navigating a world which feels like gravity is working in reverse

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suffering choice in a field

Pretend you are in a field.  This is a big field, one that people come and fly kites on.  Now imagine three people you know are there.  You can see one just at the edge of the horizon and they can see the other person you know at the edge of their horizon in the opposite direction from where you are.  The person in the middle can see both people but the person on either end can only see the person in the middle.

Those of us who suffer a decent amount are like the person in the middle.  Having suffered gives us the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of the person furthest out (who suffered more than us).  However the person furthest in just can’t empathize with the person furthest out’s suffering at all (represented here by them unable to see her).

The point is, the person with the intermediate amount of suffering gets to make a choice.  They can romanticize their suffering to make the person furthest in comfortable.  However they are at disadvantage to do this not just because it requires romanticizing their own suffering but because they can put themselves in the shoes of the person furthest out (whose suffering is so bad it’s impossible to romanticize).

I myself am in the middle and I have always refused to romanticize suffering.  I spend many years in pretty serious eye pain, am bipolar 1, and have some visual impairment.  I know people with much worse chronic pain than me and know people with worse mental illness than me.  I can somewhat put myself in their shoes and when I do I see no silver lining on their cloud.  As society tempts me to romanticize my suffering (for the sake of making people who haven’t suffered feel comfortable with it) I won’t do it.  Not just for me, for those who have suffered exponentially more.