My first bad experience of abuse and invisible illness

Yesterday I experienced the looks and sense of judgement that so many of my “spoonie” friends tell me that they have to deal with on a daily basis and it was not fun! I’m staying in a hotel for a few days for a break and booked it through national holidays (a bus trip) but I drove myself for comfort..trust me this is relevant!

 I arrived at the hotel at the same time as a coach trip had arrived, the guests were piling off the coach, grabbing their keys and barging into the hotel. I was in amongst them and was struggling with my bags and reached the front door. I was next, but I couldn’t open the door, (they’re pretty heavy and I was laden with bags) so I smiled at the lady next to me and said I couldn’t manage the door…she glowered at me! I’ve never experienced anything like it. I felt awful. Someone eventually held the door for me to get through and I struggled into the hotel and off to my room. On the way I was overtaken in the corridors a few times, I’m used to this as I do walk pretty slowly, but I always check behind me and smile and move aside for people, but these coach trip guests were not in a patient or smiling mood and barged past me. This puts me off balance, especially in a narrow coridoor and again I was getting looks and a few tuts.
I got to my room and tried to relax, got into PJ’s and watched a bit of TV and tried not to get upset about being stared at and barged past.

By dinner time I’d calmed down, the room is lovely, very old fashioned with a giant TV so I had a bit of a rest before I headed out again. The rudeness and general thoughtlessness of the coach trip guests struck me again throughout my dinner experience. I struggled to get up the steps to the dining room and was stared at the entire way by quite a lot of people. While I stood waiting to be seated at the doorway I was pushed past by a man who knocked me as he tried to get in past me and the hostess. No excuse me, no sorry, no nothing. He just didn’t understand the concept of queuing and being thoughtful to people around you.

While I was sitting at my table I was again stared at and as guests took the tables around me, no smiles, no attempt at conversation, no nothing.

The dining room was a challenge as it’s on 2 levels, self service and I was really struggling by this point. I was seated in the middle of the room which I always find difficult as people accidentally knock you as they go past, and normal chairs are pretty painful for me, but there was no bench seating free and I was hungry and very tired by this point. I usually eat about 5-5.30 so 6.30 is late for me, plus I still had to get changed and ready for bed which takes a lot of energy. I should have looked into this in more detail, but I didn’t, so I just had to manage. The line for the food wasn’t long, but again I was pushed past, banged into and one man just pushed in front of me as if I was invisible. I was getting tired, cranky, in lots of pain and sick of being stared at so I quickly got some food and sat down. A waitress who was on her first shift got me a jug of water and kept checking on me which was lovely and the best experience of the day.

I was stared at again as I went down the steps and along the coridoor to reception wondering if I’ve just been oblivious to this behaviour before? I asked for more pillows and to put some meds in the fridge and both members of staff were lovely. One of them brought extra pillows to my room, they chatted and were eager to help. I booked a bench seat for dinner the next evening and felt looked after and happy as I dealt with people who smiled at me instead of staring and were helpful when I asked for help with the challenges I was having. I felt like an idiot asking for a special seat and loads of pillows to surround me in bed, but it had to be done. This is meant to be a relaxing holiday and these are the things that I need. I walked past the dining room again on my way to my room and tried to ignore the stares.

In the morning I went for breakfast, I wasn’t stared at as much and I’d even worn one of my slogan T-shirts to see if people stopped staring, or at least smiled or said hello to me! I headed down to the spa where I’m at now pondering my experiences.

The people staring and giving me dirty looks, pushing past me, knocking me off balance and generally being rude to another human being without saying a word were all older. I’m guessing retirees in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The staff in the hotel were all younger, and yes being paid to be nice to me, but generally much more considerate and pleasant. I have no idea what they thought of me and why they were so rude but I’ll guess that as a younger person I should be fine, I shouldn’t have a walking stick, and maybe they couldn’t get their heads around why I did have one and was walking so slowly. I’ve no idea if this is what they were actually thinking or not, and I’m really not sure how to deal with it. I’m used to people staring at me, but it’s usually in a friendly way. I get smiles, hellos and offers of help. It can’t just be that people in the North East are just nicer is it? Is it age? Is it just the compound effect of a large number of grumpy travellers who’ve been on coaches all day mixed with me being in a grump as well? I was the youngest person there so maybe they just saw me as a young person and not a disabled person? I don’t know, but it made me really uncomfortable and unhappy. I’m hoping it gets easier as I’ll be in less pain after my day resting and in a better mood myself. 

Update: The next day I chatted to a lady in the spa, I got smiles from everyone for the rest of the day, and at dinner I helped a lady down the stairs with her food and got a bit of conversation and smiles from the people around me. I think it was me, combined with everyone else being grumpy the day before. I believe that you get back what you put out in the world (I’m not saying others put out negativity and thus get back abuse), but I find that most people interact positively with me, and those who don’t, who stare at me and are rude, I generally ignore. 

Advice: Get your slogan t-shirts and your smiles on and challenge anyone who’s thinking about being rude or abusive to us! 

Vic xx

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