Forever

For a racing heartbeat you lay languid

Thigh draped over thigh first sex for the first time.

I am startled

when you flee across my tiny room

cover your nakedness

hold clothing between us

I meant no invasion

when I reach out to hold you for a moment longer.

It would be

nice to hold you

kiss again without needing to rise again…

a seemingly small intimacy after petting, licking, kissing face to face

sexual penetration, fucking

my compliant cock in your mouth kiss my voice

with your genitals rub cheeks with soft dark downy red hair

you built up to orgasm

trembling step after shivering step strained your body

reached the moment

eyes closed against invading light a bare bulb

hangs from the ceiling lips drawn over my flesh

blood darkened nipples enlarge pucker in the heat

rising from inside you.

then you want me now, urgent

stuff my cock up inside you distend your opening

build up arched back

steely legs orb my shoulders

fingernails leave crimson marks on my butt you pull, drive me ever deeper

you totally open your frame to me, contort your pelvis to meet

thrust after thrust until I come expel my fluids

submerge your womb

suddenly

with violence almost matching intensity of the instant before banish me from your body

flee the sweaty mingling of our souls abruptly, I am

more empty than before making love.

You have taken even more than just

a continuing physical embrace.

I reach toward you

urge you to come back to bed, climb beneath  the covers clasp me against you

linger in flesh memories

find comfort in the joining of our bodies an act of association

instead of penetration

but you wrap yourself in a checkered shirt

slip down the hallway

to the rooming house bathroom take a shower

wash away

the ebbing scents of love

bolt the door

against invasion as you shower

Marriage

I wonder

then if you indeed wanted me or just to prove something

to yourself

Are you the same woman

who stands at the altar with me and promises me forever?

following church in the bathroom

you look at yourself in the mirror.

You don’t know I watch you,

even now

with mixed emotions

at the scowl in your eyes:

you flick away false eyelashes, undo the clasp

of your wedding dress.

the binding you loosen –

it is the dress, or the wedding itself?

are adoring looks

across the reception hall during my Toast to the Bride as pretended as your face?

more than I can express mere words “I love you” chill my heart

when I realize

we are now attached together

forever…

biting in

out for dinner

celebrate your thirty-third birthday three weeks after the birth of our son – a pulsing, :flooding gush of blood

a crowning head from your body torn open

by his entry into our lives

you are more beautiful to me than ever

nursing breasts swollen with milk nipples still sore, from suckling the baby

belly shrinking, distended with stretch marks,

red stencils of her passage into motherhood

I wonder if you notice

how much you have changed since this conception.

months of wondering if this baby might survive

unlike our first.

Anxiety combines with nausea bloating, cramps

intermingled bleeding

rub vitamin E oils over distended bellyskin massage your lower back

your  mind – some other place

parenting classes, breathing exercises

sit with pillows on the floor, mark moments on our watches count the time between contractions

what to do when the water breaks

a packed bag – toothbrush change of clothing hospital stuff

then the day of the birth race home from work

find you already gone by taxi your bag still in the closet

all our lessons together already abandoned with your frilly gown

and brand new toothbrush

arrive at the  hospital after a sixty mile an hour drive across the city beginnings of rush hour.

I am terrified

I am going to miss being with you

to share in the birth of our child

when I arrive you complain

I’m never around when you need me but before you land any real blows you clench back a howl

from the pain of a contraction .

I hold your hand while your eyes glaze over momentarily

before you return from your journey into pain to look up at me

from your seat in the shower in the maternity ward

the rest of the long night blur of nurses and midwives, friends come by to see you

some stay through the birth

others leave at the first real signs of birth – the final minutes

unable to face

the overpower physical reality of it

during the breathing counts your eyes are locked onto mine

it feels like our souls are glued to each other by going through this passage together

it is the only way we can face this pain

is if you can concentrate your focus on my eyes, counting

panting together

a counterpoint to intercourse a body passion to expel

what we have inspired in your womb

in the final moments

fully dilated, ready to push flushed, fearful, pressed angry, hopeful

you are enraged when a nurse

scratches your thigh with a protruding fingernail

swear like a trucker

during the final push when the baby’s head passes out of your body

the rest of his little torso

is expelled from you like sausage from a meatmaker

part of me is repulsed

by the whole damn thing, but I am also

drawn in

by its sheer immensity

afterward

in the visitors room the relatives

noisily visit mama and baby

I finally go home

too exhausted to notice when I say goodnight

and kiss you on the cheek

you barely nod in my direction our son sucks

on breasts newly sprung triggered by the baby’s need.

out for dinner

three weeks after the birth of the baby you sit back in your chair

suckling the baby

even more of a stranger to me now than before our first embrace

The Problem is Now and Tomorrow

Canada has been absorbing this week the revelation of the burials of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential Schools, many of them completely undocumented in our past, and mostly completely unknown to most Canadians. In an important sense every one of these children is a crime victim, the least of which is neglect the most serious of which is genocide. Worst of all, most of us had no clue that this burial ground even existed, although that’s just a little too convenient an excuse.

This week thousands of articles have been written on the subject, news stories broadcast on radio and television. There is much hand wringing and guilty statements about Settler privilege.

What I haven’t heard enough of, or even any of, is the genocide underway in Canada today across the country. Every day children are still being taken away from aboriginal families and forced into “care” where they are neglected, abused and abandoned, with many of these children dying while in care, or shortly after “aging” out of foster care. These kids are removed from families, single parent moms mostly, because of a system that still sees “drunken indians” instead of struggling people who have been largely dispossessed from their tribal history and context by colonial exploitation and continuing subjugation by the settler cultures.

Black Lives Matter

I believe that we should all pay attention to the people who make up our world. They are not invisible. Their pain should be all of our pain. Discrimination against one is discrimination against all.

Unequal treatment of people of all descriptions is a fundamental failing of the Canadian system of police work. Black Canadians are many times more likely to be harrassed and ultimately punished, sometimes by an unjustifiable death.

The murder of black men by police authorities in the United States is not unique to America. We must learn to see it in our home cities and provinces. There are far too many black people murdered in Canada, indeed in British Columbia, by government which is supposed to represent all of us, not just the privileged few. I believe we should each put our bodies in harms way to protect the innocent, even protect the guilty. Being drunk should not be punishable by the death penalty. Being young and female and “other” should not be permission to kill or main or rape. Men must see women differently, and enforce a view that says that women own their own bodies, and have the right to choose to be treated any way that they damn well want.

I believe that everyone deserves equal treatment before a fair and just system of governance.

Supreme Court of Canada is charged with enforcing a just and honourable system of laws.

I believe that change begins with me, and I must do better than this. We all must do better than this. We must demand that our government stands up for the weak, the indigent, the powerless, the elderly, the young, the absolutely ordinary black man or woman, and for the rest of us as well.

Our sons and daughters, and grandchildren, and parents and grandparents are all waiting for us to stand up for them, with them, as them.

I can’t breathe. We can and will do better than this.

Multigenerational Abuse

Child abuse doesn’t just affect one generation. It often spans many generations and triggers numerous dysfunctional relationships over time.

People who have been abused as children have a really hard time as adults, especially as young adults trying to formulate romantic relationships. Without a solid foundation established early in life, emotions can feel like quicksand and you soon feel like you are drowning. People become desperate for love and accept all sorts of inappropriate behavior that seems like it must be some kind of love, or it wouldn’t be so intense. So this is the story of one such person, after an abusive and destructive marriage

Even after years of counseling, he still feels the desperate self-criticism of his youth, pulling him back into depression and suicidal thoughts. At the end of his first marriage, he actually tried to kill himself by sleepwalking in front of a bus

The transit bus driver drove his bus into the side of a building to avoid hitting the patient, most likely saving his life.

He went to see a doctor after this because he felt that he was in danger because of his actions. He consciously knew that he was a danger to himself and potentially others, but so deeply depressed about losing his wife that he was wandering around in a complete daze.

This was despite the fact that the relationship was fundamentally dysfunctional, and she used and abused him virtually every day from the very first moment he laid eyes on her. His self-worth was so low that he actually believed that everything that ever went wrong was his fault. He allowed himself to be her emotional and physical servant, charged with somehow making her feel good about herself.

Although she was highly intelligent and won many academic awards she required constant affirmations of her intellect, and couldn’t accept any opposition to her opinions on any subject at all. To whatever degree he differed from her point of view, she called him out and accused him of trying to undermine her and make her look like an idiot to their friends or families. He also took on responsibility for taking care of every aspect of her life, including paying all the bills, providing her with funds to pay for her advanced education, and a constant stream of extravagant gifts. Their life together was one of extraordinary social adventures, with a stream of her unusual friends variously moving into and out of their home and their lives together.

They were together for nearly ten years and had a daughter. Their divorce was highly acrimonious and as a result of an emotional breakdown, she intimidated him into giving into virtually all of her demands, including extremely restrictive access to their infant daughter, who is now almost forty years of age.

Because of his blindness to her faults and unwillingness to acknowledge her abusive behavior, He simply was not in any position to provide adequate co-parenting to their daughter, who ended up with her being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by his ex-wife and her mother, who had previously done the same things to his ex-wife.

It wasn’t until their daughter ran away from her mother’s house to live on the streets that he became aware of all that she had gone through in her mother’s care.

The daughter suffers from multiple psychological disorders including acute anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD as a result of multiple sexual assaults starting with her grandmother as early as five or six years old. After she ran away, at thirteen years old, from her mother’s home when she came to live with his current partner and him. It was only then that he heard her story and got her into counseling. The road was very difficult, and they were not very successful in helping the daughter overcome her many conditions.

Never in all the years he had been married to his ex-wife did he realize how destructive her constant personal attacks and total narcissistic behavior had been to him. After he more or less recovered from his breakdown and hospitalization after their marital breakdown, he still blamed himself for everything that had gone wrong in their marriage.

But no more. His daughter suffers from many psychiatric and emotional defects, some of which would have been there no matter who raised her as a young child. She also has many physical disabilities including muscular and skeletal problems that have resulted in her living life in chronic pain, and incapable of independent mobility. She also had two children, which he had to have taken from her because she is incapable of providing the minimum care level necessary for their physical and emotional health. He doesn’t blame his ex-wife or her mother for all of it, as it would unfair to do so.

Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse, but when combined with sexual and physical abuse can lead to almost untold self loathing in its victims.

But what is fair to say is that without the abuse by her narcissistic mother and a grandmother who barely survived Nazi rule in Holland as a young girl before abusing her own daughter and granddaughter, their daughter didn’t have a chance at any reasonable life. Despite years of counseling himself, He still knows that he has blinders on regarding his ex-wife and still has hard time understanding what he allowed to happen in his marriage, or what really took place in all the years she had total control over their daughter’s care and custody.

He had even blamed himself for that restricted access, and his lack of involvement in his daughter’s life. The extreme anger his ex-wife expressed towards him made a more normalized co-parenting arrangement impossible. Even spending thousands of dollar on legal fees trying to get better custodial arrangements failed.

If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship and have gotten out, don’t try to deal with this all on your own. Find a good counselor and make every effort to deal with your own demons before they drag you into yet another dangerous quagmire.

Unfortunately, you may find yourself repeating your mistakes, over and over again. Learn to recognise the cycle of abuse in your own life, and take action to change your circumstances. Leave.

Happiness

Happiness is not only the absence of unhappiness, but also an affirmation of a kind of state of grace, which encompasses all the good and bad in life, but as a kind of continuing sense of gratitude. Happiness is not necessarily always being a happy person, but is rather the presence of a profound sense of joy in life itself, for good and ill alike.

The happiest person I ever met is my sister Kathryn, who had a life altering car accident in her early twenties which left her paralysed Although she died a couple of Christmas seasons ago, her joyful embrace of life made everyone around her more aware of the reasons to celebrate, even in the face of massive disabilities and chronic pain. She suffered from serious pain, life threatening deficiencies caused by her disability, and severe restrictions in mobility, or even taking care of herself physically. It used to take her hours each and every morning just to get out of bed, go to the bathroom and get ready for the day.

Through it all she spread joy to everyone she knew.

I am making only one New Years Eve vow this year. To bring an attitude of acceptance and joy to my everyday life, and to celebrate the joy that all of the people in my life bring me every day.

A polyamorous life…some thoughts.

Polyamorous life may not be to everyone’s liking, and indeed offends almost every formal religion. And that’s not altogether by accident.

This blog arises from an exchange of comments regarding a blog I wrote some time ago about my marriage, and how my partner and I have tried to work through my fundamental polyamorous beliefs and nature, and to deal with and recognise her fundamental monogamous values and nature.

I appreciate your feedback to my blog which is couched as a question, but by which you really mean as a statement of your convictions and societal beliefs.

First of all, polyamorous relationships may or may not be “open marriages” and in fact most people in poly marriages prefer to de-emphasize sexual aspects of poly life in favour of the “loving” aspects.

Polyamory means loving more

Polyamory means loving more than one person at a time but doesn’t automatically include sex. True, if often does, but the ideology of multiple relationships rests more on a person’s right to engage in intimate personal relationships outside of a formal hierarchical structure. In some respects it’s the social and familiar extension of the ideas of the Libertarian philosophy, which postulates that the free will of an individual is the highest freedom. Anything that impinges on individual freedom and the personal right to control her/her own life is contrary to this philosophy, and that includes the traditional marriage customs of almost all religions and legal systems.

“Free love” is the lowest expression of the idea of polyamory, included but hardly the point of it for most of us. Many in this community are part of the LGBTQIA community as well, with certain blurring of the lines of gender identity and sexuality as well. It also includes BDSM and other types of experimental behaviour for many followers. What Polyamory shares with this community is a conviction of many that they are “born this way” rather than this being a “choice” which is what was believed to be true about homosexuality and transgender issues until very recently.

Almost all of the women I know in this community contend that polyamory is the fundamental nature of women, only controlled and managed by organized religions and public policy. Men in this community are often less certain that it is so, I think, because they feel enormous guilt about their inability to exist in traditional relationships without “cheating” and being outlaws of a sort.

But Polyamory is also not necessarily kink.

A kinky person may be polyamorous or a traditionalist believing in the one man/one woman type of marriage. But he/she may also be extremely interested in maintaining their own independence of thought and action, regardless of choices made as to their sexual partners or co-parents of their children.

I respect that your concerns have more to do with maintaining a stable, loving home, both for the benefit of children having two parents in the home, as well as for the husband and wife, who can have the comfort of maintaining lifelong stable relationships.

However, families such as you describe are rapidly vanishing in contemporary society, and seldom, in history, were seldom more than a minority of the population. Single parent homes now out number two parent homes in many communities, especially in millennial families.

Families may be stronger in polyamorous relationships.

Recent social trends and statistics suggest that polyamorous relationships are on the rise, radically so. On a recent CBC TV special recently it is now believed by certain social scientists that more children have multiple parents (ie: more than two) than are being raised in two parent families.

There is strong historical precedence for this. If you take the issue of sexual fidelity out of the question, and simply look at the number of children raised in homes with only one adult or two parents in the historical past, the number was small.

Families often included the two parents, at least one grandparent, often a couple of aunts or uncles, and siblings of the partner. Even today, in Vancouver’s East Asian families, there are many many homes which house as many as twenty five people at once, including the children. The same is true of many families from China, where the one child rule pushed people together to collectively raise children for their welfare.

The nuclear family is inherently unstable, even in the best examples of western values. Do you have any idea of the number of these traditional families who break up over and over again, reforming into new arrangements and new parenting partners? It can scarcely be better for kids to go through repeated divorces and remarriages than to live in long term polyamorous families with multiple parents in constant attendance. My poly friends mostly have a number of children, and their children are raised in the wider family community.

Traditional marriage is a financial disaster for most, even for those it works for emotionally.

One last point. The nuclear family, and its necessary companion, the single parent family, are financially a disaster for most people. The addition of more than two people to help share the load makes all the difference in the quality of everybody’s lives, including the children. When there are multiple people earning incomes it is much easier to be able to afford a home, feed the family, have nice cars, and afford family vacations together every year.

So don’t be quite so quick to judge. Those quirky people who live in these weird situations may have it much, much better than you realise.

Bullying – you are not alone.

To Anon

The details of your story about bullying are horrible! When I read about what happened to you in school, and with your so-called friends, it made me feel like I was actually there with you as it was happening.

I was a small kid, and it resulted in me being bullied.

My story was a little different, and the reasons I was bullied seemed pretty much unique to me at the time. I was small and short. In every grade until I graduated from school I was usually the smallest and lightest boy in the class. And there was no relief at home, either, because my dad was the worst bully of all, who beat me and my siblings too. When he wasn’t bullying us, he was molesting the girls and calling out the boys for not being “men”.

Like, even when I was five and six years old, he’d call me a fag, a pig and asshole. There was never a day in my life until I was about fifteen when I wasn’t afraid of my father calling me names, hitting me all over my body, and sending me to school covered in bruises from his attacks. And at school, the bullies somehow knew automatically that they could pick on me, and I really didn’t know how to stop them, or even protect myself.

Things started getting a little better after my fifteenth birthday, because my father stopped physically abusing me because I knocked him down when he tried, and then he never tried again. The same thing happened at school, when I had fight with the meanest bully at my high school, and I beat him up so badly he ended up in hospital. Obviously I had grown up a bit, although I was still small, I was an athlete and played hockey. I was an okay hockey player, but the best thing was that I learned how to fight back.

The bullying pretty much stopped after that, and the kids at school treated me a lot better, so I got along at school a lot better. At home I mostly just avoided having to deal with my dad, who still had a mean mouth, and was always mad at someone or other.

The net effect of all of this is that I grew up feeling pretty insecure, and lacked confidence. I overcompensate, to this day, and feel like I have to prove myself to other people. Despite the fact that I’ve had plenty of successes in my life, I’ve never really felt “successful” and still struggle with feelings of inadequacy when dealing with the very real challenges of living.

Sculpted Self portrait as a young man in an Effective Disorders Clinic, in 1982

I’m now sixty-six years old, and although I’ve struggled with these feelings, including serious bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts, in the main I have learned to value what I have to offer the world, and respect my contributions to my fellow human beings. Having been bullied so much in my youth, and periodically even as an adult, I am a fierce protector of people who are being bullied, either as an individual or as a part of group or class of people being exploited or used by others. I won’t put up with abuse, and when I see it I stand up against it, no matter what the cost.

If you are bullied as a child, or maybe even ever, then you will have the ability to understand how it feels, and what it means to someone else when it happens to them. If you learn how to stand up for yourself, and face down the bullies, then you have learned something extremely useful to other bullied people. You become accountable for your own future happiness and safety, and are willing to do whatever you have to do to recover from falling down and failing. Nothing is impossible for you, merely difficult or painful, and neither difficulties nor pain can stop you. You’ve had to learn how to overcome all of those things, and get on with your life.

I start out each believing that today will be a better day, because I will make it so through my own actions towards others and myself.
I start out each believing that today will be a better day, because I will make it so through my own actions towards others and myself.

In a way I am glad that I was bullied as a kid. It taught me compassion, first of all for myself, and secondly, for others. It helped me see the ordinary humanity in each person I meet along the way. We are all simply human beings, looking out at the world and dreaming of having a good life. So I start out every day believing that this day will be better.

Obesity Week 2019: Why is it So Hard for Doctors to Admit Their Failure?

By Dr. Tro Kalayjian

doctortro.com/obesity-week-2019-why-is-it-so-hard-for-some-doctors-to-admit-their-failure/

It’s Thursday night, and I’m sitting in an airplane, about to take off for New York. I’m heading home from Las Vegas after attending Obesity Week 2019, the world’s largest obesity medicine conference, a collaboration between The Obesity Society and The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons.

I don’t quite know how to express my feelings and thoughts about this event, but the words ‘anger’ and ‘hopelessness’ immediately come to mind. My anger and hopelessness are best exemplified by the first keynote speech, delivered by Dr. William Cefalu, who is chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.

After accurately describing our country’s spiralling healthcare costs, and the morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes and obesity, Dr. Cefalu went on to discuss the benefit of low-calorie approaches for diabetes reversal. He also highlighted bariatric surgery and medications. But ultimately, he harped on one point, that is frequently repeated at conventional obesity medicine conferences: 

“There is no best diet. The best diet is one that a patient can adhere to.” 

The above article by Dr. Tro Kalayjian the physician behind Dr. Troys Medical Weight Loss and Direct Primary Care is a discussion about why it is so difficult for the medical profession to accept fundamental changes in medical understanding about diabetes and current treatments for it. It is why patients continue to get contradictory advice from doctors who really ought to know better than to recommend any number of established and well known dietary strategies that simply don’t work. It’s not that they don’t work anymore, it’s that they never worked, and there is no scientific basis for any of them.

This sounds pretty revolutionary to me. The esteemed Canadian doctor is joined by a number of US based colleagues who are challenging the status quo in the treatment of diabetes, and sending a message to their profession. Just stop! Stop misleading the public! Stop lying to patients! Stop killing your clients!

Closeup on medical doctor woman giving a choice between apple and donut

Of course, they are doctors and they don’t quite put it that way. But what else can you say when so many health professionals and authorities continue to promulgate misleading information, such as “moderation is the best strategy” when clearly, based on current information that is simply not true. Moderation will kill you if by moderation you include relatively mundate advice about carbohydrates and sugar. What sciences know is that consuming carbs in excess of certain pretty limited amounts leads to metabolic syndrome, metabolic syndrome leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to diabetes. Diabetes leads to lots of really bad stuff that can kill you, or at the least, make you really really sick.

Stop being so gullible. Doctors aren’t necessarily up to speed on the current information about your health.

If you or someone you love is fat, obese, or has diabetes or prediabetes follow the link on this blog entry to the above article and understand what is being said. Doctors are willfully ignoring solid medical evidence in favor of standing by old, disproved theories because they are afraid of rocking the boat. Read Dr. Fung’s book, the Diabetic Code.

Stop believing anyone who says that eating many small meals a day is ok. Stop following advice so far heard that has led you to being overweight and obese. If you want to live and healthy, long life, fire your current endrochronologist if he or she disparages the most recent research and tells you not to follow Dr. Fung’s advice. Run away from anyone who says that carbs and sugars are not the cause of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many many many other life threatening diseases.

Pain Mastery – Evaluation

How has pain been a complex problem in your life? How has pain interacted with your movement, energy, sleep, social life, finances, identity, memory, and mood?

Mastering Pain Institute

After listening to and reading the materials in the 1st leasson of the Pain Mastery Class it asks the student to answer the above questions.

Movement

How has pain interacted with my movement? As pain from various causes has increased over the past few years I have observed that my ability and willingness to move has undergone an uncomfortable metamorphosis. Simple tasks like walking, bending over, picking up items, getting dressed, doing my toe nails, making the bed… etc. have all become much more difficult.

Neuropathic pain has combined with arthritis to make steering the car for long periods increasingly painful. I alternate from my left to my right hand constantly as I drive, because the pain builds up in each as it is used. Eventually the pain is too great in both hands and I have to take a break. The pain in my legs and feet make driving hard as well, and certainly limited my pleasure from doing so. Driving a car is one of my great pleasures, or, it used to be one of my great pleasures and it represented a kind of freedom that is now gradually disappearing from my life.

The same can be said for a lot of routine physical tasks, all the way from making the bed to cleaning the mirrors in my bathroom. I didn’t used to mind housework or gardening but it is now so painful to mow the lawn that I’d rather let it grow twice as long as I used to. These type of restrictions have inevitably reduced my freedom of movement, and my interest in and willingness to do routine, simple life tasks.

How has pain affected my energy? Anybody who suffers from chronic pain will attest to the fact that constant, unrelenting pain is exhausting. There is almost no time when I’m not tired and so sore I feel like I really just want to lay down and sleep for a while. Even a nap would seem like a relief, if I can sleep, that is.

The net available energy is a function of pain in my body. The more severe the pain becomes, the less energy I have. And not only to do life in general, but in having the interest and energy to participate in the things of life. A lack of energy is behind so many other deficits experience by people with chronic pain that it tends to blind us to how serious it actually is. Without sufficient energy to function properly nothing actually works the way it is supposed to work. How the hell am I supposed to do my job at work, when I hardly have enough energy to get there in the first place every day?

How does pain affect my sleep? To most of us with chronic pain sleep is seldom deep or really very restful. Not a single night of sleep goes by without being disrupted, again and again by waking fully or partially because of pain in the body. For me it is all sorts of different parts of the body and different types of pain, but it all hurts, and it all makes me awaken at some point during sleep. If I wonder why I’m so damned tired all the time, I simply have to remind myself that I really haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in years.

I’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but sleep apnea really isn’t the reason I’m awake half the night. It’s the pain, the pain. Snoring is a part of it. Blocked airways aggravates it. But pain causes sleep interruption, over and over again, every single time I go to sleep.

How does pain affect my social life? What social life? Who really has the energy to maintain a social group or friendships when you’re in constant pain? It takes energy I don’t have and mobility that is a constant struggle, simply to get out and visit with people. I’m no longer the happy go lucky guy I used to be. I try not to spread my pain around, or make my kids and grandkids suffer from my experience of pain. But I wonder if my increasing isolation from them is at least partly because I do longer know how to overcome my pain for long enough to actually properly engage with people.

And being socially isolated also increases my experience of pain, because lacking real human contact with others is not only uncomfortable, but it’s also actually harmful physically because it encourages inactivity and passiveness. Instead of getting out and doing things with the people I love, I stay at home, watching television, at least partly because it’s less painful than the alternatives of getting out of the house, and doing the things necessary to have a life.

How does being in pain affect my finances? This is one of the things that is most humiliating about being in pain. Instead of being vibrant and capable, I’m tentative and withdrawing from challenges. I used to love going to the office and taking on new challenges, meeting new people, creating new financial opportunities for myself, and for my staff. Now I have no staff, and I’ve been afraid for years of taking on jobs that I know I’m qualified to do because I’m afraid that I’m going to let them down, or worse, prove myself to be incapable of handling the physical and emotional demands of the work.

In addition, my increasing health problems cost a lot of money, which I am now having to pay with a lot less income, due to my reduced employment capabilities. I struggle to manage my prescription deductibles and copays. And that’s for the prescriptions, which doesn’t actually include any pain medications I can trust. Nothing the doctor has prescribed for pain has actually helped very much, if at all. I know that opioids would be more effective than OTC drugs but I also know that they are highly addictive, and have major other problems that I don’t need to add to my pain.

And being chronically short of money, as well as in pain, means that I can’t take advantage of one of the things I used to do a lot, which was going out to nice restaurants and have good meals with friends. Shortage of money means that I’m socially isolated by it, as well as by my resentment over finding myself in this situation. I never wanted to be dependant on anyone else but I find myself in a situation that make this every more a fact of life.

How does pain affect my sense of identity? Truthfully, I don’t really recognise myself any more. I no longer feel like the man I used to be, and I certainly don’t have the confidence I have always had. I’ve always thought of myself as a highly charged, somewhat hyperactive and oversexed Type A personality. If I had faults they were likely the faults of thinking that I could do anything, be anybody, accomplish anything. A little bit of humility probably wasn’t a bad thing for me to learn, but pain has driven me to distraction. The amount and persistence of pain has now reached proportions that are disabling my sense of self to a point of no return. I don’t actually know what it would look like for me to be me, the way I have always been. So damage to my sense of identity is a real cost of being a victim of chronic pain.

How does pain affect my memory? My partner says that I’ve become a lot more forgetful than previously. I’m not sharp anymore, and I don’t automatically pick up on things so quickly. I don’t think I’ve lost my marbles, but I get confused more easily and mix things up, despite my best efforts to not do so. It means I slow down, because I can no longer count on my memory for important information. I’m a lot more cautious than I used to be, if for no other reason than I hate being unable to remember even the simplest facts or common words.

I’ve always been a prodigious reader, at one point reading more than a book a day, not to mention newspaper and magazines. Now it takes me a week to read a novel, and a month to work through a non-fiction title, no matter how interested I am in the subject. I don’t remember names very well, I never did, but I’m also losing the ability to remember what books I’ve read or which ones I liked or didn’t like. I find myself half way through the first chapter of novels only to realize that I read the damned thing six month ago. So yes, memory is being affected negatively, if only because I’m so distracted by the constant pain interrupting the flow of my thoughts and feelings.

How does pain affect my mood? I was diagnosed as being bipolar when I was about thirty years old, after a major breakdown and depression. After being hospitalized for six months I came out of the hospital with somewhat better emotional management tools than I had previously. Relatively quickly I abandoned the prescriptions for bipolar I had been given, because they made me feel like I was living in a fog. And I reconciled myself to living with vivid emotional ups and downs. So depression and mania have long been a part of my nature, and my life. I’ve done well in managing to live a full life despite these problems, but now it feels like depression stalk me, without the accompanying manio to provide any balance to it.

There are two kinds of depression with which I struggle, one of which is a direct result of serious and chronic pain. It’s tough to get out of being depressed when you feel like you’re under a constant pressure cooker caused by physical and mental pain. This past weekend, in addition to chronic neuropathic pain in my hands and feet, arthritic pain in my shoulders, fingers, hands, I was also slayed by a serious migraine headache. I haven’t suffered from migraines on a regular basis for years, ever since I started practicing a form of self-hypnosis that seemed to be effective at shortening their duration, and eventually led me to being able to predict and prevent the worst of them.

Even that ability seems to be beyond my control these days, because it’s pretty hard to meditate when I’m in so much pain that I can hardly sit still.

I don’t know if this exercise in counting the ways that pain affects me is supposed to make me feel better, but it hasn’t yet. I also suppose that to defeat an enemy I first have to understand the enemy and all the territory it has staked out in my life. This is the exercise from Chapter 1 in my program to begin to manage my pain. I hope the next exercises don’t leave me here.