A self-help guide to being in my body.


By Catherine Fairfield


A handy list for knowing what it’s like to be me.

Yet, I don’t know how to describe my aches?

Need a quick vocabulary to draw on in your everyday life.  Listen.  Read.


I give this fast-easy-creative-unexpected-exciting-trendy list to you.  Applicable to almost anyone with a nervous system like mine.

Use this language in any way that helps you to understand my organs.  Your organs.


A Knife in a Haystack Searching between bones, tendons, and nerves. Amidst the vessels I feel a blade, but I can’t see it. I can’t wrap my fingers around it. Somewhere inside me lies a steely chink in this armor. It is growing around my muscles using the fibers like vines on a bloody trellis. Have you seen my blade?


A Tuning Fork Sound waves rebounding inflammation through blood-brimming cavities. It rings pitch-perfect daggers from vertebrae to vertebrae. My body hums with that hair-raising note that can bring instruments to life. I learn to tune myself in accordance with it.


Lichen Unfurling mossy growth inside limbs. Lace-like patterns adhere to my under-flesh. Delicate pale red shapes curl and flake from organ to organ. Texturizing. The hidden side of my skin is decorative with the spread of this organism.


A Torch Never alone, there is a warmth growing inside of me, burning hot, hot, hotter until scar that only I can see ripple through my abdomen. Blowing flames across my organs. Eradication. A light shone inside purpled cavities. A flashing signal. Wildfire burns. I will never not feel this part of my body again.


Wailing Like a banshee mourning a deep loss for something that has fallen away before I could know it was there. I try to find the mouth from which the cries clamber, but the sound is muffled. Tissue and fluid make excellent buffers for finding the source of anything.


How would you describe your pain? 


Catherine Fairfield is a women’s studies scholar and a freelance writer.  She lives with endometriosis, chronic pain, and her dog, Gracie.  Her writing explores what it means to be wild and lively in ever-changing and precarious environments. In her free time, she sketches trees and reads thriller novels.  She has been published by The Mighty, Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine, and here at The TIREDGIRL Collective..