Monday, September 12, 2011

Dating With Chronic Pain - Guys' Perspective

This morning I was reading the Plenty of Fish Forums, which I adore. Many good comments from men here, and generally, the best online commentary on dating & relationships I have found. Generous, insightful commentary.

One woman wrote a post on asking about chronic pain. It is located here. (Click on the word here for the site.)

The reason I am posting this here is because I really thought two responses are great. The first deals with disclosure, the second with how you handle the pain.


The first suggestion is to absolutely be open about your condition. This is for several reasons - as it may impact everything from sex to children. One guy, IgorFrankensteen says this:

"So, if your chronic pain means "no sex," then you'll probably get a lot of guys mad at you if you date them for several weeks before telling them."

How You Handle Pain

The second is from the guy called AintNoDeal is very important to consider. One reason: it's exactly what I did this weekend when I was in pain. Try to fix it myself and be strong & not complaining. Here is what he said when the woman asks if she is going to be alone forever due to her illness (endometriosis)...

"I think it's wrong for you to blame your acute CONDITION as the reason men run away. It's how you BEHAVE due to your condition that is the stick in the camel's back. If you were somehow strong and silent, guys may tend to hang around, because they would become unaware of your difficulty because you don't mention it.

"I'm not suggesting you hide your condition.

"I'm saying men react to what they see as a problem. If you don't appear to be struggling and complaining, they won't consider it an issue. If it's not a problem for YOU, it's no problem for THEM.

"Take any women off the street -- if she complaints 20 days a month about her monthly visit, guys will avoid her because she "appears" to be disfunctional. A woman could bleed 29 days a month, but if she didn't gripe about it, most men would be clueless.

"Try not to make YOUR ISSUE, THEIR ISSUE."

Ladies & gentlemen, be strong and of good courage. Just be honest in the process.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Could Have Been Sooo Much More - If It Weren't For This Damn Pain

What-if's plague everyone. Most of all, those of us who failed to realize our dreams because our bodies gave out. This is not lack of motivation. This is lack of facility.

We just can't make it happen. Or, the cost is too great.

You like my music? Great. What is it that YOU do that causes excruciating pain that I might enjoy? Would you do it, if you could? Yeah. No.

Torturing oneself for the sake of others' pleasure is an ancient - um, wait, did this ever exist? I know that torturing oneself for the sake of ones' own guilt DID exist (i.e. self-flagellation). And torturing others for the sake of one's own pleasure or the "greater good" is also common in history.

Have you ever heard of someone torturing themselves for the sake of everyone else's pleasure? Yeah. I haven't. Oh wait. There is the ballet...

So there are some who do put themselves through he** for ulterior motives. Specifically athletes - such as boxers & football players. But the trade-off is, they get fame & fortune & tip-top pay for it. Most musicians don't.

Why do pain-filled artists without extreme monetary motivation do this? Creative drive. And - WE ARE GOOD. Yeah. It sucks, but if we are good at something, and love it, we make ourselves victims to your pleasure. Ugh.

The travesty is, we could probably have excelled and surpassed those without pain that make a living at their art form. I've been told many times by my RIP orchestra director, Dr. Virginia Gene Rittenhouse, that I should to go a conservatory. And (snotty-sounding, I know), I am a much better performer than some of my friends who don't have pain. Yeah. Oh well.

They can, I can't.

So what do you do when your drive surpasses your body? Re-channel. If a stream can't find an outlet one place, it goes another. It might not be as prestigious a stream, or get as much attention ("Look baby, the Rhyne River!") but it still conveys water. Which I guess is a useful function.

If your task or drive is to convey "art" to other people, and you cannot use your original form: improvise. Really. That's all you got. I'm not being generous, I'm being real. Try a new art form. Can't, say, play the violin? Sing. Create digital photography. Write. Or do all three, like I do.

Can you still produce that art that makes YOU the happiest. No. I can never replicate the exileration of producing beautiful violin music on ANY other form of ANYTHING. That satisfaction, that ship, has sailed, baby.

But then, the poor starving folks in wherever aren't getting their IDEAL food either. (I hope, you are helping to donate something for them to eat, and somebody is getting it to them.) Either way, they don't have their ideal.

Ideal is no longer an option.

So if you have food to eat, and can pay your bills, consider yourself lucky. If you lose your "best case scenario" my advice is: deal with it. IMPROVISE.

Really. Just go on. "Ideal" is nice, but it does not make the world go round. Or your tummy full. Thank God every day you have food on your table and wait for Heaven, where you will own a Strad.

Oh, AND, be able to play it....

(This post dedicated to CCJ.)

Honoring a Body That Has Betrayed You - Why & How You Must

"Neck, I honor you. You have held my violin up for years. This brought me a wealth of satisfaction, to the stage of Carnegie Hall, a life of travel only the richest could afford, life-long friendships,and the skill of performing, in any capacity."
"Arms, I honor you. You make my life happen. You support my writing, which pays my bills. You played the violin. You carry my luggage on vacation. You help me move to a new place. You hug my friends. You pet my cat."
"Back, I honor you. You sit all day long and hurt so I can type and write, and you make everything possible."
"Legs, I honor you. You carry me to work everyday, you work out at the gym to look sexy & guys love you. As someone just said, you (my legs) got me dinner last night!"

So went my thoughts to myself, as tears streamed down my cheeks during the inaugural massage of my vacation.

Hating your body when you hurt is just so fundamental that you MUST learn ways to honor it. Whatever works, praise it. Baby it. Honor its functions, if not its form or HOW it feels to produce results for you.

Why should you do this? How do you expect to recover or lower your pain levels with hatred as a motivator? Won't happen.

Laying on the massage table, I compared myself woefully to a restored Model-T. I look pretty on the outside, but ain't no way you're gettin' 80 outta this baby. Or heck, even 50.

My body has worked hard over the years. It has brought me around the world, to 50 countries, pays my bills, and loves the people around me. But do I love it for all its sacrifices for me? Not so much. In fact, I hate it.

My body has betrayed me. It, who was supposed to bring me pleasure, success, and satisfaction brings me pain, depression and fear (I will not be able to survive).

When you are betrayed, what do you do? You take revenge. You say "F*#@ you" and try to hurt what hurts you back. So what does this look like with pain? If something hurts you ignore it. ("You again, neck pain? I don't have time for you! I wish I didn't HAVE a neck to hurt!" ) Or you make it worse. ("Yeah I don't really care how you feel, Mr. Shoulder. Do you care how I feel? You just hurt me all day long. So you're gonna lift weights now cuz you can't hurt AND be ugly too.") (See Beauty & the Beast post for more on this.)

The reason you have to do this (love your body) is for your brain. Yes, your brain betrays you too. It's the reason you have this crazy illness in the first place, probably. But your brain is really caught in the middle. Like Switzerland, your brain has to mediate. It also has to keep you going.

Your brain is the one that gets the message that you babied your body. When you have FMS your body won't necessarily get it. Anything that hurts becomes revenge, even when you don't mean it.("You just went to the chiropractor. Wait, he made MORE pain? Dammit!" "This massage hurts? It was supposed to help! NOOOO!") But still, your brain knows it's for a larger purpose. (Hurt now, happy later.) Even if what you do to help hurts, it's still facing the betrayal head-on.

So today your exercise is to - baby yourself. Be nice to YOU. Even though your body hates you, love it back. Healthy people baby their bodies. Why shouldn't you be the same?

It's not your body's fault you got sick. Stop blaming it & start loving those curves. Ouchy & all.