Okay, A Real Update

June 26, 2008

It’s been awhile since I had an update, mainly because there wasn’t much to update on at all. There are times when the marital drama has to take a backseat to other kinds of drama, and so it was for the past several weeks. The therapy was put on hold for a week and then Arwyn went for a couple of solo sessions. One of those was at her request, and I guessed that she needed extra help to work on some sort of issues. I’m not sure what those issues would be, exactly. We are getting ready to visit some of her family and mine, and any of those could involve issues. Plus there’s me, and Heaven knows being married to me could result in having to go to weeks and weeks and years and years of therapy!

So in my last post on the subject I was feeling a bit frustrated.  Emily made a comment and expressed a thought or two I can respond to.  But since she was responding to Desmond (and others who were so inclined), maybe I should take a minute to a couple of those thoughts.  I agree with the sentiments until it gets to a point of making some sort of ultimatum.  Yes, we’ve been making progress and yes it has been glacial at times.  I get totally weary of the struggle at times.  Some days, I want to throw myself off the mountain entirely.  But I’m continuing to fight while occasionally venting.  Things are frustrating but they have been much worse in the past.

Emily made some noise about Arwyn not getting off.  Yes, it’s frustrating for her.  But the squeeze technique would go over like a lead duck.  I even tried a variant of that in trying to wear a cock ring, which was absolutely disastrous.   Getting off in advance sometimes works…sort of.  It’s important to note that the single biggest stimulous for Aryn getting off is me getting off, which sort of works against the hardness she wants.  Oddly enough, the two previous attempts at sex brought her pretty close to getting off while I did not.  And I was okay with that, given the circumstances.

Last night was our first joint session in a month or so and it was interesting.  I’ve said before how this guy is skilled in the art of reflective listening.  But I quickly discovered the downfall of having couples use this on each other.  The therapist tried to guide us into using it, and he started off by having Arwyn say something that I had done that made her feel more supported, significant and valued.  She referred to something last weekend, where I turned my bad attitude around to one that was more accepting.  The therapist had me repeat what she said back either verbatum or as a paraphrase.  Easy enough.  Awkward, but no big deal.  And when the person is saying something neutral or positive, it isn’t very difficult at all, just a bit awkward.  “What I hear you saying is that you felt supported when I said such and such.”

However, somehow, this little exchanged spirale downward and before I knew it, Arwyn began criticizing me as a father. “What I hear you saying is that I’m not spending enough time with with the boys.” And after I repeated or paraphrased, she elaborated.  “What I hear you saying is that I’m not doing enough with you and the boys.” Then she elaborated and added some more.  “What I hear you saying is that you are disappointed in me as a father to my children.”

I was being totally emotionally ransacked.  Arwyn kept going on and on, and each time the therapist would ask me to repeat or paraphrase and then ask Arwyn if she felt like what I repeated back was accurate and if she felt like she was being heard.  And each time it was and she did.  But she still kept going.

She finally read me correctly and said that it seemed like I was getting a bit tense.  Yes, I was!  At that point I turned on her and the therapist both, and said that this technique was simply digging in more and more resentment on my part.  If she felt like I had heard her, why did she have to keep repeating and piling on and on?  He didn’t seem to have a ready answer for me, but then there was some discussion about feeling judged critically and my relationship with my father and Arwyn’s relationship with her father and yadda, yadda, yadda.

Bah, rubbish!

This guy relies on some fairly old marital therapy technology:

1. Reflective listening

2. Family Systems

3. Stereotypical male/female – Mars/Venus stuff

4. And then he brought in the love language stuff and we have some exercises to do with that.

While all of these are interesting, there isn’t any good research backing any of these approaches as being efficacious. Not even bad research. That does not in any way negate what progress we’ve made, though.  Basically, we’re getting a good view of the placebo effect where something (anything) is better than nothing.  And in that way it is as if some small amount of accountability is built in.

Reflective listening is a loser, because no one is going to use it in a fight, as John Gottmen suggests.  There needs to be constructive ways of dealing with the conflict especially since most major conflicts will never be resolved!  Instead of working so hard to avoid the fight, work at recovering after the fight.

And that’s what we did later that night.  We got the kids to bed, talked, snuggled and got the groove on.  While my past two mishaps were mostly caused by my worry about where Arwyn was, I didn’t bother with that extra pressure this time and I’d say it was a more positive experience for both of us.

D.

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Completely Different: On Nerds

June 21, 2008

I’ve had too much time on my hands; time that I could have been blogging and musing and providing content to the community of wonderful bloggers that I have gotten to know over the past few years. But my story isn’t really moving. In fact, medical issues have kind of put it on hold. Nothing too awfully major, but those of you who travel on this road know that no issue is too small to be exploited if you’re really looking for an excuse.

So I’ve spent a gob of time on the net, but precious little of it reading and writing. Don’t be mistaken: I am a huge, huge fan of web 2.0. But I think we’re at least at web 2.5. Instead of read/write, it is more watch/produce. Producing content and interacting with the content is still the defining characteristic, but YouTube provides richness beyond anything else going right now. Blogging still has its place, but it is being taken over by more and more V-logging. I’ve been watch all sorts of vlogs the past couple of weeks, and have discovered that whole otherworld of the new 21st century celebrity that is available to anyone who is creative and daring enough.

I have traveled around YouTube before, courtesy of many of your links, but never really got into the community aspect of it. And there’s every bit of a community there as there is here with bloggers. In fact, the visual/auditory modalities can add a lot to the community experience. If you’re daring enough.

For the past 4 months or so, Caitlin Hill has been a guilty indulgence. I ran across her video on Vegemite and totally liked it.  I liked how spastic and outrageous she was, and watched more of her videos.  I also liked the Australian accent, although it is a bit weird, because while an Aussie will often drop the ‘r’ in  words like “weird” or “bird”, which is rather British-like they will tack it on to words like “know” and “No” and “so”.  But all that aside, I was charmed.  As I dug deeper into the Youtube community, I discovered a pretty vibrant thing going on there.  Most notably, a movement that is making being a nerd or geek a cool thing to be.  Suddenly, being a nerd is a cool thing.

Wow.  Where the hell was this pro-geek culture when *I* was in high school or college?

Us old school nerds have totally missed it.  The question is this: will these neo-nerds accept us old school nerds, or are we still too geeky for this hip, new, trendy culture?  While being a nerd (which is seen more favorably than geek on the east coast but reversed on the west) today still involves non-athletic creativity, the community has become much bigger and tighter thanks to Youtube vloggers.  They have managed to harness technology in a way that has made it possible for nerds to be every bit as vain and narcissistic as those jock/cheerleader-types we seemed to envy and dislike back in the day.

Enter, the Nerdfighters.

Just looking at the name, you might suspect that these are a bunch of nerd-haters but one quickly realizes that the nerdfighters are themselves nerds.  I still think the name implies nerd-on-nerd violence, but those folks who invented it use it a bit differently.  They basically decided that it was nerds fighting against “world suck.”  Many of you may know this already.  Many of you may even be a part of the nerdfighting thing.  The nerds have definitely taken over YouTube.  Many neo-nerd communities seem to revolve around Harry Potter.  While Harry Potter looked like a bit of nerd, he was entirely too talented at quidditch to be taken seriously as a nerd.  At least from where I sit, it takes more than wearing glasses to make one a nerd.

Blogging and vlogging would naturally seem to attract more nerdish people because it involves socializing online rather than in real life.  That doesn’t mean we don’t socialize in real life, but the fact that we have this existence apart from real life is something a non-nerd has a hard time understanding.  I’ve tried to explain it, but I’d be better off just teaching these people about Linux.  Fact is, they aren’t all that interested.

I’m glad that there is a place where nerds can rule, even if it is sort of a virtual place.  But it’s interesting to note that within that place, there are still groups and cliques, just like there was in high school.   And if you’re a girl vlogger, looks still matter.  Same with male vloggers too,  I imagine although guys have to have a bit more talent to really make it compared to a lady whose willing to show some flesh in her thumbnail.  I don’t blame the women for doing it, since it is the guys who drive that kind of traffic.

Anyway, this is not a very coherent post.  I was just thinking about my own days of being a young nerd.  I didn’t have a date to any school dance or prom or anything.  And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to or didn’t try.  It was that writing, music and acting were extremely low on the social food chain.  Even nerdy girls didn’t want to date me.  But then even that concept is being challenged now, according to this Newsweek article.

We’re all vulnerable to narcissism, and perhaps those of us who were marginalized as youngsters are even more prone to it.  A lot of us were invisible and then those few times we weren’t invisible we wished we were.

Some of these neo-nerds look entirely too cool to be real nerds.  I mean they seem to be missing out on a lot of what it means to be a social misfit by actually fitting in!  On one hand, I’m sort of glad that being a nerd-geek is not the bad thing it once was.  I especially like that there is an outlet that is so accessible to those of us with social, emotional and behavioral issues.  We can sort of see a person by what they produce in intellectual and creative content beyond whatever they look like or their performance in an athletic arena or beyond the fatness of their wallet.  There’s a sort of egalitarianism in it.  On the other hand, I see the labels “nerd” and “geek” being co-opted and marketed by a lot of folks who might not have any business being called nerds.

I know there’s some old school geek lords around here who are well versed in nerdcraft.  What makes a person nerdy?  Is it now cool to be more nerdy?  Is there a hierarchy among geeks?  Would you prefer to be called a geek or a nerd?

DFTBA!

D.


I hate this freaking mountain

June 2, 2008

From the highest highs to the lowest lows,

Where it ends, no one knows,

It just goes and flows.

Downhill.

It’s not Mt. Everest, it’s bloody Mt. Doom!

So one would think after a good time last week, that there might be something to look forward to the next week.  One would think.

Arwyn isn’t into the whole “date night” business.  Friday came, and she was not feeling up to it.  Frankly there was no enthusiasm in her attitude at all and I could clearly see it.  I had spent some effort and energy actually looking forward to it, so you can imagine where I went.  But in case you can’t, I’ll fill you in.

I confronted her on the fact that she really was not committed to this and her response was silence mostly.  I asked what she was thinking.

“I’m trying to figure out how to put my feelings into words.”

“Do you know what you’re feeling?”

“Not really.”

Egad.

There’s a million and one excuses, and I’ve heard most of them.  There really was no excuse this time except pretty much laziness on her part and the whole avoider thing kicking in for her, and subsequently for me.  After waiting for 45 minutes in silence for her to get her shit together, I opted to run to the store.  I did record a podcast on the way, but I’m not sure that will ever see the light of day.

I had kind of a fall-back consolation thing going, where she was planning on taking the boys and visiting her mother this week.  That fell through because her mother said that Florida was too hot and she sounded like she was discouraging them from coming down.  Cripes.  As if Georgia wasn’t.  So the alone-time I was looking forward to this week is pretty much not going to happen.  If I didn’t have other things to tend to this week around here, I’d consider a road trip of my own.

Back to the main point; date night hasn’t really worked the way it’s supposed to since we started.  We tried this a few years ago, BC (Before Cage) and it was exactly the same thing.  Same exact thing.  I was put off time and again, and the wheels just fell off because there was no follow-through or commitment or anything else.  During this discussion, Arwyn did begin the old argument of “It’s just about sex with you!”  Now it is somewhat true that I have been thinking about it more recently.  However I have also been working on helping to meet the “family time” need of hers as well as other ways of helping her out and listening to her.  So I asked her what she would have me do differently.  No answer.

One thing I definitely could do differently is handle the disappointment in a better fashion.  I see the confrontational approach as trying it differently, but I’m not sure simply being different is the same as being better.  I’d just finally had it after being pushed back time and time again.  While last week was enjoyable, it was still tarnished by the stuff leading into it.  It would be nice to have an enjoyable time without having to wade backwards through a lake of crap first.

D.