Snapshots December 2012

You know that therapists have to be out of their minds to go on vacation this time of year.  It borders on unethical.

And yet.

Off we go. Some of us.

And since you can't always rely upon your therapist, and many people don't even have a therapist, and considering that holiday anxiety starts before Thanksgiving (for some at Halloween), and that we spend the week after Thanksgiving processing Thanksgiving, consider reading Elizabeth Bernstein on Dysfunctional Family Bingo.  Amy Johnson, a doc in Detroit made up the game.

You play it with the people you would never have friended on Facebook if they hadn't been first or second degrees.

(1) Sandwiched

My grandson, age ten, has the window in Row 16 to my right.  He's taking his first trip to the South to visit his cousins. A well-mannered young man in his thirties has the aisle.

The one who just hit double digits is playing Shark Attack on his Ipod. He's tilting the device in four different directions, probably at least five times a second. A tilt. The shark will not eat tonight.
Shark Attack With Fewer Calories

Bike Race
The young man on my left is playing a similar game on his Ipad, except that he is tilting even more vigorously.

He's deftly steering a bicyclist down a mountain, then across a desert, trying to avoid that predictable ending, the crash.

The whole experience, being in the middle of this energy makes me feel old.

(2) On Feeling Old

My mother says that if you're past fifty and you don't hurt somewhere, you're probably dead.

It's a decade birthday for me and it has been wonderful-- best presents in years, the best cards.  But it still feels sad.  You look back and you wonder. . . look back. . . wonder.  Mostly look back.

My brother texts me:

Happy Birthday!  All birthdays are good birthdays.


Your Much Younger Brother

(3) Addicted
Spider Solitaire on the Computer, too

I can't talk about the kids and their gaming, not when my Spider addiction in full-throttle. I hate that I choose Solitaire before bed lately over reading real books.

I hate this volunteering to dumb down.

But it always works, numbs me.

But having it on my phone, I can see, something has to give.  I'm using during the day! And denial has set in, is telling me that writing about it, the jones will go away.

Most likely, nah.  So what is next?! Do I need to join a support group?  Perhaps create one? Now there's something to add to my Psychology Today therapist profile.

I could open the meeting, start with:
Hi. I'm therapydoc and I have a problem with electronics, mainly my phone. (pause)
I have texted while driving.
Anyone running such a group should emphasize these four dynamics:
(a) Empathy for those who are not addicted to electronics. These people are often insulted when we take calls in the middle of a conversation. They are deservedly hyper-sensitive, assume we think them less interesting, less intelligent, less important than an incoming text, an email, or whatever it is that is beeping or blinking in our pocket.
(b) The draw is precisely this, attention. Needing and seeking attention, applause. The ego is starving, craves the love, the beep, the ring. We're social animals, fairly helpless when it comes to wanting to be noticed. 
(c) It is important to let go of enablers, friends who are like us, who don't bat an eye at what some would consider egregiously poor social etiquette. Enablers are forgiving, more than happy to see another addict imbibe. You feel better about yourself, a person who also can't resist staring at an electronic device over looking into someone's eyes.  You are in good company.
It's like, I'm drinking in the middle of the day, you should too!
(d) Finally, if you must answer the phone, try, "I'll call you back later, I'm pretty tied up right now, can't talk."
Tied up?  Living, is what we used to call it.

 (4) The Naked Eye
Sea Anenomes

We're at the Georgia Aquarium, an amazing museum, and if you know me you know that nothing makes me happier than a salt water fish tank with a couple of healthy fish swimming around. It totally takes me in and there's nothing electronic about it, unless we're talking electric eels or filtration systems.

But I have an electronic device with me, my phone, so I'm snapping pictures constantly, want to bring home my memories.

In other words, I'm at the aquarium thinking about a screen-saver.

Jelly Fish, therapydoc

Salt water fish Screen-Saver

Sea Dragons, therapydoc

(5) Putting Kids to Sleep

There are so many wonderful things about life, and grandchildren are at the top of the list. When you visit them you relish them, life itself. Blessings, you think. You get into a seriously grateful mode.

My oldest granddaughter seems to really like me, and when it is bedtime, I get the honors.  She insists that I tell her a story, sing her a song (my pick!) and say the bedtime prayers.  There is perhaps nothing more delicious than this.

So we're in her bed and she's under the covers and I'm on top of the covers, but we are eye to eye. Hers are so large it is nothing short of intimidating.  We have a discussion about teeth and brushing. The song, the story, the ritual is over, and she's supposed to go to sleep now.

She grabs me around the neck, hugs me tight. "Don't go. Don't go now and don't go back to Chicago tomorrow.  Stay one more day.  Miss your flight."

This is an old routine. She's been doing it for years. She's not yet seven, so not too many years. But she's good.

My job is to tell her I'll stay a little longer, and she's content with that.  She's very tired. She did walk that entire museum and her little legs worked double time.

As her eyes close, mine are looking for my phone.  I see it on her desk and get up to grab it. She sees me, pounces.  "You said you would stay!"

I did, indeed.

So I stay. And it occurs to me that in this special moment, a once in four months moment at best, a big part of me just wants to check my phone.

This is not living in the moment. It is not living rich at all.

When we're about to leave for the airport, the carry-on bags are packed, much lighter now.  She is hugging her cousin. "Don't go! Stay another day!" A true drama queen.  He smiles a little smile, doesn't quite know what to say. He's only 10, looks to me for advice.

"He'll Skype with you!" I cry.  "We'll all try to be better at that, call and video-chat once a week."

In a couple of years they'll be saying, "See you on Facebook!"

We can only hope nobody needs a 12 Step program.


An Oh By the Way Post Script:  When Facebook took off, Ther Apy Doc had a page. But it got scary (you know I'm not very tough, have those home-invader thoughts, hate conflict, bullying, etc. ). My thinking, being terrified-- this will somehow come to no good. So down it goes.

But a few years (a few years!) later, it appears I have toughened up and the page is back up! TherapyDoc is still anonymous, too, despite the Facebook bias that if you can't identify yourself, if you're not man enough to tell the world who you are, then you probably don't belong in most clubs.

An admitted voyeur, one who loves looking into people's lives, this feels authentic. Therapists have that interest in the way people live, the way they think. And their faces, their clothes, too.

In Chicago when it starts to get cold, you look for friends.  Most of them are hibernating.  It takes very little coaxing to get them to go out for dinner with you. When they do, you feel you out-ate them since everyone is on a diet. Still, it is a great way to hear about the best sales.

So another way to find friends and not have to face the cold, would be Facebook. Nothing better than a good regression. Do you remember being very young and asking someone, "Will you be my friend?"  It took guts!

This could be a lot of fun.
Or it could be I'll have to take it down again.

Seems a good way to get book and movie recommendations.

Or show off pictures from an aquarium.

New name:  TherapyDoc Doc  (Doc is a last name, apparently).  Here's a movie of a few jelly fish.  My grandson took it with my Iphone..


catherine said…
This is one of my all time favourite videos. Whenever I need comforting I watch it - it's from a big aquarium in Japan.
therapydoc said…
Apparently Bernie Marcus of Home Depot fame, visited 90 aquariums all over the world to find the best features of each for the Georgia Aquarium.

I can see that he copied the concept of the huge sea "wall" from the Japanese, if not the amazing "flying fish."

The glass walls are 2 feet deep.

Thanks for the link!
Mound Builder said…
When I was a teenager, I babysat for a family whose business was maintaining aquariums in offices. Their home was full of aquariums, salt water aquariums, most of them. I really enjoyed being at their house to see all the aquariums. I had a special fondness for the clown fish swimming among the anemones.

As for decade birthdays, I'm halfway to the next decade birthday. I feel so aware that time is passing, that the years of good health in front of me are probably pretty limited, will go in a flash. I was researching something today and came across something I wish I had learned more about and suddenly the thought came to me that I wished I had several more lives so I'd have time to pursue several areas of study. Not enough time left to do all of them in this life, especially while I'm still working. I feel old in a way I haven't before, but it isn't because of aches and pains; in fact, I've practiced yoga for years and I walk regularly, even have a gym routine, so my physical health is pretty good. The feeling old, it comes from something else, at least for me. And yes, looking back and wondering is part of it... and looking ahead and wondering how much, or how little time left, how much will be while still feeling in good health, wondering what will decline feel like, be like...

Happy birthday, therapydoc, for year, in good health, with few aches and pains, and happy looking back.
therapydoc said…
Thank you MB. You'll like this. I had a tank at the office, very simple, live sand and rocks, 2 clowns, watched them get big, but knew they needed an anemone. But those need more light, felt complicated. Meanwhile, my son's reef tank had no fish ( they jumped). He had a clown but the anemone rejected it. So I gave him my clowns and the anemone split to welcome them both.
Mound Builder said…
I love that story, thereapydoc! I had no idea that anemones accept, or reject, clownfish! How wonderful that your clowns were accepted by your son's anemone. There's something poetic in that, about relationships both aquatic and terra firma. Clownfish have always looked friendly, to me. I want to hug them. The nursing home where my father lived out the last years of his life had a virtual fish tank--15 hours of fish swimming. Even though it was virtual, I enjoyed looking at it; he did, too. All the colors, the variety... When my younger daughter was small, we got a beta fish. She named him Isaac. He was a beauty and had personality. I swear it seemed he recognized us walking into the room.
Nectarine said…
Re: taking time off in December.
I do mental health counselling and case management for clients in community housing. I find most clients either a) don't want to meet me at the holidays because they're doing their own thing or b) assume they won't be meeting me so I just go with it.
It seems they have been conditioned not to expect support at this time of year.

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