Just in time.

“Ms. Dogkisses,”  the woman said, “Why do you wait until the very last minute to pay your bill each month?”

I looked at the clock on her wall.   In my world, 4:45pm was early.  Her office closed at 5:00.  It wasn’t only the time of day,  it was also the last day of the month that I could pay my bill without my auto insurance being canceled, so I was just in time.

I didn’t know what to say.  I guess I looked bewildered because her level of irritation immediately lessened.  She sat down at her computer and asked me to have a seat.  So I did.

I work under pressure.  Sometimes within minutes of a deadline.  It probably has a lot to do with chronic fatigue.  Maybe the pressure of a deadline gets my heart pumping and my adrenaline flowing and that’s the only way I can work!

She had a bowl of candy on her desk — with the good candy in it, like chocolate Kisses.  It was not your average office candy bowl with the hard peppermint candy or artificially flavored suckers.  I politely asked if I could partake and her warm smile made me feel like I could have the entire bowl if I wanted it.

Enjoying the chocolate I began to talk.  Sometimes, when I’m upset or nervous and must interact with people I talk too much.  I tend to tell the truth about what’s going on in my life.  I just start telling.  I usually manage to get a few laughs as I try and wrap my pain in humor.  Sometimes  it backfires and someone cries.

It takes energy for me to pretend I’m okay when I’m not.  Since my energy is endangered and possibly on the brink of extinction, I don’t try as hard anymore to make others feel better about how I feel.  I try to follow the social norms as much as I can, and manage pretty well most of the time.  Sometimes things get me, little things such as the normal greeting we are use to in America, “Hello, how are you?”

We are supposed to say fine and move on.  It’s easy to say fine to someone like the clerk at the register in the grocery store, but other times it’s harder.  The other day I was checking in for occupational therapy for my hand.  The clerk asked me how I was doing.  Well, I was very sick.  I was dizzy and thought it possible I might pass out before I could get upstairs.

“I’m fair,” I said, and I even gave a hint at a smile.  She was disappointed.  I get that a lot.  Fair is simply not good enough for many people.  I’m amazed at the responses I get from complete strangers because I said I was fair.

So, there I am paying my bill, feeling nervous that I interrupted this woman’s day by arriving just in time and I start talking and telling.  I tell the woman a few things about my life.  I tell her about my time.  I tell her that I have a son dealing with some hard things in life.  I tell her I’m overwhelmed.  I eat some more chocolate.  I don’t know exactly what it was I said that she most related to but she suddenly stopped typing.

She turned to me and asked if I would tell her more.  Her eyes had teared up.  I told her a little more.  Then she tells me.

She tells me how odd it is that I came in when I did and said what I said.  She tells me how she is completely moved by the things I said.

“I’ve never heard someone talk about these kinds of…” she paused, “problems or illnesses, whatever they are, the way you just did.”

I wasn’t sure how I had talked about anything other than being open about the way I felt.

She told me about what was happening in her life, which sounded a lot like what was happening in mine.  I listened.

Before I left her office she told me she had an epiphany, although I wasn’t sure what it was.  She said my timing had been personally important to her.    She was overwhelmed, as I was.  I don’t think she had a way to put that into words.  I guess that’s what she heard from me.  A way to talk about what is hard.

One thing that I think changes for those of us who live with chronic illness is time.    We are given time to reflect and think about life.   We also learn, as it seems we must,  how to talk about the difficult things in life.  This isn’t easy.  I believe that learning how to better talk about what is hard is part of our healing journey.

It’s hard talking about what is difficult to talk about.

I’ll probably continue to talk too much when I’m nervous.  I’ll probably continue being too honest at times.  I have tried to change this about myself,  but I can’t and I’m too tired to fight who I am.  I’ll most likely continue saying I’m fair when fine is just too far for me to grasp.

I’ve been told I wear my heart on my sleeve, that I cannot hide and that my eyes tell things about me.   I have in a way been forced by this part of who I am to learn how to talk about what people see; what I cannot hide and do not want to anyway.

Sometimes this part of being me works out alright.  My nervous honesty worked out alright paying my bill.  I think I’ve gotten myself out of a couple of tickets with sudden outbursts of utter truth.  I told the truth about why I was speeding (hard times!) and then another time about why I was driving — briefly without a seat belt — while tired in the middle of the night (hard times again!).   Both times the truth came out of my mouth faster than I could think.  Both times the truth was so bazaar the officers let me go.

Sometimes it’s good to talk about what is difficult to talk about.

The image of French Rose by, “The Graphics Fairy.”




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11 responses to this post.

  1. Hi, I just found your blog – I’m not sure how, and I loved reading it. I plan to be back!
    maureen

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  2. As always, when I read your posts I suspect that you’ve been reading my mind. Either that, or you are my spiritual twin! While being so open and honest can sometimes bite you in the arse, it goes a long, long way to keeping life simple (on your end at least) by not having to remember what you can say, or can’t say, or have said, or should say and you can be proud of who is looking back at you when you stand in front of a mirror. Being vulnerable and having that vulnerability exposed to others can certainly be scary and there will always be those who seek to take advantage of it – but if you live your life behind a 3 ft. wall of granite and steel, then you also lock out those who would have brought you joy and you deprive others of the comfort, friendship and love you could have given and shared. Worse yet, the construction of such walls would mean letting the bad guys win by depriving you of your most valuable possession: YOU. So this is a long winded way of saying, don’t ever feel like you’ve got to apologize to ANYONE not even YOURSELF for being who you are and trusting enough to share it.

    As to the awkwardness of responding to those who insist on asking “How are you?” – I’ve gotten in the habit of giving a one word response: “Lovely.” It’s fascinating how many different interpretations have been made by various people to my answer. I think that their reactions say much more about them, though, than it does about me. The answer works for me though as I generally am not at all interested in actually telling someone how I really am when those situations come up and rarely does anyone press for more info when I give this answer. The few who do inquire further I’ve found to be people who either actually care how I am, and/or, are sensitive to my response because of their own need and are hoping to open the door for me to listen to them. It’s a great filtering system.

    Be good to yourself today!
    xxoo
    Leslie,
    IconDoIt – The Blog

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    • Awesome Leslie! I love everything you say here. Maybe we are spiritual twins and that’s how you put my feelings into the “fence-sitter” with such great insight. (I’m waiting on just the right time to use that image.)
      Part of the reason I say I’m doing fair, or okay, or hanging in there, is as you say, it helps in keeping my life simple.
      I was brought up in a home where sharing the truth about anything personal was not cool. Through out my adult life this has been an ongoing lesson for me, many times over. I am simply not a person who does well with hiding or pretending. There is a part of me that screams inside when I try.
      I know a greeting is not supposed to mean telling someone all about my problems. I do however, wish that our culture encouraged more honesty than shallowness. My friend, who is an anthropologist and travels the world, tells me about how people greet each other in other parts of the world. My memory does not serve me well enough at this moment to recall if he was talking about Africa or India when he told me about how people touch hands, gently, almost like our handshake here in America, but that they continue touching hands, palm to palm, as they greet. He said they ask more than how you are doing and sometimes a greeting does get a bit long if someone has a lot going on in his or her life. I loved imagining the scenario he described and while we talked, we touched hands. What happened to us here in America?
      Being vulnerable is as you have pointed out, a part of this conversation too. Take my grammar for instance. I wish it was better. People want more than fair if what I write is to be taken seriously. But if I waited to write until my grammar is all good, then I might never write.
      My dad told me when I was about 23, that as long as the message one intended to send was communicated, that it didn’t matter how it was said. He told me that same evening “not to get above my raisin’.” He was not one of the people who encouraged me to hide anything. I asked him what he meant and he replied, “Don’t forget who you are or where you came from.” I think he must have been speaking to this business of hiding or pretending, words that as I write, I realize are connected in my mind.
      Thank you for such great food for thought. Thanks for reading too!
      Blessings and hugs to you!
      dogkisses.

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  3. Posted by Tammy on April 12, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    I think perhaps I was meant to find you. I live Lupus/RA and few pretty serious deficiencies as well. I have found when asked, “how are you” I respond with honesty if for no other reason then it gives me a chance to get it off my shoulder and out of my mind. I can respond with threee answers, not so good, not so bad or I’ve had better days for sure. This way I am being honest to myself and the asker without being a total downer in the process. The one thing I’ve learned with my 9 years of living with this mess is this, those who don’t get it never will & those who, embrace them wholely for they may be the very person who lifts you up one day when you can’t lift yourself up. I’ve been where you are in the post and healthy people simply don’t understand for the most part. Some do as in all things but most don’t. I’m glad you got your bill paid. That was a good day. Gentle hugs to you. Tammy

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    • Hi Tammy–
      I’m glad that you found my blog. I was tested positive for Lupus once and this last time I was in the hospital for a slow heart rate, and pleuretic lungs, I thought they should have tested me again, but they decided it was my lack of nutrition. I just finished an entire meal! Feeling pretty good about that at this moment and most of the time, life is just that, this moment.
      It’s nice to know someone who understands about the usual greeting. I can tell you do when you already have three replies you regularly use. I have a few I use too. “Fair” is my latest response.
      And it was a good day to get that bill paid! People don’t get it how doing something as simple as paying a bill can be really tough, even if you have the money.
      I look forward to visiting your blog!
      Blessings and hugs to you.
      dogkisses.

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  4. Wonderful post!

    We just never know, do we?

    I’ve always felt that – we may never know how important it may have been to cross paths at any given time.

    *hugs*

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  5. Posted by myfoggybrain411 on April 11, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    I certainly hope you don’t change the way you are, that’s what makes you so beautiful and honest! You helped someone who needed to be helped. We are all put on this earth for a reason and without people like you, how would that woman have been helped? Be thankful that you have been blessed with the ability to open up. For goodness sake, you have a GIFT, and we all appreciate that gift. 🙂

    I think your “too tired to fight” is God’s way of saying “finally woman! how long was it going to take??!!” hahahaha! You can only fight against what is meant to be for so long. We all learn the hard way.

    I, for one, am very blessed to partake in your gift. Your words always get me through the day when I need them the most.

    Thank you! 🙂

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    • hi myfoggybrain (smiles) I always like writing that.
      Thank you for your wonderful comment. It is really sweet. I know you’re right. It’s time to give up the fight and just let go. You’re words have sure warmed my heart and will help me get through this day. I mean that. Thank you.

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  6. That is beautiful! I do believe that we are put in places at certain times for a reason. You touched that woman’s life. Amazing feeling, huh? WOW!!!!!!!

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    • Hi Rose!
      Thank you for reading my post. Actually, I was thinking how she touched my life as I wrote today. I guess we touched each others lives. I find life too strange most of the time to think that things like this are only coincidences.
      Blessings and hugs to you!

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