A Horse with No Name

I traipsed through the long hallway with my large white envelope under my arm. I’m  seeing yet another doctor, carrying these films that are supposed to reveal what is going on inside of me. I open the door and see several people sitting there, with their own white envelopes. They look up briefly with a silent, knowing glance. I check in with the receptionist, my hand trembling a bit as I turn over my MRI. I notice for the first time that the envelope is marked “MISCELLANEOUS.”

But this story isn’t about me. Well, not only about me.

It’s been an exciting week for The Self-Compassion Project. Ashley Hasty’s Paint the Town Purple day was a huge success. Her Facebook Status 11 hours ago read: “Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your support in celebrating and honoring those with Crohn’s Disease. We had 16 photos posted from at least 6 different states! We gained about 20 new “likes” on this Facebook page and there are 150 people talking about this project on Facebook! We are definitely taking steps toward raising awareness about Crohn’s, building a supportive community, and ultimately finding a cure!”

Toni Bernhard’s interview on her book How to Be Sick and coping with chronic illness reached the most people ever on this blog. One of her supporters said it so well: “A gentle and penetrating interview in which Toni reveals again her authenticity as a human applying wisdom to a senseless sickness. She demonstrates over and over again, the profound message of acceptance by exploring its mysteries, its boundaries, its illusions and strength. As Jack Kornfield says of mindfulness, ‘simple but not easy’. We are fortunate to have Toni.”

Yesterday I wrote about cancer, and about how everyone has a unique journey in their recovery process.

Today, I’m thinking about names, and how important they are. I don’t know about you, but when someone calls me, “Barb,” I feel seen, really known. It’s a little thing, but it makes a difference.  (Much better than “Hey you!”). In the same way, having a name for a condition, a diagnosis, can make people feel better. On the one hand, being told you have a horrible disease is frightening. But for the first time, you don’t feel like you’re crazy. There’s a legitimacy to having a name for your symptoms. Having a name for the problem also holds the promise of treatment, maybe even a cure. Once you have a diagnosis, you’re immediately part of a group of people in the same boat. You can rally together and be a team. And to top it all off, you get a colored ribbon!

So I’m thinking about all the people who aren’t sure what’s wrong with them. They’ve been to specialists, had all the tests, and carried their MRIs down many a hallway.  I  wish there was a ribbon for people like us. I even went to a paint store to look at paint chips, in hopes of finding the perfect color name for our ribbon. The best one I found was “Mysterious Mauve.” It’s a subtle mix between gray and purple. Beautiful.

Greg was reading over my shoulder and said this made him think of the song by America, “A Horse with No Name.” Yep. That’s going to be the name of this post.

Today, know that I believe you. I know you’re not crazy. Doctors do the best they can, but they’re human, too. They make mistakes. They don’t have all the answers. They don’t always have a name for what we have, but that doesn’t make it not real. As Toni said in her interview, “The single most important thing we can do is to be kind to ourselves.”

Have a restful weekend!

3 thoughts on “A Horse with No Name

  1. i have these soul ‘self care’ deck of cards (Cheryl Richardson’s) that i play with sometimes in myclasses for fun. Super fun!( like your cutie hearts)They have an artsy (some nudey lol) pic of a lady with the theme highlighted on the front side & then a message to go along with it on the back. i get them to close their eyes and pick one. No peeking or switching fast! Well sometimes lol. My son Maxy’s favo is the wisdom card so he’s always searching for that special one lol.
    Anyways barb, there is a point to the cards lol.The PEACE card is one of them that i happen to receiveoften. On the back the message is “embrace your confusion. Let there be peace in not knowing all the answers.” Oh man and yes! Bring on the peace.
    The lady on the front of pretty PEACE is nestled in between ocean and sky, melding her into the all loving & knowing cosmic self (i am! Je suis!) This image really comforts me. And guess what?
    The colours of the universeare various shades of purple: ‘mysterious mauve’. The colour of the crown chakra, connecting us to our divine consciousness. Love! surrendering kinda peace in purple. i’m squishing in there: the horsewithnoname bababoat lol.
    have a wonderful, restful weekend yourself, barb with lots of self treats P.s. “in the desert you can remember your name….” yabas on singing that one all weekend! Thx for sharing..love xo


  2. I can definitely relate to the feelings of anxiety that are relieved when you are given a diagnosis. I have a mental health disorder called Generalized Anxiety Disorder and I remember a time when I felt like I was going crazy. When my therapist finally sat down with me and opened the DSM-IV and showed me that I had this disorder and that these were the symptoms I remember just a huge feeling of relief. Suddenly, this thing had a name, and other people had it too, and these symptoms I was experiencing were to be expected. Having a diagnosis made me feel much better about myself and my mental health. I wish I could give all of you that are in that unknown place the feelings of relief that I had when I got my diagnosis. Unfortunately, I can’t, but I would like to encourage you to keep looking and to try and be kind to yourselves. Although it is nice to have a name for what you have, just remember that you don’t need one in order to justify your pain, it’s just as real as anything and you’re not crazy ❤

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