Shit My Ableist Family Members Say: Chronically Misunderstood

After spending Thanksgiving with my extended family, I realized about 95% of my conversations with them included a lot of ableism and me gritting my teeth. There’s some of things they’ve said to me recently:

  1. “I’m so glad you’re better!!!”

My Grandmother told me how happy she was that I was all better at Thanksgiving, when I literally had an endoscopy the day before. About 80% of the time I was at her house I felt like I was being stabbed in the stomach, but my face told another story. Just because I’m good at pretending to be “fine” for your sake, doesn’t mean I’m not screaming in pain.

2. “You’ve learned some great life lessons though”

Yes, I became sick as a child so I could learn a few lessons. One of them is how absolutely insensitive that comment is. Another, is how to restrain myself form decking you in the face.

3. “Do you have a real life now?” or “Are you truly living now?”

Apparently my life wasn’t worth living when I laid in bed sick for months, but dragging my aching body around to school is a meaningful and “real” life.

4. “Sometimes God just answers prayers slowly”

While I am a Christian and believe in God, the idea that one day God is going to magically cure me is ridiculous. Some problems don’t have resolutions, and that expectation leads to devastation.

5. “People who apply for disability are just lazy”

If I wasn’t a minor I definitely would have been on disability, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Also, wow just wow.

6. “I just don’t know how it’s possible that you’re STILL sick!”

Touche

…but it’s called “chronic” illness for a reason.

 

These are just a few of my favorite gems! There’s many, many more and a part two may have to happen soon.

What is the most ridiculous thing people say to you about your chronic illness(es) / disabilities? I’m sure you all have some great stories!

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How did you know you were gay?

Even though I’ve been out for a few years now, I’ve never really had anyone ask me “How did you know you were gay?” until a few weeks ago. One of my lab partners (who’s also gay) asked me this kind of out of the blue while we were working on our lab report after class. Honestly, I didn’t have a great answer prepared.

I told her about an experience I had sophomore year of high school, where I randomly had a huge crush on this girl I didn’t really know in my Chemistry class. I wrote about that crush a long time ago, but I’ve since come to some other realizations. I think she could have been replaced with a thousand different people and it wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s not that I don’t have standards, or that I’m attracted to every girl I come in contact with – that’s far from the truth. It was just a period of time where I was questioning and figuring everything out, and she just so happened to be in the same class as me.

Now, my lab partner wasn’t exactly satisfied with this story. “But how do you know it wasn’t just her?” That question threw me for a loop a little bit. There’s no good answer, I just do. It’s a feeling that, I don’t feel the need to question anymore. For me, sexuality isn’t a complicated part of my life. I know how I feel, and who I like. It’s just that simple. It wasn’t that easy in the beginning, but over time the doubts left and I feel perfectly content with the conclusion. I don’t have some great story about being swept off my feet by the love of my life, and I don’t think having that kind of story is necessary. I wanted the experience to be casual and simple, and it was.

Her questions came from a place of curiosity, but they definitely made me think about a few things. Why are people so obsessed with knowing every thought that goes through queer people’s minds when questioning their sexuality or gender? Also, why do they feel the need to question it’s authenticity? One of my favorite qutoes from Denice Frohman’s poem “Dear Straight People” is:

” Dear Straight People, I’m tired of proving my love is authentic, so I’m calling the reparations on your ass. When did you realize you were straight? Who taught you?Did it happen because your parents are divorced? Did it happen because your parents are not divorced? Did it happen because you sniffed too much glue in fifth grade? Dear Straight People, why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic?”

I get a whole lot of “I would have never known” and “Really???” This has to do with the fact that I don’t look queer enough in straight people’s eyes. I wear makeup, have shoulder length hair, and generally act feminine enough to be shoved (forcefully) into the straight box. I can look in the mirror and think, “wow I look really gay today” (in a proud way) and still no one suspects a damn thing. The authenticity of my gayness is questioned because I don’t look the part or fit perfectly into the tiny box created for the stereotypical lesbian.

I don’t mind answering these questions, or most questions for that matter. However, I am tired of both people in my day to day life as well as society as a whole questioning who I am because I don’t fit the mold. So, how did I know I was gay? I trusted myself, and through lots of introspection discovered the answer to this aspect of my life. Maybe it’s not the best answer, or the answer people want to hear, but it’s the most honest one.

Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving ya’ll!

This year I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m doing well in school, I have better doctors, and a great family. Thanksgiving last year I was feeling terrible, and had just dropped out of high school, now I’m going to college full time. My health issues are still present- I even had an endoscopy yesterday, but I feel like I’m beginning to get the help I need. Mental health wise I feel so much better. Last holiday season I was just going through the motions, and wasn’t truly enjoying any of it. I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy life and want to celebrate this year. I’m also thankful for the blogging community, especially since Queerly Texan is about to turn one year old!

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! Holidays can be incredibly hard when your struggling with chronic illness, mental health problems, or an unaccepting family. Be kind to yourself today. It’s okay to excuse yourself if you need a moment to recharge. Try not to stress out too much – the holidays are supposed to be a joyous time!

I hope ya’ll are all having a great Thanksgiving or just a great Thursday if you aren’t celebrating!

With love,

Alyssa

Revisiting My 2017 Goals

In December of 2016, I made a post about my new year’s resolutions and goals for 2017. So, did I meet my goals?

Goal #1- Getting a Driver’s License

In June, I was able to receive my diver’s license which has given me so much independence. I had a lot of anxiety surrounding the situation, but it went really well and I enjoy driving. I drive myself to school everyday, to some of my doctor’s appointments, and I’m able to run errands whenever I need to. When I couldn’t drive, I always had to do everything on my parent’s time table, which is difficult to do when you’re chronically ill. Now I can run errands or go somewhere when I’m feeling well or when I want to, which is very nice.

Goal #2- Obtain a GED

This goal was crucial for me to continue my education. I got my GED mid-may, which made it possible for me to attend college this fall. It was an incredibly hard decision to make, but I’m so glad that I chose to get a GED! I’ve enjoyed being able to go back to school and continue my education.

Goal #3- Be more positive

Being positive is something that isn’t always easy for me, especially when I’m feeling particularly depressed. I do think I’ve been more positive this year at times, but I also think this is something I’m going to have to constantly work on. When your life is chaotic and lots of negative things have happened, positivity can seem scary and vulnerable. I’m working on viewing positivity as a strength instead of a weakness (as weird as that sounds!).

Goal #4- Say “Yes” More

This year I’ve definitely stepped out of my comfort zone when it came to continuing my education. I’ve tried to say yes more when people asked me to hang out, or come to a gathering. Saying “yes” isn’t always easy for me and it’s definitely something I need to continue to work on. Being uncomfortable can be a good thing, and I’m trying to learn to embrace it!

Goal #5- Read the Bible More

I keep a journal of when I read the Bible, and comparing my notes from 2016 to 2017, I have spent more time in the word. I go through phases with my faith, where I’m really dedicated to prayer and reading scripture, and then I fall off the bandwagon. In 2017, I’ve tried to be more present in church. When I’m sitting in the worship service, I try to listen to what the Pastor is saying and listen to what God’s saying to me. My faith is incredibly important to me, and so I want to continue an upward trend of spending more time with God.

Goal #6- Volunteer

I’m slightly embarrassed to say I did not complete this goal. The first half of the year I was really sick, and wasn’t able to volunteer. Then I began to feel better, but school started and I got really busy. I have applied to volunteer at my local hospital, and so I hope to be able to help others more in 2018. I did  volunteer multiple times this year for my church, but I haven’t continuously volunteered anywhere. I’m looking forward to hearing from the hospital, and helping out wherever I can.

Goal #7- Reach Out

This year I’ve reached out to a couple of people I used to go to school with. While the conversations were nice, I’ve realized that I don’t need nor do I want to continue any sort of relationship with these people. That may sound harsh, but I was never very close with any of them and I feel as if I’m currently in a different stage of life than they are. It’s also not like they’re trying to actively pursue relationships with me either.  There’s no hard feelings, in fact I wish them all of the best. One thing I’ve  learned this year, is that people are in your life for a time and a reason. Most people won’t be in your life forever, but it’s important to recognize the good times you’ve had with them.

 

I can’t believe it’s about to be 2018! The year “2018” sounds futuristic to me, and I swear it was just 2012. I’m really excited about 2018, because I know my life is going to change dramatically over the next twelve months. It’s both terrifying and amazing, and I can’t wait to see where life takes me. I’m going to be posting my new goals for 2018 very soon!

 

Turning 18

Today, November 17th is my 18th birthday!

I have so many mixed emotions about turning 18, but overall I’m excited about it! To me it feels weird that I’m only going to be eighteen, since I’ve felt like an adult for a long time now. My family always jokes that I’m “17 going on 37” since I often act much older than I am. Even as a child I wasn’t really interested in being a child, as weird as that sounds. Immediately not much is going to change. I’m not going to buy cigarettes or have to be financially responsible for myself. The only “new” thing I get to do is sign all of the forms at the doctor’s office lol.

I feel grateful to be eighteen, and grateful to be in the place I am in now. Although this past month and a half have been more rough than the Summer was, I’ve still been able to keep up with school and have a generally functional life.  This time last year I had just gotten out of the hospital and dropped out of high school, now I’m going to college full-time and getting better help with my health. It’s amazing what a year can do. I look forward to seeing how my life changes within this next year!

 

But it looks cute! : Chronically Misunderstood

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “chronically misunderstood” post, but don’t fret strangers are rising up to the occasion and helping me continue this series!

The majority of the posts in this series are about events that happened a while back. This one however took place just a few weeks ago. If you saw my post about trying Corlanor, then you know this medication gave me fairly severe side effects. On the Monday after I started Corlanor I was a hot mess. I dragged my body to school since I had tests that week and needed to make it to class, but I looked awful. I had no make-up on, I was wearing an over sized jacket, and my hair was in a ponytail. Most days I slap on some make-up, straighten my hair, and trick everyone into thinking I’m fine, but I just couldn’t do it that day.

I got to my second class of the day, which is Algebra, and I needed to turn in my lab since I had missed Friday’s class to go to the Electrophysiologist. I walked up to my teacher’s desk and instantly everything went black and my whole body felt like jello. I grabbed onto her desk rather abruptly and slurred out enough words to explain what I was giving her. She looked at me like I was crazy, and I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m weird, but oh well. I made it back to my desk, and sat down, when the person who sits next to me asked an all too familiar question. “Is your face always this red?” I’ve gotten this question a lot over the years. Most people think I’m sunburnt or embarrassed, but it’s just my face and screwy autonomic nervous system. My face looked red because

1. I had no makeup on

2. I don’t regulate my own body temperature well and my face was super hot

3. I was trying not to pass out

I told him that no, I don’t always look like this, and I wasn’t wearing make-up or feeling well. I guess the look of exhaustion on my face made him think I was upset, so he started back-tracking and apologizing profusely. Honestly, I’m not offended by anyone asking, but I do think it’s rude. In the moment, I just really didn’t feel well and was too disoriented to have a whole conversation on why my face looked uglier than usual. The girl who sits next to him then said, “but it looks so cute! I wish my face looked like that!” Okay, cut the bullshit. I’m way more offended by you trying to act like I look “cute” than by some dumb guy essentially asking me why I look ugly today. It doesn’t look cute, it looks bad. There’s no need to act like it doesn’t. I’m not upset by it, it’s simply just something that happens and is a part of my chronic illnesses.

The girl then continued to tell me a story about when she had a reaction to a face wash in middle school. She ended with, “and yeah my face looked like yours.” There isn’t an eye roll big enough. During all of this I was still super disoriented and couldn’t form together enough words to respond. Oh the joys of chronic illness! I find it hilarious when people try to “relate” to my situation by telling me obscure things that have happened to them.

At least I look cute though, right?