“Womanly” potential

how-to-be-more-feminine-ft

After “Quincineara Beat Down“, you can see that I’m struggling with a topic, and still trying to find a way to say EXACTLY what I mean.

At this point, I’m still struggling with my lack of sexual activity.  Part of it is due to my underlying illness, and part of it is due to family obligations where my partner is raising his foster son (again), and being the primary caregiver for his 80-year-old Mother. It’s a long and complicated story, but it’s sufficient to say that I’m not getting any and it’s ok.

But, just because I’m not getting busy with anyone does not mean that I am blind to the reality that women are facing today – the fact that we must be “feminine” and “womanly” before we’re anything else.

That focus on womanliness has been the bane of my existence because I’m not a girly girl.

In fact, if you’d asked me, I’m more like Mr. Spock on a good day, with everything being analyzed, especially intimacy and sexual issues.

For me, the need to don war paint, wear “feminine” clothing, and otherwise be anything but what I choose to be on any given day just feels like a fraud.  Why aren’t I good enough, just as I am, straight out of the package?  Why must I be dressed up and focusing on my appearance 24 x 7 x 365 in order to be “womanly”?

No answers here, but it’s still lingering in the back of my brain as the liver doctor wants me to see a nutritionist (which appears to be code for bariatric surgery), and I want nothing to do with that request if it involves surgery, or if it means I’m going to lose weight.

My weight is part of my wellness program (moving to CA 33 years ago and putting on 60 pounds happens to be choices that allowed me to live much longer than expected, AND stay out of the hospital).

 

Diplomacy challenged.

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I belong to the MyCOPDteam website, which is a support group for people battling COPD and trying to find resources in fighting this crazy disease.

I say COPD is crazy because even the so called “experts” on the disease – the docs, respiratory specialists and patients themselves – can’t all agree on it’s causes, triggers, definitions, etc., etc., etc.; making for a rollercoaster ride of things to consider and try in order to remain healthy on a case-by-case basis.

Into these care and treatment considerations come the various personalities of the patients and their caregivers and loved ones, willy nilly, with very little opportunity to filter in or out anyone who may be unhealthy for your individual state of mind.

There are key issues to be addressed with any chronic health issue, but the most important questions don’t get addressed until much further in the online support community, long after you have emotionally engaged with an internet friend or foe and their health outcomes.

Being a crabby New Englander, I was taught that a friend, no matter how boon a companion in real life, is still an “acquaintenance” until you’ve known them and been friendly for at least five (5) to ten (10) years.  What then are the rules for boundary management in internet life?

The reasons for the 5-10 year minimum getting-to-know-you period or reasonable limit is because people lie.  Or prevaricate.  Or put on one personality in public, but may actually be a whole other soul-sucking personality over time.  Until you’ve been in the trenches with someone, you don’t kniw who they are, but rather have bought a bill of goods they are selling you about their personality.

Into this picture comes the art of real life vs. internet life, and how well one manages the graces and decorum in the troll-filled universe we sometimes inhabit in the internet determines in a big way whether or not one is a fan of spontaneous interaction.  With strangers.  And their relatives.

I’ve done pretty well in the 1:1 world of Better Breather Classes.  I am who I am, and I participate fully.  Take me or leave me, but you won’t say you didn’t “notice me”.  And, we all have an unstated but clearly understood rule about manners and communication and kindness.  When in doubt – don’t say it, don’t do it – keep things running smoothly and ensure everything is non-confrontational and polite.  Everyone handles their chronic illnesses differently, and it’s not my business to police your interactions with others.  There is no “right” way to handle how you deal with your illness aggravations and vulnerability as you age.

I’ve also done pretty well in the world of internet dating, breaking through the safety wall to meet and date (or drop) the object of my potential lust and affections.  Because of the boundaries I created to protect my real world identity, few people got to be facebook-level friends  as my answer was always, “No.  You have my contact info on this (other) site.  Until we meet in the real world and decide that we know what we want from each other in terms of public behavior and manners, we’re fine staying friends on this (other) site and not on facebook.  There is no “right” way to handle how you deal with your love life and carnal desires, but I draw the line at starring in an episode of “Cheaters”, or of having your relationship drama rain all over the people in your life – online or in the real world.

So, with these experiences in mind, as I’m dealing with the bleed-thru of the MyCOPDteam friendly acquaintenances and their connections into facebook, I’m finding more things are getting on my nerves.

First, I’m not religious, so the whole “Prayer Warriors, I need your help” demand as a constant background battle cry is exhausting.

Second, we don’t all deal with the inevitable complications and end of life decisions the same way, so my diplomacy is being stretched thin as I go on facebook at all hours of the day and night, unprepared to deal with what can be endless drama in my otherwise lighthearted facebook experience by people who are chronically ill and showing their chronic illness panties – intentionally or otherwise – for all the world to see and remark upon.

Unless it’s siloed among my own family and extended family members – a place where it’s much easier to identify the landmines and avoid them through years of real-world exposure – I don’t wanna know.

 

Childhood Trauma

I’ve been away from this site for quite awhile, as everything I’ve wanted to write about seems pointless and Debbie Downer.  But, I have 5 posts that I’ve been editing over all these months, and a blog by DrugOpinions on trauma got me to thinking about why I’m stuck in writer’s block hell.

Can ACE helps to solve our societal problems?

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Backstory:  It’s been a challenging Summer, with a bunch of myCOPDteam friends passing away, and with my budget being incredibly tight due to a car accident that totaled my new (4 months old) car, and dealing with the pain involved in the (relatively minor) injuries I received.

I’m broke due to being out of pocket to replace my car (found an IDENTICAL model, yes!), and the ongoing physical therapy co-payments as I work to rehab my body without relying on pain killers or other aids that might make my existing ailments worse, (for those who might have lost teack – Asthma / Emphysema / COPD;  diabetes;  non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; blah, blah, blah).  With all this being said, writer’s block is an additional bonus to my frustrations for dealing with my life right now.  Usually, I write until whatever’s bugging me is purged, and that outlet has been closed for quite a bit of time.

So, to try and clear my head, I’m going to try and figure out my ACE score to see if it adds any clarity to the crap floating around behind my eyes and between my ears these last few months.

ACE Questionnaire

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___  If Yes, enter 1 __  [ 1 ]
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __    [ sort of?  Touch was used for control and silencing me, after all spankings stopped at age 5, when my Mom was afraid my father would beat me to death at my refusal to be apologetic when being defiant ]
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __   [ No ]  but, I had lots of surgeries, including one on my bladder, and I often wonder if that impacted my early interest in how the body parts worked…
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __   [ No ]
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No ]  My father was a functional alcoholic, but my Mom was the bulwark of the family and we were well cared for.
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ 1 ] yes, thank heavens !
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No, never in front of me.  That trauma was reserved for my Aunt and Uncle, who I was sent to live with for 3 Summers after my parents separated, and who seemed to get aroused by the violence after we were all in bed but unable to hide from the sounds of their fights, violence and sex, late at night].
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ 1 ]  Yes.  My father and my Aunt were both functional alcoholics.
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No.  While I believe depression runs rampant on both sides of my family tree, my father was on lithium when I was 9, which contributed to the quietest 6 months in our household before he couldn’t stand the peace and quiet and refused to continue on the medication].
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No ]

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score


It turns out that as the ACE score increases, so does the risk of chronic diseases, social and emotional problems later in life.
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To continue the topic for scoring, one summarizes the scoring as follows:

What’s Your ACE Score? (and, at the end, What’s Your Resilience Score?)

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — racism, bullying, watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, involvement with the foster care system, involvement with the juvenile justice system, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

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The focus on the ACE scoring that I find most interesting is how “toxic stress” is defined to highlight impacts on your health.

While I don’t consider my ACE score particularly high based on the questions asked, it’s the focus on resiliency which really captures my attention.

I consider myself extremely resilient.

But, considering the fact that my first chest surgery occurred at about six months old, and involved breathing issues due to a physical deformity involving my chest and ribs, as my bones curved inward, endangering my lungs and heart and preventing proper growth as I aged, it comes back to a whole chicken vs. egg question for me.

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Looking at this score image in particular, focusing on COPD, throws the entire dynamic into the trash bin for me.

If I started life with a birth defect, and the inevitable evolution into COPD is a foregone conclusion if I lived long enough to wear out my body, then the ACE score has no relationship on my likelihood of contracting COPD.

This is one of those kitchen sink analogies where everything impacts one’s quality of life and rate of illnesses, negating the value of the cause and effect study for me.

So many people with horrible childhoods are hale and healthy into old age, so I’m going to lump this into the, “if you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail” theory.

So, let’s look at the resiliency scoring from another study:

Aces Too High

RESILIENCE Questionnaire

Please circle the most accurate answer under each statement:

1.  I believe that my mother loved me when I was little.

Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

2.  I believe that my father loved me when I was little.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
3.  When I was little, other people helped my mother and father take care of me and they seemed to love me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
4.   I’ve heard that when I was an infant someone in my family enjoyed playing with me, and I enjoyed it, too.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
5.  When I was a child, there were relatives in my family who made me feel better if I was sad or worried.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
6.   When I was a child, neighbors or my friends’ parents seemed to like me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
7.  When I was a child, teachers, coaches, youth leaders or ministers were there to help me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
8.  Someone in my family cared about how I was doing in school.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
9.  My family, neighbors and friends talked often about making our lives better.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
10.  We had rules in our house and were expected to keep them.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
11. When I felt really bad, I could almost always find someone I trusted to talk to.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
12.  As a youth, people noticed that I was capable and could get things done.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
13.  I was independent and a go-getter.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
14.  I believed that life is what you make it.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

How many of these 14 protective factors did I have as a child and youth? (How many of the 14 were circled “Definitely True” or “Probably True”?)   [ 8 ]
Of these circled, how many are still true for me?  [ 8 ]