Growing up, I was known as the family klutz. My parents loved to tell everyone about the multiple times I fell down the stairs without even moving. No matter where we were, they couldn’t wait to bring it up. I know they thought it was funny and didn’t mean any harm, but it still hurt and didn’t do much for my self-esteem.
I was 9 or 10 when it happened. I was standing at the top of the stairs and without moving a muscle, I managed to fall down the stairs and cut my chin open. When I got the bandages off a few weeks later, I did it again.
That’s my first memory of being made fun of for being clumsy. At 52, it still happens. At first, I played along. I would laugh, while inside I felt embarrassed and humiliated. Now, it’s hard for me to hide the hurt and anger I feel when I’m made fun of for something I have no control over.
Some of it has to do with my balance, or lack thereof. I hope I’m never stopped by the police and made to walk a straight line. I’d fail in a big way. I couldn’t walk a straight line to save my life.
For years, I felt like an idiot for falling, running into walls and stumbling over my own feet. No matter how hard I tried, I would do something to embarrass myself and others. I don’t do these things on purpose, but try telling that to the ones who are upset by my mishaps.
I tried physical therapy to help work on my balance, to no avail. The therapist thought I wasn’t doing my exercise homework. I really did, but it didn’t help. Looking back, I think I needed to give it more time and should have sought a second opinion. Maybe it was the therapist and not me.
Beating a person up emotionally because of an illness that they can’t control really says a lot about the other person’s character. My parents didn’t know it was health-related and never would have made fun of me if they had known. Unfortunately, there are people who do know and still are very cruel to me.
One thing I’ve noticed is that stress makes my balance worse. I walk into walls, table corners and doors. I have the bruises to prove it. If I get really worked up, I use essential oils to calm down. Lavender is my go-to oil to relax and clear my head.
Lack of sleep is another big one for me. At times, I am totally exhausted and have trouble functioning. Getting around without hurting myself is close to impossible.
When I was diagnosed with FM, I thought people would stop making fun of me. I thought they would be more understanding. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Instead of being sympathetic, some people were just the opposite. The diagnosis didn’t change the fact that I was still an embarrassment. Who wants to be out in public with someone who walks into tables and trips over their own feet?
To combat my awkwardness and instability on my feet, I try to get to bed at the same time each night. I also find that coming to grips with the fact that I can’t change who I am, but I can change how I react and respond to others, is crucial to my well-being.
Fibro took away my balance and it makes me look like a fool at times, but it could be worse. People need to lighten up and understand we are human and have feelings. Laughing at others because of an illness is mean-spirited and uncalled for. Stand up for yourself. Try to surround yourself with others who laugh with you, not at you. Life is too short to let others steal your joy.
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