Am I a Fake?
At the end of the last school year, I encountered one of those fake co-workers. You know, the one who kisses her superior’s bottom, then turns around and treats her peers like garbage? Yeah, she was one of those. She was horrible to my face. She rolled her eyes, scoffed at me, and generally looked down on me. Seconds later, she would turn on the charm to our boss, her voice would heighten by at least an octave, and she had a 100-kilowatt smile anyone would love.
She pretends to be nice.
I was tired of pretending with RA
A few days before I wrote this article (and what inspired it), I had a complete break down on my social media. I vented about a lot of things: I was tired of being sick, of being in pain, about feeling alone. I was frustrated that whenever I did well, a flare sent me spiraling back three spaces. But, I think the biggest takeaway was how difficult it was to pretend that I am not sick every single day.
Was I any different from my co-worker?
Can I fault my co-worker? She’s just hiding her undesirable character flaw. Don't I do the same thing, not with my personality, but with my rheumatoid disease?
I wake up in the morning. I walk my dogs, eat breakfast, and medicate. I go to work and I small talk. I smile, nod and ask about everyone else, keeping the conversation off myself. Of course, people (most, at least) are not rude and ask how I am. To which I smile widely and say, “I’m great! Thanks for asking.”
That statement is, of course, untrue so yes, it’s fake.
Plenty of friends know about my disease and follow up with, “How are you feeling, really?”
“I promise, good.”
That’s a lie.
Is pretending a part of living with RA?
Quite a few people know about my disease but many do not. When people find out about it, they are always surprised. “But, you look so good and are able to the job so well! I would never have guessed you have a physical disability! Wow!”
That makes me feel great because I don’t like to broadcast this but, at the same time, am I pretending to be someone I’m not? Am I pretending to be a healthy person?
It's essential to my job
At work, I do the expected walking, transitioning, standing, and sitting without complaint or help. I look fine, I don’t show the intense pain radiating through my body. I can’t sit back and sulk. People would think I’m unfriendly or unapproachable (not a good work-place characteristic) so I smile, nod and laugh through it all.
What counts as pretending when living with RA?
Let’s look back at my lovely co-worker. This sounds like the same situation.
Am I a fraud? It kind of sounds like I am! “Fake” people act a certain way to hide a flaw. I’m doing just that! So, I guess I am a fake.
But, this is a grey area, sort of. I am not hiding who I am as a person, just a medical condition that makes me look weak, incompetent or undesirable. None of which I am. I may pretend to be able-bodied, but I act like the person I would be without the RA.
Can you relate to this sentiment? What do you think? LMK in the comments!
Does your RA impact you financially?