Do You See Past The Cover?

my logo

I was reading this blog one morning and that blog sparked this blog. It always amazes me how I can read something and instantly my words start to form in my head. This story is especially good and I hope you will go and read it. It is about helping someone and about judging others when we do not know the whole story and how we could help someone struggling if we just took the time to look.

This blog made me think of how I am always saying I am Deb…I am not my diseases. And yet, many will look at me and see nothing but my disabilities or my chronic illness.  And I am sure many that are chronically ill can identify with this. And many look at me and see the strength I hold on to, the courage I use for each day and my survivor mode and think I am just fine and need no help. Both are right and wrong.

I have to wonder though how often we do that in general and not just to the disabled or chronically ill. Do we look at the homeless and only see that they are poor or dirty or wearing ragged clothes and never see the person inside all of that? Do we look at the blind and not see what is inside that face and mind that holds so many treasures to tell? In general, do we look at the exterior and never take the time to see what is going on or what is the real story?

I became fascinated with the documentary “Grey Gardens” and what has fascinated me is that so many have watched this documentary and very few come away with the true story. They only see the dilapidated and dirty house and all the cats and raccoon messing it up and do not see these two strong and talented women who are survivors. They come away making comments about how filthy they are and how they must be mentally ill and I think how sad to watch the documentary and miss the whole point of the show. It is sort of like the person you ask to read something you wrote and tell you what they think of the story and they immediately start correcting your grammar and punctuation while they are reading instead of reading the content. And by doing so, they miss the whole story.

I have watched these documentaries over and over and come away with something new each time. I see a mother and daughter dynamics and their ability to adapt and entertain each other to survive all those years on very little money in the middle of the Hampton’s with all the rich family around and no one comes to help. I see two people abandoned by family, forced to live in poverty and even get to the point they have no money to have their trash picked up and yet, they manage to survive and to find joy in their lives.

I see a daughter who kept her dream alive by putting on performances day after day for thirty to forty years for her mother. Can you imagine? And she finally got her dream to perform in New York when she was in her fifties.  Was she a famous singer then? No, but she finally after all those years of living in that old house, not having any support and just trying to survive was able to say she got to perform. And a mother who kept her daughter by her side by continually encouraging her to do these matinée performances in the house where they were recluses. The mother was almost 81 when she died and after she died, Little Edie left that house and moved to New York where she did get to do her  singing and dancing.

And yet, many people could not see that they were survivors, could not see their sense of humor, could not see their ability to adapt to some horrible conditions, .could not see that this was two women who came from times where servants did all the work and they were never taught to clean or take care of a home so did not have any comprehension on how to do it, could not see Little Edie’s unique sense of style that she created herself. They never looked past the first clips and saw the news reports and the pictures of a dilapidated house and trash. And they judged these two women and the documentary on that.

And so, I wonder how often do we walk down the street and pass judgment and never look to see the real person. How many people on the street do you glance and walk past thinking they are strange or dirty and never look into their eyes and really see them. And if any speak to you, you shy away and rush off?  If we never take the time to look at people, we will not see anything but what is on the outside. We will not know that this person who seems so rude just lost a family member, or that person who rushes by really has lost their home. Or that this woman who recoils from you has been raped and is terrified, or another person is afraid to be alone. All these things make us who we are and yet we do not take the time to look for the person behind the facade and see that in others.

I loved this video because it says what I wish I could say. There are so many lonely people in the world and yet so many will never make the effort to reach out. I have heard “Well, I have my own life to live.”  And that is true but we do not live on an island. We are part of this world and if nothing more, we can make it a little brighter for those in our tiny corner of the world just by caring and speaking.

video by

How often do you speak to those you see? How often do you jump to judgment without even knowing why a person is behaving the way they are?  And if you say never, then you better go take stock again because we all have. We have all at some time in our lives looked at people and said “Boy, they are crazy” and the truth may be like the blog I posted above and they are not crazy. They just need a friend. How many times have you laughed at or made fun of someone strange on the street. I have before I became disabled and have felt shame afterwards.

I have a friend that did that. I could be so sick that I could barely even lift my head or read on the computer laying here but would not tell those around me via internet, etc how sick I was and she would know. She would instinctively know by how I typed. She listened and she really cared. It was not fake concern. It was real listening and really caring about another person. It was truly wanting to know how they were.

And today people are so caught up in the busy busy world or have their faces in their cell phones and never take the time to look at the people around them. I have had strangers when I reached out and touched their shoulder and said “I am so sorry you are hurting so. I am so sorry for your loss” and they asked me how I knew and my response was  “Because I have been there.”

We have to reach past ourselves and our troubles..that is how we get through them each day. If we reach out and help someone else, our troubles seem to dim and life seems a little brighter. But, if we focus only on “me, me, me” and portray ourselves constantly in a pitiful light, life seems so hopeless. It is a choice on what we choose to focus on.

If I want to inspire someone, I try to let them see me overcoming not succumbing to my hurdles. I show them me fighting to keep going and crossing hurdles not me slumped in my power chair. I let them see me doing things I have not been able to do before I got the power chair, not all the things I can not do because I am in a power chair. And because of all these things I have been through…I pay attention to those around me and I notice the hurt and the pain others have and their joys and triumphs and I try to reach out to them because most of us know what those things feel like. We have let the media, the world, the internet desensitize us to the suffering in the world and maybe it is time to step away from it for a while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s