To the Passenger who Called Me A Slut

I don’t even know what you said in full, the wind disrupted the sound waves as your words were on their way from your mouth to my ears.

“Slut village?” “This isn’t Slut Village?”

Whatever you said, it initially made me chuckle. Receiving catcalls and obscenities is something I’d expect in my college town. And something that did happen often while I was in college, not because of how I acted, or how I dressed, but because men are men and that’s all.

But I wouldn’t expect it here.

After the initial surprise wore off, my half smile went away.

Wait, what? Did someone seriously just say that? To me? In this neighborhood of homes overlooking a million dollar ocean view? While I’m walking in the front yard that I [don’t own but who cares] rent? With my toddler running around my feet?

Why would you say that? Why would you bring yourself to such a level of immaturity? Thoughtlessness? Carelessness?

And blindness?

Amid these thoughts, and while making sure my toddler didn’t run into the street, I looked down at what I was wearing.

Sweatpants. Baggy, ragged, faded sweatpants.

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Going indoors to get my son ready for his nap, I glanced in the mirror for the first time that day.

It was past noon, and I was still wearing what I’d slept in. I had some mean bed-head going on. And yes, I had makeup under my tired eyes.

Although, you wouldn’t be able to see that from a zooming car.

Okay. So I didn’t look great.

I admit that.

But you know what annoys me the most about this rude sort of communication some people – sadly, a lot of people – in our world somehow seem to think is okay? Is that’s it is totally one way. There’s no room for rebuttal. It’s completely one sided, and for that reason, it’s unfair.

In the rare case that you – the rude passenger in whosever car you were in – are bumming around on the interwebs and happen upon this blog post, then your comment is no longer as one-sided as you intended. That is, if you decide to read further.

Which, if you don’t, then I guess I’m writing this for the sole reason of venting about the experience for my own sanity.

Either way, let me tell you what I wish I could have said to you, after first asking “What on God’s green earth is ever the matter with you?”

Do I look like I just crawled out of bed with or without a sleazy scumbag?

Maybe.

The reality is, I was in my bed, by myself, this morning. For five hours. Half asleep. While my toddler played by himself, and got into all sorts of mischief. He played with the vacuum. He took himself to the potty. He read books, and actually – miraculously – played with all his toys.

While I laid there like a zombie.

Not because I’m hung over. Not because I’m lazy. And certainly not because I’m a slut.

Because I have chronic Lyme disease. And it has destroyed my life to this extent.

Not all days are this bad, but all start in a similar fashion.

My son is my alarm clock. Half the time he jumps onto my bed, crashing his head into mine. The other half I wake up to his fingers gently rubbing my head as his small little voice whispers, “Mama? Ooooh. Mama…”

I tell him I’ll be a minute, and encourage him to read his books.

A minute turns into a few minutes, then several, and before I know it it’s been an hour or more and I still haven’t sat up.

My eyelids feel like they’ve been glued shut.

My legs feel like lead under the weight of the blankets.

I honestly, literally, cannot move.

The white noise machine, still going, lulls me, beckons me, to go back to my dreamland. Where pain doesn’t exist. Where nothing is good nor bad. Where my body can rest.

My toddler, though young, is tall enough to reach the light switches. On and off they flicker throughout my corpse-like moments, but still I can’t get up. Little hands grab my arm and try to pull me up with all their strength. Whining commences, and begging ensues:

“Mama? Mama! Nana! (Food).

Doggie! Kitty!

Potty!

Nana!”

I turn and moan and try to open my eyes. They stay half-open just long enough to check on my toddler periodically.

For the record, he’s always safe. Just bored. (Poor kid.)

Eventually, my mind finally enters reality, and I tell my son to come and help me one more time. I ask him for a kiss to wake me up.

Whines dissipate into cheers. He kisses me on the cheek, then pulls my head up from the pillow with both his arms and all his might. Mustering up the strength to pull the blankets off me, I’m now free to get out of bed.

This morning in particular, my head was throbbing with a migraine. After charting my temperature and pH levels, I stumbled from the bathroom to the kitchen, stepping over laundry piles and toys as I went. Before eating anything, I drank a large glass of water and lemon.

This is my morning routine as someone healing from Lyme disease.

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While my son and I sat, drinking water through straws, I slowly peeled two oranges. Two oranges for him, not for me – because citrus is one of the many things I have to restrict from my diet.

The first peeled rather easily, almost in one big piece. The second wasn’t as easy; my arthritic hands would have given up completely had it not been the last orange in the bowl, and had my son not been chanting, “More?”

I chomped on a green pear while peeling the second orange and arranging my morning supplements to swallow.

Knowing we’d soon be hungry again if I didn’t force myself to fix something else, I dragged my feet to the refrigerator and pulled out eggs, greens, and leftover beets.

Standing at the stove, I could only think of how much pain my feet were in and how I couldn’t wait to sit back down. Walking from the stove to the counter brought more pain, as my achey feet and knees struggled to hold the weight of my very much not obese frame.

As soon as breakfast ended, I grabbed the toddler potty and a book, and made a beeline for the bedroom. I plugged in my heating pad and got to use it for all of fifteen minutes before my son unplugged it. I did my best to start a new book, another educational book about healing from auto-immune disease.

Do you even know what an auto-immune disease is? It’s where your immune system – the thing which is designed to protect you from disease and infection – starts to attack the healthy cells in your body.

Can you even imagine what it’s like to live with an auto-immune disease? Whether Lyme or something else, like Lupus,  Rheumatoid Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, or Multiple Sclerosis?

I imagine you know what it feels like to be tired. Imagine yourself in the most tired state you’ve ever been in. Maybe it was after pulling an all nighter with your friends, or after catching a red eye flight.

Now, imagine that tired feeling never goes away. Your eyes never want to stay open, your body never wants to get up in the morning.

Even when you lay down to rest, you feel tormented by body aches to the point of wishing you could just crawl into your grave already and call it good.

And then, imagine the emotional baggage that comes with not having enough energy to do anything during the day. You can never accomplish enough, so you’re constantly faced with guilt trips and labels like “failure.”

Simple tasks like dishes and cooking and [oh, shocker] getting dressed overwhelm you.

You reach into the cupboard to put a dish away, and you get tingling numbness all down your arm.

You go to crack an egg and your hand stiffens up, freezing in a closed fist position. As food cooks, your brain fogs up and you can’t think of what to do next.

You couldn’t care less about what you’re wearing because clean pants and combed hair are the very last thing on your priority list.

The next time your knees give out and you can’t walk, let me ask you: Will you care what you’re wearing?

If you couldn’t stand long enough to brush your teeth, do you really think you’d be able to stand in front of a mirror, making sure you look decent? Before going for a short walk? Around your own freaking yard?

You may not be able to answer these questions, so let me do you a favor and answer them for you. Since, obviously, I am the more experienced one around here.

No. You wouldn’t care.

If you were stuck in bed for five hours, escaping only for a quick bite and to go to the bathroom, I don’t think you would give a damn about your appearance any more than I cared about mine this morning.

This was me this morning: Barely moving. Cane in hand. Eyes finally open, and standing near the front door, when I heard my toddler say: “Ball? Outside?”

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It was very much impromptu, and very much spontaneous, but I thought it was the best idea ever.

I’d just realized it was past noon. And nothing makes you crave fresh air more than being cooped up for hours on end.

We headed out, with no preparation other than putting on our shoes, and grabbing apples on the way.

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So now what do you have to say for yourself?

It was just a joke? Why are you so sensitive?

No, my friend, I’m not being sensitive. I’m being logical.

You can’t just throw assuming words out of a car window and expect them to disappear or or to do nothing.

What you say matters. What you do matters.

So, what are you going to do? Now that I’m bringing this to you (although, again, chances are you will never actually see this post)?

But if you did, and if you’ve read – not skimmed, but read – my words, understand now that you have a choice to make.

In the future, will you think twice before shouting at perfect strangers? Will you be more kind in, not only how you speak, but how you think?

I hope you will.

Because, chances are, the unkept stranger you think looks like a slut, is just a regular mom who is suffering with an illness you can’t even pronounce, much less understand.

Borrelia Burgdorferi.

Lyme Disease.

The number one infectious disease in the United States and Europe.

The worst thing that’s ever happened to me, and probably many others you might call “slut,” before you stop to think twice.

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