Archives for category: anger

This morning it takes me awhile to get where I’m going with this. Please forgive. Short night, early morning, sluggish thinking.

Sometimes patterns of light distract from illumination

Is it really notably different whether you are being obviously aggressive to someone, or acting out passive-aggressively? I personally don’t think there is, aside from the lack of forthrightness, and personal accountability. Micro-aggression fits in there, too; it’s in the intention, it’s in what the underlying feeling is, it’s how the person attacked feels the harm. I think most of us dislike feeling attacked, whether or not it is provoked by obvious ill-intention, or subtly camouflaged.

With overt aggression, I am at least certain I’ve been attacked. There’s an honesty to it. A certain… certainty. It’s not pleasant, but it’s clear. I may be taken aback, or wounded, but I also have unmistakable means to deal with it. Passive aggression is sneaky, sly, and dishonest. The attacker masquerades as well-intentioned, in some cases convincingly (to outside observers). The attack is no less damaging. The attacker no less intentional.

I try to avoid passive-aggressive attacks, and micro-aggressions (sometimes complicated by a lack of self-awareness), as well. I’m not a perfect human being, but a willful, considered, attempt, and a good-heart, go a long way. There’s less I understand to do about my own potential for overt aggression, beside stifle it, keep it in check by force if necessary, and continue to work on not having to deal with it, by making it less a part of my implicit thinking, and “natural” behavior – by practicing other ways with a firm commitment, and apologizing swiftly and without reservations when I recognize I’ve hurt someone.

…I’m my own human being. I find living with other human beings incredibly difficult. I’ve been badly damaged by violence, aggression, passive-aggression (and her evil twin, gaslighting), and the scars are, in some cases, still very raw, the wounds still easily re-opened. Healing from this kind of damage can take… a lifetime. I’m sitting here at 56, feeling rather as if I’ve used up most of the time available, without much improvement. Oh, I take the improvements I do get. I value those (they are the thing that makes life livable). I keep at it. There’s plenty to work on. It’s true, too, that the only thing I can truly effect change on – talking about human beings, human feelings, human experience, here – is this one. Mine. Me. What I do, what I think, how I behave, how I feel – all mine to work on, and perhaps improve. There is literally no realistic potential to change anyone else’s behavior, or how they interact with me. It’s hard, if I hold onto a perception that “they” are the cause of my experience.

Stare at something long enough it may appear to be more significant than it is

Sleep matters too much – even to love. I don’t get enough good sleep. It affects my cognition. It affects my emotional balance. It affects my ability to reason. I take some pretty profound steps to maintain good sleep hygiene – because it’s necessary to ensure I get the minimum amount of rest necessary to sustain human life. It’s been two weeks since I last got more than an hour of deep sleep, according to my sleep tracker, and that was interrupted and in smaller increments. Before that? Back in September, same thing; interrupted, 5 and 10 minute chunks of deep sleep, interspersed with light sleep and wakefulness. I have to go all the way back to July to find a night when I got more than an hour and a half of continuous deep sleep. I’m often short on REM sleep, too, mostly just getting “light sleep” that is neither deep or REM sleep. It’s no wonder I’m tired so much, and I guess no surprise that my resilience has been reduced, and my temperament more irritable, over time.

…During my first (very violent) marriage, I went nearly a decade without actually sleeping more than an hour or two a night, mostly just resting motionlessly, and sleep-walking through my “waking” life… My sleep issues are not about my current relationship, they have been with me a long long time, even into childhood.

I don’t have any idea, just now, what to do about it. “Stop being annoying” and “stop being irritable” are bullet points on a long list of things to change that don’t work that way. I know to start with improving my self-care. Meditation matters that much. I know to harness the power of gratitude when I am feeling resentful and hurt, and to let go of small things, understanding that we are each human, each having our own experience, and that taking things personally is what allows them to hurt so much in the first place – as well as giving others power over my experience. Even the most direct actual-no-bullshit-fully-intended-to-specifically-hurt-me attack isn’t all that personal; it’s usually an expression of that other person’s own pain, frustration, challenges, hurts, and baggage. Often, people don’t know another way to behave. They do what has worked for them in the past. Taking that shit personally just piles my baggage onto their baggage, and it all gets very heavy – for everyone.

It’s not as if people who favor aggression or passive-aggression are actually enjoying all that stress and agitation. (The sorts of human beings who enjoy that kind of thing are a wholly other sort of monster, and I do my very best to stay far far away from those.)

is there really a pattern, or is it a trick of the light?

Then, too, there are so many circumstances in which my own understanding of “what’s going on” is colored by my baggage, my perception altered by my own pain, and I see an attack – or an attacker – where there is really only another human being, being human, and it just happens to conflict with me, also so human, being human, myself. My own feelings of being hurt, or my own petty resentments, build up a foe in my thinking – an opponent, a challenger – against whom I struggle…

…I’m nearly always, in truth, struggling with myself. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go. There are a lot of great reasons to let go of my own bullshit. (No good reasons to hold on to it.)

I sit here this morning sipping my coffee, past feeling sorry for myself, around the corner from feeling aggrieved by the brief restless night. I am listening to my Traveling Partner working out his feelings his own way, tidying things, handling chores that nag at him visually, checking things off his “to-do list”. It was a brutally early morning for both of us. Neither of us slept well, I’m fairly certain. It wasn’t personal, or chosen, or intentional, or deliberately inflicted in any way. No bad guys. No real “good guys”, either. Just people. Human beings who choose love, but struggling in the moment to live that intention, gently. Too real? Too common, for sure. I listen with care, identifying the tasks by the sounds, mentally refreshing my own to-do list as I hear him move through the house.

I used to think love wasn’t a “real thing”, because it isn’t easy, and requires actual effort. lol I’m grateful for love, even when I am frustrated or confounded by what love asks of me, as a human being committed to love and loving – and doing so well.  That’s really where it gets complicated. Every-fucking-body is so damned human. I can love haplessly, without real skill, and it doesn’t take too much work… aaand.. doesn’t last too long, flaring up and flaming out, leaving chaos and sorrow in the aftermath… that’s the “easy” way (and most common outcome). Harder is working together, listening deeply, fostering a long-term sanctuary in our hearts, keeping a welcoming embrace always at the ready, and seeking to build, approach, support, and persist in our tenderness and gentleness, day after human day. Life is a long journey – I’m fortunate to have the Traveling Partner I do; we chose each other. Some days we have to reach across a very human moment, to choose each other all over again. (So worth it, rarely effortless.)

sometimes it is enough that there is sunshine streaming through a window; it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that

He puts his head in my studio, makes eye contact, asks a question, starts a conversation – builds a bridge. Love is worth a little bridge building, when our very human stormy weather floods our path. He gets it. (Usually before I do.)

I finish my coffee and begin again. 🙂

 

Warning: this may be disordered ranting, in whole or in part. If you continue, please don’t get sucked into my bullshit and baggage, and know in advance that I’m okay, for most values of okay. Still just 100% made of human.

Well… yesterday was unexpectedly unpleasant. I don’t mean to minimize, and frankly, I don’t do myself any favors to do so; I lost my shit completely, reduced to actually yelling at someone I love in a fit of unrestrained, wholly excessive, temper, frustration, and despair. I let myself down in a remarkable betrayal of a commitment to myself that my living environment be maintained as a “no yelling” space. My neighbors, here, for the first time since I moved in two years ago, have heard me raise my voice in anger. None of that is okay with me. Not any of it. (And no, I don’t think I’m being unreasonable about that; I made myself a promise, for reasons of my own, and now that promise has been broken. It’ll be some time before I’m “over” that.)

It probably matters to have context around it, but I don’t feel emotionally up to a deep dive of the details; I over-reacted to something I could have let go of. I regularly let go of lots of things, and in a wiser moment, I’d have understood to do so then, too. I didn’t, though, because I got caught up in feeling misjudged, feeling misunderstood, and struggling to express my frustration and irritation. I got taken by surprise by my own long-lingering feelings of resentment left over from a relationship I have long since exited, and a few left from early in this one I have, which is so precious to me. It went badly. There were clearly things I was “wrong” about. There were things I wasn’t “wrong” about, but nonetheless handled poorly. It was only a matter of minutes that overwhelming strong emotion got the better of me, and at that point it didn’t matter at all who was right or wrong (how many relationships die on the back of someone’s insistence in being right?), it really only mattered that we treat each other well in that moment. I did not succeed in that requirement. None of this goes to explaining why… I don’t have that for you. I don’t really know.

Failure stings. Disappointment is painful and filled with sorrow and regret. Anger burns in one’s veins, and tells lies to one’s heart. It was a mess. The aftermath wasn’t a huge improvement; my chemistry didn’t reset very quickly. This is telling; my resilience isn’t what it was even a year ago. Why? Why on that is easy; I haven’t been properly caring for myself with the same strict standards that I had been. Again… why? Well, shit… that’s also too easy, and kind of dumb; my Traveling Partner moved in with me, and omg – I love spending time with him. I’m not saying that’s a healthy choice, just very human, and it’s what I’ve done. But… that isn’t all of it.

There’s the pain management piece, too; it’s hard to live in pain. People do, and yeah, a lot people other than me, and a lot of people in more severe pain. The VA, once again, had provided me an Rx solution to use “as needed” (let’s move on from the fact that I suffer from chronic pain), and that drug… um… has “mood altering effects”, and is actually in a category of drug I absolutely should not be taking (for that reason), and this is a known thing, documented in my medical records. My civilian physician even called me at home at some point, expressing concern, reminding me not to take it with specific other medication, and I was already noticing some personal “concerns”. So… I stopped taking it, at all. It’s probably not a coincidence that soon afterward, I became more fragile, less resilient, and then, yesterday, simply “broke”. Fucking hell. I am so vulnerable to poor medical practices, and decisions made without regard to my actual needs, but rather based on some doctor’s comfort with this drug, that drug, or ignorance about the details of my medical history. I am so vulnerable to the demands within relationships to change this, change that, catch up on something, move on from something. I am so vulnerable to my own desire to please, my own need to be comfortable, to have agency, to feel valued. Yesterday’s chaos and damage was brought to me by… me. I overlooked the considerable impact likely from discontinuing that medication, and doing so in the context of not maintaining – very strictly and consistently – my meditation practice in the way I know I must. Tons of this is about my choices, and I’ve got to be accountable for it. I can do better.

I fled the house in hysterics, and despair, and had no business driving a car in the condition I was in at the time. “Driving while crying” is an impairment of note, and I sought somewhere close to stop. It’s not like I had someplace to go in mind. I found an empty parking lot, backing up to trees, and a verdant hillside. I parked. I wept. I sobbed. I wailed. I let go, and had that painful moment of altogether losing my shit on this whole other level. No lie. There was no dignity in those moments. My Traveling Partner tried to heal the wound, texting me, pleading with me to be safe, to care for myself… to come home and just talk. I didn’t, for some time, have that in me. I’m still glad he tried.

Eventually, my tears dried, and I drove home. We went to breakfast. I was still fragile. We gently sidestepped all the emotional landmines we could. We shared the day together. I did my best. He did his best. Eventually… the day ended, gently. I went to bed and enduring nightmares of great dragons attacking civilization, and the persistent frustration of The Party People playing loud music and flashing lights, even knowing that the fucking dragons would thereby know our location. Fucking idiots. Then there were those who kept insisting that the dragons were as scared of us as we are of them, and if we’d just leave them alone… oh, hey, another one of those, torn to bits, and consumed. Well, then. Fuck. Rough night. I survived.

…Rough life. So far, I’ve survived.

I woke this morning, grateful to see the dawn, and that the house around me was not the charred ruin of my dreams. Had coffee with my partner, grateful for his love. I’m still pretty volatile, vulnerable to feeling easily hurt, struggling with my feeling of being disappointed with myself. (No, it doesn’t much matter that it may have been, again, an Rx I was given by a doctor, putting me at risk. I am collateral damage in “the opioid war”, as are a lot of other chronic pain sufferers. Doctors don’t want to prescribe them, even to very low-risk-of-abuse patients, even when we’re talking about very low dose, very mild drugs; liability concerns, more than patient care, in my experience. People get hurt not being able to ease their pain. No one much cares about that, so long as we can put a lovely “we’re winning the drug war!” headline out there.)(Sorry, my personal bitterness is showing there, that’s baggage I need to deal with.)

So… another day, another chance. Another time in my life when I have to just admit that the drugs available for pain management don’t work for me, for a variety of reasons, and learning to live more or less graciously with pain is what’s left over. Didn’t I already know that? Why do I keep trying?

I finish my coffee. Frown at this post, already annoyed with it, for no particular reason beside “failure”. Pretty sick of that right now. I guess I’ll let that go, shower, dress, and begin again. :-\

Yesterday was weird. Started well. Went well. Then… rather unexpectedly, my mood just went straight to shit in an instant. I wasn’t even sure why. My noise sensitivity got crazy intense, and the frown on my face seemed to “come from within” from this whole other deep deep place that felt like “this is me,now”. It was hard. I looked over my work calendar, and cleared off the meetings I had remaining; none of it really required me, that I could tell, and all of it could be rescheduled. So, I did.

I was still fussing with an analytical question I was wracking my brain over, when I left, and committed to finishing that off, from home. I looked at the days ahead, and determined I could spend this one (today) more wisely as a “training day”, tackling annual “tick the box” training regularly assigned to everyone and due in just a couple weeks, and finishing off some certification training and testing I’d committed to earlier in the year. It seems a practical and efficient way to give myself some room to sort myself out without the risk of infecting my workplace with my toxic bullshit and baggage. 🙂

…Sitting here with my coffee, I feel fairly “grown up”, having managed this piece of self-care adequately well. Yesterday was weird though.

I got home tense and cranky. I stayed tense and cranky long enough for my Traveling Partner to make other plans for his time that evening, while I was in the shower trying to “wash off” my shitty mood. (No surprise, I was not able to wash off my mood. lol) I wasn’t surprised; his self-care skills are very good, generally, and he knows that it does neither of us any good to sit by and endure each other’s bullshit. There are better ways. 🙂 He was heading out for the evening, shortly after I was changed into “comfy clothes”. A few minutes of conversation. A kiss. He was gone.

I sat quietly for a time. Still so cross with… whatever… I was irritating myself without trying. I made a salad. I the dishes in the dishwasher. I sat a while more. Distracting myself was harder than usual; noise sensitive, cross, anhedonic… I wasn’t fit for my own company (and these days I really like me). At some point, I dozed off on the couch, wrapped in a snuggly soft throw. The phone woke me. My Traveling Partner calling, some time later (I never looked at the time)… did I want to join them for dinner? …Italian. Um… I’m sleeping. Deeply. LOL How rare is that?? I thanked him (I think. I hope.) and declined.

…Some further time later, I heard someone in the house… I felt disoriented in the darkness; I had lights on in the living room, where I had been dozing on the couch… I was waking out of context – in bed, no clear recollection of going to bed. I slipped out of bed, still confused, and quietly went to the door. Home intruder? Break in? Um… probably not; I hear the sound of someone using the hall bathroom. I call down the hall way, “hello?”. My partner answers, and I relax, finally pulling myself fully into the present. I’m not really awake though, and hadn’t even put my glasses on. Staying up long enough to connect, to embrace, I went back to bed pretty soon after he got home.

I woke reluctantly when the alarm went off. I feel pretty well-rested this morning, but I’m also glad I adjusted my work plans to make room for self-care. I needed to ease up on myself, and although I still don’t know what the hell went wrong with me yesterday, I’m pretty sure caring for myself in a way that demonstrates that I matter, to me, remains important, today.

Self-care choices are not always easy. It’s taken me years to break habits of self-abuse, self-exploitation, and inwardly directed mistreatment of all sorts. I still practice self-care, because I still need to. It still takes commitment, effort, and deliberate willful consideration, to choose to care for this fragile vessel, and the being of emotion and reason who resides within.

I’ve got a work day of training ahead of me, self-paced, isolated by headphones and the door of my studio. This suits me, although I am already feeling much better this morning. I find myself wondering if my poor sleep is something I need to be taking more seriously at this point… I smile and sip my coffee. The short to do list I’ve got for later seems wholly manageable and it’s not driving any stress at all. So far so good. I finish off my coffee while I rock out to this playlist… it’s time to begin again. 😀

The possible (likely) impeachment of the US President? I don’t care right now, at all. Local weather? I’m indifferent; it’s meaningless. Work? Connectivity? Housekeeping? The appointment I have scheduled later? Nothing matters beyond one small (huge) thing; I’m sitting alone, heart aching, while my partner is elsewhere, also alone (an assumption), and probably having a less than ideal experience, too.

…I’m not even sure what went wrong, exactly. We started down the path of a conversation… we converse daily, often, and manage both deep conversations, and light-hearted banter (and lots of things in between) quite effortlessly, most of the time. Was I pre-disposed towards frustration, after spending a morning frustrated by technical difficulties, on a rare day working from home? Was he having his experience from within a context that had him potentially predisposed toward difficulties, himself? Is this even “about” either of us, at all? We are each having our own experience – this much is reliably true. I feel, at the moment, sort of bitter, rather heartsick, fighting off tears I don’t want to deal with, and feeling that I am a failure as a partner because – how can I not manage something so fucking basic as a conversation??

In all respects it was a lovely morning to start with. I sit staring disinterestedly into this 3rd cup of coffee, trying to hold onto the morning’s delights. Elusive. Those moments feel as if they were only a dream, now. I am acutely aware I have a “routine” check up with my therapist coming in a couple weeks, and I find myself struggling with a feeling of shame over maybe really needing that time, even after so long, and so much progress. It flares up as resentment and anger, then recedes as a sort of sad gray shadow over my experience, and a hint of despair and futility. “Doesn’t it ever stop…?” My demons attack where I am weakest, that’s a given, and I’m unsurprised by the bleak feeling of doubt, the sense of loss, of abandonment, the feeling of hurt and unworthiness. Damn, this is shitty.

…I hope he’s okay (he’s probably feeling shitty, too).

I look into my coffee mug again, as if I were even going to drink it. I put the cup back down. I also don’t care about this cup of coffee – not compared to how much I care that I am enduring this moment, or that he is enduring his… or that we ended up in this place, in the first place. This coffee doesn’t even smell good. I made it the same as always. No interest in drinking it now. It just sits. Same as me. Just sitting here, mired in this mess. I tried the “walk away and calm down” approach to handling miscommunication and frustration… it does not seem to have provided any useful benefit. I mean… I suppose it’s better than waiting around poking a hornets’ nest until one or the other of us seriously lose our temper. I can’t stand raised voices. Instead… oh sure, it’s fucking quiet, but… I am isolated with my despair… my most dangerous personal foe. “Misery loves company”? Nah. I don’t buy that. Misery doesn’t love a fucking thing, it’s grim, stoic – a loiterer who takes everything pleasant and destroys it without hesitation.

…I even know the steps to take to not be here… and can’t raise the motivation to do a thing about it… like giving up. The futility becomes a quiet waterfall of hot tears. A lifetime of frustration and learned helplessness clench my jaws. My back aches with the weight of it. This? This right here is another very human experience. (“It’s just a moment”, I hear my internal reminder on autopilot, “this will pass. It’s just weather, not climate.” I can’t hear it; it feels very distant and irrelevant.)

Too fucking human. So… what’s to be done about it, then? Yeah, um… I don’t know right now. I’m too busy feeling hurt and filled with chaos and damage. Let me get done with all that, then I’ll move on to doing something else… probably sort myself out at some point… maybe even begin again.

Well, last night the guy repairing our A/C came by, fixed a thing, and wryly admitted that doing so hadn’t fixed the A/C. Something entirely else is wrong, and there are parts to be ordered, and it’s fucking hot, in the middle of summer, and uncomfortable as hell, and…

…And my Traveling Partner enjoyed the stifling hot uncomfortable evening in good company, together. It was fine. Hot, sure. Summer, definitely. We drank plenty of water. We stayed comfortable. I enjoyed a cool leisurely shower at some point. Later, I went to bed. It was hot. I still slept. As soon as the outside temperature was equal to, or less than, the inside temperature, we opened the windows to the breezes, and let the house cool down with the night temperatures.

I woke to the sound of rain, very audible through open windows. Lovely. The smell of petrichor quickly dissipated the last of the smell of burning electrical components of the A/C. The house is comfortably cool. I make a cup of tea and sit by the open door to the deck for some minutes, listening to the rain fall. I am thinking about how often what feels catastrophic in life is, after all the fuss and bother, really not that big a deal after all. 🙂

I listen to thunder in the distance, and the shhhhh-shhhhh of the earliest commuters heading down the rain-slick hill beyond my window. I consider how often a moment of patience, of non-attachment, of perspective, have preventing me (lately) from over-reacting to what seems catastrophic in some moment. It’s rarely helpful to treat some circumstance as catastrophic; so few really are. It’s a trap. Stuck in some past or future moment, we let our fear, or our anxiety, or our baggage, call the shots. It’s generally a poor choice.

We could have treated a failed A/C as a catastrophe (it isn’t). We could have bitched endlessly and ruined our shared good time together. We could have been nasty to the repair guy who showed up very late, and then “couldn’t even fix it”. We could have been sour with our landlord, who lives far away, and chose the repair guy based on cost and convenience to himself. Doing those things would not have fixed the A/C faster, and most definitely would have created problems in those helpful relationships. And…seriously? Are there not much more important things to be stressed or angry about than the damned weather, and an A/C failure in summertime? lol The entire fucking planet definitely needs us each to be our best selves – but that’s also a journey, and “the best I can do” right now, in this moment, is likely not the best you can do, or the best some repair guy can do, or the best someone else, over there, can do… we’re each having our own experience. We do well to do our best with each other, because we’re also all in this together. Less a contradiction, than something to meditate on. 😉

…So, we did our best to simply deal with the A/C failure, as we do with so many things that go wrong in small ways (which is most things, when they go wrong in some way), and this morning? The rain falls softly. The air is cool and fresh, and the day unlikely to be quite so hot. Good enough.

I sip my cup of tea, thinking about a friend in recovery. Life took a pleasant turn toward success and security for him, and… he relapsed. Fuck. Recovery is already hard without that. I find myself wondering if he knows to forgive himself? If he will remember to begin again, and simply go forward, counting his recovery time from a new date, or hell, even simply acknowledging that we fail, we fall, we stumble, we struggle – and it’s okay; we can get back up and start over. It’s a hard mile to walk. I wish there were anything at all I could do to make it easier for him. I reached out and let him know I’m still here if he needs to talk. I wonder if he understands? He’s taking steps. Even this mess doesn’t have to be catastrophic, but he’s blinded by his regret and shame, and weighed down by guilt and a sense of “letting people down”. Fuck that’s hard. I want to tell him to let it go, to trust that the rain will come, the wheel keeps turning, and this, too, shall pass.

(I hope you’re reading this one, that you get what I’m trying to tell you, and that you are okay. You can begin again.)

My morning started a bit early; the clock tells me it is time to get up. Well… sure…? lol I sip my tea content to be where I am in life, and present in this moment. This morning, after years of practice, years of new beginnings, years of “resetting the clock” and walking my own hard mile, it feels pretty easy, and very natural. It wasn’t an overnight transformation, although there were many epiphanies and “light-bulb moments” along the way – mostly, there was a lot of practice. I see on the calendar that I’ve got an appointment scheduled with my therapist; I scheduled it during a stressful time, shortly before my Mom died (was that really only a couple months ago?). I had to reschedule it, and there it sits on my calendar, in the middle of a week I’ll be out of town for work. lol I smile; rescheduling it doesn’t feel like a catastrophe, either. I don’t actually recall quite why I wanted it, from the vantage point of this rainy morning over a hot cup of tea. Progress. Incremental change over time.

I send my therapist a request to reschedule our appointment, finish my tea, and begin again. 😀