In honor of this Mother’s Day I thought I’d give a little shoutout to the woman that has been with me on this journey since day one, paid for a lot of it, and may be even more emotionally taxed by it all than me, my momma. Although I have an incredibly close relationship with my mother, non traditional family structure, etc. I find myself lying to her the most about how I am at any given point time with regard to my health. And she definitely knows it.
Much like in “The one where Ross was fine” when you have loved ones so invested in how you are you want to be fine to lift some of that emotional weight we know they carry. Even though, like Ross, a lot of the time we’re definitely not fine. Now this kind of lie or “pretend fine” is totally different from when some rando asks how you are and you know they couldn’t give two shits so you just say, “oh yeah I’m fine” because they don’t want to know. This is different it’s a loving lie.
I think when you’re in this kind of dumpster fire of a health situation for a while one can err on the side of glossing over the gory details. I know I find myself doing it all the time even at the doctor, like “How are you?” I reply, “Good thanks,” what the fuck? No! Why did I say that? I’m not good. Even more so with our family and loved ones it’s like you don’t want to be a perpetual bummer to create more worry and concern. So it’s “yeah, I’m ok” or “oh I’m just having a little flare” or “it’s nothing just a little inflammation” all of those most likely translating to something a hell of a lot shittier.
It’s all these little subconscious lies and understatements that I find myself saying, because I worry about other people’s worry. Which brings me back to my mom. She has started to really catch on to this habit and our phone calls are often comical interrogations of if I’m actually fine or Ross fine (we really love Friends if you hadn’t noticed), questions about incriminating instagram likes with regard to my insomnia, to reminders about inflammation causing non AIP diet friendly foods seen in my snapchats. I love her tenacious and unwavering commitment to my care and am so thankful to have someone with google alerts for every one of my diagnoses. Have had to explain the whole Jewish mom thing to my primary care doc when I come in with a page of prewritten notes and follow up questions.
Yet, behind all the practical solutions, long phone calls, always answering a text with the perfect gif when I’m bumming hard, I know there is a huge emotional weight, and this applies to a few people closest to me but she’s the OG. So I find myself wanting to say, “oh yes I definitely got 8hrs of sleep last night” when in reality it was, “my back was in spasm so I laid on my kitchen floor and got about 2.5hr of non consecutive sleep.” Because lezbehonest what mom wants to hear that? NOBODY. But being the OG she outsmarts me every time and finds out one way or another. I’m thinking she has a mole on the inside in the form of my husband/home health aide.
I guess as much as I and perhaps other chronically ill folks try to protect those around us from the burden that is sharing in our journey and our daily battles, you also have to do right by yourself and be honest about your experience. As much fun as lying is, I don’t know that we’re really fooling anyone. So shoutouts to all the moms (and other loved ones) who care for their chronically ill bebes, you’re the real MVP.