…three of the most bigoted and hurtful words in the English language.
You would think that nearly 3 years out of hospital, these kinds of comments would have stopped. But no; “concern” was raised this weekend over my ability to help out with something, “given her history”.
You can tell from my choice of pronoun that this conversation happened 100% behind my back. So it goes from “concern” to “gossip”. Because if the person involved was genuinely concerned that the work might be too much/too stressful for me, they’d have asked me to my face, surely? Since when has this person gained a degree in psychiatry or psychology? Since when did this person know better than all the different medical professionals involved in my care over the years? Since when has this person ever, to my face, asked me about my illness, what it is, how it affects me on a day-to-day basis and what they can do to help?
I have never before been made to feel like a minority. But with those three words, this person assigned me the same rank in church as our two members with profound learning difficulties. I’ve seen and heard the way those two members are treated – with scorn and rolled eyes as “I suppose we really ought to let them be involved if we must” comments are thrown around. I’ve never like the way these members are talked about, although I agree that both are extremely difficult to cope with at times. But it’s not their fault; they were born that way.
And so was I; born with dodgy genetics that gave me 30 years of confusion and misery until I was diagnosed and treated. But there the similarity ends, because I’ve (shock horror) GOT BETTER, where the other members can’t. I no longer want to kill myself every five minutes. I no longer self harm because I know how to handle my overwhelming emotions. I’m self-aware. I’m getting on with life. I’m happy!
But, “given her history”, I’m a loose cannon. To be tolerated but not trusted. Pitied and patronised but not involved. Discriminated against for having the temerity to be born with a genetic condition nobody knew about or understood for 30 years.
This person considers themselves to be a Christian. What’s Christian about gossiping behind people’s backs? What’s Christian about not forgiving me for the mistakes I made when I was acutely ill? What’s Christian about tolerating and patronising someone rather than listening and believing in them? What’s Christian about saying “every member is important” and then modifying the rules a la George Orwell to “but some are more important than others”. That’s not what this Sunday’s sermon was about; quite the opposite in fact.
And that’s not being a Christian; that’s being a bigot.