detail of sculpture- giant porcupine quills, ceramic
A very good girlfriend seems to love it when I complain.

She says: “Cath, it helps me to feel what you are going through and I think that if you don’t make time to tell the real truth about this you will become sicker.”

I have been thinking about what she said and tried it out this week by telling my sister my various symptoms and also letting my aforementioned friend witness as I spelled it our for her. I chose these two as I know they will not try to ‘fix’ and I feel safe with them.

She did seem very engaged and eager to hear all the details, letting me know she had heard me and thanked me for my honesty.

I walked away feeling a combination of things.

I was just a bit lighter.

But it’s genesis was not because of WHAT I shared.

I felt lighter just having the experience of my friend WANTING to witness me.

The core of relief actually had little to do with the sharing of symptoms but more the opening of two hearts reaching for one another.

This friend I speak of (and my sister)love me, want the best for me, feel better when they know specifics, I think, so they can have a ‘read’ on how things are for me.

The thing is: how things are for me is part symptoms but more than anything else it is how I suffer the experience of them. Or don’t.

I wail. Then I don’t.

I am too weak to go to my PT appointment. The next one I get to and work hard.

I have a home. Then I don’t. Then I do.

My wheelchair gets stuck while picking up poop on my walk with my dog. Someone stops in their car to help. I get unstuck and carry on. Laughing.

I feel stubborn and defended about receiving support from my family. The next moment I am praying for God to bless them with unending Grace in their own lives as they are doing for me.

I am best when I live in the space between.

Allowing it all but resting in none of it.

As soon as I complain, a rigidity, a denseness is attached to the thing and then I have to work harder even to ease it out again.

This is not denial but a choice.

My beingness is fluid in the fields of life; health, happiness, security.. there are options inherent on this field in which lie choices.

Our entire culture is enchanted by connecting through ‘woundology.’ It helps us feel we belong and settles the ache of profound loneliness.

Watch what happens when I say: “Yesterday, my incontinence was out of control, I was too weak to even roll over in bed and I now walk around with holes in my pants and raggedy shoes because my financial state is such that I can not afford all I want.”

You might feel good because you are healthier than me, easy because you have money in the bank and a profound recognition something like: ‘By the grace of God, there go I.’

You may feel sorry for me. Maybe you feel relieved I am still here and kicking (so to speak).

Likely, you would launch into your own health challenges at some point.

There is value in each of those reactions I listed above..for you but not for me. But value is value.

I just walk away feeling closer to the symptoms and challenges.

If I stay quiet and compose myself (when I can) to be like the river and release the very human tendency to grab hold of each rock (symptom,suffering) to ground myself in false KNOWING (I HAVE MS. I AM FAILING.)

If I stay quiet inside life then registers as Life (with a capitol L).

I try to make room for it all

And remember to wear my Chanel #5 (for my benefit and yours..)


3 Responses to “Complaining”

  1. Pam on October 21st, 2012


    Have you seen the new ad for Chanel #5? The face is Brad Pitt! I haven’t seen it yet but read a brief article in Vanity Fair about it.

    Reading this blog made me think of a few things:

    Is it really “complaining” when one states their experience? And, the experience is received by the listener as an understanding that one is present to listen to the other person’s experience?

    I find that it is only a few people (i.e. for you, the friend and sister) who are able to let one truly be honest about their experience. Perhaps that is all we need? I don’t know.

    I love your sentence about the core of relief had more to do with two hearts reaching for each other. Because that seems to me, to make the experience an exchange.

    I was inspired to respond!

    Thank you for sharing your experience and its thought provocations…

    With love and respect always,


  2. Jann on October 25th, 2012

    I don’t think I have ever witnessed such courage, it is hard to believev I even know someonf so courageous. Your honesty never lets me forget that your attitude and regal bearing is a choice.
    Another of your longtime friends, Jann.

  3. laura Hegfield on December 3rd, 2012

    I feel blessed by your honesty Cathy, by this view into your Life… back to the gift of vulnerability and how that allows us to connect with the suffering of others and our own suffering and the great healing that unfolds through our common brokenness… not just me and you… but everyone. All of us shattered, broken and whole. My daughter has a mirror in her college dorm room that broke the day she moved in… she kept it… broken and whole. The pieces have remained in their frame… we too remain contained, held whole in our fragile state of beingness.

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