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To the Man at Walmart Who Asked What I Did to Hurt Myself

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I have a few chronic illnesses. I am quite used to it. I have been sick since I was 8. I am used to looking normal. I am used to not being able to do things like my peers. I am used to annoying questions.

However, for whatever reason one question always aggravates me.

“What did you do?”

One day in particular, one rough day in particular, I decided (probably unwisely) that I needed something in Walmart. I walked through Walmart, dodged people and carts, and checked out. As I was walking out rather slowly with my cane a man asked me what I did to my foot.

It was probably the pain and the crowd of people that aggravated me.

I answered somewhat annoyed, “Nothing.”

The man huffed and stomped away annoyed, like I had lied to him.

I am not sure why, but I have replayed this moment many times. It really has haunted me.

I think it is because I am so tired of people thinking I look fine, tired of people thinking I am too young, and people misunderstanding my illnesses.

I am tired of people thinking I did something. It makes me feel even more guilty. It makes me wish I did do something, so maybe it could be fixed.

However, I do think questions and ideas should be changed and this cannot be done without educating others.

I so wish I could have gone back in time and changed my answer.

“I did nothing to hurt myself. I have a chronic illness and today is a bad day.”

Maybe the man was just rude and he still wouldn’t have responded, or maybe it would have opened a conversation.

Regardless, I have decided it is better to explain to people who ask questions, even when I don’t want to. Even if I can help one person through this, it’s worth it.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 2, 2016
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