There are lots of things I don't want to hear. I don't want to hear that a good friend can't attend a big social occasion I thought we were going to enjoy together. I don't want to hear that I didn't get a job (acting) that I thought I was perfect for. I don't want to hear that a couple I thought would be together forever have split up.
I don't want to hear it but in the past week I have. Then yesterday one of the worst - "oh! I'm sorry" accompanied by an earnest pitying look.
All I'd done to provoke this was to respond to a query about whether I was using Jemima because of some leg injury by saying matter-of-factly "No, I have multiple sclerosis."
I know the sorry/pity was probably well meant. The fact that it came from a fellow actor made it worse. It contained a judgement. Especially when accompanied by a quiet shock "I didn't know, you looked so well". What did she mean I 'looked' so well? I still do. I look fabulous (no comment, please).
Perhaps I should print out this Guardian article:
and give it to anyone tempted to fall into this pity trap.
If I'd said I'd had some dire accident or my flat had burned to the ground then perhaps I wouldn't mind someone saying 'I'm sorry'. I remember being slightly surprised when I told a friend that my mum had died that she didn't say anything at all about it let alone the almost obligatory 'I'm sorry'.
Yes, I have MS. No, I'm not happy about it. Yes, we can talk about it and I'll try to answer any questions you may have. No, I can't do some of the things I used to do. Yes, I'm still working so do please give me a job. No, I don't need pity. As newly diagnosed Jack Osborne has said: 'don't tell me what I can or cannot do'. That includes the unsaid as well as the said. I will hear you.