“Why are you eating that?”
“Why do you have to check your blood sugar in public?”
“Why are you so picky about your food?”
“How come your blood sugar is so often high or low?”
We hear these things sometimes, right?
Even though it can be tiring, over time I’ve learned to welcome any question on the above list and others like it. I appreciate the opportunity to answer these questions and the curiosity behind them. I will quickly admit that in some cases, people aren’t being curious but instead using a question as a way to provoke–in those cases I respond appropriately.
However, curious individuals asking me a genuine question do not cause me to be offended. How can I be offended by someone’s ignorance when I am just as ignorant on other subjects?
I think we should consider NOT demanding people learn what to ask us so that we can have open conversations and get real communication flowing.
Have you felt unsure about asking someone a question for fear of offending them? Isn’t it unfortunate? And doesn’t it lead to you to most likely stay ignorant? Has anyone ever asked you a bold, ignorant question, leading you to an opportunity to clear it up and feel truly heard?
When someone asks you a question, which below example would be the most productive response?
a) “I demand you inform yourself on the right questions to ask me.”
b) “When you ask me about this, please only do so if you genuinely want to know and intend on hearing my answer.”
The answer is B, right?
I’m a wife to my husband of 8 years. I kindly express the ways in which he can support me and share feedback about how something he does or says makes me feel. I don’t demand he do anything because I don’t want to insinuate that if he had the choice, he wouldn’t do it. If that were the case I wouldn’t have married him in the first place.
In other words, If we communicate in the same way we’d like others to communicate with us, I think we will all be better off.
So go ahead, ask me why I’m eating that. I may smile and say, “why are you eating that?” which may lead you to either feel what I’m feeling or you may say “because I love eating this” and then I’ll say “same here”.
The above example leads me to another point. I think we should encourage each other to actually say what we mean. Perhaps what you really want to know is, “why are you eating that cookie, I thought people with diabetes needed to stay away from sugar?” Now that is a question I can answer well for you because I understand exactly what you want to know and why!
“People with diabetes can eat sugar and for different reasons some eat more and some less than others. I am eating a cookie because I want to and am able to cover that cookie with fast-acting insulin. If you want to know why another person with diabetes is eating a cookie you’d have to ask them.”
I could also say, “I’m sorry, it is none of your business.” And you know what, that would be ok, too. I’m very much a proponent for your freedom and mine. You can ask a question and I don’t have to answer and vice versa.
But I am much more likely to answer with the former. I’m enthusiastic about helping others understand diabetes better. I think it helps society’s general understanding of diabetes. Just like I think encouraging questions instead of limiting them with rules and shaming helps society’s understanding of diabetes.
When people say something like, “At least you don’t have cancer” and it gets you upset, resist the temptation to be passive aggressive and just tell them the truth: “That is upsetting because it feels like you are minimizing my situation.” A compassionate and worthy individual would want to hear you out on this and would probably apologize for inadvertently belittling your illness by comparing it to another.
I totally understand the inclination to educate people on what is important to us. However, do you realize how hypocritical it is to tell people they must “get diabetes right”? Does this mean we should spend all our free time educating ourselves on what is important to everybody else? I have had diabetes for over two decades, write and talk about it for a living, and even I can’t get diabetes right all of the time!
What if we all just drop demands and talk kindly and openly with each other as we go along?
You don’t have to agree with me, of course, but those are my reasons for suggesting we not demand people understand diabetes before they, um…understand diabetes.