The week ended on an odd disconnected low note that felt quite abysmal out of context. In the context of the experience of my week, it still felt pretty bleak and more than a little overwhelming, however well I handled things moment by moment. I spent most of the week facing my biggest fears, my hardest challenges, my most extreme stressors – and sure, here I am, on the other side, and I am okay.

Stormy skies have their own beauty.

Just a picture of a stormy sky without context.

See, perspective matters, and in the context of ‘all that is’ none of it was a big deal at all. Much scarier things happened in the world than having to deal with my healthcare provider over-charging me on my prescriptions. My emotional volatility and life satisfaction issues are not global concerns, and as challenges go…yeah. Small stuff. It’s highly unlikely that having workmen in to replace my windows would even register on a scale of ‘all the world’s stressors’. I have ached with loneliness and feelings of displacement and disconnection. I have wrestled with fear and doubt. I have endured repressed panic for hours. I have wept. That’s all just me. I’m still here, and I’m okay. The world continues to turn. More important things happen every day.

I’m not dissing myself here; my feelings matter to me. My experience matters to me, too. Walking home last night from a ‘team building’ happy hour event with my peer group from work I started turning things over in my head differently. I didn’t feel any better – I don’t know that I ‘feel better’ now*. I did turn a corner on how I view things, and the context I am putting around my experience. It hasn’t been an ordinary week at all. I already know how much I value a certain measure of constancy in my environment; how could I be surprised to feel so disrupted when I have had to move all sorts of things away from all the windows, take down (and put up) the curtains and blinds, deal with power outages, water shut-offs, and gaping holes in my home while windows were replaced. My patio garden is in total disarray for the 3rd time this week. Plans to hang out with my partner were postponed one day, moved to another day, and somehow never quite felt deeply connected and truly shared – I was already struggling. As the week progressed I have felt increasingly burdened by stress and upheaval, without recognizing the increasing cumulative impact soon enough to get ahead of it, and by Thursday evening it was clear that I was teetering on the edge of being in crisis.

Friday (last night), walking home from a ‘team building’ happy hour with my peer group from work and feeling bleak, run down, and disconnected, I let my feelings cross my consciousness like clouds: crying when tears came, wiping them away when they stopped, and generally not taking my feelings personally. I had a Beatles song stuck in my head, “Fixing a Hole” and I was trying to ‘feel hopeful’. Practicing specific cognitive practices sometimes helps. I took a couple pictures along the way, hoping to refocus my attention and engage myself differently.

Changing my perspective often has the power to... change my perspective.

Changing my perspective often has the power to… change my perspective.

I found myself thinking about minds, holes, cognition, and what I know of our collective ideas about sanity and wholeness. I recalled a scene from Babylon 5, and thought too, about memory and how what I am recalling – whether thoughts or feelings – colors my experience now. Still feeling pretty down, but finding the living metaphor of walking a distance to be soothing on a number of levels, I walked on pretty energetically – feeling, if not ‘well’, or content, or happy, at least purposeful. I picked at the small emotional sores left behind by the turmoil of the week: my partner commenting on the weight I’ve clearly gained, the disarray in my home from having to move things away from windows, the struggle to find day-to-day sexual satisfaction, the market closing, the trees about to be cut down – and as I did the tears came pouring down. In my thoughts I felt myself, childlike and lost, whimpering wordlessly “I just want to fill this fucking hole in my heart…”

I love my brain. The adult within me, the experienced world-wise, educated woman of 52 stepped forward from the shadows of the chaos and damage with a comforting reminder – from South Park. Right. “Who isn’t filling a fucking hole?” I took a deep breath. And another. I kept walking. Things seemed more practical and manageable from the perspective of being human. “This shit’s not rocket science.” True – and it isn’t math. Living life in this fragile vessel is so much less simple and predictable than math. It’s not easily ‘solved’ with engineering. It’s messy, and often seems quite complicated. Sometimes it’s disturbing, and unsatisfying. Every day can’t be the best day – and that’s even true of entire weeks.

I got home to a quiet house and a note from the management that all the trees in front of the building will be cut down. I closed the door behind me, slid to the floor, back against the door, and wept. When the tears stopped, I picked myself up with a sigh, wiped the tears off my face, and did what I knew had to be done; I took care of me. Calories – limited and healthy – yoga, meditation, a shower. I shut down all the connections to the world, and finished the evening quietly. I downloaded a video game I have been curious about, knowing that novelty and engaging my brain’s learning circuitry can go a long way to improve my outlook on life.

I slept well, and I slept in. Today is a new day, and it’s a weekend. I canceled plans with my partner, knowing I am a wreck; we don’t really enjoy that about me, when it comes up. This is a weekend to take care of me, restore order where disorder has crept in, catch up on the laundry, on my studies, on my writing…and maybe head to the trees for a long hike to enjoy the colors of autumn and the crisp morning air. I remind myself that even a year ago, a week like this one would have had a different outcome, and been more profoundly disturbed and disturbing. There’s no ‘quick fix’. There are verbs involved. Incremental change over time does happen – and it’s enough. 🙂

Life's challenges aren't personal. Today, I'll take another breath - and begin again.

Life’s challenges aren’t personal. Today, I’ll take another breath – and begin again.

*By the time I finished writing this post, I definitely find that I do feel better. 🙂