My body is in pain all the time.
It’s something that I have lived with all of my life. The technical name is fibromyalgia, which is Latin for “your muscles hurt and we have no clue why”. I have some ways of managing it–I tend to hurt less if I don’t eat mammal fat and processed flour products, for example–but it’s not something that ever really goes away.
Pain gives one an interesting perspective on life. The whole question of what one wants to do is marginalized. What I want to do is lie down and not move ever. Since that really isn’t an option, my decisions are a matter of juggling obligations–which of the things that I don’t want to do are things that I have to do, and which ones can I avoid?
It also gives one a kind of desperate physical courage. Most people, I believe, want to avoid pain. That isn’t an option for me. So I am not afraid of things that most people are afraid of. There is an internal censor in most people’s minds that looks at options and sounds a red alert when something could result in pain–in my mind that censor gave up and put down his bullhorn a long time ago.
Having an intimate (if, I’ll admit, not entirely healthy) relationship with physical pain has allowed me some very intense moments in my life. I tend to deal with threats against my person with an eyeroll and a challenge. You want to hurt me? Fine, go for it. I’ll let you know if I feel it.
If I were to be honest, and to the dismay of those who know me I often am, I’d have to say that I am grateful for whatever biochemical misapprehension it is encoded in my genetic pattern that makes some parts of my body let slip the dogs of war and cry havoc against other parts. Pain has made me who I am, and as I slither past the half-century mark I realize that I am mostly happy with who that is.
I can’t take credit for it. I didn’t design myself, and the Engineer who built me ignored my suggestions. Case in point–I don’t have tentacles. Tentacles would be so cool, I would love to be able to just be able to snake out a limb to reach under something without having to worry about these bones fitting in. But Someone decided that endoskeletons were the way to build a mammal, and who am I to be critical?
I’ll admit, it makes me grumpy. I grumble, I cuss, and my bad moods are legendary. People tend to be scared of me. I’m never sure if people who like me are people who like being scared or people with the perspicuity to see my heart of gold under my prickly, unpleasant exterior. (Ah, but “Gold is a cold, heavy metal” says The Spike.) (And I will send a signed copy of my book of your choice to the first person who can identify the source of that quote.)
In any event, I’m not sure why I felt obliged to share that about myself. Does it shed any illumination on me as a writer? I think it does, actually. I think it helps keep my prose spare. I have lived a life concerned with essentials. I have trained myself to think in terms of limit paths, of solving the game with minimal moves. By telling my readers only what is important I make them fill in the rest.
More than anything else it has taught me not to judge another person’s life. I only see one side of your ledger, I don’t know what it has cost you to get where you are.
Heavy Metal Queen?
The quote? Nope..
I have also had Fibro/CMS all my life. It is a curse and a blessing rolled into one for a writer.
I think it makes us see the world differently, and that shows in our writing.
I completely agree. Because we feel pain (hell everything) to a higher level than the “Norms,” as I call them, we can write more vividly, using our experience with pain to the fullest degree. We are forced to see “life” differently, and thus, Fibro is a blessing and a curse. People look at me funny when I tell them I can see pain, not only feel it, in others. Being an empath and having this condition makes it even worse. It can be debilitating.
me, too, I didn’t know
I don’t talk about it much.
A year ago, I was diagnosed with
…(stupid laptop! Argh!)
…a 2 CM arachnoid cyst on my brain stem. This has been the culprit of my two and three day (incredibly painful) migraines. I totally get what you’re saying about pain, and loads of it- and it making us who we are. After living with the pain I’ve lived with for years now, very little scares me, or hurts me, for that matter. Nothing can rival that kind of pain! 72 hours of excruciating hell. I feel like a warrior going through it and a hero after it’s passed. Also though, our endorphines are kicked off from pain too. And yes, it does make us better writers, I think. I’m a bit more cynical now than I used to be, but I want to cut out the fat and not dance around the edges. Time is precious! (Especially every little drop I get when I’m not in pain.)
Black seed oil helps tremendously- you should Google it. The stuff is incredible.
Take care. xo
I don’t believe I have fibromyalgia, but I also have had various levels of pain and discomfort for most of my adult life. It’s more connected to physical activity than just being a fact of life. If I play tennis, my shoulder hurts, my neck hurts and my knees hurt. If I play softball or baseball, my shoulder hurts. If I do yard work, my hips and back hurt. If I run, well, every time I run, something different hurts. My mother and my wife don’t understand why I continue to engage in sports and athletic endeavors because of the accompanying discomfort and, yes, pain. My response is and always be … if I let pain prevent me from doing, I wouldn’t be doing anything at all.
Relevance to your post? I don’t know, but I think it’s related. Pain is what we let it become and I’ve never been willing to let it prevent me from continuing to move forward. It’s just one of the obstacles I have to overcome.
That’s the important thing, I think–don’t let pain stop you from doing what you want to do.
I’d never actually heard about fibromyalgia until this summer, when my thighs and arms started to feel like they were horribly sunburnt all the time for no apparent reason. It’s since calmed down a bit, due to my de-stressing attempts, but … yeah. Now that I know this about you, I can definitely see it echoed in your writing — not in a huge, overpowering way, but in the little things, like you said. Like your conservative writing style — no elaborate descriptions or flowery phrases (which I LOVE, by the way). Or even in James’s mindset — not dealt the *greatest* hand in life, but keeps on trucking and making the best of situations regardless of what happens. In conclusion, you’re awesome 🙂
i love your last 2 lines. if everyone adhered to this philosophy the world would be a much kinder place. best ) beth
Thank you. I think so, too.
I have been through some excruciating stuff – I’m happy that it’s a dull roar most of the time.
The memory of pain lives constantly – always one step away – even when the pain isn’t there. How can it not inform and infect everything you write? You learn to ignore it as much as you can – but that takes energy, too.
You also need to tag these posts with ‘pain’ and ‘FM’. From your comment on your blog, I really had to work to find this post:
Google: site:https://mishaburnett.wordpress.com/2013/ fibromyalgia
You need to put the Search widget up and add the tags to your cloud (and of course, tag the posts as you write them). It is important for writers – who put into words what others feel and cannot – to have their work available. So the rest of us can find their words. Thanks!
Hey, shot in the dark for the quote. Is it this book? The Spike, by Arnaud de Borchgrave?
No. I think I can give it away now. It’s from Samuel Delany’ s “Tritan: An Ambiguous Hetropia”.