On being judged

Trigger Warning: This is a rant. There is some mild swearing. I am angry!

I have had a rather upsetting little contretemps with a so-called friend…

It happened after I posted this on Facebook: “Today will include hair colouring (if I get a shift on), Tai Chi, knitting, meeting the editor of a local paper about writing for them, completing a DLA form and a scholarship application for Playback training, then maybe some writing and more knitting in my chair. Phew!”

My friend [sic] asked “Do you need a scholarship?”

Now, maybe that could be seen as a harmless enquiry, but my guts reacted with a clench – I felt I was being judged.

So I checked it out with her… And yes, I was being judged. She claimed that she wasn’t judging me, she just “…had to wonder at [my] application for a scholarship… considering [my] jet set lifestyle and recent shopping sprees, is all.”

Have we known each other for over twenty years? Have I been supportive of her health issues? Do I trust her to make valid decisions about her life? Yes, on all counts.

Did she read my recent post about my not normal life? Does she understand anything about my situation? Does she get it? Did someone not tell me that she has been nominated judge and jury over my life for the day? I think perhaps not, on all counts.

Because I am making the most of my time and funds…

Because I am travelling and doing as much as I can, spending money much more freely than ever before (on other people as well as myself), admittedly with some support from my family, but mostly using savings that I would otherwise have saved until I retire. By the way, that will be the retirement savings that are unlikely to be needed because that will be the retirement age I am unlikely to reach – not even the retirement age that used to be expected (60), let alone the age one has to attain now, due to government budget changes, in order to get the state pension(66)…

Because of my deliberate openness in sharing all of my activities, not hiding, being proud, bold and quite decadent at present… after over two years of feeling sick, fatigued, disabled, isolated, in treatment, being prodded and poked with cannulas, biopsy needles, chemo and other drugs, undergoing tests and procedures, experiencing a variety of side effects, a couple of hospital admissions and regular visits to clinic and Daycase, none of which is over… (More on current treatment shortly, once I have regained my equilibrium.)

And yes, perhaps I am playing the cancer card. Well, guess what, surprise surprise, I have cancer. I have an incurable cancer. I have every right to play the cancer card.

Because of all this, she is “… sometimes shocked by [my] apparent lack of awareness around [my] privilege.” So has she decided that perhaps I should “use [my] savings to do Playback and leave the funds for people less fortunate.”

This is all without knowing anything about my awareness of privilege, or how the scholarship funding is determined, or about any conversations I have had with the Playback School, or about the strong support I have from the school and without any empathic enquiry… In fact without knowing very much at all about anything, only that she felt “uncomfortable”.

I believe “uncomfortable” is a red herring. I think envy is playing a role here. I did suggest that, but understandably was met with denial and the counter that “[she] too live[s] with a lifelong, sometimes, life-threatening condition”.

Now envy is a strange thing, isn’t it? I am pretty sure she would not wish to swap with me, to have an incurable cancer shortening her life. And if she did have cancer, I am confident that she too would grab every opportunity to take up training, volunteer, make a difference, travel, spend on herself and other people and do all those things that one puts on a ‘when-I-have-time’ or ‘when-I-retire’ list, or what I have called my List for Living.

Privilege is another strange thing. Yes, I am privileged to come from a family with money to support me and that for many people facing cancer, even in the UK, where we have the NHS, not to mention other countries where treatment is dependent on having the funds to pay or the ability to fight/negotiate with an insurance company, where no money = no treatment, end of story. Yes, I am very lucky not to be facing poverty on top of ill health, pain and an incurable cancer. However, I believe that I am using my privilege to make a difference.

Aside from the fact that judging people based on your perception of their experience is really not acceptable, not helpful in terms of changing the other person’s behaviour, if that is her intention, and it’s definitely not empathic. By the way, this friend is in training to become a counsellor… She is not the first of this ilk, nor I doubt will be the last. Hmmm… Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes comes to mind.

I resent being put in a position of feeling the need to justify my choices, my spending, my application for help with funding, my reasons for asking for help. And I am not about to start here.

Oh yes, I was tempted to lay it all out here, but that idea makes me even more angry. I am not asking for her or anyone else’s permission. I do not wish to be judged full stop! If you cannot support me in my decisions and activities, then go and whisper about it to someone else who cares for your opinion. Because that is all it is.

I resent the stress and self-doubt that having this conversation has caused me. I resent my politics being called into question: “I often wonder where your ‘politics’ actually are.” I beg your pardon?! WTF???!

One thing that has changed for me during these past three years is a strengthening of my bullshit radar. While I have become softer, more compassionate, more appreciative and more generous (especially while on steroids) towards those whom I love and who love me, not to mention towards strangers and charitable organisations, I have also become a lot clearer about and quicker to respond to behaviour that is unsupportive, detrimental to my well-being, or even downright toxic.

I will no longer tolerate people who purport to be friends but behave like enemies. I believe the current terminology is ‘frenemy’. I already have an internal frenemy, in the form of myeloma! That, at least, is just going about its own business, which just happens to be detrimental to my health, but I don’t perceive it to be actively malicious. It’s not out to get me. And it was never a friend, so I do not feel hurt by betrayal.

In the past, in the years before cancer, if I encountered challenges like this, I would spend many troubled hours soul-searching and berating myself for my failings. I would take on all sorts of crap that other people threw at me. I am not saying I was always right, that I never made mistakes – of course I did – I still do. But often I was so keen to make things right, to avoid confrontation, to take the blame for things, to question myself before anyone else, to please people rather than validate myself, that I would twist myself into all sorts of painful positions to put things right that many times were not my wrongs.

These days, I will not do that so readily. I am a lot more in touch with my gut feelings and I trust them more than I ever did. I can admit being wrong when I believe I am, and I do my utmost to put things right when I mess up, but I can also stand up for myself in ways I wouldn’t have dared to do before. I feel stronger and more assertive than ever and less afraid of the discomfort that challenge and confrontation brings.

Some of this new-found strength of character is from going through all I have experienced in the last three years. It has brought out a warrior spirit in me. Some of that is due to the influence of a friend, whose directness and fiercely protective attitude around me has allowed me to experience a stronger sense of myself and my value. Standing up for myself is valid. This friend’s bullshit detector is on full-strength and for the most part I trust her, even when we don’t always agree on the best way to deal with the crap.

So, all the haters out there, please take note: You are no longer dealing with a doormat. I do not need nor want your heartless, envious judgements or your lack of trust in me. If that is what you bring to me in the name of friendship, then I no longer need your friendship. Fortunately, along with everything else I have encountered on this journey, I have found plenty of good friends, a strengthened bond with my family and people who were just waiting to appear in my life, people who accept, support, care for and love me. And the feeling is strongly reciprocated. I am fiercely loyal to my friends, grateful to and proud of them.

Ok, I think I’m done. Rant over. Thank you for reading. Supportive comments are welcome. Anything else, please take elsewhere.

About Jet Black

I began blogging because having been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, I wanted to share my experiences of living with an incurable cancer. Through blogging, I discovered that I enjoy writing. I have always chosen to live life for the journey, more than the destination. This is as true for the act of writing as it is for living with myeloma, so these are two things I do: I live and I write!
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26 Responses to On being judged

  1. Deborah says:

    Well written and well said. Totally justified. I feel proud to call you my friend. Who is anyone to judge what you do with you life, money or anything else? We all have our own values and beliefs based on our personal experiences, culture and education. They are not right or wrong they are ours. I admire your zest for life and they way you reach out and live life to the full. Being judgemental is not a good trait of someone who wants to be a counsellor or therapist. However without. being judgemental myself, perhaps the person in question is experiencing some challenges internally or externally herself. It’s good the world is made up of such a wide diverse of opinions and thoughts. Remember she is only one voice and I expect it says more about her than it does you Jet..
    I wonder what excited things you will get up to today? I enjoy reading about your adventures and feel I can share them with you from the comfort of my arm chair which suits me just fine at the moment.
    Deborah xxx

    Like

    • Jet Black says:

      Thanks for the words of support, Deborah. Your armchair sounds a lovely place to hang out.

      As for today, I went to the second day of a course on starting your own business, as I’m thinking of doing freelance training, facilitating and writing. It’s all a bit vague just yet and the course is a bit too general and unfocused, sadly. Feedback has been given.

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  2. I agree with every word Deborah has written. I would only add a comment about how much I hate it when working class people (as I am myself) accuse middle class people of ‘abusing their privilege’. It makes me wince with embarrassment because it is often said when they don’t have a reasonable argument and it is said to cause hurt. In addition it is usually said to people who ARE aware both socially and politically! Which brings me neatly to my other point, saying ‘Where are your politics’? What does that mean when the context of the disagreement isn’t strictly speaking ‘political’. I strongly suspect that in this case it also means……..I don’t really have an argument so I’m going to try to hurt you in any way I can.
    The more I think about this Jet, the more I believe this person has experienced a powerful case of envy which in the circumstances has to be JUDGED as being hugely inappropriate
    .

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    • Jet Black says:

      Thank you darling Meg. I so appreciate your support and friendship. Like Deborah and you both say, I think she has some ‘issues’, but they’re hers and fortunately, I no longer need to deal with them. I have enough of my own, thank you very much.

      Writing this has been so cathartic and cleansing.

      Like

  3. mark5000910 says:

    I found these comments helpful – thank you.

    Like

  4. bembeezled says:

    So sorry that this has happened to you Jet :( I feel quite shocked by some of the comments!! Go on living your life as you are, doing what makes you happy. Don’t change course because of ill informed comments :)

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  5. Chrissie says:

    Excellent rant Jet! I hope that it’s cleared the anger from you and you can get back to getting on with life without this crap getting in the way. I know it won’t have cleared the hurt but perhaps enabled you to put it in a place where it won’t keep coming out at you, or not often, anyway. Maybe Deborah is right and she has her own issues that have overspilled onto you, I don’t know, or it could just be as Meg says and she is envious !?!. Whatever. You don’t need her in your life right now, as you so rightly say, you need to be taking care of yourself and not dealing with crap like this.

    Like

    • Jet Black says:

      Yes, Chrissie, writing did clear the anger – very cathartic. I shall remember that for future emotional overloads. I don’t need to necessarily publish it, but writing it got it out of my head/heart.

      Like

  6. Caroleann McCallion-Davies says:

    Playing the cancer card???? Really? Does she imagine you have another card you can substitute at this point?

    I haven’t known you long enough to be able to ‘judge’ the difference in your politics or any of your activities pre and post cancer. But I see a woman living her remaining life with verve and pazazz, getting out into the world, (wearing some damn fine boots and a chi chi hat) – and still finding time to visit schools and other groups with the Bone Marrow Donor message. So many of the things you do seem to be aimed at encouraging others. And if my experience of you is anything to go by, still having the time & heart to listen to the far lesser problems & whinges of others. Which I think is awesome.

    Yes I envy your energy, interest in and passion for life – and ok, now that you’ve mentioned it: the fact that you have extra financial support. But you know what? I think “Yeah, that’s they way it should be for everyone, in an ideal world” and NOT “Humpf! It’s not that way for everyone, why should it be for her?”

    It’s part of the hand you got dealt, along with the cancer.

    Silly woman should have swallowed the thoughts and got on with her own life – and (who knows?) possibly take a little more water with it. Because getting that picky with someone in your situation seems like it should be on the list of “Things I wouldn’t have said if I hadn’t had that last glass of wine”

    Dismiss this fool from your mind …. unless she comes back in the next few days with an apology…. and carry on living your life your way.

    Like

    • Jet Black says:

      It was me who coined the expression of playing the cancer card. I have no qualms about using it when appropriate. Sadly it didn’t work with the BBC to get tickets for Jools’ Hootennany, but I reckon there’s still more mileage in it. Wait and see when I flash it out again. LOL!

      Thank you for your kind words and burgeoning friendship… Oh and the cat (horse!). 😉😻

      Like

  7. fire cook says:

    Well written,love you Jet xxx

    Like

  8. Morag says:

    Yeah, you go Jet!

    Like

  9. natasha says:

    <3 hoge bomen vangen veel wind! xoxo from amsterdam

    Like

  10. I remember reading that post, I saw nothing wrong myself, didn’t even cross my mind! And as for your politics… that’s no one’s business but your own, I certainly don’t care. We don’t have to agree on everything to be friends. I like you because you are the way you are. I love your honesty and no-nonsense manner, I wouldn’t want you any different xx

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    • Jet Black says:

      Thank you lovely Sharron. I wouldn’t want me any different either. Total love and acceptance is my credo these days. There’s precious time wasted wanting to be something we’re not and that is one thing I don’t have to waste. And I like you because of who you are too, generous, warm-hearted, a good listener and genuine. Great qualities for a burgeoning counsellor, I’d say. x

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  11. Bev says:

    WEll yes, that is over. You just put your protective bubble around yourself, I will help, I am praying your protection now. It was her jealousy, her judgemental attitude…but you can clip it off right there, and go on. Sometimes people realize that they are just bouncing off your bubble and then realize what they have done, and return to you…other times they cannot. Either way, you have all of us to surround you also.

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  12. Beautifully constructed and passionate blog and a great vent. I hope you feel better for it and hold you head high and get the scholarship.

    Like

  13. Jayne Snell says:

    Excellent rant! It’s good to get it all out….and then let it go.

    I think your ex friend has been very short sighted in her judgement and understanding. Not good for a future councillor.
    I have already said I love your attitude to everything. I wish we lived close because I think I would be at your side a lot.
    Regarding envy…I do have a bit of envy I’m afraid, dare I mention it?
    I just love your red boots and I am very envious of them…..I think we should all prescribe ourselves a pair of power boots!!!
    Keep living your life the way you are, it is perfect for YOU. xxxx

    Like

    • Jet Black says:

      Thanks Jayne. I have no problem with envy, if it’s upfront and honestly owned. It’s as valid an emotion as any other. And yes, if you can get red power boots on prescription, I say go for it! We shall meet soon, I promise. x

      Like

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