For awhile now, I’ve just been sitting here, staring at my monitor. It’s not quite 3:30 a.m., now. My heart is still pounding, and my hands are trembling. There’s nothing actually wrong; I woke up triggered, around 2:50 a.m.,  and I’m fighting off both confusion (from being groggy) and panic. It’s not personal, and it’s unlikely that any detail of waking me into this state was intentional, at all. I’m awake, though, and sleep won’t return in the short time left before my alarm would go off, so… I’m beginning again, a bit early, is all.

“Purple Tiger” blooming on the deck. Life is filled with small delights.

…Just yesterday, I was relaxing and giving thought to how content I am, how lovely life is, how comfortable I feel in my own skin day-to-day, and how fortunate I am to have the healthy relationships that I do. The contrast with my internal state this morning is a useful reminder that emotional wellness is built over time, and that taking it for granted is not an ideal approach to maintaining it. The phrase “the damage is done” seems fitting here. I can heal a lot of chaos and damage, over time, and doing so is a pretty extraordinary quality of life improvement, in general. What I can’t do is change what I’ve been through, or eliminate the trauma in my history, and even now, sometimes it “comes back to me” in a problematic way. I still have disturbed sleep. I still have some uncomfortable moments. I still don’t “bounce back” as easily from some emotional experiences as someone else might. “Much improved” still doesn’t mean “forever and always symptom free”.

Early hints of autumn approaching have turned up in the garden.

What a great weekend; in spite of both my partner and I being in considerable pain, we had a great time together. A local power outage ended our evening, last night. It didn’t seem necessary to stay up until power came back on. Rather unfortunately, I went to bed without really considering which lights had been on, when the power went out. I woke abruptly to bright light (when the power came back on?), confused, startled, and frightened. My Traveling Partner was up, apparently trying to make sense of whatever mess the bed linens were in, also awakened by the return of power, but at the time I was trapped in my confusion, and still startled, and I felt “trapped” in the room, and my panic started to build, quickly. I was on my way to a serious over-reaction, and chose simply to go ahead and get up, instead, hoping that pushing myself through regular morning routines would soothe me quickly, and help to calm my nerves. I was not clear on what time it actually was, in that moment.

I started coffee and dressed myself, still sort of bumbling around clumsily, not yet fully awake or entirely calmed, and doing my best to stay focused and present in this “now” moment. My heart was still hammering away in my chest, and I was feeling short of breath. My partner approached me, and asked “aren’t you coming back to bed?” I felt my jaw clench and un-clench, working to shape words that fit. I tried “the way I woke up… I won’t go back to sleep, now”. I felt self-conscious, and dreading that anything I said could “make things worse” (What things? More chaos and damage – that hell was a long time ago, in a very different relationship.) I did what I could to explain that I woke triggered without placing any blame; my PTSD isn’t something my Traveling Partner caused, and there is no circumstance under which he would trigger my symptoms deliberately. Nothing personal in any of it. I felt tears start. Neither of us reacted to that; we’re experienced with emotionality as a shitty byproduct of my chaos and damage. I turned toward my studio. He went back to bed.

One of the most horrible things about PTSD is how often there is a negative consequence to people who love us, who didn’t do the damage that made us who we are, but so often find themselves paying a pretty high price to love  us, anyway. Spectacularly unfair. I try to be considerate about that sort of thing, when I can hang on to the presence of mind it takes to do so. :-\

Meditation continues to be a key practice supporting my emotional wellness.

…It’s just two minutes shy of 4:00 a.m. now. I’m not shaking any more. My heart rate is back down to 62 bpm. My breathing feels relaxed. I feel calm. I could probably go back to sleep now, if I chose to… but the alarm would go off in 30 minutes, and I’d likely wake groggier and less well-rested feeling than I am now. I sip my coffee, and rub the sleep out of my eyes, and hope the day ahead is not an overly complicated one. I feel my anxiety surge in the background. Small things are likely to set me off today; it’ll need to be managed attentively, compassionately, and with a commitment to caring for myself skillfully. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I set a couple reminders on my work calendar to take 10 minutes to meditate during the day. Each moment today may be a needed chance to begin again; that has to be okay with me, to really get this handled well. I feel my shoulders relax. “I’ve got this…” The reassurance swells from within myself, built on experience. That feels pretty good – solid, and reliable. Safe.

I give thought to my Traveling Partner, and hope that he has returned to a deep and untroubled sleep, and wakes well-rested. I finish my coffee, and prepare to face a new day. It’s a good time to begin again. 🙂