When we have an invisible disability or illness we often face judgment. Judgment when we park in the disabled bay then get out of the car looking like we’re perfectly fine. Judgement that we are unable to work so claim welfare. Judgement that we don’t attend family gatherings. Judgement that we keep flaking on friends. Judgement that when we open the door to the postman we are in our pjs at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Judgment that all our tests come back normal yet we claim to be sick. And I’m sure many of us have been on the brunt end of judgemental comments online – my life is constantly judged here on my blog. It’s painful, can be humiliating and makes us defensive and therefore angry. My life is no-one’s fucking business but my own and so long as I’m not hurting anyone I don’t see why a complete stranger in a car park, the postman, my neighbours, a troll or even some family members feel they have a right to pass judgement.
Having said all that, my friends will tell you I’m a very black and white person. For me there are few, let alone 50, shades of grey. I don’t care that you had an absentee Dad and that’s why you became a druggie and robbed my house – you’re a grow up now and in control of your own actions. If you’re on welfare don’t have babies you expect the rest of us to keep – contraception is free in this country. Don’t tell me you love animals if you eat meat for dinner. I could go on, but I won’t cos you’ll judge me.
I’m particularly judgmental when it comes to driving. I was in a serious car accident in 2004 which was caused by a speeding driver who caused me to flip my car then just sped off. I rant constantly at other drivers because I’m fearful that their careless behaviour will affect my life. Laws are there for a reason and we should all abide by them, right? So it may surprise you to learn that this week I broke the law while driving and make no apologies for it.
My Mum has been very unwell recently and struggling to breathe. I rang her GP and was told she would ring me back. 4½ hours later I was in the car sat at traffic lights when the phone rang and I could see it was the doctor. After waiting so long to speak to her, and knowing how poorly my Mum was, there was no way I wasn’t going to take the call even though in the UK it’s illegal to use a mobile phone when driving. So I press ‘Answer’ and put her on speaker. Just then the lights changed to green and I had to drive round the roundabout. To be fair I never once took my eye off the road, there are no pedestrians and my car is automatic so I only need one hand to steer (even drivers who have gears only drive with one hand round the roundabout as they use the other to constantly change gears due to the traffic lights). So even though I knew I was doing something wrong I wasn’t putting anyone in danger. I said to the GP “I’m driving at the moment, can you just wait 2 minutes until I get to a lay-by so that I can pull in?” and as I was saying this I heard beeping behind me. A van pulled up in the next lane and the woman in the passenger seat was gesticulating and yelling at me to get off the goddamn phone. I get it and in her shoes I’d probably feel the same way. I was breaking the law after all. However, her shouting distracted me way more than the sodding phone call and I felt so shook up I was trembling by the time I managed to pull over. I cried all the way home. I was already stressed as my Mum was ill, I was feeling poorly myself and didn’t need this stranger’s judgement on top of everything else.
It was a big lesson for me. Maybe there are more shades of grey than I give credit for. We have no idea what’s happening in other people’s lives. Those who judge me for parking in a disabled bay have no idea it’s the first day I’ve made it out of bed in a week and maybe the people I judge have valid reasons for their behaviour. In future I’m just going to stop commenting on other people’s lives. It’s none of my business and I’m not in possession of all the facts.