Archives for category: Anxiety

Eat less or exercise? Personally, I have to do both. It’s non-negotiable. If I get less exercise, still keep my caloric intake well-managed (and low) and eat healthy food, I gain weight anyway. If I get plenty of exercise, but make poor nutritional choices, I also gain weight. If I eat a poor quality diet, don’t manage my calories closely, and also don’t get sufficient exercise, I not only gain weight, I gain a lot of weight, and I pack on the pounds fast. Some medications cause me to gain weight, too; that’s something I reliably find out the hard way. So… eat less or exercise? I don’t get to choose, I’ve got to do both. 🙂

There are quite a few things in life that we sometimes get snared viewing as a choice between options, when, actually, it’s a choice to change, or not to change; all the options involving change may be required to make change occur in the direction we’d specifically like to see. Real-life doesn’t tend to negotiate with our whims.

Emotion, and the skillful management and expression of strong emotion, specifically, has some things in common here, with a twist; incremental change over time is super slow, but our emotions jump to the head of any queue, lead every moment, and arrive to every party too early. So sure, it’s reasonable, and true, for someone mid-freak out to have the recognition and understanding that their experience is based on “irresistible” internal forces beyond their immediate control; strong emotion, particularly powerful emotions like rage, frustration, and sorrow, can erupt from within us, sweeping over us, taking away our sense of control, and eventually leading to regrettable words and actions. The “I’m sorry”s begin to pile up (if you are that decent sort who regrets treating others badly). So do the rationalizations (about hormones, childhoods, provocation, circumstances…).

It’s also quite true that our behavior is a choice. Yes, all of it. Yes, pretty much all the time, every time. The first time someone lashes out with an act of violence, they might get by with “I didn’t know” or an expression of astonishment that they could be provoked to that point, but second times? Third times? Times that occur after someone – anyone – has pointed out that’s not okay? Yeah, those are choices. Yielding to strong emotion and relinquishing control over behavior is a choice (unless maybe you are profoundly mentally ill and urgently in need of inpatient treatment). Well, if that’s also true, is everyone who ever treated a loved one poorly, or punched a wall, or lashed out with horrible words deeply mentally ill and urgently in need of treatment? Some of them probably are! Most of them likely are not. That they are choosing such behaviors is still a choice, and they could choose differently, and no you can’t “make them” change, and omg – if they decide to change themselves, that is a process that can be infernally slow, fraught will failures, and varying results.

…And before we can change ourselves through our willful choices in the direction of being our best selves, we actually need to 1. be aware that we would like to be other than we are, and 2. understand that change is possible, chosen, and must be practiced. It’s a lot to hold onto. It’s a lot of work. The practice has to come ahead of the need to be changed. It’s necessary both to feel, and to practice our best behavior under the stress of an “emotional load”. We’ve got to do both. It’s work that will have to be done in the face of real-time failures, disappointed frustrated loved ones, relationships that don’t make it through the process, friendships that end because it turns out some of them were invested in what is being changed. It’s work that is continuous and ongoing. Change is a verb – and you have choices.

Another school shooting. I read about it and can’t help but wonder where so many people have gotten the idea that their anger, disappointment, frustration, or any other emotional experience, entitles them to take a life – any life. Where did that come from? How long has this toxic seed been part of our culture? Did the shooter understand this is unacceptable behavior? If he did understand that, and chose to do it anyway, where did he get the idea that this is a course of action appropriate to his emotional experience? Why do so few people understand what poison their “righteous anger” actually is? Even otherwise good-hearted people can be drawn into making the most outrageously hateful statements about the value of another life (don’t read the comments on the internet, People, I’m just saying there’s an astonishing amount of rationalized hate out there), given the opportunity to frame that other human being as a bad guy of some kind. We most commonly succumb to hate due to a lack of empathy… I don’t know how to fix that for the world, or my nation. I’m still working on it for me – one practice at a time. Changing myself is within my control; I have choices.

Time to begin again.

I woke much earlier than my alarm. Early enough to do yoga, shower, dress, and make an Americano before my alarm would have gone off. I’m quite alert and wide awake, and feel rather as if weeks and weeks of fatigue and illness are finally behind me. Still have the weird headache. Still have more future appointments to deal with it. Still have the arthritis pain. Still bitching about that. It is morning. I am human. 🙂

I sip my coffee contentedly, noting how good it is this morning and just really enjoying that. It is a Friday, tomorrow is the weekend. I feel relaxed and at ease – because, partly, I’ve chosen to practice having this experience of relaxed contentment, learned to build and sustain that over time, and it’s become (if not my default “state of being”) quite common to feel this way. It is a huge improvement over being mired in despair, chronically frustrated, and wondering endlessly what the point even is to living. 😀 I’ll straight up say it; I got here with my choices. I got here with practice. There were – and are – verbs involved. Practicing practices is an ongoing thing; this is not a task, these are processes. This is me, living my life, and my results vary – right now, this moment here? It’s very pleasant. 🙂

There is stuff yet to do. Housekeeping. Tidying up. Maintenance. Repairing, cleaning and maintaining. lol There’s also brunch with a friend, hang out time with another, and perhaps a lovely hike with a new camera on a pleasant Sunday morning. 😀 I get to choose. 🙂

I’m ready to begin again. Let’s start this day!

“Fuck Portland.” It came out as a snarl. I said it more than once. It was an unpleasant commute. I said much worse as I crept east on Division at less than 10 miles per hour. I waited at least twice at all but one intersection on my usual route. My GPS mocked me by pointing out it was “the usual traffic”. “Oh, Google,” I sneered, “I disagree.” Construction delays? Nope. A freight train halting traffic at important crossroads? Nope. Bus traffic? Nope, not this time. No, this time it was… Portland. Yep. The very culture itself combined with certain specific circumstances and… commuter hell.

One of the things I least appreciate about the area is the odd practice of extending courtesy to who or whatever is directly in one’s view, while utterly disregarding the existence of anything else at all. In this case, very polite drivers yielding the right of way of other drivers who have no interest in so doing, and haven’t consented to giving it up; a car waiting to turn, dense commuter traffic on a primary road that has the right of way, and lo! The oh-so-polite Portlander just fucking stops dead still in the middle of the road to allow someone whose turn it is not to go ahead and make their turn – sometimes, even if doing so requires just sitting there awhile as the perplexed driver who recognizes they do not have the right of way wonders what the hell is going on, until they finally also recognize that this polite clown is actually no kidding going to fucking sit there until eternity – unless that turn gets made. This is an experience over which I just seethe. I get very angry. Anger is hard on me. I’m not good at it. I have to practice the best possible anger-related skills and practices, or risk utter failure at adulting with skill. So. I practiced all the way home.

I did say “fuck Portland” a bunch of times, I won’t even minimize that – but I said it. I didn’t scream it while beating my fists on the dashboard, or throwing myself against the car door, or throwing shit. I just said it, and I totally meant it in the moment, too; fuck Portland. Fuck city convenience. Fuck traffic. Fuck the endless badly maintained pothole covered pavement. Fuck the multifamily housing being added to even the smallest available remaining city lots. Fuck the high rent. Fuck having to listen to neighbors through thin walls. Fuck being far away from family.

Oh.

Oh, hell. Is that what this is? Am I feeling lonely, and it is erupting as anger? Why the hell would I find anger a more comfortable emotion than loneliness?

I got home, and sat awhile in the parked car in the driveway, listening to the rain fall and the shhh shhh of passing traffic. I checked the mail, and tossed the pile of nothing into the recycling bin on my way to the front door. I let myself in, expecting to feel at ease, and when I didn’t… I sat down to write. My “safe space” isn’t always a meditation cushion next to a patio door, or a fireplace, sometimes it is pen and paper, or a keyboard and a text box.

My writing is interrupted by conversation with my Traveling Partner. It’s funny. I’m already totally over being angry. Definitely more invested in this conversation with this human being I love so much. So… I think I’ll do that, for awhile, and see where the evening takes me. It’s a nice way to begin again.

The first time I heard “YOLO”, I remember being rather struck by it in a positive way, which was before I was fully aware how often it is attached to a level of foolhardiness or stupidity so vast as to be quite noteworthy, and… on purpose. Wild. Kinda scary. Definitely not at all what I might mean were I to observe that “you only live once“. Not at all. I’d be saying “live your life – truly live it, awake, and aware, and willful, you may not get another shot at this, so do your best”.

I try, every day, to take my own best advice. Sometimes I even succeed.

I am enjoying a relaxed quiet evening, but it isn’t “everything”. I plan the weekend, making sure my needs over time are considered ahead of the needs of the moment (which often aren’t truly needs at all, but instead some distraction or alluring momentary fancy). I smile when I realize how excited I am to have two days in a row to sleep in, and no driving. I feel that twist, and become a pang of regret and loneliness; I won’t see my Traveling Partner this weekend. I do need some real down time, though, a chance to rest, and a chance to take care of this space I live in, and some time to finish moving into my studio, so that days I am inspired to paint are as effortless as days I am inspired to write. These are things I need. 🙂

My mind wanders to that dark corner labeled “all the shit you forgot to take care of”, and instead of a panic attack, I find myself just sort of mentally “tidying up”, letting myself consider a large number of very assorted sorts of loose-end-y kinds of things I am prone to forgetting, just generally. I moved in July. Did I account for 100% of everything? Did I pack something, forget about it, and continue to overlook it because I don’t recall it even exists? So many distracting weekends away. How does a person rediscover what they have entirely forgotten, when that is a needful thing? That’s only sort of rhetorical; I do manage it, but I couldn’t explain in a million years quite how, and it’s very hit or miss. So… I guess I only sort of manage it. LOL Nice that such things don’t set off a storm of anxiety these days. The fear made it terribly difficult to catch things up, fix them, or complete them, or address whatever had or might go wrong with any skill. Now it generally just feels like another thing that needs doing, and once done, I’m done with it completely. I check off a few things, an address or two to update, things like that.

Strange night. I’m in a lot of pain, and the headache is just… extra. I’m managing a good mood in spite of that.  I’m still smiling from a few minutes of chat with my Traveling Partner. It’s a nice evening. It’s… a nice life. I frown, remembering how my every day moments “now” had been so thoroughly tainted by past events… when did that change? Will it stay like this? I feel the weight of my frown become stress in my shoulders and pause, breathe deeply, and sit more erect as I exhale. I’m okay right now. Right now isn’t something that needs troubleshooting. Right now I’m okay, and that’s enough. 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping a quiet hot cup of tea. The tea is hot. The room is quiet. The music is quite loud, in spite of the quiet room. I’m enjoying the contrasts. Cool room. Hot tea. Quiet room. Loud music. I am in pain. I feel that too, although I enjoy it less; it is part of my experience. I have mixed feelings about the pain; I am alive. I have survived all I’ve been through so far. My pain reminds me of how strong I can be. My pain is a reminder of my resolve. My pain hints at my pure will; I walk with it, work with it, every day.

…Fuck, I’m a bad ass! lol You are, too. Here you are. You’ve survived. Fuck yeah – all of it. 🙂

Tonight isn’t fancy. I am making time for me. The woman in the mirror needing a little care, getting the care she needs. It’s a nice system.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. That’s soon enough. It’s okay to get some rest.