Something happened this week that I never could have predicted. Without going into too many details: I was in a situation where another person with Tourette’s Syndrome was within earshot of me for several hours.
In my experience, when two tickers get together, they set each other off and create a spastic din that dwarfs any foolishness they could have produced alone. So when I started hearing this person make noises, I braced myself for what would surely come.
Except it didn’t. I made some noises, but I was fine. But that’s not the unexpected part. The unexpected part was equal parts surprise, guilt (I’ve gotten over it by now), embarrassment, and a profound sense of hypocrisy.
I surprised myself when I realized that this person’s ticks were driving me nuts. The constant noise! The throat clearing! The yips and yelps and yaps! And I was incredulous.
Are you serious? You are annoyed by this guy who does what you do? And he’s nowhere near as disruptive as you!
I tried to tune it out, but nothing made it easier. I was distracted and couldn’t get any work done. And over and over I asked, What is wrong with you? How dare you!
I knew what was wrong with the other guy. I knew all too well, of course. I never would have dreamed of saying anything to him about it. He wasn’t hurting me. He was just…doing what we do. I didn’t want to be annoyed and I was anyways. I knew I shouldn’t be and I couldn’t figure out how not to be. What a wake up call. I’ve never felt like a bigger hypocrite.
I had to confront a possibility I hated to think about. I had done so much patting myself on the back for all the progress I had made. I was finally comfortable in a crowd. It never occurred to me that maybe the crowd wasn’t yet comfortable around me. Maybe everyone around me was annoyed, distracted, and on-edge, waiting for my next outburst.
Or maybe not. I do believe people are generally good, patient, and accepting, my own recent reaction notwithstanding.
But what a thought. You are annoying everyone around you. It was exactly that thought that trapped me indoors for the better part of 10 years. And now here I am again, thinking the same thing. I’m not asking you to say “No! It’s fine! You’re fine!” It wouldn’t change anything anyways. I’m not going underground for another decade.
But wow. I’ve had a lot to think about. Which is good.
I’ll wrap it up with a thank you. If you’re someone who has been putting up with me, I appreciate it. If you’re someone I work with and I’m driving you nuts, feel free to say so!
If you’re the person who was having the ticks, I am officially offering you a vengeance voucher: if you ask, I will put your three greatest enemies in my tightest headlock.
If you’re someone who married me…pipe down and don’t get sassy…you knew what you were getting into:)
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