Archives for the month of: February, 2022

I woke in an excellent mood this morning. Some pain, nothing extraordinary. Head kinda stuffy, nothing more than any morning. I greeted my Traveling Partner before heading to a hot shower. Made coffee. All fairly routine morning stuff. It’s a Sunday morning. Not yet even 07:00 in my local time zone. I didn’t have to be awake yet; I woke when I woke, feeling rested.

The pandemic is beginning to slow… isn’t it? Is it? It’s not clear from the news. Some locales want to ease restrictions because restrictions suck. Other places yearn for the safety of continued masking and distancing, continued remote learning, and crowd size limitations. Individual opinions – both the well-informed science-based sort, and all the others – vary. There are a lot of voices that seem to have a stake in the decision-making (or at least, want to). Me, personally? I’m no expert on medical science or virology. It would be arrogant of me to make bold statements of fact based on my limited knowledge and unproven assumptions. Subjectively? I’m bored of masks, but I don’t see myself discontinuing the practice of wearing one in crowded public spaces, or during cold and flu season. I’ll probably keep doing it long after the pissing and moaning over mandates has ended.

The simplest of truths I could share from my own experience is simply that I’ve been more well more of the time through the use of masking, social distancing, improved surface cleanliness, improved personal hygiene, and not keeping company with folks who are symptomatic of any sort of obvious respiratory concern. It would not require even one hand to count the number of head colds I’ve had during the pandemic. I don’t like being sick with a cold or the flu, and it’s been quite nice to avoid so much of that. I like that sick people seem to be staying the fuck home quite a bit more; it’s rare to see someone with a serious cough in a public place. It has become uncommon to see someone come to work obviously quite sick (whether my own workplace, or out in retail spaces). That by itself seems a very healthy improvement in how our society handles being ill. We could certainly benefit by keeping that practice in place!

I’ve learned quite a bit during the pandemic about “getting on with living in spite of restrictions” – whether those restrictions are resource limitations, limitations on personal liberty, or some other sort doesn’t really matter that much, as it happens. I’ve learned to take advantage of those moments when my partner and I feel a tad “trapped here together” to take time for me. Writing, reading, listening to music, doing some fitness activity or another, learning a new skill – there are so many doors I can open in some moment when the space we’re in together feels confining. I love hanging out with my Traveling Partner. I could quite contentedly curl up cozy on the couch with him and just consume video content damned near endlessly. Truth. I suspect he generally feels the same about me. We’ve got an enduring love for each other, and honestly nothing much else going on that feels “more important” than enjoying each other. BUT – and this is true – sometimes I’m a bit much to take. Or perhaps he is. Sometimes, it’s a clash of wills or wants, and no amount of tenderness or humor really brings us into alignment for some little while. All real and normal and fine; I used to take it sort of personally. After two years of pandemic living, I think I’ve learned to take better care of myself – and us – by enjoying those moments of difference, to enjoy them with myself. I mean… it’s probably fairly obvious that this would be a suitable use of any time we spent really not quite so thoroughly enjoying each other. lol

I sip my coffee. My partner steps in and begins rubbing my shoulders while I write. Feels nice. I feel loved. “What are you doing?” I ask. “Nothing. Hanging out,” he laughs mischievously, “harassing you.” I laugh, too. Suddenly, my writing seems “second best”… I think it’s time to begin again. 😀

Queue “Love Rollercoaster“… or…maybe “Love Rollercoaster“? Love has its ups and downs, not unlike a rollercoaster; it’s an appropriate metaphor. We deal with our own challenges – and our partners’. I’m confident that my Traveling Partner loves “all of me“. I count on his enduring love, “right down the line“. Maybe ours is an uncommon sort of love story – maybe not. I know this is our love – and it’s where I want to be. Sometimes love is like dancing, and I feel like I’ve “got the right dancing partner”, at long last.

Valentine’s Day? It was lovely. Spent lived, out loud, and wrapped in love. There are other experiences worth having. 🙂

I originally wrote a very different post under this title (on Friday). It was hurt-sounding, and infused with strong emotion, seasoned with pointless frustrated tears, and more than a hint of self-pitying catastrophizing. As the weekend proceeded, quite differently I’m pleased to note, my thinking on the writing (and events) of Friday evening continued to morph, evolve, mature, change, and deepen. I ascribed to the events first greater significance, then less, dwindling in magnitude of catastrophe and emotional pain over happy days spent in my partner’s good company, feeling loved, and loving, and enjoying our precious mortal moments together. At several points, I re-wrote, edited, adjusted, and refined my written thoughts, as my lived thoughts of the moment themselves changed. Mostly, I focused on being a better partner, better friend, and better love, and didn’t put nearly as much into writing about any of those things.

I spent quite a bit of time in a thoughtful place, reading “You Are Here” by Thích Nhất Hạnh. You’ll see a lot of his written work linked in my reading list – or on my book shelves. This one was a recent gift to me from my Traveling Partner to ease my sorrow when I learned of Thầy’s passing. Funny, I was so moved by my partner’s gift that simply receiving it was emotional and memorable; I felt so loved and understood. Diving into the work and actually reading it, this weekend of all weekends, I could see so much of the depth of my partner’s affection; every page seems to speak to our “here”, our “now”, and the very nature of Love itself. It led my thinking onward, gently, over the course of the weekend. Like a map, it helped me “find my way”.

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, I woke to an entirely different understanding of Friday evening’s moment of hurt and conflict. I found myself looking at it through a very different lens – one of real compassion and empathy, and awareness of what my partner is/may-be going through, himself, and pushing myself out of the hero’s role of the narrative in my head, to view our experience of each other through a more… equitable(?) perspective. We both have PTSD – and for both of us, the majority of that damage comes from intimate partnerships (other than our own, though at this point we’ve done ourselves a fair bit of emotional damage over a decade) or familial relationships. I now find myself painfully aware how often I insist I be nurtured and supported, while also pretty reliably overlooking his triggers, and his need to be emotionally supported, also. I shut him down when I “don’t feel heard”, instead of listening deeply because I care. I could do better. For sure. Like… probably a lot.

The tl;dr on Friday’s misadventure was simple enough; I triggered him (and did not recognize that in the moment), he reacted, and his reaction triggered me. I threw a fucking fit, and behaved incredibly poorly, and had a nasty temper tantrum we both could have done without. I wrecked a lovely romantic moment in the making, and we had a shit time of things that evening. (I feel fortunate that our love endures our individual and mutual bullshit.) We turned things around together over the course of the weekend, each of us “doing the verbs” to live our best versions of ourselves, and to love each other in the most healing way we could. Win and good; we enjoyed a lovely weekend together.

I thought about posting the original writing from Friday’s moment…but reading it, and even reading various edits and footnotes, I just “couldn’t find room for it” in my current thinking – I’ve already adjusted my thinking, and made room in my awareness to be more supportive and directly nurturing of my partner’s needs, and less strictly focused on my own. Self-care is supremely important, and boundary and expectation-setting is a pretty big deal for building lasting love – no argument there – and I’m not saying that it is any part of my plan to undermine those things (I’ve worked too hard “to get here”!). What I am saying is that I’m more aware that I’ve got room to grow and improve on how well I identify my partner’s need for emotional support, and could use some additional work on those skills, too. Love is a verb. Balance is a healthy quality.

…As silly as this is likely to sound, I put a ton of study and practice into self-care, and meeting my own needs, I somehow almost entirely overlooked how best to support a partner and their unique emotional needs in the context of their PTSD. I mean… for fucks’ sake, really?? Omg. Definitely time to begin again!