Some of you, especially those following me on Facebook and Instagram, may have noticed a shift in It’s Only A Bruise content over the past couple months. My plan was to wait to formally draw attention to it, but something happened today that made me want to do it sooner. More on that in a minute.
There are so many incredible MS-related blogs out there (and I’m fortunate to know the people behind several of them!), but I’ve always viewed my own as a little bit of a black sheep. Other than some cross-posting from other resources, I don’t post much by way of research, studies, news, or the clinical side of MS. My focus has always been on living life outside of a chronic condition, and your responses to surveys I’ve put out in the past have reflected a need for that.
My mission has always been to put a positive spin on adversity, and after these past few months of reflection, I’ve decided to take much of my focus off of disease, and redirect that energy toward healing, from the inside-out. I’ll continue to write here and post across IOAB social media, and of course there’s also the Apples to Apples discussion and support group, as well. The only real change will be that you’ll see a lot more posts about acceptance, letting go, forgiveness, meditating, eating well, exercising, and spending more time getting to know oneself. Feel free to join in with hashtags #AppleStrong and #IfIWantToLive.
I’m explaining this now, so that you recognize and understand this new(ish) direction that I am taking. I felt compelled to write this today after, once again, witnessing more toxicity within the MS community. It started when I posted the below video to social media, along with a sad and very unfortunate story of a woman whose dead body went undiscovered for two weeks.
Learning about the woman, who lived in an apartment that I had believed to be vacant in a neighboring building, really had me messed up. My heart has been overwhelmed with sadness and remorse. So I lit some sage and tossed some daisies, which are a symbol of transformation and rebirth, onto the deceased’s balcony. It was a way for me to do some healing, but also for her to know–if she’s looking down from somewhere–that I see her now and I wish her peace.
My hope in sharing this story was to provoke others to think and then act within their own communities. This post, as well as an Instagram Story of me discussing my feelings surrounding this tragedy, was meant to show how little we know about the people around us, and it garnered positive responses of gratitude for the reminder of the ways in which we fail each other as human beings–myself included.
But, as the internet has proven time and time again, trolls are lurking everywhere. And this post of mine was no exception.
I received a bit of backlash, from one reader in particular, and it was surprising to me, as it was someone who I believe had been following me for quite some time and someone who, I would hope, would have a better grasp of the type of person I am than what they painted me to be. For the curious types, this person basically was implying that, despite not knowing anyone even lived in this unit in a building separate from mine, I was somehow responsible for the death of this woman and for her not being discovered for two weeks. I was also accused of exploiting her death in a masturbatory social media post. The person also stated that “as someone with MS, [I] should have an acute understanding of the isolation we feel and the need for community that surrounds us to check in.”
And that last part is true. We do understand isolation. But we also understand what it feels like to be harshly judged before people know the full story.
The several comments that were made were cruel, unfair, unnecessary, and were personal attacks on me, bringing my character into question. What began as a tragic reminder to reach out to those around us turned into ugliness and shaming.
I’ve deleted the comments from the Facebook thread not because I feel I did anything wrong, but because I just no longer have room for negativity and toxicity in my life, and certainly not within this little community that I’ve built on the pillars of positive thinking and acceptance.
I’ve mentioned here before something a doctor once said to me when I was being hyper-critical of myself. She cautioned me, prompting me to consider the way MS and other autoimmune disorders progress, and pointed out that when we self-attack (or in this case, when we attack each other), we become the disease. And that has changed the way I talk about myself and the way I talk about others.
I look forward to providing new content for you while I embark on this journey of self-improvement. I don’t claim to be an expert or have all the answers, nor do I claim to be perfect. I’m forever learning and striving to be a better me. Thank you for forgiving my missteps.
Be kind to one another. ❤
“Yesterday I learned the reason why a neighbor’s windows had been dark for weeks and why fire trucks and police vehicles lined our street earlier this month.
The woman who lived in the building next to ours passed away in her home, and only after the smell got really bad was she discovered.
The weather has been unforgiving—hot and humid, and her air conditioning had not been turned on. There were flies everywhere in her apartment and the smell was allegedly so bad that a police officer had to run out of the building to vomit outside.
A woman, whose name and face I do not know, was suffering (maybe?), dying, and then rotting not thirty feet from where I lay my head at night.
For at least two weeks.
And nobody knew.
I wonder how long she laid there before eventually passing. I wonder if she was in pain. I wonder if she knew what was happening and what she thought about. Was she waiting for someone to find her? Did she call out for help?
Was she scared?
My heart is broken for this woman, who allegedly was also disabled, and all alone. I didn’t even know anyone lived in that unit.
I wish I knew her name. I wish her peace.”