Mint julips, Lilly Pulitzer, Junior League…OH MY!
Having recently moved back to the area that I grew up in, smaller to mid sized Southern America, I’ve been laughing at some of the local things I’d forgotten as well as other things that I wholeheartedly embraced during the 10 years I spent in South Carolina.
Yes, I have experience in all three things mentioned above. Getting all decked out in a fantastic hat to go to Carolina Cup…and going for 5 years in a row without seeing a single horse. Thank you, mint julips and Jack Daniels and several hot frat boys.
I also have the experience of surviving a very conservative Southern Baptist college where you were either God squad or frat princess. No middle ground. Shakes dust off of my sparkly tiara…because the party people didn’t judge if you went to church the next morning but the church people certainly let you know you were judged for going to the party.
I think back about all of these things and I see how important appearance is. Being physically attractive…being slim, being super blond, being super tan, having modest yet revealing clothing with the right accessories…is something I feel like I have to be…and struggle with. I have no idea what color my hair really is…I will admit to weighing myself every morning and night and freaking out about the numbers…and believe you me, I am REALLY freaking out right now…
But it’s also just as important to maintain a specific social appearance. I am polished, confident, friendly, chatty, guarded, and well connected with impeccable manners and never negative…or at least I’m supposed to be and probably am if you meet me in passing. Afterall, Southern women must always keep sweet.
So where does having RA, or any other chronic illness, fall into this? How do you deal with this if it has been ingrained in you that you can’t show pain or sorrow or negativity? From experience, I can tell you that it is an enormous conflict. Not only are you dealing with ‘how do I present this on a way that is realistic yet not scary’ but you also have ‘how can I be honest with myself and others about this without being completely rejected by the culture in which I live?’
How can they handle this? What will happen to me because of this?
What the hell am I going to do?
Stay tuned…I am finally ready to write about what my diagnosis did to my relationships…also known as what NOT to do.