Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Additional birthday thoughts

Whenever I try to think of ways to deal with this kind of issue directly, I remember all the failed attempts, and also how old she is, and how she has never changed, and... well, why should she, now? ever? She doesn't have much lifespan left, and this seems to be solely my problem, not "ours", not hers - everyone else seems to get a positive vibe from her. It's me being picky, I guess... I would have thought if you're going to become somebody's mom (something I have never wanted), surely the first order of business is to fall in love with that baby and teach them through your physical presence how to fall in love with you. I think there are supposed to be hormones and pheromones that help with that. I must have missed out on transcribing receptors for those, or something, because all my life I've been horrified by the idea of bringing yet another human into the planet minus that good start.

All I have ever sensed in my own daughter-mother relationship is a Chasm, my own yearning for it to never have existed, all the bridge-building materials over on her side of it, and her not ever even having had a clue that such a chasm ever existed in the first place or that I had to learn to communicate with her myself, from the far side of it. I do not have enough objective perspective on this to know if it's just my own idiosyncratic Chasm, or if such chasm-ness is commonplace within the whole human primate species. (Something tells me it might be commonplace and that a lot of what passes as "culture" is supposed to hide it or veil it or distract it from awareness.)

This used to bother me a lot more than it does anymore, having had plenty of mom-related therapy, to do with surviving/coming alive after having been her punching bag as a child - this was known as 'spare the rod, spoil the child' in my parents' farm culture/time era. (Religion was all mixed up in it - this was a big motivation for my learning how to live without such ubiquitous mind-f***.)

Our relationship only ever bothers me on occasion, like this time of the year, the most overlapped part of the Venn diagram comprised of my birthday, my mother, me, our very carefully mapped out relationship; all the essential boundaries installed by me quaver a little bit, I feel that quaver more intensely than I should, because maybe I am more vulnerable than usual. There is no escape from this time of the year, or from the uncomfortable juxtaposition of factors. Not while she's alive. Nor while I am, probably. It's insoluble. I deep breathe, feel my/our feelings, keep moving.

I love this poem, via Art of Europe, sent me by a friend in Scotland.

This be the verse, by Philip Larkin
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy birthday. I guess.

My 60th. Today.
So, my spry, almost 87yo mother invited me to her place for a quiet, uneventful Christmas dinner on Saturday, which only lasted a few hours (thankfully) and tasted pretty good. She invited me out for a brunch on my birthday, an invitation I accepted, which was today.

No exact time had been set, but I was ready by 10-ish... that's what I'm used to as brunch time.
About 11:30 AM I finally got a call from her;
Her: "Are you all set? I'd like to wait until the mail comes - the mail lady is late today - the last time the mail came was on the 24th, and all there was was a Christmas card from the MLA."
Me: "OK, no problem."

The next call was shortly after 12 noon:
Her: " Are you ready to go? I'm hungry, and the mail hasn't come yet. Let's go."
Me: "OK." 

So off we went for the anticipated Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream at Smitty's. As we ate, I heard all about how she cut her finger, how it felt, how it bled and bled and hurt and hurt, what she ate the day before, plans for New Year's eve (a card party at the neighbour's), what day my brother and his family might come to town for a visit/holiday meal. All the burning topics at the top of her list that she wanted to chat about.

I asked her if she'd heard any rumor about Doctor X (her own doctor) retiring.  She said, no, asked where I'd heard that rumor. I told her nothing about where (from whom) I'd heard the rumor but that I'd heard it, and that it was just a rumor - whereupon she launched into the entire scene with the doctors in the city - who had come here, who had gone, their reasons for leaving, who was married to who, all their children, etcetcetc.

She asked me if I had found a doctor yet. No, I replied. I hadn't. In fact the last time I'd been to see one was in 2004. She seemed a bit shocked.

I was about to tell her why, about how the last visit had (by total fluke) coincided with a routine mammogram which had coincided with a bit of arm pain I'd been having from too much typing, which was partly breast pain (intercostobrachial nerve, lateral cutaneous branch of T2, which splits, and the posterior branch goes down the medial side of the arm while the anterior branch innervates cutis/subcutis of the breast), how the mammogram tech and the MD had freaked out about this and had insisted on a second (MUCH more painful) mammogram, and ultrasound exam, plus a clinical exam, all of which turned up absolutely exactly nothing, but which had irritated me a lot. Especially because I knew exactly what was (benignly) wrong already, but no one would listen to me. So I had decided to look after my own health care observation for awhile.

Anyway, I had only just begun, with a first introductory sentence about how I had had a sore arm from typing, when along came a waitress, not even our official waitress, but one who has seen my mother in there often, and who apparently didn't register that my mother and I were having a conversation (and it finally had become my turn to speak), wanted to make small talk with her, didn't seem to have any boundaries around what was appropriate waitress behaviour, i.e., be discreet, don't interrupt guests who are talking.

My mother responded to the situation the way she always has (and no doubt always will) - she opted for the novel, more superficial and therefore safer topic/opportunity, gave the waitress her full sunny attention, as if the waitress were some old dear friend she had not seen since forever, while I, and the thread of the conversation we were having, completely ceased to exist.

Conversationally shot down, bumped by a waitress on my birthday.

Story of my life with mom. Social invisibility. Interruption by waitress (or it could have been anything - a cloud pattern, a leaf blowing against the window) takes precedence; any conversation in which my mother has tried to, or has pretended to, listen to my contribution or story for more than a fleeting moment or two, is severed, aborted, never re-engaged. Even back in the car for the short 5-block drive home, she kept the air filled with casual chatter. She has never wanted to know anything about what I think or feel - thinks she already knows everything. Or she finds me hard to listen to. Or both. 

Other than setting up that unfortunate (for me) dynamic, she looked after me pretty well from babyhood to adulthood. I was supposed to be the passive doll and as long as that's how I was/am/acted/act, everything between us is fine just fine just fine and dandy.

I guess every introvert has likely experienced this dynamic in the company of an extroverted, therefore more socially dominating human, be they family member or anybody; only visible when that person decides it's time for one to be visible and then, if they can get some sort of reflected glory out of the deal somehow. I'm used to this. I grew up with this.

I've got a lot more patience with her and a lot less resentment toward her than I used to; but every so often... like, for example, a day when it's my 60th birthday (about which I'm not that excited in the first place) and I suddenly am made socially invisible by a waitress intrusion, and a mother who in a flash decides that small town chitchat is more important in that very moment, and I sit there reeling from being made suddenly invisible for the billionth time in my life, can think of no slick cool way of re-railing the conversation and/or shooing away the waitress ... I am reminded how much I still hate this particular dynamic, in this case, mother/daughter on top of everything erosive and corrosive it already encompasses.So why do I not deal with it directly? The way I do other things in life?

I normally just stay away from people who vex me and with whom I have no business dealing or who have no business dealing with me; but what do you do when it's your own mother, to whom you were born at emotional disadvantage of cosmic proportions, with whom you've been dealing all your life, sometimes more successfully than at other times? I guess if it hasn't killed me by now it has made me stronger - at least I hope it has. I can hold my own in almost every other non-mother circumstance.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two years in review

I've never done one of these year-in-review things before, and because the last two years have blurred into each other I'm going to do 2009 and 2010 as conjoined.

So, two years ago I was in Hawaii rethinking my existence on the planet while soaking up rays into my sunstarved self. I decided the sun felt so good that I needed more. I knew I didn't need it on my skin as much as I needed it in my head, so I resolved to get it together enough to move to a different life/place.

The first half of 2009 was about getting ready to move and moving and dealing with the life that was ending so I could move on to the one that was still unknown. To help me stay focused and slide through the transition, I started a Facebook page which just rolled over 4000 members a few days ago, and has close to 2000 links.

The second half of 2009, after I moved, was about recovering from the previous 25 years of light deprivation and the toll it had taken on me cognitively. I couldn't do much but I did whatever I could while I let my brain fluff back up.

The first half of 2010 was about enjoying the spring and delving into new projects, like traveling, teaching, presenting, signing up for a uni program, and trying to figure out how to get back into the working world.

The second half of 2010 has been about immersing myself into study with a bit of webinaring on the side, and starting a bit of a practice seeing people in their homes.

I have to say, I still miss the life I had in Vancouver, which was tailor-made for me/by me, but in the wrong place for me micro-neuro-physiologically/biologically. My mistake. Oops. We move on.

Dealing with depression every winter had started to feel more like "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" than I could bear.
Recently I found this, Depressive Illness - Curse of the Strong, a fresh package for an old problem, one that sits better with me; I liked this part:  
"This illness nearly always happens to a certain type of person. He or she is strong, reliable, diligent, with a strong conscience and sense of responsibility, but is also sensitive, easily hurt by criticism and has a self esteem which while robust on the outside, is in fact quite vulnerable and easily dented. This is the person to whom you would turn to in times of need, and they would never let you down."
That is a great description of the ideal human primate social groomer, right there. Not saying it's how I am, but rather that I think it's what human primates ordinarily aspire to be before we have to admit we fail at it and have resign ourselves to said failure. Serial failure. Waxing and waning of hope while trying to become some ideal version of a human.

I have to say, while my outer life still feels shrunk compared to how it played out in Vancouver, on the inside of me I feel SO much better, more "normal", more energetic, motivated, etc. I guess a year and a half with no saddle on, grazing about in sunshine will do that for ya.

Looking forward
I just got back from Saskatoon last night, Solstice eve, from a preliminary review committee meeting. A young woman is setting up a project in conjunction with a Master's degree in PT. She wants to study dermoneuromodulation. I'm a member of said review committee, and would be providing the physical treatment. I provided a demonstration for them, pre-organized by them, on the husband of one of the members. We hope to find a way to measure effects of manual treatment on the peripheral, spinal and brain nervous system, using some sort of molecular trace - without my having to learn to touch and treat actual lab rats of the rodent kind, I mean - so we have a molecular pain scientist on the committee.
Very interesting meeting. Very unusual solstice in my experience - lots of questions, no answer, but feels like lots of movement happening. 
My birthday is in another week. Happy birthday to me. If we can come up with some sort of study that can show that manual therapy has a physical effect on the nervous system, and we can measure it (in some non-invasive way), and not just imply said effect based on outcome measures that are ridiculously hard to validate/be completely objective about, it might be a step forward for manual therapy.

Happy solstice and new year - I mean that sincerely. Happily.

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD, depression

Posts that discuss or mention depression, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD:

Winter 2005

Winter 2006
More teaching

Winter 2007
"Rage Against the Dying of the Light": A Survival Plan for SAD
SAD progress report
Surfacing from SAD
Not so SAD anymore

Winter 2008
Barry Beyerstein on Pseudoscience and other related matters
Thoughts on Solstice Eve on Life's Absurdities
Happy people and unhappy people

Does depression have an upside? 
Nucleus Accumbens
Robert Sapolsky on depression
Fresh spring, fresh start
Noticeable improvement

Monday, December 20, 2010

Posts about moving away from Vancouver

1. Insular winter wallowing
2. Making progress
3. Adrienne and my cranky leg
4. Progress toward "impeccabilization"
5. Oozing toward the move
6. From the waterfall to the desert
7. The first lap
8. Ready for the next lap
9. Nothing yet
10. Might have an offer
11. Sold
12. Huge blue
13. Letting go
14. Selling the practice
15. Final day at work
16. Monday monday
17. Wednesday Wednesday
18. Friday
19. The silent auction continued
20. Mini-vans
21. Aloft
22. The final weekend
23. Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night
24. Made it.
25. July 27/09 - first day of the rest of this life

All the Hawaii vacation posts

This post is just a collection of all the blogposts I made about or while I was in Maui.
There is no new content here.

1. First day of vacation
2. My old friend Sleep! Welcome back!
3. Photon therapy
4. same shot different day
5. Scary road in Maui
6. Day 6
7. Ocean at dusk
8. tourist shot
9. Kona Storm
10. Luau
11. Luau 2
12. Luau 3
13. Vacation time share pitch
14. Vacation time share pitch II
15. Vacation time share pitch III
16. Gecko invasion
17. palm tree picture
18. turquoise and purple ocean
19. Day thirteen
20. lavender dawn
21. lavender and lace
22. Dawn day 14
23. Thoughts on Solstice Eve on Life's Absurdities
24. Solstice Greetings
25. Solstice Greetings II
26. Solstice greetings III
27. Solstice greetings IV
28. Solstice greetings V
29. A touristy day in Lahaina, Maui, Part I
30. A touristy day in Lahaina, Maui, Part II: Monster of the plant world
31. A touristy day in Lahaina, Maui Part III: my salute to the Hawai'ian flag
32. Exercising permeable boundaries
33. Surf's up 
34. Last day