I had an awesome weekend. I learned a thing or two about how far I’ve come – and how far I have yet to go. I enjoyed feeling a new relationship become more than it was, and I enjoyed feeling a cherished relationship of some years become better than it has been. My own experience of me feels improved; I am more myself, and more comfortable in my own skin.

Like a flower, blooming when conditions are right.

Like a flower, blooming when conditions are right.

Yesterday being a ‘rest day’ by choice, I didn’t hesitate to crash when fatigue caught up with me, even though it was quite early in the evening when I crawled into bed and got comfortable with my kindle (telling myself it was not likely I would sleep so early). Minutes later I was asleep. I woke later, very briefly – long enough to smile in the dark and set my kindle on the nightstand, and return to slumber. I drifted off thinking, quite contentedly, “is this what wellness feels like?”

At 2:37 am I woke abruptly, fully alert, tense, and wary. I remained very still in the darkness, senses heightened, listening…there was something strange about the silence that didn’t satisfy me. Then I heard the clunk of the patio door being tested, and found to be locked. I lay quietly for some minutes more, aware, alert, and waiting. For what? For trouble that didn’t come, thankfully. There was no emotional feeling of panic, and aside from the physical state of arousal and readiness to fight, or defend myself, all was well and remained so. Another day, in another year, I would have been unable to remain in bed or even consider further sleep. This morning was quite different. Sure, I still have PTSD. I still have symptoms: nightmares, panic attacks, occasional wildly unrealistic fears of events that are not now, extreme emotional volatility – and my startle reflex is a very real thing; none of it is everyday, now. In the sense, and to the degree, that these things are true and real in  my experience, I am clearly not entirely ‘well’…but I have come so far, so quickly!

My night’s sleep was not ruined, I did not fret in the darkness frightened for hours, weeping and trembling, running through all the what-if scenarios of terror and trauma that could potentially be, with shortness of breath, and unable to manage my emotions. Actually, it was a very different experience. I was alert to a threat that may have been quite legitimate; someone unknown to me tried my patio door in the wee hours, for an unknown reason. That the door is routinely kept locked, and was locked this morning, minimized any likelihood that getting my door open would have further value, and my unit is close to both the Manager’s unit and the street, and well-lit. My awareness of these details provided me with adequate anchor to my safe and comfortable ‘here and now’, resting quietly in the darkness, that I was able to return to sleep with relative ease, and little concern, waking rested at the usual time, without any lingering anxiety. (Hours later, this still seems remarkable to me.)

I am pleased to see the outcome of real growth evident in real-life circumstances that would once have really messed with my head, and my emotions. I take time this morning to appreciate growth and change, and the value of practicing good practices for improving emotional balance, emotional self-sufficiency, and reducing the recovery time needed to step back from a stressful moment. There were no miracles, no fast fixes, no cures, and no slight of hand; I’ve been working at this now for years. That’s what it takes – at least for me – and sometimes it seems slow going. (Note to self: It’s totally worth it.)

...And then there's love and coffee.

…And then there’s love and coffee.

My traveling partner surprised me with a visit yesterday. We’d connected over email in the early morning, and it seemed unlikely we’d be hanging out in person, based on that discussion. I wasn’t discontent, or unhappy about that, and I knew my calendar was entirely filled for the day – with nothing. Oh, sure, I did a small bit of light gardening, made my bed, and did my dishes, but I took my rest day quite seriously, and spent it mostly on enjoying my aquarium, meditation, reading, and yoga. When I got the phone call later that he would be heading my way, if I cared to enjoy his company, I was delighted and pleasantly surprised. These are emotions that complement each other nicely. He’s a very considerate partner, too, and knowing that I might have other company makes a point to verify that he is truly welcome before coming around. I have learned a lot about good manners among adults from my traveling partner.

Growth is a funny thing, though, it is as continuous as I allow it to be. In the same moment I celebrate my satisfaction with my  own growth, good qualities, I also find myself recognizing where further study will have value, and small things where I subtly miss the mark on being the woman I most want to be. An example? I struggle with telling lovers, or others I care for deeply, ‘it’s time to go’ – I have difficulty expressing ‘departure times’. I don’t mean I have difficulty saying “I’m headed out, see you next time!” – those are fairly easy for me. I am not nearly as skilled at saying, in a gentle way that conveys only love, “It’s been lovely, see you next time – do you have all your stuff?” and taking the remainder of my day back. I definitely don’t want to convey an impression of unwelcomeness (and I dread that I might)!  Worse still – I’m incredibly unskilled at recognizing I am at that point before they do!

I’m fortunate that my traveling partner is generally very accepting of my ineptitude in these areas of life – he’s familiar with the quantity of chaos and damage, and what the shards are made of – and he’s patient, encouraging, and sometimes amused, more often than he is wounded. He’s that rare lover who actually does speak up about life and love in honest simple ways “I like it this way…” “this generally feels better than that, to me…” “you may find ____ more successful in those circumstances…” and “what can I do to help you here?” I have learned more about communicating love in this man’s arms than from all the books I have ever read. This weekend, I learned that I will love with more skill when I also learn to set limits on my time with more honesty and from a place of much greater self-awareness (which is needed to be more honest. 🙂 ) Something to work on. (There always is.)

It isn't necessary to make the journey quickly, as much as it is to be present along the way.

It isn’t necessary to make the journey quickly, as much as it is to be present along the way.

It’s a good morning to reflect on what works – and recognize what doesn’t without being hard on myself. Today is a good day to celebrate growth – and continued growth; the journey is the destination. Today is a good day for love, and for fun, and for smiles between strangers. Today is a good day to change the world.