Archives for the month of: October, 2022

Weird day. Weird week. I think one of the most challenging things about learning to manage my mental health and emotional stability over time has been also holding on to an understanding that I can do 100% of my best, make a ton of progress, gain resilience and emotional intelligence as an individual – and still struggle enormously in the context of any one relationship with another human being (who is on their own journey, having their own experience). It’s that parenthetical that gives it away, right? We’re each walking our own hard mile. Each having our own experience. It won’t matter much however much self-healing and emotional recovery from trauma I do in some relationships; that other person’s own pain and trauma is going to have a lot to say about how much we’re able to understand and enjoy each other. Sometimes that sucks. It’s certainly complicated. I can’t do much about another person’s journey besides doing my best to be a considerate fellow traveler.

I sit with that for a minute. Grateful to come as far as I have. Frustrated when it is clear that some days, in some interactions, the “us” is affected by elements outside my direct control. Yesterday (was it only yesterday? I check my email for confirmation, yep, yesterday), I had a seriously difficult day. Some of it was me. Physical pain sucks ass. Anxiety is a motherfucker. Expectations can throw a wrench into the best machinery and shut things down until the details of a shared understanding emerge. At the end of the day, yesterday, I took a minute to look at stats on this blog; I couldn’t recall if I had posted and if I had, whether I was just bitching pointlessly and creating new drama from old drama. Oddly, a different post had been linked as one that was viewed, and since I find it interesting where the curiosity of folks who read my blog may take them, I clicked the link to see what I had been writing about that day

…You may recall that I’ve said I write for myself, as a way of reaching out to myself with hopeful reminders, and useful tips that I may one day lose track of…? Yeah, this was one of those lovely moments of serendipity, and the blog post that was linked seemed almost to speak directly to me now:

Don’t sit there being miserable, filled with frustrated rage, stalled, wounded, or oppressed. Choose something different… and yeah, maybe even if that means walking away from everything you have chosen before, to choose differently, with greater wisdom, with more self-reflection, with greater awareness, and more commitment to the person you most want to be.

…Maybe you need to hear this…? You did not “ruin everything”. You are not “a complete fuck up”. You are not “the reason all of this went wrong”. You are neither master of the universe nor the single cause of all the world’s ills. You just aren’t. You aren’t that significant, actually. Neither are you unimportant. You matter. You just aren’t to blame for every fucking thing. Ever. Let that shit go? If nothing else changes, today, in this moment, you can choose to let  that shit go…

…Yeah. Wow. A bit on the nose, and I really really needed to hear that – and I needed most to hear it from me. I’m pretty fucking hard on myself, sometimes. Far more so than is necessary. Too often I internalize someone else’s emotional experience, take it completely personally, getting more hurt and more angry and more painfully aware that they (may) be taking something I’ve said or done quite personally themselves…without seeing my own error. Messy. Messy…human…and fairly fucking stupid. I mean…yeah. Easy mistake to make, and once a human primate is convinced that someone has wronged them, it’s fucking hard as hell to get them to walk that back and reflect on the part they played themselves in how things went sideways. I’m not pointing fingers here – I’m talking about me. Why would I be breaking this down if it were actually about what some other person did or said? The most I can do about that is bitch about it. If I focus my thoughts on my own words and actions, and reflect on the differences between those and what I might expect from the woman I most want to be, I may be able to understand myself more deeply – and do better.

…Let’s be super clear on an important detail, though; I’m not trying to be the best version of me that anyone else has in mind. I just want to be the best version of me that I can, myself, envision. She’s probably still not “perfect” – and I’m quite certain some of the things I like most about her won’t at all be what anyone else wishes I would become. I’m okay with that. It’s me that I have to satisfy. When I look back on this life, the only scorecard that counts is the one in my own hand. “Was I the best person I could be? Did I make time for the people I love? Did I do some good in the world? Was I the woman I most want to be?”

…Moving on…

I woke this morning wanting to paint. I finally got around to it shortly after 2 p.m. My Traveling Partner wanted to hang out, and our mortal time together is too brief, so I put off painting to hang out. I’m not sure that was 100% my best decision-making… I tend to fall short on self-care first, and where I currently am mental/emotional health-wise, I need this time with a canvas in front of me and a brush in my hand. Fuck I love that guy, though, and he’s got his own stress to wade through. I definitely want to be there to give him the support he needs when he needs it. As individuals we are so… similar and also so different, it’s easy to get taken-over by each other’s emotions. We are definitely at very different “mile markers” on our journey, and neither one of us has a map. Complicated. There are verbs involved.

My head is full of inspiration, sitting here in my studio. My painting playlist is loaded up and my ears are filled with yet another layer of inspiration. In spite of the stress of the week that is ending, I feel hopeful and grateful. It’s a good life, in spite of my challenges. I’m fortunate to be where I am in life these days. I’m aware of how fleeting good fortune can be and I do my best to stay humble and to prepare for whatever may lie ahead on life’s journey. For me, though, hope and joy and love and gratitude are rarely the well-spring of my artistic inspiration; these feels are so much more than enough on their own. It’s the hard stuff, the darker stuff, the hurts, the trauma, the tedium, the tears, the unexpressed anger that so often push me to my studio. Funny… how is it those are the things that seem so hard to express “appropriately”? Canvas and paint = no censorship, no excuses, no holding back. Art doesn’t have to worry much about being polite in good company, or taking care not to hurt the feelings of others. It can just be what it is. Strangely, even knowing this about myself, what hit the canvas today, so far, has been very much about this tiny hopeful flame that ignited within me very recently. It’s complicated (what isn’t?). I don’t know quite what sparked it, and I very much don’t want to extinguish it. So… I tend “my hearth” and look after my heart, and I take some time to put on canvas what I can’t put into words so easily.

…She’s not finished yet…I don’t know what to expect from her once she is. She’s a late addition to a series I’ve been painting for awhile. You get to see her “first” (well, after my Traveling Partner, who looked in on my progress a few minutes ago from the shores of his own journey).

“Every Dawn a Beginning” 12″ x 12″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and resin details. 2022

It’s time to begin again. Again. May there ever be a new beginning.

Oh my god this day. It’s hard to bitch… good job. I’m enjoying it. Great partnership. I’m super in love with that guy. Lovely little house just outside a small town. I love it here. All the practical details of an amazing and comfortable life are in place. In spite of that, this morning, I absolutely melted down over the dumbest shit, and wrecked my day in a stew of tears and drama. My mental health wellness is at risk because it is not as well-managed and supported as it could be. Part of that is in my hands; I needed to return to therapy, but I delayed that because I figured I was “honestly fine”. Compounding that, I moved to a new community (what, two years ago now? ffs) and haven’t yet found new healthcare providers. So… yeah. My therapist impressed upon me that he’d like me to consider giving medication another try for my anxiety. (I see his point, and my Traveling Partner’s as well.) So… sure, but… he’s a PhD and can’t prescribe, so I need a clinician who does to partner with him. Someone more local, perhaps? Fuck-fuck-fuck…

…Today I may have finally found someone…

My whole day today has been a weird series of otherwise-welcome interruptions of various sorts from various people for various purposes. None of them especially urgent. All of them important enough to want to support or respond to immediately… which starts setting up cascading conflicts in my priorities, and quickly destroyed my bandwidth with the buckshot of “pings”. Email. Slack. Calls. Text messages. Errands. My to-do list. “Quick questions.” It was peculiar that it was so quickly “too much for me”… I think I slept well..? My self-care hasn’t been horrible… but I also don’t feel like I’ve truly been caring for myself, so… yeah. I finally disintegrated into tears and just let that be what it was for awhile. I know it passes… eventually.

My headache is… a headache. Worse from crying. I feel “low” – the chemical aftermath of that emotional storm may last a bit longer. My back aches. I got enough done to feel productive. Even took time to get my nails done. I feel drained, though, and tired. Disengaged. Moody. I’d call it “hormones” – but theoretically I’m well passed all that!

I “don’t know” what to do now… a shower? A nap? More coffee? Do a thing? I feel distracted and pulled into separate pieces of consciousness and getting my shit together right now is like herding kittens (only less cute). Fuck.

…I’m okay, though. Truly. For most values of “okay” I’m not only okay, I’m living a good life in a good place surrounded by love and all is well. The only messy bit is this fucking emotional construction zone in my head and I’m getting fed up with the constant fucking remodeling (to stretch the analogy way too far). I know I need to begin again, I’m just too annoyed to do that – at least for the moment.

I’ll get there soon enough, I just need to practice some practices and stay on the path. Sometimes there are stairs to climb. Sometimes it rains.

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…

I made a cup of coffee shortly before a meeting. Minutes later, before I even felt the warmth of the mug soak into my hands, my Traveling Partner was finally getting it through to me that the electrician who had just arrived would be cutting the power while he worked. Well, shit. I mean… I knew he was coming. It was on the calendar. I chose to work from home anyway (really needed the bigger dual monitors for the project I was seeking to complete), because the last time the electrician came around, or so it seemed to me, the power was only very briefly disrupted. Maybe I wasn’t home for that? Something had gone wrong with my planning, for sure. My partner finally succeeded in communicating through my “focus fog” that I wasn’t going to be able to work much longer in my office at home… so, I packed my things “right quick” and headed to the nearby cowork space…

My anxiety flared up hard-core. Did I have everything? Would traffic be bad? Would I hit all red lights? Would I get to my meeting on time? Would there be a nearby parking spot? Would I get my equipment set up fast enough? Would there be an open workstation for me? I hammered my brain with what-if scenarios all the way to the office. It’s only a 2.5 mile drive… but it was also midday. Lunch time “downtown”. I fussed the whole way there, but…

A. I hit all the traffic lights green.

B. Traffic wasn’t bad.

C. There was an open parking spot right by the front door.

D. My usual workstation was available for me.

E. I got my equipment set up quite quickly – with minutes to spare.

Oh, but that streak of luck ended when I logged in and went to my calendar; I forgot my headset. Wtf?!? Damn it. I asked the receptionist if she had a spare laying about…but no. The facility manager overheard me, and offered me a pair of wired earbuds of unknown origin, that she quickly wiped down with a disinfecting wipe. Fine. That works. I was most appreciative – and I made it to my meeting precisely on time. 😀

I got the work done I needed to. The electrical work got done, too. My Traveling Partner let me know once all that was finished. I wrapped up the work in front of me, and the day seems to finish on a good note. I sit for a minute with a warm mug of herb tea – it’s a bit too late for coffee at this point.

What I’m saying, I guess, is that my anxiety may have flared up, but it wasn’t any more real than any other imaginings of whatever sort. It had no particular bearing on the actual outcomes. No relationship to real life at all. A lot more small bullshit could have gone wrong. I’d have handled it if it had. Anxiety is unpleasant to experience, sometimes difficult to manage, but it lacks substance. It’s “not real” – or, to be more clear, it’s no more real than I make it.

The day winds down. I’m tired. It’s time to begin again.

I took an unplanned fairly spontaneous trip to the coast for the weekend. It developed out of a conversation with my Traveling Partner, in his shop, Friday afternoon, after I finished my work day. He was neck deep in wiring a box, or programming a thing, or… something complicated. There was detailed technical documentation open on the computer near him. He had his “engineer face” on. I was definitely an interruption, and he was definitely doing his interrupted-best to be sweet to me in spite of that. “Looks like complicated work…” I said, or something similar. “What do you need?” he replied by way of affirmation and also getting somewhat impatiently to the point. “Would it be helpful if I went to the coast this weekend?” my mouth said, to my brain’s surprise (I no longer remember why I actually went into the shop at that moment – perhaps to ask questions about dinner preferences?). He said something encouraging without really engaging me 100%, and that was as much encouragement as I really needed. It was clear he needed room to work, and space to focus on the work in front of him.

Earlier in the day my browser had pinged me a notification about coastal “deals” at a hotel I like. I dug it out of the trash folder and looked it over. Seemed a reasonable price, and I settled on “the flip of the coin” and “letting fate decide”; if there was a room available still, I’d take it and grab my camera gear and go.

…There was one room left. It was already 4 pm. It was a rainy afternoon, and a Friday. I felt my anxiety surge; I don’t prefer to be driving after dark (I’m sometimes blinded by oncoming headlights, which seems unsafe). I grabbed my overnight bag, my camera bag, and my laptop bag. I grabbed some seasonally appropriate layers of clothing and stuffed them into my overnight bag, along with my toiletries. I swapped my work laptop for my personal laptop and my laptop bag was ready-to-travel. Packing took a brisk 5 to 10 minutes, since I have things like my camera gear and laptop pretty much always ready-to-go, and a default “don’t care” approach toward casual clothing for solo trips (clean and seasonally appropriate is good enough). I put my gear in the car, double-checked that I had my keys, my purse, and the battery charger for my camera batteries. I added my Kindle. I was ready to go. I returned to the shop for a kiss and a departing word. My partner seemed both surprised (“Wow, that was fast.”) and relieved (saying, seconds later, “Just go already.”). There was no sense that anything was “wrong”, just that my lingering to share details was not well-timed. So… off I went.

The view from my room. I arrived in time to see the sun set on a rainy day.

I spent my time walking beaches and wild spots, taking pictures, enjoying some solo time for self-reflection, and thinking over “how anxiety works” without being mired in it. I enjoyed the time knowing that I was not any sort of distraction for my Traveling Partner, who likely enjoyed being free to indulge himself by being immersed in his project without an eye on the clock, or any concern about disturbing me. A win all around.

A new day dawning.

I woke to a text message from my Traveling Partner saying he is “ready for me to come home now” (less in the sense that his project is wholly completed, and more just that he misses me that much) and asking when I plan to head back today. I feel it too; ready to go home. Ready to be in my partner’s good company. Ready to drink good coffee in my own home. Ready to sleep deeply in my own bed. Ready to have life’s conveniences where I expect them to be (instead of tucked in a bag, or splayed across a hotel coffee table). Ready for my partner’s laughter and jokes. Ready to be wrapped in the safety and comfort of home.

The sky this morning is delicate shades of pink and peach, and the air feels soft and forgiving. The morning chill is pleasant after sweating through some troubling dreams during the night. This coffee, here in the hotel room? Dreadful. Quite terrible. Notably so. lol There is time for a shower and time to pack up with care – there’s even time to take a few more pictures and get one more walk on the beach. No rush. I’m just eager to be home. 🙂

I pause my writing long enough to step out onto the balcony to breath the fresh sea air, then make my way downstairs to the breakfast bar. It’s a meager selection here (no kitchen). Adequate. I’m grateful; the coffee is an incremental improvement over instant, which was quite a bit better (still bad) compared to the poor quality drip coffee pouches provided in the room. It’s good enough. For breakfast I just grab a yogurt. The dawn beyond the balcony distracts me a bit from words on a page; the understandable pull of what is real, just outside my reach. The yogurt (a brand-name peach-flavored item) tastes pleasant, and “goes down easy” – which is nice. I woke feeling mildly upset to my stomach after unpleasant dreams (which may have been caused by an upset stomach…?). Nice to have a breakfast option that has the potential to improve things, and is at least unlikely to worsen things.

…Do I actually have “an upset stomach” – or is it symptomatic of my anxiety, which I have been paying close attention to, while also seeking not to “engage” it in direct one-on-one “conversation”? Something to think over. I for sure don’t have all the answers. I can definitely say I’m “over” having my anxiety continuing to “be a thing”… which doesn’t at all change whether it is. lol I sip my fresh cup of coffee. Definitely better. Still not actually good. LOL

…Like my anxiety, “definitely better – still not actually resolved”…

My stomach feels much improved with the better cup of coffee and the yogurt… I think about anxiety. I’d very much like to reliably do something that results in my anxiety also being reliably much improved. I mean, improved beyond the improvements thus far – more improved. I see a clinician this week to discuss returning to an Rx treatment for the anxiety continuing to lurk in the background. Here’s hoping that works out well. 🙂 I’m at least hopeful after discussing it with my therapist (PhD, not MD, so he doesn’t prescribe medications and I have to go elsewhere for that).

I miss my Traveling Partner. 🙂 Oh, but I also enjoy the sound of the wind and the waves, and the gulls calling out to each other in the sky, and from the beach… I’ll be back. For now, it’s just time to head home and begin again. 😀

The tide has turned…

My morning started too early. The air compressor in my Traveling Partner’s shop “went off” in the wee hours (it hadn’t been shut off the night before, after the work day was completed). Well, shit. I was awake, wasn’t I? He wasn’t, though. I got up quietly, dressed, grabbed my laptop and workday shit, and quietly slipped out of the house, hoping he would be able to sleep in.

I woke feeling a complex stew of crappy emotions. Frustration, sorrow, fragility, the threat of imminent tears without cause or point, anxiety – stress – filling my morning like this Americano fills the cup on my desk. All the way to the fucking top. It’s not a helpful addition to the pain I also woke up in. I’m cranky from being awakened by an unpleasant noise first thing in the morning, too early, on the heels of a bad dream. I’m cross because… I don’t know, just because. I mostly just want to put my head down on this deck in this co-work space and cry for awhile. This coffee isn’t going down very well, and my stomach is sour over it. What a rough morning.

I know, I know, “begin again”… but… it’s easier when it’s easy, you know? Right now, it’s not so easy, and I’m feeling fussy like a toddler with an attitude problem. My “inner adult” knows better, and some of my stress sources in the conflict between that worldly experienced woman with a job to do, and the frustrated fussy little kid that lingers within me.

This lives in my saved images for mornings like this…

I’d like today to be easy. Relaxed. Productive. I’d like to “kick ass” on the job today. I’d like to “win big” at life today. I’d like to be my best self, every moment. In this moment, I don’t know what that looks like. My poorly managed physical pain on top of my poorly managed background anxiety have combined to make me a fairly shit human being right now, hard to be around, cross, irritable, unpleasant, with a seriously dark sense of “humor” that isn’t funny. Looks like a long work day ahead, too – not because I’ve got so much to do, more because I sense that I’m not someone my partner is going to want to be around, in the shape I’m in. May as well spend that time working.

I sit here seething. Sipping coffee. Feeling the tears pooled just at the edge of my eye lids, not falling, not going away. Therapy tomorrow… I can do this, right? I can stretch one day to the breaking point, collapse into a deep sleep, and drag myself back to the office, and then on to my appointment…? That works, right?

Fucking hell. Some days being human just fucking sucks all the god-damned dicks. :-/ Well. I guess I’ll do my best – whatever that is today, and then try again tomorrow. The clock keeps ticking on this mortal lifetime… It’s not easy, but…

…It’s definitely time to begin again.