There are times when I literally have to “frame” an episode of something that feels traumatic to be able to see through it. Giving it some kind of temporary placeholder so I can step back and see it differently, more thoroughly. Maybe it is a type of barrier so I can define what is truly traumatic and what is simply cruel or mean-spirited by others.

I am amazed at what felt traumatic as I walked through chronic illness. Most of it is legit. It is traumatic to be chronically ill; the physcial pain, not enough resources, no family and have the disease that others label as the crazy person’s disease or the lazy person’s disease.

There are also times that we “Lymies” have heard it all, so many times that we come to expect it from others. I have had Lyme since early childhood so I have had lots of up front and personal attacks on my character, my sanity and my parenting. Beyond what is reasonable for any person to endure.

Yet there are still times when I realized that people are sometimes just plum rude, insensitive, cruel and mean-spirited, having nothing to do with me personally. It is hard in the heat of a mean-spirited conversation to always be able to determine if it is directed personally at me or the person has a character flaw in general.

So, I invented my own “framing” method. I often found myself in these verbal exchanges with people who were hurting me, digging the knife deeper, literally cutting open old wounds. I “framed” it, then backed off until I could evaluate it.

“Framing” it helped me to put the exchange and the person in this temporary frame until I could see through the yuck to find truth instead of reaction. I found myself doing this naturally as a protection. It was interesting to me how I processed it.

How did I “frame” a mean-spirited exchange with another person which feels like I was being attacked.

  • Place the situation (me and them) in this frame to isolate it for the moment. Remove myself from the situation to calm myself and evaluate if it is even worth moving on. If I could let it all go at this point, I did.
  • Make it a lovely frame to represent that all people surely must have good in them that sometimes I could not see in the moment of an exchange. Start with giving others the benefit of doubt, surely they cannot be as cruel as I was currently perceiving it.
  • Determine if I was being over-sensitive, or not.
  • Examine others words and actions towards me. Is it their character to be cruel or is this an isolated incident that I might have misunderstood. Hurt people hurt others. Are they the ones who are hurting and lashing out.
  • Concluson — Sorry to say, many times, I came to realize that people are as cruel as I perceived they were. The victory in this is that I did not add fuel to the fire by lashing out during the exchange.

These sticky exchanges could be “framed” so that I did not react every time it happened. These exhanges did happen more than I expected, so I learned to frame it, evaluate it and usually just let it go.

When we are walking through chronic illness and have past trauma along with current trauma of our situation, we are hyper alert and sensitive. The more I became aware of this during my illness, I was able to walk away from useless conversations with people who are cruel. No point in even looking back.

When we are fighting for our lives, it is no time to be a doormat for others. It is okay not to be so nice all the time. It is also okay not to go to battle with everyone who hurts us. We have enough battles without these foolish ones that do not contribute towards a better existence in any way.

Finally came to the conclusion that when I place these situations on a balance it is easy to make a judgement for what is best.

  1. In one hand is the fight to try to get others to be nice to me while I struggle with chronic illness or
  2. In the other hand is the use of every ounce of energy I have to fight for life, a good life of health.

For me, the choice is easy. I had enough struggles to battle through daily, I did not need to battle with the mean-spirited people who most likely will never change. Let those meaningless battles go so I could win the war.

I am at the end of my chronic illness. My body is finally healing. It takes time, patience and a lot of hard work. One of my soul lessons from this experience has been that I am worthy of this fight to heal and have a good life. At this point it is finally engrained in me so that I do not allow the foolish and mean-spirited people take it away from me.

How many billions of people on this planet? I choose to find like-minded people to engage with. I choose to be kind toward others who are mean-spirited towards me, and quickly remove myself. I can be kind without being a doormat. They have been “framed” and I have been released from the nonsense of it all. Okay, I still have to practice what I preach from time to time but have gotten the hang of it.

How have you chosen to deal with the people who have been cruel or mean-spirited to you through your illness?

Have you gotten to a place where you can separate the nonsense from the bigger goal of getting healthy?

Do you feel worthy of being better than others cruel nonsense?

Maribeth Baxter, MBEC

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Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.


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