felt all along that we were both just as lucky, just as in love with each other from day one until now.

Alas, every joke loses its luster. And after six years of hearing their not so veiled comments, I find that I'm not laughing so much anymore.

Perhaps it is because I have heard it for way too long, or perhaps (and this is what I suspect is the truth), the disease has progressed to the point where my husband actually does carry an increasingly bigger portion of the load.

But whatever the reason, I heard it again recently and I LOST it. I logged onto facebook, with hope upon hopes, that the person who spewed that awful comment my way would recognize their words and know my retaliation was meant for them. I wrote, "If you say to me that I am lucky to have such a devoted spouse because I am ill, I might say back to you that you are lucky to have such a devoted spouse even though you are hideously fat and ugly."

Now, I have said this before, and I will say it again. I have no beef with fatness. I have battled weight before myself. It is simply that the same person who made that insensitive comment to me happens to be marrying a person that is very large. My husband happens to think I am very lovely, beautiful, kind and intelligent (and we all know I'm sassy.) So perhaps my disability is not a "thing" for him. Perhaps, in fact, he feels lucky that disabled or not, a woman of my particular kind finds him so appealing.

And so while I know many of my friends were, in fact, offended by my FB statement, I think it was important for them to see the superbitch in me fly for once, to know that their little sly comments are NOT making it under the radar. I see the insult, intended or not, in their words, and I am not going to endure it anymore. Because you see, a person may have the most perfect, gold-plated, hard as steel joints there are out there, but I'm sorry to say that does NOT make them a catch. So yes, for every time you wonder aloud why my husband stays with his "sick wife," I may have to wonder aloud how you stay with your dumb one.

Or crazy one.

Or pastie white, crooked teeth having, pants hiked up on her waist one.

Or infertile one.

Yes, one person who made this statement to us has been struggling with her own fertility issues for YEARS. Do you KNOW how hard it was for me not to point out her own failings in the face of her obvious rudeness.

But I would never. Because let's face it, most of us never WOULD say these things to other humans. So then tell me again why THEY feel it is appropriate for them to wonder at my husband's motives aloud.

The bottom line is that some of us may indeed have RA, or MS or lupus or Cancer, and that does not mean our spouses are STUCK with us. It means they love us in spite of our challenges, or because of our integrity when faced with such challenges. It means that yes, they are honoring their vows, but they are doing it with joy and love and even passion and lust, not because they are candidates for Sainthood.

So I say, the next time someone has the gall to wonder aloud how anyone puts up with your having RA, ask them why anyone puts up with their ass period!


  1. very, very true lol! Here's the deal...all of us are gonna have some sort of health issue..especially as we get older. These people who say they not realize that they can be stricken with cancer or heart failure at any time? I do medical transcription and daily I type reports on patients who were just diagnosed with cancer and were healthy a few months before....many are in the prime of their lives. Also, not to mention the health problems that can come from age. At one point in time in our lives everybody will have some sort of health problem even if its surgery that can put us down to rely on our spouses or families for help. I am not married but if I was I would think what a wonderful marriage I had that my husband is so supportive of me. You are truly fortunate to have him and he is as fortunate to have you. I guess the main thing to remember is alot of people are idiots and that is their handicap! Keep up the fight!

  2. Leslie,

    You are SO right. That is one of the peculiar challenges about facing a disease like this when we are so young. Our older RA having counterparts probably have peers that recognize health challenges are just a part of life. When you are as young as my husband and I have been though, facing such a serious illness, it becomes difficult to find friends and colleagues who "get it." I think that is one thing we have to look forward to as we age!

  3. It always amazes me, how cruel and petty people can be to those who are somehow "other." I have a dear friend who is morbidly obese. She is a sweet, loving, beautiful woman; her physical issues are wrapped up in an appalling childhood and two rapes when she was a young woman. It's easy to look at someone like her and jump to the conclusion that she has no willpower, that she's an uncontrolled glutton, that she's responsible for her own situation and obviously hasn't the strength of character to do something about her situation.

    My friend has been on one or another diet continuously for more than 20 years, unsuccessfully until recently. In the last four years she's lost more than 250 pounds -- no mean feat, believe me. I know this because I'm her friend; I know how hard she works at losing weight and how incredibly difficult her life is. She has hopes and dreams just like anyone else.

    And yet when she goes out, she endures looks of scorn and disgust, snide, cruel comments about her weight, and downright open hostility from people she's never met and will probably never meet again. People who certainly have issues of their own and who would be just as hurt and distressed if someone they didn't know brought up their shortcomings.

    SB, you're right to be angry at people (friends!!?) who belittle you and express admiration for your husband because he "puts up with" your RA. I don't blame you a bit. I think at times like that, it's completely appropriate for you to confront your attackers; after all, they just attacked YOU without regard for how it might hurt you. They deserve to have their eyes opened.

    I wonder whatever happened to good manners in our society. It's awful that people would even THINK such a thing, but far worse that they haven't the grace to keep their thoughts to themselves. Good for you for fighting back. Perhaps they'll remember how their words can hurt the next time they feel like insulting you or anyone else.

    Hang in there. Leslie is right -- idiocy is a handicap, too. Perhaps the biggest one of all.

  4. Amen!!! I understand because it used to be how my husband ended with someone as smart, as educated, and as career-minded as me, now it is good for him for staying with his sick wife. The thing is I am still all those other things, but the fact that I am "sick" stands out more these days.

    And it doesn't matter what anyone thinks because your husband is not with you because he feels sorry for you. He is with you because he loves you for who you are - the same as he did before RA.

  5. Thanks Guys!!!

    I know it sounds awful to admit that these ugly things cross my mind, but I think it happened as a sort of defense mechanism sprang up as a result of so many hurtful comments directed my way.

    I will say that one good thing that came out of the FB comment is that quite a few of my friends called to say that they knew my hubby was a good man, but so much of his support arose from me also being a good wife. I think my words did cause them to stop and think about their comments. And if so, I'm glad that that is the case. Maybe they will think before they say it to another person.

    And Lana- I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that went from being a great catch to a sick albatross around his neck. ;) Aren't people so mean?

    And Leslie- my hubby thinks you saying that idiocy is a handicap is clever. ;)

  6. I think you're absolutely right to call them on their comments.

    Sometimes people just don't think at all about what they're saying...if they actually stopped and thought about it, they might rethink things and never say them in the first place or never say them again.

    Because of your actions, you might have saved someone else from the hurt you've had to undergo. So good on you for having the guts to speak your mind!

    :) L

  7. Thanks Laurie! Knowing I know some people in the same boat definitely helps, so I love it when you guys let me know I'm not alone!

  8. You always get me fired up and ready to go out and say all sorts of inappropriate yet awesome things to people who have insulted ME over the years. I will think of you the next time someone does!

  9. Awwww, thanks Helen. You made me laugh today! That's for sure!!!

  10. Holy macaroni! I can't believe a "friend" would say something like that!! I sometimes think to myself (when I'm having a pity party) how lucky I am that my hubby is sticking around even though he didn't sign up for this. But really, what would anyone expect? I wouldn't marry someone who was only around for the good times. And I wouldn't be friends with someone who implied that!!
    You go girl!

  11. Hey, that was awesome! You got me totally fired up to smack down the next person who mentions how short I am, when I have carefully not mentioned how fat they are! Ha! BTW, thanks for the link of the week- I totally appreciated it, very sweet of you.

  12. A+ I would have said the same thing! <3

  13. Skye- You're awesome. I need you wtih me next time.

    Mommydoctor: I find your blog so entertaining and interesting! I know others here will like it. :) Thanks for getting fired up with us. ;)

  14. Cheers to you, RA SB! I'm sure I would have said something a bit snippier. However, your ambiguity certainly made people stop and examine themselves! Yay! Sounds like they needed it!

  15. Oh, God, do I get this one! I have to grit my teeth every time I hear remarks like this. Some of the women in our group of friends have taken to calling my husband a "saint" and telling me over and over how lucky I am. I don't hear these same people EVER telling him how lucky he is!

    Reading this helped me a lot, because I've actually let this hurt my self-esteem. I've stopped thinking of myself as a "catch" and have bought into the idea that I am the lucky one, which also makes me the defective one. Before RA, I thought my husband was lucky to get me! I wasn't "Dance Club Barbie," but he was very shy and didn't date much, and I was outgoing and attractive and smart and fun... (I feel funny saying those things about myself - isn't that sad?) I thought I was lucky to get him too, since he was handsome and smart and sweet - but the point is, I made things interesting and fun for him, and clearly added to the quality of his life, as he added to mine.

    I hate how things have changed, and I hate, hate, HATE being the "lucky one!" And next time someone talks about what a saint he is, I will try to remember your post and get angry instead of sad!

  16. I don't disagree with any of these comments. However, when I hear something like that -- someone telling how lucky I am to have such a terrific husband (for whatever reason), I first agree with them because I do feel lucky to have him in my life. And second, I wonder if there isn't a bit of jealousy or envy. Maybe your "friends" just don't trust that their own spouses would stick around for "worse" instead of just "better".

  17. I hear that all the time. ALL the time. From anyone. Family, friends, total strangers. Once, just once, I'd love to hear someone tell me how lucky he is to have me.