Archives for the month of: July, 2016

This has been, so far, a very complicated weekend, emotionally. That’s neither good news, nor bad, it’s just damned peculiar and quite unexpected, although each time some challenge is met and passes by I find myself thinking “how could it not be so, all things considered?”  It’s quite uncomfortable nonetheless. Some of the difficulties that have come up [for me] have been catalyzed by my traveling partner’s presence, which is just… so not okay with me. Other difficult moments have been dropped on my experience by OPD (Other People’s Drama), which could be avoidable, when I see it coming. In all cases, it’s been incredibly precious to have my traveling partner here for support, encouragement, and love. Even the difficult bits that were more to do with him than not are significantly eased by his presence, although I am not easily able to appreciate it fully in some emotional moments. I’m glad he’s here.

Sharing the journey can help me navigate obstacles more easily.

Sharing the journey can help me navigate obstacles more easily.

It’s clear, after a couple days dealing with me, that I’ve “hit a bad patch of road” on this journey, and my partner is my lover, my friend, my ally, my buddy, my confidante… but one thing he is not? He’s not my therapist. He suggests, and I agree, that it’s a good time to make an appointment with my therapist to discuss some of life’s recent… “inclement weather”.

Yesterday, quite unexpectedly, a Facebook friend (and long-time historical associate, someone who once resided in my home briefly), unloaded a quantity of emotional poison in the comment(s) on a post. The post was an innocuous seeming political post – I’ve been working on taking a more positive approach, instead of locking step with alarmist negative campaigning and media frenzy – and I wasn’t actually expecting anything from it (no likes, comments, views); I seriously expected it would be disregarded in the storm of shock-value headlines being shared, and angry rants about what isn’t okay today. Instead, someone I have long considered quite dear to me – a friend – just went off on me in an angry verbal outburst that crossed over to multiple threads, took many comments to write, and was just… It was the verbal equivalent of assault, and I definitely felt attacked. Viciously. Over a positive Facebook post supporting a presidential candidate. Ugly stuff – the sort of things that end up making the news because women deal with so much of it on the internet. I haven’t had to wade through much of that kind of thing – this time it came from someone I thought a friend. I was immediately overcome with horror, sadness, panic, fear; my PTSD flared up hardcore. It happened on the way to the farmer’s market. It could have gone very badly indeed. It wasn’t pleasant as it was.

My path is mine to choose.

My path is mine to choose.

I did my best not to panic. I read enough to recognize, appreciate, and deal with the practical matters; I deleted the comments, first (don’t leave spoiled poison on food prep surfaces). Threats, crazed hateful accusations, intimidation… this is not the sort of stuff that ought be left lying around Facebook where people could be hurt by it. I blocked this person who had once been dear to me; it isn’t in my best interests to excuse, tolerate, or justify someone’s ill treatment of me, or to permit it to continue. I was still in shock, shaken and frightened. PTSD is a bad-ass, and doesn’t back down easily. I finished my shopping with little enthusiasm, and headed for the safety of home. On the way, I logged into each social media account I have, of all types, and blocked the person who attacked me. Mistreatment is a very good reason to end a friendship.

I got home and sought space and isolation, seeking emotional safety. My traveling partner and another friend were hanging out, and when I attempted to excuse myself, asked me gently to share, instead, and be supported. I did. I didn’t expect much; men don’t deal with some of this sort of thing as much, or in the same way, or as often on the internet – their haters use different language, or maybe it reaches them differently, or… no, hell, that just sounds sexist. The simplest truth, I felt wounded and alone, and I didn’t expect anyone would really understand, and that I’d be told to ‘get over it’ and ‘move on’, and told to minimize the impact, or calm myself without regard to my actual experience. I was so wrong! My partner and my friend listened, looking angry and appalled, using words as first aid to help me past the worst of it. I cried. I let my hurts be soothed. It was very human, humane, kind, compassionate, loving – the sort of thing one expects from friends.

My traveling partner is right, though; in the space of such a short time, to hear from exes, to deal with internet haters and trolls, to ride out life’s storms in a dingy is a lot of work, and I could likely use a bit more help. I “need an oar” with which to row; it’s time to make an appointment with my therapist. My emotional experience, at least lately, is sufficiently volatile to evoke a question about hormones from my partner at one point; it’s an easy answer to “what the fuck?”, before menopause. There’s no shame in needing medical help, and having both a TBI and PTSD I am well aware that mental health care is “medical” in nature… so it’s off to the appropriate doctor I go. 🙂

It’s been quite wonderful to share the weekend with my traveling partner. To need him emotionally in some dark moment and actually have him right here is powerful. To want his company, and enjoy it without crossing town, is a treat. The pleasant moments have been by far the most plentiful. I try not to deal with myself overly harshly that I am so human, having made that remarkably clear this weekend with my difficulty managing my emotional life skillfully. I pause to really appreciate my traveling partner’s insight, and new awareness that I’ve been treating myself poorly on a couple points – it isn’t necessary, nor an accurate reflection of “what it is”. Attachment issues again? Oh yeah. So human. 🙂

Today starts well – most days do, actually, regardless what direction they go from there. I haven’t had enough sleep, and the sleep I got was restless and disturbed. I’ll probably crash early tonight, sometime after my traveling partner departs. Maybe not. I thought I was both tired and sleepy last night when I went to bed; I laid awake well past midnight, and woke at 4 am. I managed a nap until not-quite-six. The morning is cool and overcast. My head aches. I’ve no idea where the day will take me…but I know I am my own cartographer, having my own experience. I know I am not alone. 🙂

Yesterday was lovely, end to end, in spite of the short, restless, night before. It was a pleasant day of healing self-care, relaxation, and mindful attention to the woman in the mirror…

…[It was pleasant] after having a deeply intimate discussion with my traveling partner during which I revealed to myself (and him) that I’ve been quietly struggling with feeling beat down and dismal, fighting off feelings of being irrelevant, “expired”, no longer useful in the world…because I’ve tended (all my life that I recall) to define myself (in the context of relationships) based on my sexuality and sexual availability (and skill), and my ability to reliably bring in an adequate steady income. Sex and money. I’d convinced myself at some distant point that what I bring to a relationship that has any real value is sex and money, just those. I literally don’t have a good understanding of what else I may offer a partner that has “real value”. No wonder I lost my shit the other night, feeling criticized in some implied way over the housekeeping, my weight/fitness, or my current state of non-employment (outside the home); I felt worthless. Yikes. I have some things to think about, and I definitely need to ease up on the woman in the mirror. She’s doing her best, and it is enough.

A walking meditation on a sparkling summer morning.

A walking meditation on a sparkling summer morning.

I spent the day after that feeling rather tender toward myself. I have the sense that I treat myself generally well, day-to-day, these days and it came as a surprise that I’d snuck in such a hurtful bit of messaging, playing more or less continuously on repeat in the background of my consciousness. I was feeling unwanted – but not saying so. I was feeling “out of date” and “superseded” and worthless – and wasn’t even giving myself the courtesy of hearing it, murmured so quietly, so deeply within.  Acknowledging these feelings came with a measure of awkward sad embarrassment, because I was holding on to the assumption that I “know better” now, and would not choose such a thing willfully with my eyes open… only… I did. It was buried in the fine print on the choices day-to-day made to ease the social tension that sometimes develops around my rather intense emotional life; if I choose to disregard my emotional life in order to be polite, to be practical, to be “grown up”, and then fail to follow-up with myself later to make room for my feelings and deal with my needs and hurts, I am going to pay for it, and so will everyone dealing with me when it finally goes down. I do not always make the wiser choice. I’m very human.

It’s the weekend, and it won’t be quite so hot today if the forecast is accurate. (Remember terrible inaccurate weather forecasts? Is that still a thing at all?) Today is a good day to treat the woman in the mirror well… It’s going to take some practice. 🙂

I didn’t sleep well, and woke too early. I feel generally okay, and it was nice to open up the patio door, and do my ‘sunrise yoga’ as the sun actually rose. I make a point of acknowledging and embracing gains in strength, flexibility, and overall fitness, hoping to limit the discouragement that can so easily creep in when progress feels so slow.

Begin again.

Begin again.

I’ll admit I face the new day earnestly reaching for a new beginning; the evening ending awkwardly, after some difficult moments there toward the end of the evening. I won’t berate myself and insist it was “all me”, that would be inaccurate, although perhaps in many circumstances involving my emotions, it likely wasn’t a 50-50 thing. I tend to keep a tight grip [too tight?] on my emotions when my traveling partner is with me… It’s not a value add, at this point, and I don’t do myself any favors to keep it up… but we so easily find ourselves mired in my bullshit, even now, over some momentary shitstorm of strong emotion that it’s more than tempting to try to ‘keep things in check’ minute to minute, and it’s not really something that works. I probably don’t have to explain that trying to hold back emotions by force of will has a pretty common outcome of unexpectedly strong emotions spilling all over the damned place, spreading across small issues, creating large issues, complicating communication; the signal quickly becomes the noise.  When my TBI-related challenges cross paths with my PTSD symptoms… well… it’s not pretty, and I’m frankly not at my best, and it is a thing that has everything in the world to do with me living alone. I don’t know how else to ‘protect’ the people I love most, but of course… there’s this. What a fucked up mess.

Love matters most.

Love matters most.

We found our way, more or less, by the time I made my way to bed. My partner moved the fan into a window, and tweaked things to keep air moving during the night, and ensured the apartment was secure. I didn’t have to ask, and it’s lovely to be able to count on him for small things that feel urgently important to me (whether they are important ‘in real life’ or not).

My restless night didn’t continue to distress me after I woke, and my “nightmares” weren’t terrifying; it was just my brain finishing up the day’s processing, reconsidering this and that, and shoving new information into long-term storage, I guess. No noteworthy content. I woke to birdsong, and a small amount of lingering bitterness that I suck so hard at managing my issues in the company of a human being with whom [for me] it matters most to do so.  I’m frustrated with myself. I’ll keep practicing. I’ll keep taking care of me. I’ll keep learning more about loving well. Then… I’ll keep right on being quite human. Awkward.

Anyway – the weekend is here. I get a fresh start with each new dawn. There’s nothing on my calendar for the weekend except love and loving. Today is a good day to dust off The Four Agreements, and begin again. 🙂

Stick with the basics - it's a great place to start.

Stick with the basics – it’s a great place to start.

Yesterday, in the heat of late afternoon, I took a dip in the pool. Not a big deal; some people swim every day. I went to the pool to beat the heat and the smooth clear surface looked so refreshing… and still. The pool was entirely empty. I looked at the sign on the fence “Do Not Swim Alone”. That’s good practical advice… and on some other day I might have trudged back to my apartment and postponed my dip in the pool for another day. Yesterday, I disregarded the sign – after making eye contact with the landlady on her patio, who smiled and waved a ‘go ahead’ my way. Well… second best, I supposed, someone knows I’m here.

Some people jump into a swimming pool. Some people wade in slowly. Some people only wade. Some people swim quite well, with good attention to form. Some people are splashers. Some people just drift lazily by on rafts or tubes. I happen to be the sort who wades in slowly, and enjoys the water fairly gently. I am cautious about joining in water games, and don’t prefer to be dunked “playfully”. Chaos and damage, even in the pool. Yesterday, though, there was no one there but me. No one to tease, or nag, or splash me, just me – surrounded by cool clear water, and blue sky over head. I stepped into the water, and slowly walked deeper, feeling the water rise around me, cooling me. I continued to slowly step deeper, until I was poised on my toes, swaying with the current of the filtration, and my own movement, water lapping at my chin. I was refreshed, cooled, and buoyed, rocking and swaying, effortless, weightless… it was quite lovely and peaceful. I paddled several times from one end to the other – no one giving me crap over preferring to keep my face from actually being under water. (I can’t breathe it, so I’d prefer generally not to be immersed entirely in it, just saying.) I floated endlessly, on my back, watching the sky turn. Confident in my buoyancy, just floating. I watched the ripples shift and change in the pool as I moved through the water. I watched the lattice of light and shape on the bottom of the pool shift and rearrange itself. Eventually, completely cooled down and refreshed, I returned home.

I’ve not had the chance to just utterly relax and enjoy a swimming pool entirely to myself before. It was lovely. So relaxed and peaceful. I’m definitely going to do that again – and the result of doing so once is that I feel considerably less hesitant to use the pool, generally, and less reluctant to enjoy it ‘my way’.

Tonight is ‘date night’… perhaps my traveling partner would enjoy beating the heat of late afternoon in the pool with me? (No pool where he lives.) That could be fun. Ah, but if he doesn’t care to do so, it isn’t going to stop me going back some other day, another time, and whiling away more of the summer heat in the cool blue water under hot blue sky. 🙂

Beginning again.

Beginning again.

Sometimes, the things that seem most healing in the moment are not very fancy at all. 🙂 Today is a good day to enjoy summer. Today is a good day to “be like water“. Today is a good day to float.

It’s a gentle seeming morning, expected to become a live action display of how a broiler works, later today. I’m cooling the apartment down now (no A/C; the windows in this unit are too small for the AC my traveling partner got me for my birthday last year), and if I do so skillfully, it will just be getting really uncomfortable inside at about the point I can open up the windows again, and exchange cooler outside air, for indoor air that has grown stifling over hours. As plans go, it’s adequate on all but the hottest days… of which today is anticipated to be one. No stress over it; I’ll get by. It will be a pleasant evening for cold showers, tall glasses of iced tea, and indulging in relaxed activities like reading this book, or watching that movie. 🙂

I take similar steps each summer day, intended to keep the apartment comfortable. Each day that I do, I become slightly more skillful through action, observation of outcome, and adjusting my actions based on what I learned. It’s a repeating cycle – and refinement of what works, into what works better over time, is one of the great powers of repetition.

One of the other great powers of repetition is learning. Simply that. If we do something enough, we learn it. If we hear it enough, we believe it to be true – no kidding, we lose all perspective on ‘facts’ if we hear a slogan often enough, spoken with conviction. There’s science behind that. It’s something to be mindful of…and it’s one of those qualities of mind that can be harnessed and utilized in my favor, or left unattended to turn against me unexpectedly. It’s also a characteristic leveraged by advertisers, campaigning politicians, and quite a few other organizations that touch our lives via slogan (teams, schools, government agencies…) Thought-provoking. How will I put this information to work on life’s journey? How can it benefit the woman in the mirror to understand how the mind works, just a bit more than I did? (More verbs? More verbs.)

Taking a closer look for greater perspective.

Taking a closer look for greater perspective; if nothing else, the journey is scenic.

Today is a good day to explore the world – and the workings of my own mind. Maybe I change something, maybe I don’t, there sure is a lot to learn, either way.