Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I don't understand.
It falls under the concept
that suffering builds character.
Excuse me.
But I have enough character.
I would make a lousy Buddhist.

I know that everyone has different systems to help them cope with this mysterious disease called Fibromyalgia. The concept of the acceptance of suffering is a basic tenet of Buddhism. Suffering, and to be free from suffering, helps you achieve salvation. There is a cause and there is an end and there is a way to rectify it. The pursuit of pleasure only brings pain because it can never be achieved. It's like having an unquenchable thirst. Truly, there really isn't anything new under the sun.  All religions revolve around the same basic concept. Even societal coping mechanisms, like the concept of the grief cycle and acceptance being the final step to moving on, operate the same way.

Healing begins with the acceptance of pain.

I have found out that I don't know how to be sick. I would have to say that I'm not a "religious" person. A lot of organized religion falls flat with me. I find that they spend more time on the outside than dealing with the inside. I would have to say that I'm more spiritual and I do know that my relationship with God is one of the most important things in my life.

Where I have trouble is dealing with the concept that we need to accept suffering. I have to say that I absolutely do not believe that. We may have to accept our circumstances, we may have to accept that pain will be a part of our lives, we may have to accept a lot of things.

I do not believe that we have to accept suffering.

Suffering is a whole other concept and mindset. Suffering keeps us down and more miserable than we already are in dealing with our everyday symptoms. We have enough trouble dealing with the fallout that chronic illness also brings.

Accept suffering? I don't think so.

I choose to accept pleasure. Not pleasure in how bad I feel but pleasure in life in general. I have a desire to one day be able to move in spite of my pain. I have pain and I don't revel in it or accept it. I hate it and will do anything to eradicate it. Whether it be through water therapy, medication or meditation. It makes no difference to me.

I think we have to have hope. Not hope that the suffering will help me achieve some sort of salvation but hope that one day there will be a cure for a debilitating disease. Suffering is a concept I have a hard time accepting. I do constantly long for this life to be other than it is and I refuse to give up hope that it will be better. 

I can be in pain. 

I can be in excruciating pain but I refuse to suffer. 

I choose to believe that it will pass but I also know that I need to get ready for the next round until there is a cure. I cannot be caught unaware. I need to know my body and it's triggers and all of this is a learning experience. 

I'll admit that sometimes I will try anything to relieve this pain. The last few months have been incredibly, how should I say, challenging. I can't believe how politically correct I am in even saying that word! They have been full of pain filled days and nights. I will use every method that I can to find relief. I don't find a sense of relief when I accept certain conditions or factors in this life. I understand that the mind can do many, many things. It can heal and it can hurt but telling me that a calm, peaceful existence will bring a sense of, shall I say, nirvana......well, for me, it just isn't happening. I can let go of,  "the small stuff". I can even let go of, "the big stuff."  I've let go of a lot of things. I've had to whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual or financial. Yes, I have had to let go of quite a bit.  However:

I will never let go of the fight to get well.
I will never let go of hope that there will one day be a cure.
I will never let go of my "survivor" personality.
I will never calmly sit by and give in to my pain.

I will never let go.



  1. I will never let go, sit by, or give in either. I love your fighting instinct and the beautiful spirit that comes with that.
    My honey calls me his little buddha... I guess I am not really.

  2. I truly wish I could say, "Yes me too!"

    But, these days I am not feeling it. Nope, not feeling it at all.

  3. I couldn't help but see your post because it showed up in my Google Alert where I have it set to send me an email whenever the phrase "How to be sick" shows up in a post. This is because it's the name of my book!

    I just wanted to say that Buddhists don't believe that suffering builds character. They just believe that everyone's life has it's unique mixture of joy and suffering -- that no one gets through life without having to face suffering whether it's a serious illness or frustration at the dog barking next door!

    Anyway, I know this is a strange way to meet -- through Google Alert -- but I just wanted let you know that Buddhists are not interested in understanding suffering because they think it builds character. I'm with you on that one -- who needs that! Life is hard enough!

    All my best,

  4. It was interesting to hear your viewpoint on this. We disagree about suffering, but I still appreciate reading what you had to say on it.

    For me personally, as a devout Christian/follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that we do need to embrace suffering. Romans 5:3-5 says: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

    I believe that suffering this way has lead me to more character, endurance, and hope than I ever thought possible. I've learned a lot during this Fibro journey, and like you I choose not to give up on hope. Just because I believe we need to embrace our suffering doesn't mean I've set aside any sort of hope that it could be better, or that I've decided to just sit by the road. I'm actively trying to make it better, doing things to try to alleviate some of my symptoms, and refusing to allow it to keep me down.

    I don't believe accepting our suffering says we have to stay down. I think just the opposite. Embracing it has actually opened more doors for me than before. Accepting my suffering/this trial has allowed a floodgate of joy to open that was closed solidly before.

    For you, I'm glad that you are not giving up on hope, not giving up on this fight, or that you just 'give in' to your pain.

    I appreciate the chance to communicate our beliefs and differences across the blogosphere. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on all this. I really appreciate you!

    One last thing, I believe healing begins when we determine to not give up. Not let our suffering and pain overtake us.

  5. Hi Rochelle!

    Actually we agree more than you think we do. It may just be a matter of semantics. I know what the Bible says about suffering. My viewpoint is how we react to suffering. Job suffered with illness but he didn't wallow in the idea of suffering. Instead, he rose above it knowing all was for the glory of God.

    Jesus suffered for the sins of man but he didn't concentrate on the suffering. It was what was the result of the suffering that he spoke about the most.

    Wallowing in suffering doesn't do anyone any good whether it be physically, emotionally or spiritually. That was the point I was trying to make about accepting suffering.

    I appreciate the fact that we have each other no matter how we look at certain subjects.

    Hugs to you!!


  6. What ever spiritual path you follow, I think the important thing is not allowing your pain/illness to own you -- you need to own it. Owning it means that you are more than your illness, greater than your pain. It means taking control back in a situation, like fibromyalgia, where it can seem you have no control.
    I've found the initial posting and the dialogue it created very interesting. Thank you!

  7. Ah excellent points in your last comment about Job and Jesus! Quite right you are.

    Thankful for your bloggy friendship :)


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