leave it alone, ‘cuz we can’t see eye to eye


This may be a bit of an odd task, but I’ve been trying to think of life experiences that are “untranslatable” to anyone who hasn’t had that experience. I’ll forgo the obvious two biggies – dealing with death, and dealing with cancer – and pick things that are a little more random, and a little more specific.

Remember, these are things that can’t really be explained to someone who hasn’t undergone them – in fact, usually when you start explaining it, their eyes glass over and you can actually see them not taking it in. In many cases, it’s a defense mechanism borne out of self-preservation.

Anyway, here’s a list to get started:

• kidney stones. I can’t come up with a word that means “excruciating and nauseous to the point of near death” for those lucky not to get them.

• being any person of color in the US

• depression. No, it’s not “being sad.”

• delivering a baby.


• having a kid or kids. Whether you like it or not, you go to Babyland, and unless you work at it, you and your single friends no longer speak the same language.

• miscarrying and any fertility issues

• debilitating back pain. This is another one impossible to describe – you can’t express to anybody how your entire world is painted in colors of misery for months, because, well, it’s boring.

• being the veteran of a war

Others, perchance?

0 thoughts on “leave it alone, ‘cuz we can’t see eye to eye

  1. Salem's Little Sister

    Unexplained dizziness.
    No, not vertigo, but the feeling that you are walking on mattresses and the horizon and you rock side to side as if you are on a boat. No, it doesn’t come and go and no it’s not like your aunt Sally’s “spell” where she couldn’t get out of the bed for two days. Yes I had my earsand hearing tested and no it’s not those grainy things in your ears and all you have to do is x, y, z. It’s constant, non-stop rocking and after endless MRI’s, neurologists, ENTs, and one brain surgery 8 years ago it still has no diagnosis. See, Ian’s right, I see glazed over eyes from anyone still reading. We have finally stumbled upon one med that if I take each night lets me go from 10 out of 10 dizzy to 2 out of 10. Yea.

  2. scruggs

    Severe food allergies.
    Both our kids are allergic to peanuts. I initially didn’t get it because I thought it would be easy enough: just don’t give them peanuts. However, I had no clue about the whole world of cross-contamination and the fact that 1/1000 of a peanut could be enough to put one in the hospital. If at Panera, they use a knife to cut a pb&j and then cut my kid’s grilled cheese, that could be enough to cause a reaction. Sugar cookies unknowingly baked on the same cookie sheet as peanut butter cookies, also a problem. If ingredients on a box state the item is made on the same equipment as peanuts, we have to take a pass. It is not enough for wait staff to say the menu item itself has no peanuts. When going out to eat, we have to ask for the chef or manager to relay the allergy (sharing fryer oil, etc). We carry EpiPens wherever we go, have them at both kids’ schools, and send them on every playdate. The kids have to say “No, thank you” to food often when they aren’t sure of ingredients. We are trying not to limit their participation in anything because of this, but it does suck to have this huge feeling of fear above and beyond the more traditional parenting concerns.

  3. DEAN

    Being a Christian. To be one is to understand.
    Being a UNC grad. Ditto. The insane hatred of dook that comes with this is also only understood by a UNC grad.
    SCUBA diving in caves off St. Maarten.
    Jungle ball on Connor Beach. If you understand this comment [Greg], you get it. If not, forget it.

  4. Joanna

    Scruggs, are you in NC? My son has an off-the-charts peanut allergy and has been undergoing desensitization through a Duke clinical trial. I’m happy to share info. if you’re interested.

  5. GFWD

    being in an inter-racial relationship
    the little death
    bungee jumping
    swimming with sharks, dolphins or stingrays
    scuba diving
    new car smell
    seeing your child hurt
    butterflies in the stomach
    seeing your team win the national championship

  6. Salem's Little Sister

    Jill- That is the closest thing to what I have although my neurologist won’t give me that diagnosis because you can’t test for it and there’s no cure. We found that site a while ago and it was comforting to know I wasn’t crazy or attention seeking as two different doctors suggested. Thanks!

  7. Salem

    Dropping into the back bowls at Vail, on a Weightless, ass-deep powder day, that silences everything but your your breath and your heartbeat.
    Smoked Grouper w/ Creme Fraiche, toes in the Caribbean optional, but recommended.
    Springtime in Chapel Hill

  8. scruggs

    Hi, Joanna, we are in Charlote, so the Duke drive is doable. My email address is shannonvecc “at” roadrunner.com.
    I have been keeping an eye on Dr. Burks study, seems like it is going well for you. Our kids may not qualify from what I understand but I can relay all that to you via email.

  9. Paul G

    1) Getting kicked in the nuts
    2) A mushroom trip
    3) How you’re treated as a vegetarian/vegan (and not a preachy/annoying one)

  10. wyatt

    Surfing– the first time you get covered-up, even a little bit.
    Seeing the aurora borealis the first time… or the 100th time, for that matter.
    A Stevie Ray Vaughan concert.

  11. Neva

    I’m with asd. The Holland thing is crap. I think Somalia or maybe the Sudan would be a better analogy.
    There is no possible way to understand the experience of being told “there is something seriously wrong with your baby”.

  12. kent

    Really, truly, full time, not believing in supernatural beings. There’s a novel by Robert Sawyer where he posits an alternate universe where Neanderthals became the dominant hominid, and they lacked the brain structure required for religious belief. I’m like that. I sat through a lot of serious religious indoctrination as a child and none of it took.
    I’m not saying atheist — a truly rational person has to be agnostic because he knows that human knowledge has inescapable limits, and beyond what we perceive, who knows what ultimately is going on.
    But I just plain don’t have faith. And in the USA right now, I feel like MY rights are constantly being assailed by the people who believe in the bearded guy in the sky, trying to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.
    So while I see and understand the potential value of a spiritual inner life, and can even claim to be a ‘Thomas Jefferson Christian’ I can never truly understand ‘faith’ or distinguish it from ‘delusion.’ Because as soon as you believe one thing unsupported by observable evidence, how do you decide THIS thing you faith in is TRUE, and all the other unprovable things people might believe are FALSE?

  13. John Galt

    Being born again as a Holy Spirit-filled follower of Jesus Christ, knowing that the amazing grace that was granted you was the ultimate deal of a lifetime, and wanting to share that deal of a lifetime with others who haven’t heard, or who have heard and turned away.

  14. amy

    never having been married when most folks your age (and younger) have been married at least once, and often twice.
    in the same vein, not having children nor a burning desire to do so, especially as a female.
    being a twin.

  15. Salem's Little Sister

    lurher2, They have and thankfully that’s not it. No tinnitus either. Grumphreys-I can’t imagine being a musician with that!

  16. eric g.

    I have to agree about depression. I would love everyone who’s told me to “just cheer up” over the years to bend over and shove those words far, far up their asses.


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