Is optimism a position of privilege?
Regardless of my life circumstances (past and present) that have been anything but privileged, let’s look at the suggestion that people with Rheumatoid Disease (PRD) who are determined to define themselves can only do so if they are in a position of privilege, enjoying these things:
1) “You have to have a support system”
After a million contacts with PRD in the past 8 years, I’d say most probably go online because they do not have an adequate support system yet.
As for me, I’ve never had much of a support system. Many church folk and neighbors rejected me when I was diagnosed (Alder should really read those posts btw). I struggle with being able to talk to family members or friends about my needs because I don’t think they can understand. My greatest support was my kids who are apart from me now, especially my daughters who are thousands of miles away.
2) “people who can take care of you”
Some PRD do have spouses or parents to help care for them. I try not to resent that they have what I don’t.
3) “you have to not be in danger of losing your home because of no longer being able to work”
Oh, Adler, I’m sorry if you’re in danger of losing your home. I do hear stories of this and it’s heartbreaking. It does happen to optimists and pessimists. People with RD and people with MS and people with cancer…
As for me, I was work-disabled overnight 10 years ago. For almost 2 years, I’ve been homeless, living out of a suitcase, staying with generous friends. Whatever I’ve been through, I decided years ago that I would rather define myself than let my circumstances define me. This is particularly difficult with the abuse that I’ve endured, and with losing physical abilities overnight with a disease like RD.
But that also makes it particularly important. If I let either of those horrendous things define me, there might be nothing left of me.
There would be nothing left of the funny, kind person God made me. So I fight to keep her.
“It’s not a blessing by any definition”
RD is not a blessing. That’s a no brainer.
But circumstances are what they are. The question is: how are we going to respond? Sometimes we need to be angry. Sometimes we need to wail in pain. But in the end we can’t escape the need to find peace. Many find that in silver linings.
For most of us, life’s no bowl of cherries. Many feel empowered by making lemonade when life gives them lemons. Is that wrong?
Was Don Quixote in a position of privilege?
Man of La Mancha is a story that had great impact on my life. Since I was a kid I recited the words to The Impossible Dream and played Richard Kiley version over and over. (And I listen to the CD now!) There was no social media, so there was there was no stranger to disparage me for being a sap. I had no idea I was a sap.
I created this website with the same naiveté. I thought I’d just dig out facts and present them clearly to help others, conquer ignorance, and stir up enough momentum to make a difference. I had no idea it would become as big as it has.
Yet, sometimes, I’m criticized on both sides, accused of being too upbeat and of being too pessimistic. Sometimes on the same day. You cannot please everyone, and honestly, you shouldn’t try. That has never been my goal. My goal has always been to inform and encourage. I have chosen to be true to myself as I write for this site that I built and pay for: I make a joke whenever I can, but I take patients seriously. I tell it like it is and try to make the world see how terrible RD can be, but I strive to lift people up.
My position of privilege
I take it back. I am in a position of privilege.
I am privileged to be blessed with a positive attitude and a caring heart toward others. Yes it gets me in trouble sometimes, but I’m privileged that God put his love in my heart.
What about you? Do you usually try to look on the bright side even when things are terrible? Does it sometimes annoy others?