When I tell you I like modern art, why do you tell me you hate it? Why do you tell me you don’t understand it? That it’s pointless? Or that you think it’s all commercialised; not like the old days, and that these youngsters can’t ‘draw’ or paint, and that’s not art.
Why is our first reaction to take an opposing view to the joy in others’ lives rather than learn about it?
I must admit before I properly begin, that I am not excusing myself from this generalisation; I am just as guilty of closing down in an instant when someone tries to explain an equation to me or make me complete a sum. Maths and numbers have always terrified me and as a child I found solace elsewhere, in a book or a sketch pad, as an adult my safety net is in simply stating my disinterest. Bluntly.
This strange habit of bashing others views simply because we don’t agree with them, or merely fully understand them, spans across all areas of life. From the importance of talking political standpoints, to the mundane of disagreeing on giving a film five stars out of five. Dirty Dancing is a solid FYI. No arguments.
The same habit occurs regularly when the subject of illness rears its head. Our first reaction is almost always to either head-tilt in faux sympathy or instantly compare and contrast with your ‘brother/mother/sister/greatgreatgreat grandmother who had that…’.
Why not ask us about it? Ask me about my Crohn’s. Ask me how I am and what it entails. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? I’m not going to spontaneously rage-combust, or punch you, or direct an an alien to burst out of my stomach if you say the wrong thing. Although how cool would that be if I could?! Dinner parties would suddenly become more interesting. And messier. Small talk would be eliminated with a swift lift of my crop-top.
Don’t tell me how I should be feeling based on your limited knowledge, or compare my symptoms to your distant relative/cat/someone you saw once on Casualty; listen and maybe learn a little more than you think you already (think) you know. If you have a chronic illness you pretty quickly become an expert on your own body. Who better to teach you the ways of the colon than someone who’s own nether regions 75% of the Gastro ward staff have had unadulterated access to? That’s right, no one.
We don’t have to agree on everything, (the world would be an incredibly dull place if we did), but we do have to try and be respectful of one another and allow a little room for information to be shared.
However, if you disagree with me that The Name of The Game is the greatest ABBA song of ALL TIME I will fight you to the death.