Archives for category: Despair

I may not write for a few days. There’s a lot going on in our flailing culture, right now, and I’d rather not provide a distraction. We all need to face this. We need to look America’s “original sin” of racism in the face and clean up the mess we’ve made.

I’ll resume writing, but for now, I am doing other things, and making room for long-silenced voices to be heard. Thank you for understanding. Please, definitely vote every time you get a chance, and definitely do your part to put decent human beings who value humanity and human life into office, instead of self-important already-wealthy liars and cheats whose sole intention is to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation. We can do better than we have, and we owe it to ourselves, our communities, and our future, to do so.

Short one this morning. One white voice taking notice of more black lives lost. It’s not okay, it’s not acceptable, and we can, as a nation and as a species, do better. Being white should not be an advantage in the 21st century, that it so obviously is, is something worth being aware of – and ashamed of. Certainly, it is something worth fixing. Black lives matter. They do. Lives of all colors “matter”,  but – the lives we need to be talking about right now are black lives. Brown lives. Lives of people of color. Because for some reason, we continue to tolerate a lesser standard of treatment for those lives. Less regard for their value. Less money in their paychecks. Less liberty under the same constitution that values constitutional freedoms so highly for white lives. It’s a bitter bill to swallow. Take your medicine anyway, white America. Heal this massive wound. (We can’t heal something we refuse to see…)

Racism is not a problem that needs to be corrected by people of color. It’s a problem white people need to fix. Go ahead, tell me you are not racist. Worse still, tell me there’s no problem. If that’s your position, please take time to educate yourself – there is a lot of evidence that tends to disagree with that position. White people need to be speaking out and taking a stand on this. We need to object when we see it. We need to correct the bullshit racism of our elders, of our family members, of (perhaps) even our friends. We need to raise our white voices, and carry them to the highest offices in the land, and demand reform. Real reform. Real change.

Be part of making the world truly a better place. “All lives” won’t matter, not really, until black lives really do matter – to white people.

I don’t really think I should have to say any of this. It’s too obvious, and change is too long overdue. I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation after so many years. Be part of making real change. Be the person you most want to be. Make room for your fellows, and for strangers, and yes also for people of color,  to also be the people they most want to be, under a flag that truly represents “liberty and justice for all”. We’re going to need some verbs, and a lot of new beginnings, and our results may vary as we learn new ways – but it does need to happen, and let’s be real, it’s white people that need to make that change. Yes, all white people. Use your voice, use your vote, use the power of your “all mighty dollar” – your choices are involved. Mine, too.  (How will you object, without becoming proof of the problem?)

It will take white choices and white voices to address the American sin of racism; we made this mess, and we need to clean it up.

Are you ready to change the world?

Last evening was relaxed, and contented. I shared that time with my Traveling Partner. All is well. We checked in with each other regularly, gently, careful to be our most considerate and our most kind. The evening followed a difficult morning, for sure, and we were not planning to worsen that experience, or prolong it. We let that shit go. We each embraced a new beginning, individually, and together. There were verbs involved. Now and then, our results varied (at least initially).

I crashed early, likely one of the consequences of my emotional bad weather from earlier in the day. I slept deeply, waking once or twice – noisy neighbors, partying on a Saturday night – and returned to sleep quickly each time. I woke early, late for me, managing to sleep in a couple hours. I made coffee. It’s good. I refilled my vape with this “peach gummy” flavored juice I made, then found my morning halted momentarily when I could not change the battery in my vape device. Shit. Small thing. I shrug it off and grab a different vape to use, frowning with distaste at the “vanilla latte” juice I no longer favor. I try a few more times to unscrew the cap from the battery box on the other vape, without success. I use a tool or two, no luck there either. Fuck. I set it aside, refusing to allow the morning to become characterized by frustration.

I make a point of letting my frustration go. This particular challenge need not command the whole of my attention this morning; I’ll deal with it later. 🙂

I sip my coffee and reflect on yesterday, ever so briefly. This, too, need not command the whole of my attention this morning. 🙂 I’ve already dealt with it. 🙂

I hit my vape. Less than satisfying. I sip my coffee. Very satisfying indeed. I contemplate balance, and choices. I contemplate emotion and reason. I think about our new life in a new home in a new community, and find myself wondering if at long last Emotion and Reason will take her place on the wall somewhere, in our home?

Because love matters more.
“Emotion and Reason” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

It’s a leisurely Sunday morning. I think about some household chores I’d like to get done today. Nothing major: vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom, do some laundry, empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, routine quality of life stuff that simply has to get done, regularly. I’m okay with it. Doing those things is a meditation of sorts. My Traveling Partner is very helpful with the housekeeping. He counts on me for some of it, I count on him for some of it. Together we get it all done. Partnership. I feel calm, and okay with myself, my life, my relationship, my recent choices, the move ahead of us…. Hell, I feel okay with the rather gray morning, that hints coyly at sunshine later, but promises nothing. It’s a pleasant day, and I’m in a good place. It’s enough.

I may never be “fully over” or entirely free of PTSD. I’ve learned to spend more time on joy than on sorrow, and on creating order than on creating chaos. I’ve learned some practices that help me bounce back in hours instead of days (or weeks). I’ve learned not to take my own moments of despair personally. The actual damage was done so long ago, how does it actually even matter now? I don’t take that personally, either. I’m human. I feel a pang of deep, abiding regret for the pain my PTSD causes my Traveling Partner… then I give myself a moment of kindness and compassion, and some for him, too; his PTSD similarly causes me pain. I let it go. We’re in this together, although we are each having our own experience. 🙂 Forgiveness is about letting go of the hurts, and growing, and moving on from that chaos, and beginning again, isn’t it? I regularly choose to begin again, right here, with my Traveling Partner, because it really is the sort of partnership worth forgiving the small hurts, and sharing this complicated journey toward being the human beings we each most want to be. Nothing about that suggests we’re traveling with a clear plan, a detailed map, or smooth illuminated pavement. Our results vary. There are a lot of new beginnings, together, and individually.

The clear simple perspective of a quiet Sunday brings me a satisfying peace.

I sip my coffee and think about the move ahead of us. That’s not until July, and I have time to plan, to anticipate, to consider, to daydream, to tackle real questions, to discuss, to share, to work out this-or-that detail. We’ll enjoy many hours of conversation about rooms, placement of objects, things we may need (or want) in the new place that we do not have now. A budget is already beginning to take shape. A countdown of sorts has already begun.

Life is very good. I’m okay. I happen to have PTSD, and maybe I’ll always have symptoms flare up unexpectedly? Maybe I won’t. I’ll become what I practice.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Was it me? Was it them? Is anyone at all “right”? Is anyone “the good guy”? It doesn’t feel like it. We’re each having our own experience. Really listening to each other – both of us, reliably – is not a thing right now. This shit went so wrong that even the neighbors are awake with it. It’s not okay. I can tell I’m not “the good guy”. It’s pretty much a given that I’m not the good guy, any time shit blows up; complex PTSD is nasty shit, and most of the time, in most circumstances, when things fall apart this badly, this fast, it’s on me. I’m not being hard on myself, or sarcastic, or fatalistic, or catastrophizing. It’s just statistics. If something goes this badly, this quickly, I can reliably assume with considerable likelihood of being correct that it’s me, because far more often than not, it is. My words. My actions. My reactions. My… something. My PTSD. It’s hard to take, as answers go, and at least right now I’m feeling mostly despair and that bleak sense of “this again?” I feel like I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. Metaphorically speaking.

…I’m so tired of it…

…I’m so tired of me.

Is this “who I am”, when it comes right down to it?

I’m tired of PTSD. So tired of it. The unexpected flash of unreasonable anger/frustration/rage/tears that sweeps in out of literally nowhere, and just lays waste to every fucking thing that could ever have been good about a moment is beyond comprehension, and seems defiant of management or control. It leaves an emotional film of unpleasantness and sorrow over everything that follows for some time.

…But… I have all these excellent practices… all this therapy behind me… all these good intentions… all this fucking work. My demons howl with laughter and general merriment. I can hear them like a Greek chorus, “Fuck your practices you stupid meat puppet! We fucking own you. We will own you until it kills you or destroys everything you love.”

Sure, there’s shit my Traveling Partner fucks up, too. He’s human. I think it’s easy enough to acknowledge his humanity. Sometimes he’s wrong. Sometimes he’s an asshole. Sometimes he’s not either of those things, and shit still goes sideways. I’ve got to acknowledge that he definitely loves me, too; how else could he have stayed through so much of my bullshit? How else could he continue to approach me, seeking to calm things down and soothe me when he is hurting, himself?  Is it enough? Is love actually enough? Can it really keep me trying? Can it really lift me up? Is love enough to get me to hang in there through another freak out? Another break down? Another fuck up? Another moment of missed communication, sabotaged joy, lost delight? Is love enough to endure more of this shit? Is it unreasonable to expect it to be?

What do I even do right now? (What do I even do right, now?)

I’ve lost my appetite. My coffee tastes sour. My head aches. My tears just keep slowly flowing down my face. This is an incredibly painful moment. We’re on the edge of doing something really wonderful together… and I continue to suck as a human being. God damn it. Fucking hell. This is miserable.

…Why am I choosing misery?

(Breathe. Exhale. Let it go. Breathe. Exhale. Let it go, some more. Breathe, exhale, let it go, be here – present in this moment. I remind myself that I am “okay right now”.)

So, now what? I don’t know. I know my partner is hurting in the other room. Emotional pain because this was a painful moment. Physical pain because he’s a human, and aging fucking sucks; old injuries hurt worse as we age than they did when we were recovering from them. Both of us are hurting. There’s no physical violence in this relationship, but we sometimes treat each poorly. Harsh. Unkind words are for sure “better than a punch in the mouth” – but they aren’t good. It’s not what I want from myself. It’s not want I want for myself.

…I just want my pleasant relaxed morning back. I want to roll back the clock and treat my partner well, and feel well-treated in return. We missed our moment. I can’t refuse to own my part in that. I can’t turn away from my critical failures. The way out is through. We learn best through our mistakes and failures. Growth is uncomfortable.

“Begin again.” It’s feeble, but I heard it. That’s something, I guess. I think I want to, too. I just don’t feel confident about the outcome, right now. 😦 That’s even okay. It’s enough to make the effort. It’s enough to begin again.

…and again…

…and again…

We become what we practice. It’s time to practice calm. It’s time to practice loving words. It’s time to practice listening deeply.

…It’s time to begin again.

 

The sun is up. I slept in a bit. Sipping coffee, barefooted, on a weekend morning, late in the spring. It’s a lovely moment. I’ve got nothing to bitch about. Nothing nagging at my consciousness. No drama. No baggage (in this moment). No chaos. The morning is quiet. My mood is calm. My outlook on life is merry. I’m okay, right, in every sense of the word that matters. 🙂 My coffee tastes good. My roses have begun to bloom. My aquariums are thriving. The computer my Traveling Partner built for me while we share Life in the Time of Pandemic, together, is working beautifully – and by that, I mean it is both a wonderful upgrade in performance, and also a beautiful technological piece, aesthetically. I smile every time I sit down at my desk, feeling very loved. I feel content.

“Baby Love” blooming in a pot on the deck. 🙂

Let’s be super real on this notion of contentment and ease; I’ve worked years to get here, and there have been many verbs involved, and many tears shed, over time. My outlook matters more than material details. I could live this life, identical in all practical details, and be mired in misery. PTSD has that power. Healthy emotional wellness practices really matter that much.

No click bait here, no “secret practice your therapist doesn’t want you to know about” in an eye-catching thumbnail. I’m not about that. I’m just saying, perspective matters. How I treat myself matters. How I treat others, and how reciprocal those interactions are, matters. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve often felt I was stumbling haphazardly through the darkness, quite alone. I’ve known despair, and futility and frustration and sorrow and, yes, madness. I’m not alone in that – and that’s why I write. Reminders for me, and maybe, just maybe, a light in the seemingly endless darkness for someone else. Someone that I’ll likely never meet. There have been so many such souls on my journey… human beings on their own journey, helpful co-travelers, sometimes unrecognized until much later, because I simply wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying to me, then. We all walk our own hard mile. (You too.)

Life is pretty good these days, even in spite of the pandemic. It’s not about material success (I’m not wealthy), or finding one true love (I’m fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with someone I love very much, but in dark times love does not “cure” our sorrows, or ease the weight of our baggage). Life is pretty good these days because more of my choices take me in that direction, than choices which don’t. Verbs. Choices. Beginnings. Perspective. Sufficiency. These are only words, but the words represent concepts I’ve found key to making my way, a bit at a time, to a life that feels, generally, characterized by contentment, and joy.

I’ve put in many hours of therapy and study. Reading books isn’t enough; the ideas have to become changes in behavior and thinking. The epiphanies and “ah-ha moments” have to become new practices. Practices that work have to be sustained over time. There is a commitment to treating oneself well involved – this may be the biggest challenge (it has been for me).

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

I think I’m just saying… “you’ve got this!”. Unhappy with life? Choose change. Rethink your most basic assumptions. Re-examine your expectations of life, of people, of yourself. Try a new combination of real kindness and firm boundary-setting. Ask the hard questions. Consider all the options. Take care of yourself – because you matter to you. No reason to expect it to be easy, or that you’ll never cry again, or that “the world” will ever be “fair”. Be your own best friend – and your own best self, because you can make that choice from moment to moment, and when you fail (and you will, I promise you that), begin again. Just begin again. Don’t beat yourself up over your fundamental humanity – examine your errors with some emotional distance, gain understanding of yourself (and others) from your mistakes, learn, grow, and move on with increased perspective. Accept that you are human – then also accept that everyone else is, too. Make room in your thinking for what you can’t know, or don’t understand; there’s nearly always something new to learn. Check your assumptions.

There’s a lot of baggage to put down. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go of. It’s easier to give yourself closure than to seek it elsewhere. Don’t drink the poison. Tame your own barking dog. Consider your outlook on life, generally. Yes, it’s a lot of work, I know. It probably seems so much easier to get a prescription for some boldly advertised new drug. I’ve tried that, myself. It didn’t work reliably well for me, which is how I found myself at 50, filled with despair, trying one more therapist, one more time, unconvinced that life was worth living. A huge stack of books and a few years later, life looks (and feels) very different to me. I’ve made a lot of changes – to practices, jobs, relationships; I rebuilt basically my entire life (and lifestyle) to better support becoming the woman I most wanted to be, living a life of contentment and joy. Worth it. So worth it. (Not infallibly perfect – that’s not on life’s menu, right?)

So… what do you say? Are you ready to begin again?