Mirrors are peculiar human inventions; they play to the vanity of men and women, while at the same time revealing the cosmetic warts and boils which remain unhidden and starkly open on display. But linguistic mirrors take away that disadvantage of visual perception; instead, through the vehicle of words, one can create reflections of a fantasy world of make-believe, without ever having to confront the ugliness of reality. Thus can we go through the day by surrounding ourselves with platitudes: “It’s not that bad”; “You look good, today”; “Things will get better tomorrow”. Linguistic mirrors avoid the direct reality of one’s reflection, and instead create a mythical world of statements bouncing back to the bearer of siphoned and filtered news.
Further, the one who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men can continue to live in a surreal world of compliments and make-believe for countless years, without suffering the consequences of objective reality. And we can do that with medical conditions, too. One can survive through years and years by avoiding the signals of progressive physical and cognitive deterioration.
Federal and Postal workers are quite good at this game of mirrors — that is why it often comes to a crisis point before Federal and Postal Workers consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS; and that is why Supervisors and Managers are surprised; and, moreover, at least one of the reasons why performance appraisals reflect “outstanding” throughout the years of pain and debilitating conditions. But in the end, mirrors fade, crack, and reveal the ugliness beneath the cosmetic surface; and even words begin to fail. Pain in the human body is an innate alert system that is fail-safe, and when the medical condition begins to manifest itself to the point where one can no longer mask the symptoms, the seriousness of it all becomes apparent.
Federal Disability Retirement is at least an option for Federal and Postal Workers to consider, in order to be released from the “true picture” of one’s conditions. There are legal criteria to meet; medical statements to obtain; narrative statements to write; but all in good time, as we see the reflection in the mirror, and apply more cosmetic means to hide the reality of our true condition.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire