Have you seen my way of doing things? I’m asking, because I may have lost it…

I got home last night, after a long day at work, still feeling quite merry and content, in spite of a handful of ill-mannered commuters (yes manners are still a thing). Perhaps they’ve also lost their way? My traveling partner had evening plans, though they didn’t appear on his calendar (his plans often don’t) and I expected a quiet evening at home. My expectations were unrealistic and quickly reset. First, the pharmacy rang me, just as I got home; my Rx was filled and please pick it up… Well, that’s going kill 90 minutes of my 4 hour evening to do it by bus, probably about the same to walk. I sigh, and step over the threshold, into my sanctuary of … Oh hey, damn. Dishes in the sink. An empty pop bottle on a side table. Recycling really needs to go out. Another sigh. I get to work on the dishes while I figure out how to handle the trip to the pharmacy, settling on asking a friend for a favor – maybe he’ll give me a ride there & back?

One thing I love about living alone, generally, is that there are certain things that make me feel very much at ease, and comfortable, and cared-for, that I reliably do for myself. I like to wake to no dishes in the sink and a clean kitchen. I like to come home to that, too. I prefer that no beverage containers or used dishes be left laying about, and usually have the dishwasher ready-to-go for dirty dishes to make that easy. I enjoy a measure of order – it’s one way of fighting off the chaos within. I take the trash out most days, because I don’t like the smell of it, ever, at all – so out it goes, on the regular, no nagging or reminders required. I like to get a lot of those sorts of tidying up details kept up – it matters to me. The order in my environment reflects my own sense of being – and that works with disorder, too. If I come home to disorder, expecting order – the order I typically quite specifically prepare for myself – it is jarring. Unpleasantly so. Other people, other needs – other habits.

My neighbor was available and happy to help. By the time he was ready, most of the housekeeping was done. I still hadn’t had dinner. My blood sugar was low and I was starting to feel irritable. There is no time in such a short evening for fucking about with extra shit. I feel frustrated by that. I’d grown used to being at leisure, and able to just take care of me in the fashion that feels most natural to me.

I’m still feeling frustrated and irritable when I return home from the pharmacy, but coping with it – no tears or tantrums. I swallow some orange juice and have a hard-boiled egg while I finish off things like taking out the trash and recycling, and having a shower, then making a salad for dinner, and… the evening is over. Yeah. I gotta figure this weekday evening thing out. I need a more elegant flow. A more routine routine. A more comfortable fit. I feel on the edge of tears, for really no “reason”, and more than a little confused by the flood of unexpected emotion. A deep breath. Another. I don’t fight off my emotions, anymore; I listen. Emotions are not about “reason”.

Taking a moment to be kind to myself, I remind myself that I just started a new job, just as a planned house guest arrived with all the chaos of visiting travelers, and at that same time I also got sick – greatly limiting my ability to keep things up for myself, certainly not up to being a live-in maid for guests. With a house guest and my traveling partner coming and going without any particular planning, and very different habits at home than I have, myself – things got a bit untidy. Oh, not terribly so, and anyone with kids at home would laugh off my frustration, almost certainly. Day-to-day, these days, I live in a fairly ordered environment in many respects, more so perhaps than many people would really be comfortable with. It suits (and soothes) me. I pause to recognize that it is, nonetheless, quite a luxury, and that building it is a commitment to myself. I breath. I consider my needs. I consider my aesthetic. I consider my… time. Yep. I’m a planner – by trade, and by tendency. I open my calendar, and feel myself relax.

It wasn’t that long ago, I used to let my own quirks frustrate me, instead of using them to my advantage. My moods ran my life, called my shots, and ruined my relationships. I blamed emotion generally, and cursed its very existence, seeking any method to shut that shit down – permanently. I grew up hearing women called crazy, generally in the context of expressing emotions, often very strong emotion. Made sense to me – emotional tantrums seem “crazy”, particularly when they spill over seemingly inappropriately onto some innocent bystander’s experience. Only… it’s garbage. Emotional intelligence, unfortunately, is not yet taught commonly in our schools – or in our homes.

"Emotion and Reason" 18" x 24" acrylic w/ceramic and glow details

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details

Our emotions are not criminal. Our emotions are not the bad guys. Our emotions are not beyond our control – and controlling them is not necessarily in our best interests. We’re not creatures of pure reason who happen to be inflicted with emotion as some sort of disorder. 🙂 We are also not creatures of pure emotion, struggling to bring order to the chaos through the magical power of reason. We are creatures of emotion and reason. Our emotions shout at us to be heard, and it’s hard to fight to make good decisions through that din, without at least some emotional intelligence.

As a female human being, I have often been told – verbally or non-verbally, explicitly or implicitly – that I am “too emotional” or that my emotions in some moment are the problem. Often whatever circumstance, information, or behavior that has caused some shit storm of emotion is over-looked, or excused, because hey – emotions can be blamed for … everything!! Only… no. I’m not having it anymore. My emotions are not a criminal act. Treating them as though they are is very misleading self-deception. To be fair, I’m also not yielding the “driver’s seat” in life to pure emotion – that just seems silly. Emotions aren’t a crime, or a handicap, but they are also not the best tool for certain sorts of decision-making. What works best for me are emotion and reason, balanced, working together, awake, aware, and present – this is what I’m practicing, myself, and this is who I am. Well… mostly. Generally. As a goal, and with some practice. A lot of practice. 😀 Yep. There are verbs involved. My results vary. 😉

I sip my coffee feeling relaxed. My after-work efforts last night made a difference in my morning, even though I was frustrated by how little time there is in an evening, these days. Last night my frustration didn’t take over, and didn’t wreck my evening. I woke after a restful night. Enjoyed unmeasured quiet minutes of meditation, some yoga, a lovely hot shower, and now this excellent cup of coffee. I feel content. Relaxed. Worthy. This morning, in the context of very different emotions, my experience is pleasant and comfortable. My emotions told me something about what matters most to me, and because I listened and took action to address the things that do matter to me (quite directly, by doing some basic housekeeping, and also making a point to enjoy some non-housekeeping minutes before calling it a night), I feel heard. No tantrum. No drama. My calendar now has the weekend planned, and Saturday set aside for “serious housework”; the fall cleaning I’d done just before returning to work was completely undone by having guests, parties, coming and going, and being sick. I know I will get great satisfaction from restoring order. 🙂

Another sigh. Taking care of me just isn’t ever about anyone else. The standards that matter are my own. The needs that must be met are also mine. The time taken to care for myself is always well-spent. Today is a good day to begin again, and to invest in taking care of me; when I do, I am more able to treat the world well, and to be love. 🙂 That’s enough… It just takes practice.