You know for a fact you’ve gained fifteen pounds this year, but according to your friends, they don’t see your wardrobe tightening around you (yeah right!). Or your hair is thinning to the point you see your scalp gleaming through in the mirror. Maybe you have bald spots so large or so numerous that you can feel the sun and wind reaching for them. But according to everyone else, they’re not there, not visible. Sometimes you wonder. Could I possibly be imagining the number on the scale or the gleaming circle on top of my head where once there was hair?
You’d think it’d be reassuring, the possibility that you’re the only one who realizes you’re filling out or going bald. Actually, it’s maddening. As much as we might wish it weren’t true, we’re desperate for someone among those we trust to love us unconditionally to confirm what we know and to validate what we feel.
Now, imagine the same above scenario except that you’re also battling a life-threatening disease or you suffer with a chronic condition that compromises your independence and ability to move about freely. You’re losing your hair, gaining weight, watching your skin deteriorate or your veins bulge under your skin. Maybe you’re in a wheelchair so that everyone gets to look down on that bald spot on top of your head, and STILL they claim not to see it. Or worse, they act as if in the larger context, your appearance issues are insignificant and simply don’t matter. They’re wrong.