After wearing my brace for a couple years, the "coolness" of it all wore off and I did NOT enjoy wearing it. It was hot, difficult to breathe in, and I had a pinched nerve in my hip which caused horrible pain while in the brace. My mom would constantly poke me in the ribs and remind me to wear it, along with the "you don't want to end up having surgery" speech. I knew she wanted the best for me and that she didn't actually want me to suffer through another 23 hours of wearing a hot, constricting, plastic shell. But more than that, she didn't want me ending up with two 18" rods screwed into my spine. Many times I would lie in bed thinking, "No one understands what it's like. If they could just spend ONE HOUR in my brace, they'd never tell me to put it back on." Within the next few years I had two friends in a back brace. And I have to imagine that if they had told me to go put my brace on, I'd do it without thinking twice. They knew what it was like. And somehow, that made it better.
When people offer to help, we say:
- "They just don't understand. They haven't been through this and can't help me."
- "I can't believe they said (fill in the blank with some ignorant/insensitive, but well-meaning statement)."
- "They must think I'm incapable."
When people don't offer to help (possibly because they are afraid of the judgment they will receive), we respond with:
- "Where were they? What kind of friends are they?"
- "They're so self-centered that they don't even see that I'm hurting."
The truth is, our human nature tends to judge and assume. We live in a time where helping is so hard. We are expected to say the right thing at the right time with the right motives and just the right amount of empathy. It's much easier simply not to help. But in the end, people will remember that you tried to be there. Let's be quick to help, slow to judge, quick to listen, and accept the fact that sometimes we need help from those we wouldn't necessarily expect.
Oh, and June is Scoliosis Awareness Month. Go get your kids screened. (Coming from someone who's "been there.")