Friday, September 4, 2015

Limitations

A few months ago, a friend invited me to go to the theater with her. I said no thanks since I don't do stuff anymore. Live theater? Too expensive when I might get a migraine and either not go or force myself to go and be miserable. A movie? Even with earplugs, it's loud enough that I might get a migraine. Concert? Completely unthinkable.

Plus, the travel to and from stuff is full of peril. I could get a migraine if the subway is too hot, I sit near someone wearing perfume or if it's just too crowded. And if there are too many stairs involved, I can do it, but I won't be able to walk the next day because I'm so out of shape from being sick all the time.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty bored with my "woe is me" routine. If I could just get a break from myself, it would be so much easier to put up with my shit. But I come here not to complain, but to make a point.

The thing is, I've always had limitations.

I used to roller skate in front of my house with a broomstick to steady myself. It embarrassed the Hell out of my mother, but I ignored her encouragements to try skating without a metaphorical net. This is because:
1. I really, really, really hated falling. Still not a fan, to be honest.
2. I was born with birth defects in my ankles and so they're pretty unsteady. Me on skates at all was either a miracle or evidence of utter stupidity.

Once in gym class, we had to walk a balance beam type thing, only higher. It was pretty much a two by four balanced on the stage and a ladder. The teacher gave us the option of using a big stick to steady ourselves. I went last and was the only one who opted to use the stick. I was openly mocked. I'm sure this was before I smashed my knees up in a car accident because we were still taking gym with the boys. (Starting in 7th grade, they split us up and the girls got stuck doing aerobics and other lame shit while the boys got to go outside and play baseball, which I suck at, but it would've been nice to to go outside. Apparently, our boobs would explode when exposed to fresh air.)

But I didn't care about my classmates' audible disgust. I'm clumsy and afraid of heights, and I was 10 years old, tops. I was going to do whatever it took to stay out of my school's non-existent nurse's office.


We've all got limitations. When you're a kid, you can't reach the high shelves and you want to eat candy until you puke, which isn't healthy for anyone. Until the age of 25, we're limited by our inability to truly understand the consequences of our actions (hence the higher car insurance rates). Some people can't sing. Some people can't remember the difference between their, there and they're and are judged by everyone else who was paying attention in school that day.

Yet we tend not to honor our limitations. We hide them so that people won't attack us for them. But the thing is - people who exploit other people's vulnerabilities are assholes. 

We don't want to live in a world run by assholes, but we do. And we let it happen. Every time we see someone be an asshole to someone else and we leave it to the target to defend themselves. It isn't rude to stand up for another adult - it's kind and supportive.

Sure I can stand up for myself. But I feel a lot less delusional when someone sides with me.

And then there are the people who don't respect our limitations. They're not assholes, they're just clueless. My friend actually appreciated it when I said I couldn't go to the theater with her. It's better than being cancelled on at the last minute if I was felled by a migraine. But other people might cajole and push me to go even though it's a bad idea. Not because they're assholes, but because they enjoy my company. Which is nice, but I'm shitty company when I'm in pain.

So I've started respecting my limitations as loudly as possible. When my extended family did a big camping trip this summer, I made it clear that for me right now, "camping trip" is spelled "let's go be sick in a forest." No one laid on any guilt or pressure. It's not like the entire extended family went anyway - and at this point, we'd probably have to reserve an entire mountain just to fit us all.

I'm also skipping a destination wedding next year because I don't want to be sick on a gorgeous beach. (And somebody will figure out how to live stream the festivities, or at least hold up their phone so I can watch via FaceTime.)

People can't respect my limitations if they don't know what they are.

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