Ear Acupuncture Experience

So I summoned all my courage and went for an ear acupuncture appointment yesterday. I had already met the lady at a previous appointment, where she did all the explaining and stuff. I have some pain issues that need dealing with, but I am really 100% NOT fond of doctors and physical examinations. Besides, I already know that there is no strictly physical reason for the pain anyway. So what appealed to me was the possibility to try and treat the pain with no physical examination other than examining the ear and getting the acupuncture done. Anything that I can do fully clothed and that that doesn’t require people to touch me all over is a good thing in my book.

The downside was that the lady already told me that the ear examination and the acupuncturing does hurt a bit. She said it’s an okay to tolerate kind of pain, but still. So I was quite a bit nervous and felt very brave that I decided I want to give it a try nonetheless.

Mom went with me (of course, because without her I don’t go anywhere anyway, LOL) and it was good to have her along, as it soon turned out. Anyway, we went in and first the lady asked stuff like was I feeling alright today and did I still want to give it a go and did I want to have some tea. I said yes before the courage left me, but no to the tea, because I couldn’t focus on anything other than the acupuncturing anyway.

The first challenge was to lie down on the treatment table. I really don’t like it very much at all to be lying on my back in such an exposed spot in the presence of other people. So very quickly I felt like I didn’t want to do it after all and mom asked the practitioner lady to give us a moment alone in the room. The lady was quite good about it, told us to call her when we were ready, and went to the other room.

That made the lying down part okay. With only Mom around I’m good. So I lay down and got halfway comfortable. I also held on to Mom, just, like, you know, in case. After a while to get used to the awkward situation, I was good enough that mom could call the lady back in.

When she entered the room again she was carrying a blanket and gave it to mom. Somehow the lady had the good sense to stay away from the table while mom covered me, so that was good and I felt okay. Mind you, far from calm and relaxed, but okay enough that it was tolerable. So it was time for the ear examination part.

During the examination the practitioner lady poked the acupuncture points with a slim rod, one after the other, asked me to tell her when a point was tender and painful to poke, and made notes which points those were. That part was surprisingly okay. Mom was still by my other side, held my hand and smiled at me and while some points were quite painful, it was in the “ouch!” way like pinching, not real bad. And it was also okay because it didn’t require a lot of touching, besides the ear.

Then she was through with all the points and got the needles. What I liked was that she went real slow and asked me to tell her when I was ready. For a moment I panicked, because I didn’t want her to pierce me with a needle, even if it was a really thin one. It was good that mom was there and helped calm me down, reassuring me that I was in control and that if I didn’t want it to happen, nothing was going to happen, and all that. Which helped. And I figured that if I can cut myself with a razor blade, I can probably take the pain from the thin needles, too.

So the lady went ahead and first placed a needle at a neutral point, which didn’t hurt at all. I felt it, but it was not painful. She said that’s how neutral and healthy points feel and said the others will be more painful, because those are more active. And yeah, they WERE more painful. A very weird kind of pain, sharp and piercing, but surprisingly it didn’t feel like I needed to flinch or pull away. The lady asked me to focus on breathing out while she placed a needle, and that helped. She also waited until all the pain had subsided before placing another needle. So one by one, she poked ten needles into my ear in total, including the neutral one.

Then I needed to lie and wait for 20 minutes, during which the lady left me and mom alone again, but stayed within calling distance and checked in twice to see if everything was alright.

The waiting part was weird. Not painful at all anymore, which was good, but it was weird to be lying on the treatment table, waiting for time to pass, knowing ten needles were sticking out from my ear! LOL! But it was okay. Mom told me a silly little story and held my hand and stroked my hair and the wait ended up not even feeling all that long.

Taking the needles out was a bit painful again. More so on some points than on others. Some points wouldn’t even let go of the needle the first time around, so the practitioner lady left those a little longer and tried again until they would yield. Quite weird. I have no idea what inside the ear would be able to hold on to a needle, but some points definitely did!

Anyway, that was the whole procedure. Once the needles were out I could get up again and we were on our way home. At night I could still see the points where the needles had gone as red little dots, today they have mostly disappeared, but my ear still feels a bit tender and sore to the touch. Other than that, I feel fine. And a bit proud of myself that I went without much fuss and without drama!

If the ear is fully back to normal by then, I’ll go for the second appointment on next Tuesday. I really hope it’s going to work and will help against the pain! I remained pain-free yesterday, so that was a good start!

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Why my mom is a “good enough” parent, and why my mother wasn’t

I happened across this thesis yesterday and although I only skimmed it, I found something interesting about how parents are supposed to be “good enough” parents. So I asked mom and she said that’s a concept coined by a psychologist named Winnicott and it means that parents don’t need to be perfect, never making mistakes, but that they need to be “good enough” in order for the child do develop in a healthy way.

I thought that was interesting and decided I want to compare the parenting my birth mother did and the parenting my mom now does and see what I get. I’ll write my take on my mother’s behavior in blue and my take on my mom’s behavior in purple.

So trusting the thesis being a good enough parent requires parents to:

  • To teach and guide

my mother – teaching and guiding, I don’t know if that applies to her at all. Does it count if you are taught something by learning to fear the consequences if you don’t do it? The only thing she deliberately taught me was that everyone who didn’t take advantage of someone else when given the chance to get away with it was stupid.

my mom – she takes lots of time to teach me things. Perfectly ordinary things, like how to attend to my personal care, how to use a washing machine or how to cook something, but also things like how come I tick the way I do, how to make sense of my own behavior, that of others and everything. And she does it over and over again, even when it’s the same thing she showed or explained to me ten times already.

  • To instill morals, values, beliefs, ethics

my mother – she instilled the belief that you’re dumb if you don’t cheat the system, take advantage of people or cut them bad deals or lie when you can get away with it. And that it’s okay to take your anger out on others.

my mom – it used to annoy me how ethical she is. If she gets her change and the cashier gave her too much, she always alerts them. She’s all about treating people well and being honest and all that. I used to not get it. Why put myself at a disadvantage when the other won’t even notice? For quite a long time I accused her of only doing it to hone a holier-than-thou attitude, so she can feel morally superior. But I was wrong. Especially lately I got to realize that she does it because it feels good to treat others well, because it makes it easier to feel good about yourself and… hm… I guess because it’s the right thing to do. Sounds weird coming out of my mouth, but go figure, now I actually think so.

  • To discipline

my mother – her idea of discipline were threats and punishment in any shade you think of. I was mortally afraid of irritating her and provoking anger, so I was probably very well behaved, but not out of anything but terror.

my mom – I can’t recall a single event where she punished me, but at the same time she attaches great importance to discipline. If we make agreements, she expects I observe them. And if I don’t, she will follow up on it, will try to figure out how come I didn’t and what I need in order to have an easier time observing the rules the next time around. It’s very important to her. It’s only the minor rules that she lets slip sometimes, stuff like not having candy before dinner.

  • To set limits

my mother – she was setting limits alright. Lots of random limits. Whatever she said was a new rule or a limit. It was kind of confusing because whatever angered her was overstepping a limit, and what she demanded changed depending on her mood, so I was always on guard about it. Stuff that was okay to do yesterday, that she even asked of me, I would often get punished for doing the day after.

my mom – she is also setting limits alright. But they don’t change and most of them make sense, because she takes time to explain them to me, so we’re usually in some sort of agreement over the rules. But yeah, I live with lots of rules and limits. I don’t have many of the liberties other people my age have, but then, I don’t have the emotional or social skills most other people my age have either. So it’s kind of okay, because the rules and limits keep me safe. I guess that’s what it’s all about.  

  • To follow through

my mother – she was actually fairly predictable in the negative regard. If she said I was gonna pay for something, I was gonna pay. In the positive regard, not so much. If she had a good moment, she would sometimes promise me something, like that she was going to get me something from the store, but she almost always forgot about ever having said something like this, or laughed at my disappointment, saying she’d only been kidding me and how stupid was I to have believed I’d be getting something. Most embarrassing memories.

my mom – I have yet to see her not follow through with something. She doesn’t make promises she can’t keep and she doesn’t ever forget any single thing she said. She must have an elephant’s memory or something. It’s me who forgets stuff, but never her. So yeah, whatever she says, she will follow through with it, and if she does change her mind about something, she always explains to me why and makes sure I’m gonna be okay with it. Crazy, but that’s her.

  • To listen

my mother – she didn’t think I had to say anything worth listening to. “You shut up” was her standard response, even when later it was “why didn’t you fucking tell me?!” when I would have actually had something important to say. So no, she didn’t listen very well.

my mom – yeah, she listens. Even to stuff I don’t say or don’t want her to hear. She even keeps on listening when I run off at the mouth and swamp her in verbal diarrhea. She alerts me to my nonsensical nonstop talking and tries to get me back on a more normal track, but even so she listens, if sometimes with a pained smile.

  • To protect and to keep children safe

my mother – she didn’t protect me any. Not from my step-fathers abuse, not from anything. She was threatening and dangerous herself.

my mom – yes, she protects me. She enforces rules that protect me. She knows many of my triggers and takes them into consideration when we plan something. She even doesn’t allow other people to mess with me. She also makes sure I feel safe around the house. That she is a safe person, my safe person, is probably the most important thing about her. I feel safe when she’s there.

  • To help the children internalize skills such as trust

my mother – not at all, the only thing I learned from her was to trust nobody and nothing

my mom – we’re working on trust every single day. We discuss it, she makes a point of being trustworthy and she encourages me to trust others and helps me figure out what makes people or situations trustworthy and what doesn’t. So while I’m still nowhere near having internalized it yet, I hope I’m getting there.

  • To help children feel safe by instilling self-confidence and use of adults

my mother – the only thing she instilled was self-hate, low self-esteem and a belief that adults are dangerous and other people are out to get you anyway

my mom – she tries her best to improve my self-confidence by showing me how to be successful at doing things and by encouraging me to try out things and calling to my attention the things I am good at. And with the safety, I already wrote about that. I use her to feel safe a lot.

  • To provide unconditional love

my mother – she didn’t know what love was, much less unconditional love, unless maybe for my stepfather. She loved him like he was the best person ever, whatever weird reason for. But other than that resentment and hate was her thing, not love.

my mom – I almost don’t dare write it out, so as not to jinx it, but I think she does love me unconditionally. Of course she disapproves of it when I behave in a bad way, but she still loves me. I don’t always feel it – no, actually, I often don’t feel it, because I can’t believe it – but she says she does, and acts like she does and I’d like to think that she does. I feel a little bit safe enough to believe it, too. Sometimes.

  • To provide consistency, predictability, reliability

my mother – no consistency, predictability and reliability at all, except for negative stuff. That always came.

my mom – very consistent, predictable and reliable, even when I try my best to force her into giving it up at times

  • To be aware of and open to what the child needs

my mother – she was only aware of herself and what she needed

my mom – she’s often aware of what I need before I even know that I need anything. She talks about my needs and taking them seriously and giving me what I need all the time, too. Way more than I wish she did, sometimes, but that’s the side of me talking that wishes I didn’t have any needs at all. So it’s good she does it.

  • To provide the basic needs

my mother – she used food, clothing, warmth and shelter as things to manipulate and punish me with. Letting me stand outside in the cold, not giving me food etc. were her ideas of “fun” sometimes.

my mom – she provides for all basic needs. There’s always food, she makes sure I eat enough, she makes sure I wear appropriate clothes that keep me warm and all that.

  • To pass on traditions, culture, prayer

my mother – I don’t know if she even had anything she could have passed on

my mom – yeah, she passes on those things a lot. Traditions around holidays or birthdays are what comes to my mind the most. I have big issues with holidays and birthdays, but somehow as her and my family’s traditions become familiar and “traditional” (as in having a history with them I can look back on) it gets a little easier.

  • To teach about issues such as sexuality, oppression, etc.

my mother – she didn’t speak about those things. Not that I can recall.

my mom – we talk about those things when I can do so in a healthy, safe way. She made sure I know the facts about sexuality, for example, which I must admit I was not very familiar with, other than how having sex works.

  • To develop a secure attachment

my mother – she was not someone anyone could have a secure attachment to. She didn’t want me to attach to her either. She wanted me as far away from her as possible

my mom – she is someone to securely attach to, but I struggle a lot with those relationship issues. So working on those is probably what we do a lot of the time that we spend together, and I can see that she spends a lot of energy on making sure that we’re emotionally in touch and that I feel safe in our relationship. Relationship trouble always takes priority over other things.

  • To model healthy problem solving and feeling management techniques

my mother – she modeled how to drown problems in alcohol, but hey, too bad, they know how to swim, which of course I only realized after I had started drinking, too. Drinking, manipulation of others and violence were about the only problem solving and feeling management techniques I learned from her.

my mom – yes, she models healthy emotional skills and all that. And when she makes mistakes, she says so and apologizes and I think that she’s able to model all those healthy skills is what makes her a safe person to be around. I know I can be unstable and put an emotional burden on her and act out and all that, because she knows how to handle it. She doesn’t lose her cool and doesn’t fall apart over it, making it safe for me to put my mess in her face, plus I can see how she handles it, which I learn from.

Whew, I think that was the longest post I wrote so far. I don’t know if it’s even meaningful to anyone but me, but in case it may help someone else to consider those categories, I’ll post it. 🙂 It helps me to remind myself of those things. It helps me to realize why it’s okay and a healthy thing to love my mom and to still need her so much. And it helps me to realize that maybe it’s not all my own fault that I am so messed up, but that maybe my mom was just not good enough and caused a lot of the crap, too. And it helps to realize that the things that my mom now does, and that I sometimes feel are restrictive and all that, that she does those for a good reason and that it can help me get better, because that’s just the kind of things a good enough parent does.

The Many Faces of Self-Harm

When people think of self-harm, they usually think of severe behavior like self-inflicted cuts or burns. But at least for me, that’s only part of the picture.

In general self-harm is a way to cope. When I perceive no other solution to something that’s eating at me. Or have no words. Or feel to much. Or too little. Or the wrong things. I did and still do cut – the insides of my forearms, wrist to the crook of the elbow; I’m compulsive about only cutting there – but I cut much less often now, maybe once every two or three months. I also don’t shoplift and hide razor blades anymore. If I feel an overwhelming urge to cut and it doesn’t go away and substitutes just don’t do, I can cut under supervision. With a disinfected blade and proper care for the wounds.

But cutting is only a small part of self-harming for me. I employ many other means, too, and some of those are way harder to abandon than the cutting, because they are such spur-of-the-moment things and don’t cause visible harm like open wounds.

  • I gag myself with everyday items like a fork
  • I dress in inappropriate clothes or “forget” my sweater or coat to be cold
  • I eat stuff that makes me feel sick
  • I deliberately annoy others who are reactive to it, to meet the rejection I feel I deserve
  • I go without eating or drinking until it hurts and makes me dizzy
  • I persuade inappropriate partners to have sex to feel the worthlessness and shame
  • I fall down on purpose or jump down the stairs in a way that hurts at the joints
  • I touch the stinging nettles in the garden
  • I neglect my hygiene to have others tell me I smell or look bad
  • I hit body parts against a door frame
  • I pull at my hair or let it get caught in a zipper on purpose
  • I stand in the way of others hoping they will push me to the side
  • I dress in things that look cheap and slutty to make others perceive me so
  • I destroy things that mean something to me to punish myself

That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m sure there’s more. I usually am not even aware they are self-harming behaviors while I do them, so they are nasty to get rid of. Especially because I sometimes also employ them to force attention (like the gagging, which I usually do within sight of someone, as it’s behavior nobody will ignore), so that gives them double purpose (harm and attention) and makes it even harder to let them be.

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