Wednesday, December 29, 2021

December 2021 psychological update

2020 and 2021 have been plagued by Covid-19. So I haven't been able to go home to visit my parents for 2 years. As chance would have it, the start date of my new job had been delayed, so I had been able to go to visit my parents in Asia for 2 weeks, after a 15 day quarantine. 

My father is very old (in his 90s)... so old that he caught bacterial pneumonia infection from choking on food. I know it's bacterial infection because his symptoms improved after receiving a 2 week intravenous antibiotics treatment. The whole time, my mother and my sister were worried sick. They were mentally preparing for the fact that he might not make it. Luckily, he made it out of the hospital alive. Though initially very weak and delirious, he kept improving in terms of physical and mental conditions ever since he got home.

Theoretically, this should be very good news. However, I observed and interacted with my family and experienced very profound sadness. First of all, my mother is deeply deeply fearful of my father dying. So to control that fear, she began mentally preparing for his death. She said things like, "Your father has lived a good, long life. He has supported our family for long enough. He has been an excellent father. I am ready to let him go. I won't be depressed when he goes. We shall celebrate his long life and an uncomplicated death with short, minimal suffering." 

Everything she said pointed to a very healthy way of thinking. However, when dad made it home, my mother complained about the doctor friend who suggested for her to mentally prepare and perhaps actually prepare for dad's funeral. She then planned a vacation "for the whole family", where they drove HOURS to get to a hotel, and tried to wheelchair my dad around in the sun with no shades, where the temperature  was 39 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. My mother was ecstatic she could get the whole family together. My dad (who literally JUST got released from the hospital after an intense medical treatment), my brother-in-law, my sister, and her two adult kids, who were treated by their parents like they were small children.

Throughout the whole visit, my mom babbled continuously. Her words indicated that she was fine, happy, strong, and mentally healthy. Her actions indicated that she was horrified about the prospect of being alone; she didn't trust anybody; she tried to control everyone and everything; she would either give out angry commands (go do something for me and do it now!), or burst into tears at home, then pretended she was totally fine and no such behavior had happened. I think she is officially a "crazy person". She has no desire to go see a psychiatrist, of course. I don't even dare to bring that up. She just becomes very furious randomly. Or she would lie about seeing a doctor but not actually do it. From what I have heard from my sister, my mother goes to the doctors quite regularly for check-ups, but cannot tell a straight story about anything.

Normally I have a ton of empathy for anyone in a disadvantaged position, who feels helpless, scared, worried, and weak.  Unfortunately I have almost no tolerance for lying and deceit. Throughout my whole life, as long as I can remember, my mother is the dictator type of parent, "Do what I say or ELSE!" "Eat whatever it is I give you to eat!" "Go wherever it is I tell you to go!" Outwardly to guests, acquaintances and friends, she is charming, a warm, generous host, who loves to throw parties and welcome friends and families to our homes. Basically, the person whom I experienced as a daughter was a very different person from who everyone else got to see, but at least both characters were very confident, high-energy, and strong. My mother is basically a classic narcissist.

Now the aging woman exposes herself for who she actually is: a woman with intense fear of the whole world and has possesses deep-seated self-hatred. In her prime, she ordered me around to make herself feel good. Now she orders me around to avoid feeling completely out of control. She can say the "right stuff" -- positive thinking, gratitude, positive outlook of life, but she doesn't believe any of it. At the same time, she remains overly self-centered, believing that everyone wants to take her money, or are out to get her. She also expressed deep jealousy of my "youth" -- middle-age is considered as young for an octogenerian I suppose, and practically, your own children will never grow older than you as long as you are alive.

I have always thought of my mother as egotistical and overly controlling, but I never really admitted to myself how much she lies. Her whole life is one giant lie, basically. No matter how confident she acted for all these decades, she never really believed in herself this whole time. What an astonishing pathology.

This is a person that you can feel sad and sorry for, but you cannot actually help her. She constantly misinterprets my words and action from the worst starting point of intentions. She and I possess practically complete opposite world-views and value systems. I believe in reason and logic. She seems to believe that if she acts mean enough and authoritarian enough people will obey her. That's why she still tries to sound mean and angry and order people around even though she actually feels weak, confused, and powerless. She blames me for constantly criticizing her, when she herself is her own worse critic. In fact, I now believe that a ton of things she has blamed me over the decades are opinions that she or her own terrible mother said about her. For DECADES, she externalizes all these terrible intentions to me and my sister. How dare we be such horrible people? The whole time I was just confused. For the life of me I could not understand what exactly did I say or do that warranted such intense furor.

So I read a lot of articles on narcissism, and most of them claim that a narcissist cannot really be treated. It's like watching someone drown; if you tried to reach out to help her, she will just drag you into the whirlpool with her. I kept thinking a therapist or a psychiatrist might be able to help her, but it seems like she prefers to pretend she is completely mentally healthy than to do something about the mental chaos in her head.

So that was my 2021... a family-wide mental break down. Who knows what 2022 will bring?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

2021 July Climbing update

Pretty amazing that shortly after I posted September 2020 climbing update last October, the climbing gyms were all closed due to COVID-19, and remained closed until May 2021. That's 7 full months of no indoor climbing, during which time I pretty much lost all my climbing strengths. The first time I went back into the gym in May, even a level 5 route felt hard to pull on. My legs struggle to make what felt like big steps up the wall. It took about 1 month of regular indoor climbing to feel like I am close to my strength levels last year. So here's the update, almost 1 year later.

I actually had several chances to go climb outdoors in March and April, 2021.  My route reading sucked, so some 3s and 4s actually felt hard. Since my bf and I had no strength, we struggled on some 6-'s (5b's) routes, and left a quickdraw on a wall. Currently we are still climbing max 5bs outside. I hope before the end of this summer season, I can climb more 5c's and maybe try 1 or 2 6a's outside.

Shoe update: Mythos (size 38) are best for outdoor climbing. I don't know why, I am unable to use my slightly downturned Scarpa Vapors (size 39.5) outdoors. They hurt my feet and don't help with outdoor climbing. Same with my new La Sportiva Katanas. I bought a pair of Katanas because they are more flat than the Vapors, so I assumed they would be more comfy than my Vapors. I was wrong. I think I sized them too small (size 38). They tension my feet so that the toes and heels REALLY hurt, and I can't use them outside. Surprisingly, I am now able to use my Finale outside. Finale (size 38.5) has a flat sole, are sized pretty tight also kinda hurt, but there isn't a real foot tension system in this model and the soles are softer than Katana (maybe because they are broken in). I find the friction on the wall to be really good, so it's the right stiffness for me for easy outdoor slab climbs. Indoors, I am able to use the Katana on boulder walls for as long as I can stand the pain. So the performance is there; I'm just waiting for the toebox to mold to my feet. The Vapors feel pretty good indoors now. They are my perfect sending shoes for hard routes (7-s/6A+s).

Indoor climbing update: So now (7-s/6A+s) are my limits in terms of strength. I have gained some weight during corona lockdown (up to 68.9kg). So climbing has felt really hard. I am currently at around 66.3kg, hoping to go down to 65kg, which will be quite difficult for me. Currently, I don't climb too many hard routes per sessions, so I don't get bunion pains during climbing, which is a big blessing. Mentally, I feel more confidence now when I climb above a quickdraw clip. I often feel quite secure on my feet on the wall. My upper body strength are on their way back (getting stronger), and that makes me feel quite good. My hand skin can be a limiting factor for indoor climbing. 

Bouldering: the other day, I went to a new gym to take advantage of their 15 class deal and to try bouldering. I could climb a lot of the boulders up to 5c/6a. I feel like I can struggle longer on boulders now, which makes bouldering more fun than before, when I felt tired so quickly that I couldn't really try a hard boulder multiple times. 

I'm at a point where I don't feel like I will make much progress on harder grades. I just need to focus on moving better on the level that I am: shift weight better, breath better, stay calm on routes, stand up from pistol squats, assisted pull ups, handstands, push ups; lose 1-2 kg more.

It's funny that my bf likes to buy fancy (read: expensive) climbing shoes but doesn't climb much harder than I do. He wears them for his psychology (to "feel more secure" on harder routes). He laughs at me for still using my not so comfy/performance-based shoes (read: Taratulace [size 39... way too big], Finale). The thing is, for the easy warm up routes, I have seen people climb them with approach shoes or even runners. I shouldn't need to waste rubber on expensive climbing shoes to climb those routes. I try to save my "fancy shoes" on routes that do benefit from downturned, tensioned climbing shoes that cost more. I'm happy that I can tolerate the discomfort of my more basic shoes now. It means my feet are on their way to getting stronger. The advanced shoes definitely hurt the feet in a different manner. The bf is torturing his feet on easy routes where foot torture do not help improve his climbing, but he has a different philosophy than me I guess. I only want to submit my feet to expensive torture if they truly help me stand on tiny ledges or push harder on a foothold for those truly difficult, advanced routes. I will climbing a route even my shoes don't feel secure, as long as my feet don't slip off the footholds.  The bf needs too-tight shoes to feel secure. He will move up only if he feels extremely secure with his footholds and handholds. That's totally not necessary for a foothold to keep your body on the wall. Just move up and use insecure holds as intermediate holds. My limiting factor is mainly strength and power. His limiting factor is his need to feel totally secure.

Monday, October 5, 2020

September climbing progress

So there were days when I felt really weak (couldn't complete a 6+/7- properly). There were days I felt really strong. I completed a 6+/7- with bad handholds (slopers and small jugs) and the footholds were not directly under the handholds. It was the first time in quite awhile that I felt my hands could grip hard even when a pump happens and I couldn't arrive at good handholds / resting spots for quite a few moves. The day after this my left wrist was hurting a bit when I exerted force on the left hand. I have not had this happen before. I'm hoping it will go away in a few days.

Overall, it seems like my strength goes up and down on different days. I keep thinking if I lose some weight then I would climb better, but I am really bad at losing weight. It almost never happens. The alternative is to get stronger... I have a better chance improving my core, back, arm and hand strength. I also have a lot of room to improve for footwork. 

I feel like my currently achievable goals are to climb better... get better at flagging, improve strength slightly, improve my climbing techniques. I hope to also be less scared and dare to try more moves high up on the wall. I guess I will keep climbing 6Bs / 7s for all of next year. I don't expect to gain a lot more strength soon.

The good news of recent climbing are that the limiting factors are usually back and finger tiring out, or general depletion of overall energy. My hand skin and my feet don't seem to cause so much pain that limit my climbing lately. I hope my feet continue to get stronger and that my bunions do not worsen.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Last few weeks of outdoor climbing

 Recently I have been climbing outdoors to take advantage of the last few weeks of good weather. Moves are more diverse outside; the foot holds are sometimes smeary on slabs; the rock face could be wet and muddy. The wind, insects, caterpillars, etc. makes it all more difficult than climbing inside.

So I have fallen twice outside already. I don't know why I have a blind trust that my feet will hold a smear as I go upwards using not so great handholds. I think I have a blind trust on the reported grades -- a 5? For sure I must be able to place my foot on a slab and it won't slip! I am excited about holding some weird positions while clipping. Feels like I am gaining experience and progressing, and I feel strong enough to do some tricky moves.

The bf is really having more trouble with climbing outside. He does not trust his feet at all, and he hates falling even more. He needs to psyche himself before he would do the moves on 3s and 4s with bad/no footholds. We only dare to climb 5- (4cs). I'm hoping to tackle more 5b's and 5c's, or even 6a's, but P is not ready for it.  

I feel this year I will just learn to manage my bunion pains on the rock walls. I won't be climbing 6a's or 6a+s outside at all. Hopefully if my feet are good for the lower grades, they will be good for the higher grades too. A big issue with outdoor climbing is endurance -- holding a move while figuring out what to do next. Now I am at a point where I will cheat and grab the quickdraw if I don't know what part of the wall to grab next. I just need to be strong enough to be able to try a few things, re-position my feet and body in order to get to the next hold, try things half way and be able to reverse into the former position. I am also learning to not be scared of creepy crawlers. They seem pretty harmless compared to falling and getting scratched/cut by rock. Wasps are still annoying/scary though.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

End of August climbing progress update

There were days where I couldn't get through 7-s without hanging. I have gained about 1-2kg of weight, and I can feel it in my climbing (7s feel way too hard for my hands now). I also realized that sometimes the climbing shoes hurt my feet because I didn't put my shoes on properly (the toe box needs to be wiggled until my toes don't feel squished). If I don't wear my shoes properly, my feet hurt and I can't climb so well.

Anyways, recently the Scarpa Vapors have been feeling better than they used to, probably because I have broken in the resoles, and because Instincts have a fit that feel even harder on the feet. I am sad that my Tarantulace now feels too large and not supportive enough for my toes. They are fine for very easy routes, where I can place a large portion of my foot on the footholds. They are also fine for routes with smaller footholds, but after awhile, the base of the big toes start to hurt due to lack of shoe support. I guess I will wear them only when my Mythos eventually get resoled. I still haven't decided which rubber I will resole my shoes with.

I haven't done overhang for awhile, and boy, I either felt totally freaked out, or super tired on these routes. Usually I feel especially low energy after eating something, or in the evenings. I'm not sure if I will ever improve this aspect. 

I tried an 7/7+ the other day. I was able to do moves, with shallow handholds, tiny footholds, and uncomfortable/unstable moves. I felt like I could use these holds and do the moves individually, but I was uncomfortable doing that many hard moves in a row. My hands and my feet get tired after one hard pull while pushing hard on a small foothold. The hands and feet (and mental psyche) want a break after every single move. I guess I just need to do the route over and over again until the holds feel less intense and that I get used to doing these moves.

At this point, I don't really expect to get much better at climbing. I have always have trouble losing weight, so unless I can manage to lose like 3-5 kg, I don't think I can improve a grade. My small wish is just to be able to maintain the current level of climbing. The current grades feel relatively challenging and I have fun doing them. So I will keep doing the 7-s forever, while occasionally trying some 7s and 7/7+s.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Bouldering progress

 I felt like I could boulder for longer than before, which means an improvement in endurance. The skin started to feel a bit sore after about an hour. I still have trouble with the blue boulders (up to 6B) since they require strong hands. I tried the circuit and I could barely do a 6A+, but I was happy I could stay on the wall when I was tired and was ready to give up. My hands stayed gripping tightly on the handholds. The foot placement could definitely improve. 

I tried on my Tarantulace  after they have been resoled with "unnamed rubber".  The rubbers are pretty sticky and I have no problem with the resole job. I could however really feel that the shoes don't squeeze the toes together enough. They are sufficient for boulders at my level, but I could see that I won't be able to reliably pushing off of them hard enough for harder routes. The resoled ScarpaVapors though feel reeeeally tight. I'm hoping that the rubbers would soften up a tiny bit after several uses. I'm still hoping to find a pair of shoes that cause less pain to my feet than the ones that I own.

Things to work on: core strength, grip strength, endurance, foot placement, reading routes, hip placement, balance.

I'm also hoping my feet would strengthen enough for them to hurt less in climbing shoes in general. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

August climbing update

I'm looking at my July climbing progress article . I feel like that after doing several routes that were quite fear inducing. Recently I feel less fear when I am on new 7-/7 (6b) routes.  I even did an outdoor 5c route where I actually fell because a handhold I grabbed came off. At the time I thought I was too close to the ground and would hit the ground for sure, but luckily my belay partner caught me so I was totally fine.

For August, I haven't been able to pull harder, but I recognize I would be able to do a 6b route better if I could sustain hard pulls for several moves. So what I am lacking is power endurance. I also recognize that if I had (sustained) stronger finger strength then I would be able to master this grade. I also need much better footwork, because there are some tricky parts where I felt like my feet and hip placement have not been ideal. For lower grades I could just compensate by hanging onto the handholds stronger; but for this grade and higher, the handholds are not nearly as good, so the feet better be more solid and balanced to hold my body weights.

- My core also needs to be stronger. I had less of a body tension issue this month, but maybe I just didn't go on a route that put me in really odd position.

- Regarding fear about being out of balance (at 6b, this will probably change when I climb a higher level): 

  •  Less of a problem unless I am very tired. So I am more used to certain positions now. They used to feel imbalanced, now I know my body can still hold the position without falling off. 
- Fear of heights: less of a problem this month

- Fear of falling: having actually fell outside, it's less scary for now.

- This month I started grabbing the quickdraw when I felt like I was not going to hold a position stable. This was a no-no for me before, and now I seem to just care less. I don't know if this is a good or bad development.

I hope by the end of the year I would be more comfortable lead climbing 6b's. Specifically, I hope to improve my power endurance, my footwork, and my core strength. I think losing some weight (3-4kg) would help a lot too.