The Kind Words of Others

I love writing about women’s issues, integrative healthcare, communication, and mind-body therapies. Years ago I wrote a women’s health and wellness newsletter, Enter the Circle, that eventually became a blog. I self-published a book with two friends, Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie that can be purchased online. But once I was diagnosed with MS and went back to work (because ensuring access to healthcare was more important than actually focusing on my health) I stopped writing regularly.

One day I heard Brené Brown say that asking, “What would I do if I could not fail?” wasn’t as important as asking, “What’s worth doing even if I fail?” which got me thinking.  As much as I loved writing, after my diagnosis, my sole focus became trying to figure out how to live with a shitty disease. And no matter how many times I failed, it was something I couldn’t or wouldn’t stop doing. Thus the blog, One Year To Fail , was born with the intention to give myself a year to fail fabulously and see what happened. What would I learn if I not only welcomed but embraced failure instead of begrudgingly butting up against it day after day? And bonus, I could write about what I was trying.

Although I did experience many successes, they were often small and tough to put into words. Being able to move my left ring finger a quarter inch is not exciting to write about. Oh, and there was a madman running for President which stressed me out more than my disease, so my experiments and the writing dwindled off again. 

Another thing that bothered me was the “you’re so brave and inspirational” comments I received from people that knew me personally when I wrote about my health. Don’t get me wrong, being told I’m inspirational feels better than hearing about your cousin’s father-in-law’s horrible death from MS. But walking with a cane doesn’t make me brave. It simply means I’m adaptable. It’s no different than when I figured out how to talk with rubber bands attached to my braces back in middle school. You too would figure out how to use a cane while crossing the street. No bravery is required. 

Receiving praise for dealing with a diagnosis makes me unbelievably uncomfortable and if I’m honest, it’s the number one thing that keeps me from writing. I should probably deconstruct why the kind words of others trigger me? Truth be told, I really like dissecting the messy parts of being human. I like making people think and laugh. I’d much rather have a difficult conversation about an ugly truth than a bullshit conversation marked by platitudes. But since I don’t have a talk show or a podcast, I write about these things instead.

I decided in July when there were 100 days until the election, I would create 100 posts to support Joe Biden. As shitty as this election season has been, it was nice to have a reason to wake up and write each day. It was nice to rediscover my love for writing. It was nice to read kind words that had nothing to do with my disability. But now that the election is almost over and we almost have a winner, I look forward to writing about topics that inspire me instead of those that enrage me.

I tried to link this blog to my Facebook page but it wouldn’t let me. Apparently, the universe is trying to tell me something. So if you want updates, you can sign up for an email reminder over to the right or follow me on Twitter or IG.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. People with health issues are often used as inspiration porn. When I tell people about injecting myself every week, I get the inevitable, “oh I could never do that, you’re so strong.” Now I respond and say, “oh that’s a shame, and yes I am strong, so that I can continue to step around people looking at life and go on with living it.” I’ve always loved leaving people speechless. Even before the MS it would never have occurred to me to say, I could never do what you’re doing to keep yourself alive, upright, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LindaBP says:

    I remember a woman telling a man with 2 canes standing in front of her who was slowly improving from Guillan Barre Syndrome how she could NEVER do what he was doing! 30 years ago I didn’t have the words or chutzpah that I do now. Here’s an idea…Don’t make his disease all about you! Give him a hug, wish him well, and tell him to call you should he need anything.


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