Hello, I Have a Disease

I dislike meeting new people. For a number of reasons–I’m terrible with names, I’m already “full” on people I do know (and I’m not confident how well I like most of them), I’m an introvert, I’m tired. Just, already tired thinking about it. I know I’m not alone in this. Here’s an idea: Why don’t we all carry cliffs notes around of relevant pertinent information for consumption?

I don’t mean show them your facebook page, I mean like a note card with a brief background bullet-point list.

These guys probably wish they had pockets to carry around note cards of information instead of barking it out to each other.

So in case I meet any of you in the real world:

  • Christian (but probably not considered “Conservative” by most)
  • Reformed (but mostly just a big fan of total depravity)
  • Feminist (I really don’t feel the need to explain this one)
  • Despises small talk and bores easily with discussions of weather.
  • Also not a fan of sports and car conversations. Will purposefully derail these conversations.
  • Will purposefully derail any conversation deemed “boring” or “inflammatory” or “for fun”.
  • Rants about irrelevant pop culture nonsense. Gleefully dislikes Taylor Swift, Forrest Gump and anything that’s your favorite.
  • Does not respond well to “Get to Know You” questions like “What’s your favorite book?” or “What do you do for a living?”
  • Responds very positively to “Did you see that dog?” or “What’s your favorite form of potato?” or “I hate that guy” (insert random person here)
  • Will not respond positively to attempts at bragging or showing off on your part. Will probably attempt to hurt your feelings if you do.

This is what I’d share with anyone I have to talk to for more than ten minutes, but less than an entire day, ie. friends of friends I have drinks with.

But let’s just say we hit it off and start hanging out and getting chummy. At what point do I start detailing the intimate personal stuff? When do we begin exchanging the private life-defining information?

I’ve had arthritis since I was 13 and I’ve gotten pretty used to everyone knowing it. But I’ve had to consider this conversation a few times when I’ve met new people I’d like to keep talking to. An autoimmune disease that’s degenerative, chronic, and invisible needs to get brought up in conversation whether I like it to or not. But I’m not capable of handling this with any finesse. Usually it goes like this:

“Can you help me move that table?”

“Oh, no I can’t. I have arthritis. It’s a nice table though. Have you seen The Golden Girls?”

I should write a card for this. For the arthritis conversation. But even if I did, it’d only say two things:

  • Arthritic.
  • I’ve probably been better.

Not exactly chatty about it, am I?

It’s been my experience that telling people the thing about you – that unique thing which colors your whole world – isn’t something you can ever tell anyone. It has to be lived to be believed. This is why people that experience life with us are the ones we hold on to.

I started this post with a fun idea of when do you bring up the uncomfortable topics in life, as it turns out, there’s never a really good time. But I’ve discovered good friends, really good friends, understand the things they can’t see and never need proved. I’ve made a few of those friends over the past years and in those early getting-to-know-you times I can’t remember having “the conversation” because it wasn’t just something we addressed and moved on from, it was something we both agreed to live with.

When you reach that level of intimacy and relationship, believe me, there’s not a note card in the world that could hold everything they understand about you.

4 thoughts on “Hello, I Have a Disease

  1. Just when you think you know someone. I was there at the beginning. I’ve been lousy at being there in the middle. But somehow I knew the conclusion. I’ve heard many of these things before and NONE of them surprise me. I’ve tried to sit and listen over the course of the last several years but was really lousy at it the first dozen. I’m her dad. It pains me to realize how much of a wonderful sensitive and deep person I have failed to know. But it causes me great joy to know the person she is.


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