No, There Isn't a Reason for Me to Have RA

Everything in life happens for a reason. That’s what “they” tell us anyway. In the context of RA, I don’t believe that, at least not anymore, because no specific reason exists for me to have RA.

I refuse to accept that being diagnosed with RA in October 2018 was destined to happen to me, and what I’ve found is that this refusal has allowed me to more powerfully assert myself and my condition. It’s given me the opportunity to critically engage myself in a new set of challenging circumstances that were certainly not expected.

A reason for an RA diagnosis?

I’m not sure if there are other community members with this experience, but lately, I’ve been having conversations with family and friends that go a little something like this:

Them: “Oh, you have RA?”
Me: “I do, yes. I was diagnosed in October 2018.”
Them: “That’s terrible, I’m so sorry. As hard as it is, there’s a reason this came into your life; it can teach you a lot.”

What is the reason for RA in my life?

Usually, I don’t have too much to say after that. Yes, I agree that RA can teach you a lot—it certainly has taught me about this disease and myself (and how those two are interconnected). And I am grateful for that.

"There's a reason" is a placeholder

However, saying “there’s a reason this came into your life” is a placeholder. It’s meaningless. Rather than being comfortable with the unknown, that phrase becomes a way to explain the unexplainable, to make sense of something that shouldn’t happen.

While this might be a natural human response (I venture to say that it is), I don’t think we fully process the connotation of that phrase. It’s a way to avoid dealing with other people’s pain and suffering, to say “this pain is not mine, and I don’t want to understand it, so there must be a bigger reason why it’s happening to them.” I understand why it happens, but it annoys me nevertheless.

Can I learn from RA if there isn't a reason?

Moreover, although there is not a reason that RA waltzed its way into my life, that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from having RA. Although it’s only been a little over a year, I’ve learned so much from this disease and myself:

  1. It’s taught me how to assert myself, especially when I must choose to protect my body and how I’m feeling over going out with friends and co-workers.
  2. The importance of my body, my corporeal reality. That the pain that I experience is real; it is not something I made up in my head.
  3. That this is my existence and that that is a reality. It is not subject to other’s beliefs and opinions.

I'm grateful for the lessons that RA has taught me

And I am grateful for these lessons. I am grateful for being able to talk about my condition. I am grateful for having the means and the privilege to afford health insurance and medication to treat my condition. It’s just that RA was not purposefully put into my life to teach me these things.

So, no, there is not a reason for me to have RA. I am tired of being told that.


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