You may or may not be able to quote dialogue at random (as I can), but most of you have probably seen The Princess Bride. (If you haven’t, rectify that ASAP! It’s one of the best films of all time!) Near the end, there’s a duel between The Dread Pirate Roberts (trying not to give too many spoilers here, for those who haven’t seen it) and the dastardly Prince Humperdink, in which the dialogue goes a little something like this:
Humperdink: To the death!
Dread Pirate Roberts: No. To the pain.
Humperdink: I don’t think I’m quite familiar with that phrase?
Dread Pirate Roberts: I’ll explain, but in small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog-faced buffoon.
Humperdink: That may be the first time in my life that anyone has ever dared to insult me!
Dread Pirate Roberts: It won’t be the last. To the pain means that the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles, then your hands at the wrists; next, your nose.
Humperdink: And then my tongue I suppose? I killed you too quickly the last time….a mistake I don’t mean to duplicate tonight!
Dread Pirate Roberts: I wasn’t finished! The next thing you lose will be your left eye, followed by your right!
Humperdink: And then my ears! I understand! Let’s get on with it!
Dread Pirate Roberts: Wrong! Your ears you keep, and I’ll tell you why! So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach; every woman who cries out “dear God, what is that thing?” will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.
So, why am I quoting this scene from The Princess Bride in the newsletter this week? What could that possibly have to do with the business here at Iaconagraphy, or with magick, or Tarot, or art, or anything else that I normally talk about? Because I totally get what “to the pain” means, and I need y’all to understand it, too. You see, I’m having a duel with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis, and it’s leaving me in that promised anguish, wallowing in freakish misery.
This isn’t just a disease that can kill you. It isn’t just a disease that can cause you so much pain on a daily basis that you feel like you’re living in a medieval torture chamber, trapped inside an iron maiden, wondering what the hell you did to deserve this sort of punishment. (And if you don’t know what an iron maiden is, I suggest adding Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow to your next movie night as well!) This is a disease that can make you ugly, inside and out. It’s a disease that affects your mind, as much as it affects your body. It’s not just a matter of “I don’t feel well”; it’s a case of “I hate my life”. It’s “to the pain”.
Yet, I get up every morning and get online and get to work. I’m sitting here now, typing this, with a left hand that barely works and hurts so bad when I type that I literally need one of those sticks you see dudes in war movies and historical flicks bite down on while somebody’s amputating their limbs without anesthesia. I do housework (on today’s agenda: cleaning my office, because it’s a total wreck; tomorrow: laundry), or at least as much as I can (which is less than it used to be, and believe me, everybody in this house is paying that price). I hardly every complain. In fact, I hardly tell anybody at all that I’m in this much pain. So I’m telling you now.
Sometimes, I make sales. That’s more and more rare these days, admittedly. But I still get up every day, slog through tremendous pain that would make most people just pray for sleep (or death), and try, try again, in the hopes that somebody’ll “bite”.
And yet I’m not on disability. The “proud state of North Carolina” doesn’t think this level of agony is a disability. I have no health insurance (Obama care doesn’t cover me…yeah, that was really designed with the poor people who actually need health coverage in mind! Not!) I have no means of going to a doctor and getting prescription medication, and even if I did, ninety percent of what’s on the market is only a panacea anyway–nothing they give you actually heals this, because they haven’t yet discovered a cure for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis!
This is my means of making a living. All those “conservatives” who get up on their bandwagons screaming about people like me who “want a handout” take note: I’m not taking any; they won’t give them to me. So, instead, I work my ass off every day in this level of pain, and pray to God that somebody will actually take me seriously, realize this is my only means of making a living, and actually act on that. That is what “to the pain” means for me.
I was taught my whole life that you don’t tell other people “your business”, and that includes not “letting them see you sweat” when you’re under this much pressure on a regular basis, and in this much pain. Telling people about your pain means you’re a “whiner”. Not pushing through the pain on a daily basis and doing what you need to do anyway means you’re “lazy”. Well, fuck that Southern Sensibility. I’m not a whiner, and I’m definitely not lazy. I’m “to the pain”. And it’s high time the whole world knew what that actually means.
Right now, it means that I am in in a very dark place. I am sick and tired of putting on a brave face and having the world think I’m a “together kinda gal”. This “together kinda gal” is in a shit-ton of pain. Every day. A level of pain that most of you couldn’t even begin to imagine, and certainly wouldn’t want to endure. And behind that pain is the knowledge that I could, at any given moment, be one pustular psoriasis outbreak away from death. And I live with that every day, too. Yet I get up every morning and I do it all, anyway, and usually silently, without telling a soul that I’m dying inside. Well, no more. Here I am in all my freakishly anguished glory, because if you can’t be completely honest as a minister and Tarot Reader, you shouldn’t be a minister and Tarot Reader in the first place!
What I really want to do right now is throw in the towel and finally just quit and give in “to the pain”. That’s as honest as I can be without being rude, mean, or unprofessional (or, at least, any more unprofessional than this entire blog post probably is to begin with). I want to just lay back and enjoy the good hearts of the people who do support me and make sure I have things like a roof over my head, food in my belly, occasional excursions to do fun things, and clothes on my back (and a kitty to cuddle when shit gets real, like now). I want to throw my stupid Southern Pride out the window, curl up in a little ball, cry my eyes out and truly express the level of pain, fear, and anguish that I’m actually in on a freaking daily basis. I want to stop working my ass off for something that most people apparently regard as a “hobby” that I do to “make myself some extra cash on the side”. But if living “to the pain” for almost thirty years has taught me one thing, it has taught me this: I am not a quitter!
So I won’t quit, but I’m also no longer going to “put on a brave face” for anybody, including myself. This is what I live with every day. This is my little life. This is me being honest in a way that I probably shouldn’t be, but then again, maybe I should have been this honest a long, long time ago. With everybody. I am not quitting, but I am stopping long enough to desperately attempt to get my shit back together, before it’s so fallen apart that there is no getting it back together; before things reach the point of no return. There will still be Pagan Minutes at Facebook, because I need those and at least one other person who constantly loves and supports me needs those. There will still be art, because making art is one of the few places where I find any peace whatsoever right now. I will be testing the waters at Etsy this week with a few offerings in the hopes that adding a new audience might actually give me what I need to survive and in the process help me understand and believe again that I might actually deserve to survive, because right now, I really don’t feel like I do, or like I want to. Beyond that, y’all can kiss my “brave face” goodbye, because I’m all out of spoons with that….
I’m living “to the pain”. And I need a vacation.