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I have become like those I hurried past

You are missing something by not daring to talk to me.

Vivian Brosvik writes about everyday life as someone affected by the nerve disease ALS. Photo: Private
  • Vivian Brosvik

    ALS affected, Bergen

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This is a debate post. The entry was written by an external contributor, and quality assured by BT’s debate department. Opinions and analyzes are the writer’s own.

Well we have all been there, familiar with the feelings that make us uncomfortable.

Maybe you saw a poor soul sitting on a street corner as you hurried off, and all you could think about was getting past fast enough.

Maybe you saw someone getting lost in the crowd, and all you could think was how glad you were that it wasn’t you.

I can at least say with my hand on my heart that I have felt that feeling, I have been there. I was one of those who hurried past, I didn’t see the person, I only saw the situation – a situation that gave me feelings I would rather not feel, feelings such as shame, insecurity and guilt.

It was easier to hide before, to overlook the situations that brought about these feelings. Because the worst that could happen was that I stood out, then it was safer to be one of the crowd. But what if you suddenly became one of them, what if you couldn’t hide all your problems anymore?

It is easiest to rush past when you see a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Illustration photo: Heiko Junge / NTB

That’s how it has become for me, I’m not invisible anymore. I can’t hide in the crowd anymore, now I’m the one who stands out. The wheelchair speaks for me, the wheelchair says a lot about how my life has become.

But it doesn’t tell everything, it doesn’t tell anything about the person sitting in it.

Too sudden life was turned upside down, suddenly I was the one who got curious looks, suddenly it was me they were whispering about behind my back. For some, the wheelchair is all they see, and that transition has been difficult to cope with.

Sometimes I just want to shout out that I’m still here, and other times I just want to hide.

For me, it took another illness before I realized what it was all about. It took another illness before I realized that my feelings have nothing to do with the matter. We must dare to feel these feelings that arise in uncomfortable encounters, we must dare to be fellow human beings. We must actually dare to ask.

Many people only see the wheelchair when they meet a person sitting in one, writes the submitter. illustration image: Gorm Kallestad / NTB

I experience constantly being judged for my four wheels, some don’t notice the human inside. Because if there’s one thing we humans are good at, it’s prejudging. We judge before we get the whole story, we judge because we are ignorant. I myself have experienced how painful it is to overhear conversations about oneself. “What happened to her?” “She looks really sick!” It hurts terribly to overhear such whispers and hissing from well-grown people.

Some are afraid to go against the flow, some are afraid to stand out. Yes, some people are simply just scared! Afraid to feel one’s own feelings, afraid of one’s own reaction.

Therefore, most of us rush straight past, we only see the situation and not the person. It’s probably easier that way. Take a shortcut, so we don’t have to feel these difficult feelings.

Now I know better, because now I also stand out. I know what you’re missing out on by not drying.

A small boy stands by my side, holding tightly to his wheelchair as he studies the people passing by. I look at him and all I can think of is: “I must remember to teach you humanity, charity and last but not least, the courage to ask”, because that’s all it takes…

The post was first published in the writer’s blog, Mom on wheels.


Published: 23 September 2022 16:09

The article is in Norwegian

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