I suck at small talk. I can do it, but I find it pointless because you never get to the heart of the person you are communicating with. Plus it is exhausting.
Even funnier than small talk is when someone tries to sound smart or impressive. I heard someone once say, in reference to something I have forgotten, “I suppose that is part of the deaf community.”
The statement sounded like something that needed to be hugged through sensitivity training. And I have never been able to shake it. I think it might be because I don’t want to admit that sickness of any kind has a community basis to it. Something just feels so permanent about adding yourself to a community. I’m not so good at the whole community thing. I was raised to be fiercely independent. When you add that to the mix of being somewhat non-functional, you’re doomed for a perfection crisis. That reared its ugly head when my fibromyalgia hit its worst point a few years ago.
I live with my parents and Oz. He occupies the basement. So we tortuously live together without actually living together. This has continually stung me, because Oz went from my wonderfully delicious secret person to community property. He has to report how his day was, how he is feeling, how his sugars are, etc, to multiple people asking usually within twenty minutes of each other. Instead of hearing fresh information and what is new in the world of Oz, I usually get bare bones leftovers. And random political rants.
Ever since my worst point with fibro, even being a community of one has terrified me. I went through a period of time where I couldn’t commit to anything. I told myself I would have to commit to myself in one way or another, or I might just drift out into open space and disappear entirely. So I painted my toenails orange. For two years straight. And it did make commitment a little less scary. But I am still very uncomfortable with this idea of community property.
Oz isn’t the only one who is community property. Once I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I became everyone’s business. Long lost friends and family come out of the woodwork as sudden experts and life coaches. Some of it was helpful. But a lot of it was detrimental. There was a lot of blame and bad advice that I let sink into my skin. It has taken years to detox that. But that slimy feeling comes back every time…
It is hard being around people who claim you and the things you love as community property. Particularly the human community. Because when it comes to them, I feel more like community baggage.
When my mom went into the hospital, I got the upper cartilage in my ear pierced. It was two months before anyone noticed. But I didn’t do it for attention. I did it to remind myself that I am mine. So often for my human community, I am the emotional translator, the damage control crew, and the go to person. They often forget that I have feelings. Or, gasp, my own thoughts. It is still hard for them, even after almost ten years, to come to terms with the other side of me, the side that has fibromyalgia. The messy, exhausted, grumpy, desperate side. The side that defined me as baggage, after draining all the “local” “experts” on their “wisdom” over what would cure me.
I am reminded now of the distance needed for the life I am craving. The independence I feel at my fingertips, but can’t quite grasp. Maybe it is just growing pains. But as far as community goes, I’ve always thought the grass is much greener where it isn’t so trampled.