Archives for category: anger

It’s morning. I’m tired. Of course, this is amplified in intensity because I definitely needed the sleep I definitely did not get. I sigh and choke down more coffee. It’s going to be a long damned day.

I take a deep breath, relax, and think back on my appointment yesterday. There’s a lot to unpack from that one, and I won’t be doing it (all) here (now). I smile back on one fairly cool win and good moment; I did not get lost getting home (last time I did). I was, um, fairly mistaken about where, in the context of the rest of the city, and, you know, maps, this location actually is, and so last time, when I chose to “just drive home”, I got turned around on a sequence of one way streets I’d forgotten about, and ended up quite lost. Not this time. I looked at a map. ๐Ÿ˜€ To be clear – I could have used my GPS, and considered doing so, but… rush hour. I don’t find it as uniformly helpful during rush hour. It knows the roads, it does not know people. So I GPSd the suggested route, looked it over carefully, and “just drove home”. It took precisely the amount longer that I’d expect for the greater distance. Win, indeed.

Therapy can be easy to the point of wondering why the hell I am there, or difficult to the point of wondering how the hell I’ve been accepted as an adult all these years. It’s a process. Like a lot of folks, there’s an additional emotional burden to bear in the midst of the cultural shitstorm that has become American politics and society. It’s particularly weighty for me as an individual; I already “have issues”. No lie. I have mental health concerns. I have been, even, fairly easily described as “mentally ill”. Am I now? Unknown. It’s not something that should have stigma, but it does. It’s a hard label to wear comfortably while also working full-time for a living doing something I’m respected for, living alone, managing my affairs on my own… all the adulting. I was able to take a break from therapy for about a year. No kidding, the current presidency on top of family “stuff” has pushed me back in. lol It’s okay. (I can laugh about that. Healthy.) There’s just more work to do; it’s just one more beginning.

I know, I know – asking for help when we’re ill (mentally, emotionally, cognitively, or physically) can be hard; it can feel like an admission of failure to adult properly. Don’t let that get in the way of getting help, though. Maybe you did fail to adult properly – but fucking wow is asking for help, particularly for our mental health needs, totally the absolute adult thing to do when help is what we need!! Go for it! You matter. Please. (And good luck)

I headed home with a plan, and a follow-up in three weeks.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Too much coffee? Too much therapy? No way to know, but definitely not enough sleep.

Another work day, then another, then a weekend… all filled with adulting. Fucking hell, I’m so tired…

…Well, back at it, I suppose. Can I get a new beginning over here, please? ๐Ÿ˜‰

My commute for the last couple days, this week, and the end of last week, have been… pleasant. I’m not sure why, exactly. Planning ahead for heavy traffic due to construction detours, just in case, seemed wise, and I’ve been leaving a bit earlier – on both ends of my work day. The adjustment to my shift did result in an apparent modest reduction in traffic… maybe. People are still people. All the other cars are still driven by those. (People, I mean.) Still, it’s been not at all unpleasant, generally, and this amounts to an improvement in my experience day-to-day – but is it what I think it is (the apparent reduction in traffic) or… is it me?

Is it a change in the facts of my experience, or a change in perspective?

See, around the same time, I also had a conversation with a friend that, although fairly one-sided (it was legitimately more just me talking at them on my way by, pausing for a joyful moment to share an anecdote – about traffic), ended with the realization that I was genuinely struggling with anger while commuting. A proper recognition, fully aware, that ended with a clear statement of acknowledgement, “…and that’s not who I most want to be”. Oh. Oh shit. There are going to be verbs involved, right? I went on with things, in the usual way, at the time…but… it sat with me, then, and still lingers in my thoughts.

The awareness changed my perspective.

My change in perspective changed my behavior.

I’ve been getting into the car since then, calmly aware that traffic is, and that I’m going to have to deal with it. The commute is not a fucking race, there is no specific time that I firmly must arrive at my destination – and when there is, the wiser thing is to plan the time it actually takes, of course, not fuss about how much less time that should be, or try to force the universe to comply with my expectations of that. I suspect it may not actually have been the traffic that changed all that much, although one bit of construction finally wrapped up that was going on along my route. (Actually, to be fair, I only suspect that; I altered my route days ago to avoid that mess, and don’t really know.) I’ve also grabbed hold of some perspective, and slowed down a bit; there’s no sense at all being aggravated by traffic if what is aggravating me is the “slow” progress – at the posted speed limit. That just seems fairly silly, given some thought. (I’ll thank my Traveling Partner for that reminder, next time I see him.)

Perspective is an amazing cognitive tool. A favorite. Why? Because it does not matter one bit whether the traffic is actually reduced, or my emotional resilience is improved through a shift in perspective – not at all. Our experience of life is not always about “objective truth” or “facts” or “reality”, and sometimes what needs a change is our experience, itself. What matters most is that, by shifting my perspective, I’m closer to being that human being I most want to be, enjoying my experience more, treating others well, and discharging less unwarranted rage or hate into the world.ย  Those are both emotions that poison the one feeling them, and they often seem to result from nothing more than frustration – and lost perspective. Ick. I don’t need that in my life.

Now to apply the amazing power of perspective to all of the everything else in life…

…It’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€

What a delightful weekend! I probably couldn’t say enough about it in the time I have available before a new work day begins. It was… awesome. Fun. Warm. Merry. Chill. Exciting… so exciting. It was also characterized by disrupted sleep (see “exciting”), and a lot of stimulation (an art show, a road trip, a weekend with my Traveling Partner…). I’m quite entirely made of human, and having the issues I do, a weekend – however delightful – full of exciting moments, color, light, music, and did I mention the excitement? A weekend such as this one just past often – too often – results in some sort of major freak out or melt down of some kind. No kidding. Yep. I have “mental health issues”. Definitely. It’s one little detail that is a reminder that I put so much time and attention into my self-care for reasons, not because it is a hot new trend.

Flowers need no excuse.

The drive back to the city started well, and traffic was well-behaved, although more than usually dense. Average speed was a comfortably ordinary 70 mph. Somewhere about 2 hours (a bit less, I think) from home, a bad snarl and some congestion developed rapidly ahead of me. Like… bad. Cars were spinning out, into the median, in one case, onto the left shoulder in another, and the third skittering across three lanes while other drivers used breaking maneuvers, and attentive skillful driving to both keep moving forward, and also, not hit anyone else. No collisions. I’m making a point of reminding myself of that. I “drive ahead of myself” a good way, and saw things going awry in real-time. The driver directly ahead of me began to lose control of his SUV. I let up on the gas after tapping my brakes gently (just enough to flash the brake lights) to alert the driver behind me, and slipped between the SUV as he slid sideways out of the lane, and the car to his right, which was crowding the fast lane out of panic as the driver ahead of him braked hard, very suddenly. Oooh… so close. As traffic finally slowed to a full stop, I looked in the rearview, and around; no collisions. I’m still very surprised by that. No indication of collisions further down the road, either. What the fuck? I began to seethe as it became more clear that this was likely the result of aggressive or frustrated ass-hattery, custom made by some clueless fuck knob. My fury began to build as the traffic crept along. At some point, I lost myself in my anger. Oh, “nothing bad happened” – by which I mean I did not attack anyone, hurt myself or anyone else physically, nor did I directly or indirectly confront any individual, or group of individuals…but oh wow. The invective. The yelling by myself in the car. It was… not okay. I’d fully lost my dignity, my resilience, my sense of self… I was… gone. Lost in it. Taken over by my metaphorical demons – who finished the drive more or less without me.

I got off the freeway at the first opportunity. It helped to do so; it slowed everything down just a bit, and reduced the feeling of “crowding”. Unfortunately, at that point I was also quite triggered, highly reactive, and the state I was in was less than ideal for driving, at all. I had no understanding I could have stopped driving. I wept much the remaining drive home. “I just want to go home!” I wailed, weeping. Purposeless, frustrated, impotent tears poured down my face, even completely blinding me briefly (I had to pull off the road to wipe the sweat-salt from my eyes). I got home shaking, angry, sad – so sad. Filled with drenching hopeless sorrow. My brain straight up attacking me from all sides with my deepest insecurities, disappointments in life, and leaning in hard on anything positive, and all my good feelings and recollections – a bit as if I’d come home and been confronted by a fucking dementor, honestly. It was pretty horrible.

I numbly started doing things that felt routine, feeling pressured by those experiences, and a little forced. Going through the motions. I made a point to let my Traveling Partner know I was emotionally unwell, and that I would be offline. (It does not do well to stay online in such circumstances, not for me; I use words. lol) I simultaneously gave a quick heads up to friends that I was having a tough time, but also that I did not require support; just in case shit went crazy wrong with me during the night and spilled over into the morning, I at least wanted people to wonder if I were okay – but I didn’t want to be fucked with right then (the terms in which my thinking colored all such thoughts in the moment). Then I got to work taking care of this all-too-human creature that lives my life.

A sunny summer day in the garden, tasks, routines, patterns of light – better moments.

I took a shower. I had a big class of water. I medicated (cannabis for the win, here*). I meditated. I watered the garden. I started some laundry. I began to redirect negative thoughts to their positive counterparts; ruminations about traffic were redirected to how pleasant the drive was in other respects, and what a pleasant day it was for driving, generally, and that there were no actual collisions, for example. I reminded myself, too, that once I was dealing with a storm of emotions, not only must the storm be permitted to pass, but then, as is often the case with the weather, there’s some clean up afterward needed. Our emotions have their basis in actual chemistry. Feelings of rage? Yeah, that’s like being on a fucking drug that causes that experience. It takes time for the drug to wear off, even though the moment is past. Sorrow, too. Each blue, emotionally disarrayedย moment got some support, some consideration, some care and attention. It did pass. All of it passed. I felt better before I’d been home for even 2 hours. The recovery period was shorter than the emotional event. (That’s real progress!) I went to bed a bit early; I hadn’t slept well over the weekend, and all by itself poor quality sleep is enough to put me at risk of losing my emotional balance and resilience, if allowed to go on.

During the night the phone rang. Connectivity was poor at the location my Traveling Partner and I spent the weekend together, and he’d only just gotten my message. He called, concerned, to check in with me and see how I was. I answered a ringing phone during the night (I rarely do), because I went to bed expecting he might call. Partnership is lovely. I heard the warmth and love in his voice, and he heard it in mine. I was definitely okay at that point. I woke this morning, feeling rested, content, loved, and comfortable in my own skin. It’s a new morning.

A picture from a lovely summer morning hike yesterday; where will today take me?

Hell, I considered not writing about this experience, that’s how good I feel this morning – but here’s the thing; this experience is not one I’m ashamed of. I didn’t “fail” here. I managed things pretty well, actually. Somewhere, out there, there is an alternate version of this experience playing out that may not end as well, or may feel “permanent”, lacking any hope or perspective. I put these words on paper, sharing this moment, not only as a later reminder for myself that all this progress isn’t “a cure” (I need these practices, this level of self-care and self-awareness, to maintain my quality of life day-to-day.) I also put these words on paper because someone else may need to hear that there is hope, and it is possible to do better, and it is possible to find some relief – it’s within reach. There are verbs involved, no lie, but the incremental change over time has been… huge. Wonderful. A vast improvement impossible to overstate. It could have been much worse. I’m okay right now. That’s a big deal. It’s worth sharing.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, hey, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

*Note: It is unfortunate that cannabis is not yet fully legal, and that it is not more widely available, and easily, affordably available to more people. It is actually fairly stupid we make it so difficult for researchers to research it. Literally nothing offered to me by doctors, anywhere, has been as reliably helpful for my PTSD as cannabis has been, and for the most part side-effect free. Psychiatric pharmaceuticals were less effective for me, had horrific side effects (that included impairing me artistically, cognitively, sexually, emotionally, intellectually, and destroying my health), and didn’t actually result in an improved quality of life for me. I don’t write much about cannabis, itself, mostly because I’m not sure how to do so skillfully, and feel uncomfortable with the unsettled legal status it has in a broader sense. Having said that, I’ll be frank; when I talk about “medication” and “medicating”, if I am not more specific, I am most definitely referring to cannabis, and no, I don’t particularly care that it doesn’t come in a pill. ๐Ÿ™‚

The past day was pretty spot on for great results. I’m sipping my coffee and giving some thought to the previous 24 hours. I’m very human, and this moment taken to look over how yesterday went, without harsh criticism or reflexive judgmental nonsense, is a practice I favor, although it is worth noting that it also requires me to practice mindful awareness, perspective, and non-attachment, with some skill. A bit of pre-coffee word-juggling to begin a Wednesday.

Here’s a squirrel.

Yesterday I managed to stay the course for practices, goals, intentions, planned workload, errands, housekeeping… and this morning I still find myself looking upon the previous day favorably, contentedly, and without any hint of stress surfacing over some thing or other than I did or did not do. Nice. Win and good. I probably get fewer “experience points” for such an easy day, but this morning I am feeling accomplished, secure, satisfied, and rested. It’s lovely.

…and also a chipmunk.

It’s also work.

It was a good day, and not without effort to make it so. I fought impulses to snack compulsively. I fought impulses to wander off from all manner of things that needed to be done. I fought the temptation to collapse into a chair at the end of the day and do nothing. I fought the inclination to just not follow through on a variety of things I had set my intentions upon, earlier in the day. It was an all day battle with my inner teenager. Yesterday, I won. Today? No idea. I guess I’ll know tomorrow. ๐Ÿ˜€ Tomorrow? Yeah… that’s a ways off, from this moment, and rather than borrow stress from a moment that doesn’t exist, I stay with this moment, here, feeling content, and wrapped in love.

It’s kind of a weird time in my life. I’ve had times when most of the stress and complications in my life came from my relationships, others when it sourced with work pretty reliably, sometimes it was all in my head, and still others when it was all those things, or some combination. This is a very different time; almost none of my stress comes from my personal or professional life, at all. My stress exists largely as response to events in the world, these days. There isn’t much I can do to act on events beyond my control, besides all of the things that anyone else can do: letters, phone calls, protests, charitable donations to worthy charities that spend their funds on their actual causes, speaking up frankly in groups, speaking truth to power, using my privilege as an umbrella to support those less privileged, and spending my own resources with great care, such that very little of my own money goes to endeavors, or people, which I object to. Oh, and one last one; definitely not doing, myself, any of the hateful things I see going on in the world. (Oh, hey… it kind of looks like there are a lot of things we can each be doing about “the world”… but… are you, though?) Doing those things matters – but it doesn’t ease the stress in any noteworthy way. That has to come from other practices entirely. My stress lives within me – it’s a reaction. What I do about that is entirely within my hands. ๐Ÿ™‚

I sip my coffee wondering “what is enough?” and considering the chaos in the world, without allowing my outrage to boil over. I haven’t read the news this morning. It’s best to let that wait, I think, and give myself a chance to start this lovely morning without all that. I take time to appreciate feeling good, myself, right now, in this moment, right here. That has value – it helps build the emotional resilience that will keep me steady later. That has more value that I can possibly overstate… it’s worth practicing the practices that build resilience, trust me; sooner or later, we all have to begin again, somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚

…Now seems a good time.

This morning, before I quite realized what I’d done, I’d gotten lost in my newsfeed within moments of sitting down to write. I didn’t write. Well, I did write – but I wasn’t writing in a rational, purposeful, helpful way that supports me as a human, or shares something of value. I was mad. I was… posting replies. Oh my.

Once I noticed I was putting myself at risk of an angry screed, I pushed my chair back, sat fully upright, and took a couple deep deep cleansing breaths, and let myself relax. I held on to the awareness of that moment, breaking free of the tantalizing sticky trap of opinion, pulling myself free of the outrage machinery. (There is so much to be outraged about this days, no lie, that’s real.) Differences of opinion so easily become anger. We each feel so certain we are “right“, and that if only we could share the nuances of our personal perspective, everyone else would get it, too! While that may be true, now and then, it mostly just isn’t, at all. We are each having our own experience. It’s not actually fully share-able.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a “relativist“. While I do recognize that context, culture, and variations in human understanding and experience can change the truth of a proposition, I also understand the nature of reality to have unchanging elements (that I may or may not be fully able to recognize or understand, myself). I think how we define the terms we use matters a great deal, and definitely affects our ability to have meaning dialogue, generally, every bit as much as “the nature of reality”. I have an ethical framework, as an individual, that suggests to me that some actions and choices are “wrong” – meaning, not consistent with my ethics, as an individual. So far so good. Where things get messy, and I think this is true for a great many of us, is when my own sense of “wrongness” pressures me from within to make a point of calling it out when I see others taking those actions, or making those choices. Do I really get to decide right vs wrong for anyone but me?

Yes.

…Also, no.

So… “yes”, in the limited sense that I’m utterly free to express my opinion on the matter. However, in doing so, I’m a wiser happier human if I can also remain aware that my opinion on such things is not likely to a) change anyone else’s opinion (or actions) or b) have any great persuasive weight in the world, generally, and also… c) it’s not for me to decide what everyone else will think or do. I’m just saying. I mean that – I’m literally merely, simply, only, and “just” saying words. Someone may hear my words and change. Someone else may hear my words and double-down out of pure resentment and fury, because in their view I am clearly wrong. Still someone else will disregard my words without ever hearing me out,. We are each having our own experience. I don’t really get to decide what anyone else understands right or wrong to be – but I am not required to respect, value, share, or appreciate their perspective, beyond hearing them out, and accepting their agency.

I don’t personally take any of this to be an expression of futility, or as a reason to “stand down” or “keep my opinion to myself”, because humanity’s culture has formed around our opinions and understanding of the world. Our shared ethical commitments become our shared understanding of right vs wrong, and ultimately informs entire communities, and whole nations, allowing society to enact change. We do need to share our individual sense of right vs. wrong with each other to help steer this cultural ship through the waters of change and growth over time. It’s the anger and outrage of social media specifically (before coffee) that is problematic; too much noise, not enough signal. So, I give myself a break, sip my coffee, and bring my moment closer to home. I have plenty to do to make change happen right here. I have work to do to be the woman I most want to be. That’s a project I have real influence over – every day. My example, as an individual, has meaning without extending my reach “to the world” by replying to all manner of media detritus in a reactive moment. Hell, I don’t even respect the opinions of 100% of every human; some are worth far more than others (this is likely true for you as well), and we each “rate” the value of another person’s opinion on different criteria!! (Totally true, too.) So… another good moment to practice non-attachment. lol

I finish my coffee and begin again.