Chronic pain · Fibromyalgia

Explaining away my limitations

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Would it have helped if I looked like this?

Last week I went to buy a carton of beer for my fiance.  Knowing I wouldn’t be able to carry the carton myself, I picked up a trolley from the supermarket next to the bottle shop as I’ve done many times before.  Unfortunately, being Christmas Eve, the shop was pretty busy and had therefore instituted a ‘no trolleys’ policy.

Not wanting to make a fuss, I parked my trolley aside the others outside the shop door and ventured inside. I picked up two bottles of champagne (I did have two free hands after all) and headed to the register.

“I would like to buy a carton of Summers” I told the lady behind the counter, “but I can’t carry the box.”

“Okay” she replied casually turning to her co-worker. “Dave*, this lady wants to buy a carton of Summers but can’t carry it. Can you grab it for her when you get a chance.”

As the lovely lady turned back to ring up the sale and ask about my holidays, I received the eyeballing of a lifetime from Dave. “Okayyyyyyyyyy”, he replied while looking me up and down with the quizzical why-can’t-you-do-this-yourself look.

My immediate reaction was to explain myself, to make Dave feel less uncomfortable about helping me. “I’ve recently had a c-section”, I considered saying.  Everyone knows you can’t lift anything heavy after a c-section.  Everyone will be more comfortable if I just say I’ve had a c-section.  It’s not like it’s a total lie.  I did have one, 6 months ago.

As the c-section remarks raced through my head, another thought charged in and shoved them out of the way.  I don’t actually have to explain myself.  I can’t carry the box, that’s it.  This bloke doesn’t even have to go out of his way to help me, it’s his job.

And so, rather than revert to my usual behaviour of making excuses, justifying why I need help, or lying because it’s easier than explaining the truth, I turned to the lady at the counter and told her my Christmas Day plans.

As we finished our chat, Dave walked over and told me he had placed my carton into the waiting trolley outside.  Again making sure to give me a long once over, looking for any visible sign of my inability to do what he obviously  believed to be an easy task.

Not my responsibility, I thought as I left the shop.  It’s not my job to make you feel more comfortable about my limitations.  It’s not my job to explain why I have limitations.  The only responsibility I have is to myself to ensure I know what my limitations are and that I adhere to them.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

*NB Name has been changed due to my awful memory.  I have nothing against Daves, it’s simply the first name that popped into my head.

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