Posted in Being human

What fiery really means.

My hand with a large fiery-looking amber ring on it, as well as a turquoise ring with two hearts.
My hand with a large fiery-looking amber ring on it, as well as a turquoise ring with two hearts.

Someone replied to one of my posts praising my fiery and caustic spirit.

I wasn’t aware I was caustic.   I’m pissed enough about the developmental disability system at this point I’m sure I could be coming off that way, I just wasn’t aware of it.

But fiery, yes.  But fiery is so much more than angry, and I want to talk about what fire means in my life.  Because even I misunderstood it until it nearly wasn’t there, several times.

You can’t live without fire. Fire is vitality, fire is the entire force of your life. And I wrote something a long time ago about fire. And I’m gonna write it again right now:

And I reached inside of myself. And I found that fire. And now that fire is burning its way out from the center and into the rest of me, as bright as the sun.

I associated fire with the kind of anger problem I used to have, and thought it was good riddance when the anger problem disappeared, but the fire went into hiding at the same time.

But fire isn’t about anger.

Fire is about vitality and passion.

And coincidentally, right as I was reaching inside myself for that fire, I was also going onto steroids for adrenal insufficiency. And the adrenal insufficiency had, for roughly 6 years, muted my ability to feel the fire that’s always been there.

And when I went onto the steroids, fire came back, only this time it was beautiful, not destructive. It was beautiful and it was life coursing through me, and it was a sensual appreciation of everything around me, and it was everything I’d lost.

And that fire gave me a backbone I hadn’t had, and a strength, and a focus.

I was wrong, before.

Because I need that fire.

Everything is different. Everything.

And the fire means this life goes through everything I do and see, just this intense, fierce, life.

In a redwood forest, fire is what makes the trees burst out of the ground, rocket towards the sky, and make even more of themselves on their own branches to rocket towards the sky with them. Fire is what comes from the sky and gives life to all the plants, which give life to everything that lives from the plants. Beneath the ocean, fire is what comes from beneath the earth through volcanic vents to allow life to flourish in the depths.

We can’t have life without fire.

So that’s basically a combination of things I wrote about fire years ago when I finally got treatment for my adrenal insufficiency. I had been slowly drained of fire for years until I almost died. So I know that without fire, you can’t even breathe, you can’t even move.

I got a scary reminder recently what it’s like to live without fire, not enough fire. Because when I had C. diff, my already messed up guts would not give me a consistent dose of hydrocortisone. They would absorb it so inconsistently that I would have too much sometimes, not enough others, and no way of predicting how much would absorb, and how much would just not happen.

I wrote a series of messages on my Facebook when I was dealing with a extreme lack of fire. A lack of fire that comes from lack of cortisol, that is not being properly replaced with the right amount of steroids.

Here are some quotes from that:

I am not a robot. I am not a robot. I am not a robot.

I’m trying to remember things connected with being alive and keep threads to how I feel when not washed out and 2-D.

I don’t want to fade until Anne only senses me as a wispy thing and I forget fire and passion and motivation ever existed.

I’m scared of forgetting again what it means have even marginally sufficient cortisol. I’m scared of settling.

Feeling half dead should not be acceptable. There should be fire.

I am tired of having the “I am alive” feeling sucked out of my body randomly all day and people thinking it’s good enough.

Trying to remember what 3-D full-color emotions feel like and that their absence means something is wrong. DON’T GET USED TO THIS.

The ebb and flow of THIS med dose is intolerable swinging between Spockish and Spock.

I still have emotions but they’re intellectual and in the distance. I can’t feel them in my body.

Losing visceral motivation makes it hard to move or ask for help. Can’t they see the danger? Hold tight with mind and await meds.

Alarm bells flash and flash and flash and flash and flash and flash. Can’t anyone else around this place hear the silent bells?

It’s weird being propelled more by a deep instinct warning of wrongness getting wronger than by any felt emotion.


See, I was losing fire again. But it was happening with enough inconsistency that I could feel it and I could feel how wrong it was. Because sometimes I would have enough fire and sometimes it felt the fire almost went out.

Before I went into the hospital, I actually had a night where a friend had to help me get my steroids. Because I knew something was wrong. I could not think I could not put thoughts together. I could not feel anything anymore in terms of emotions. And all of that motivation to get you to get up and go when you need to get up and go was not there. And I was barely able to even alert my friend that something must be wrong.

And I had those completely silent but overpowering alarm bells going off. They come from something deeper inside you. But those alarm bells were barely enough to get me able to communicate what was happening. My friend had to put together the rest, and then she had to persuade me forcefully to get up. Because even though I knew my life was in danger at that point, that was not enough to get me out of bed and heading toward the fridge to get my steroids.

This was not because I didn’t want to be alive. I was not depressed. When you don’t have enough cortisol, your everything goes flat. Your emotions, your motivation at all, turn two-dimensional. You can’t even, at least at that point, I could not even string a thought together. Thoughts were these weird scattered pieces of things off in the distance somewhere.

So I have very intimate knowledge of what fire is and why it is necessary. And fire means a whole lot more than getting angry about things. You need fire to get angry. You need fire for everything.

You need fire for creativity. You need fire for passion. You need fire for emotion. You need fire for feeling alive and vitality. You need fire for resilience. You need fire for physical survival. You need fire for all these things and more. Because fire is life. And I have had the fire almost drained entirely out of be at times, and there is nothing to show how much you need fire more than the contrast between not having it and having it. Because it is night and day.

So, yes, I need to stay fiery. But I mean that in the sense that I need to stay alive, I need to stay connected to my body, I need to stay physically viscerally present in the world, all my feelings all my thoughts all my life all my creativity playing out physically in who I am.

Fire is the life inside all of us.  We can’t exist without it.


Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

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