Archives for category: Despair

I slept in. It’s a lovely summer morning, before the heat sets in. Water is heating for coffee. Internal plumbing means I have hot water on tap for a refreshing shower, and air conditioning keeps the place comfortable for the heat of the day. I caught sight of a bunny down in the yard, from the deck this morning, as I watered. I’m not in any particular pain, right now. I feel good in my skin. So much goodness in this one moment.

A chipmunk grabs a quick bite before darting away.

A bit like small, timid, creatures expecting to be hunted, sometimes we handle our best moments fearfully, ready to dart away at the first “sign of danger”, waiting for disaster to strike, or convinced we don’t “deserve” it, or that it isn’t real. :-\

This morning? I’m just enjoying the moment, and this fine cup of coffee, which I’ve only now finished making. It feels like summer, and I am content to enjoy that. I’ll also note that “this”? It didn’t come naturally. I used to face all the good life had to offer me with terrible anxiety – certain that it would all be “taken away”. Soon. That perspective made it super hard to really relax, and really wholly enjoy myself. Contentment stayed out of reach. Happiness was largely out of the question. Life felt harder than it had to.

I’m not sure how to convince or persuade that there is another way, besides living another way, making other choices, and sharing my experience. Your results may vary. We each have to walk our own hard mile; we are each having our own experience. Still. This is a great place to begin a new journey. Or this. Hell, if you’re into reading, there are stepping stones and mile posts all along this path. Yes, it does require effort. Yes, it’s work you’ll do the rest of your life. I’m not trying to discourage you by calling it “effort” or “work”, either, just being real, reading about doing what it will take is not at all the same as doing the things it will take. Still… the effort, for me, has been very much worth it.

…It’s a lovely sunny day. My coffee tastes good. My heart is at ease. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I sip my coffee and reflect. I’m not a perfect person. I have hard days, like anyone. I sometimes choose poorly. I go wrong, now and again. This path, as with any other, has some rocks, and tripping hazards. The entire experience of living life seems to be about learning, growing, and making mistakes.

This morning, my head aches. I spent too much time crying last night. Not grief; the aftermath of …”an argument”? It wasn’t exactly. Words went wrong in a moment. Mine. His. I walked away before things developed into raised voices; I just wasn’t up to any of that. He felt hurt, even mistreated, that I walked away, without further discourse. We gave up on enjoying a shared evening. It sucked. Hours later, we found ourselves in shared space again. I apologized – it wasn’t about being right, or being wrong, or any of that; I simply whole-heartedly regretted hurting his feelings. No way to roll back the clock, so apologizing unreservedly was all I had to offer. It wasn’t a particularly satisfying moment, I’m not sure it did any good, or that things are “any better” now, and although I slept when I finally called it a night, I woke feeling dried out, head-ache-y, and heavy-hearted. Shitty start to the morning.

So basic.

I give myself room to be human. I take time for meditation. A cool shower helps, too. I sit now, getting ready for a work day that holds no enthusiasm, wondering if I’m even up to being an adult, at all…? Tooth extraction, tomorrow… Fourth of July the next day. I struggle with ennui and anhedonia, this morning. I struggle with tears that want to come, without any particular cause. Sometimes shit’s hard. I sip my coffee, frowning a bit. “This too shall pass” seems a fitting thought. I don’t find it particularly comforting, in this moment, maybe later? The pain shifts. Headache, now spine. I feel twisted and uncomfortable.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let things go. Pull myself back to “now”. Right now? Right now, I’m okay. Right now, he sleeps quietly. We live gently, without any hint of violence; a few terse words and some hurt feelings seem a small, fairly ordinary, human experience. We’ll get past it. Right now, the world feels new. I give myself another chance – that’s what that phrase “begin again” is all about. Reset the clock. Start over. Take a fresh approach. Let go of a bit of baggage and bullshit, and take a step forward on the path. “Growth” isn’t easy, or without effort, or free of error – and sometimes our mistakes are painful, for us, for those dear to us, to random strangers… but we do need to grow. So. A new beginning, then? I guess so.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Feel the tension in my shoulders begin to release. Feel the headache begin to dissipate. I drink more water. Sip more coffee. Do some yoga. I start building a fresh start, and a new perspective. No room to cling to personal narrative here; I’m often wrong. We all are. We make too much up in our heads to be reliably correct about what someone else is going through. More coffee. More time. More breaths. Fucking hell, today feels hard already. A deep slow breath. Another moment to exhale, relax, and feel my shoulders drop back down where they belong. Again, and again. “Practice”.

I look at the clock. Although I’ve no significant enthusiasm for it, it’s already time to begin again. There’s a work day ahead, and a chance to do something positive. More verbs. More choices. More beginnings. For now, that’s enough.

Well, sure. This.

I made the mistake of reading the news headlines this morning. I was fortunate, I think, that they were in general so disappointing (I mean, seriously reducing my fondness for humanity, the longer I scrolled), that I didn’t bother to read more than one or two articles. Fucking hell. Maybe save the news bullshit for after the coffee next time?

Better than “news”.

It was less that the news itself was specifically “good” or “bad”, and more that… omg… human beings are such unreserved colossal dicks to each other! Cruel. Petty. Irritable. Self-righteous. Territorial. Deceitful. This morning’s news feed amounted to a serious disappointment – in humanity. Just, overall. Fuck.

Day-to-day squirrels observably treat each other better than human beings treat each other.

Do better, humanity, for fucks’ sake, please just do better. We’re killing each other, destroying the planet we live on, sowing discord instead of feeding the world, fomenting war, elevating gossip, undermining science, promoting lies as truth, and just generally being fucking dickbags all the damned time. We can do better.

…I can do better. This is my own fault every bit as much as it is yours. We each have a share in this mess, however small you may think your share is… you’ve still got a piece of this madness. Fix your fucking mess. I’ll work on fixing mine. If we could each be convinced to heal our racist/sexist/ageist/able-ist/xenophobic bullshit tendency to divide our world into in-groups and out-groups, and vile us vs. them foolishness… we might actually build a world fit to live in. I’m so exhausted from being astonished and outraged. I’m so bored and frustrated with being angry about it.

I can still do better. The verbs pile up, don’t they? The Big 5 are a good fit here: Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, and Openness. Yeah, those are practices, and grammar notwithstanding, manage to be substantially very verb-y. What I’m saying is we’re making choices to be what we are, each of us, every day, all of us, all the time.

…And it’s time to begin again. Do better.

 

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” (a damned lie from childhood; some of that shit stings for a lifetime)

“That’s just semantics.” (A corporate management professional who should know better)

“I didn’t mean it that way!” (Nearly everyone, at some point)

Words and meaning – they do matter, don’t they? It’s how we get our point across (short of frustrated sobbing, or shouting, at which point no one hears the meaning over the volume of emotion).

“Use your words.” (A thing generally said parent to child, and potentially far more useful that a lot of other advice about words one could hear)

The point here is clear; gentle honesty, authentic civility, being “real” without willful offense, being truthful – and also accurate – seem wise and purposeful, constructive, ways to use language, on the “word delivery” side of things. I’m not saying people seem intent on wise use of their words, I’m just calling out the potential. We’re human primates; it is not unusual to see the worst of our nature. (I make this observation on an Easter Sunday, after reading new reports of police shootings in the US, and suicide bombings in Sri Lanka; we’re the scariest and most dangerous of all the primates, no doubt about it. 100% “most likely to destroy their own world.”)

I’m also contemplating the listener’s obligations in the face of some torrent of untruthful or hurtful bullshit, delivered in the form of words (spoken or in print, bullshit is bullshit). Clear, explicit communication is useful stuff; we sometimes allow a personal agenda of some kind (or fearfulness, or baggage) to nudge us away from truth, accuracy, consideration, necessity, kindness, and wisdom. Capable of spewing some heinous vile nonsense, we often also seem rather unprepared to deal with receiving it. What then? What to do when the world piles on, and we suffer the weight and the pain of it, feeling unable to defend ourselves, feeling compelled to try?

I’m not sure I have the best advice on that one; my tendency (and my practice) is to detect drama (or bullshit) and, if possible, walk away from all that. I attempt to avoid having drama-prone, hostile-seeming, or trolling-inclined associates join my social circle in the first place. I attempt to defuse discussions headed toward drama, explicitly, gentle, firmly, and without argument; I’m not interested in loosing the wild dogs of emotion in conversations that are ideally handled less passionately. I’m not interested in being provoked.

The world we live in can be exceedingly provocative, in all the worst ways. I mean, seriously? We’ve built a world in which people feel entitled to make their point by blowing up explosives in crowded places, taking innocent lives by way of gunfire, or using torture. How does any of that not provoke decent people (of all backgrounds and ideologies) into wanting to fight back, to insist on change, to reject the thinking that appears to be at the source of the violence? It’s a strange paradox, though; if we become the fighter, and take to the battlefield, we are immediately at grave risk of becoming that thing we so despise. I don’t have answers this morning… I’m just sipping my coffee, and noticing we have so many better ways to express ourselves, than by way of guns and bombs.

We could each do better. We can all begin again.

Sipping my coffee, scrolling through my feeds, reading the posts of friends dropped into this app or that one, during the night. There is content that troubles me, and I see a lot of it; people posting vague remarks that are self-critical, negative, and on a hopeless sort of downer that shrieks of depression, self-loathing, and… a regrettable lack of understanding that there are, still, and yes, even if they are deeply depressed, some choices involved. Harsh. Why the ever-loving-fuck would someone repeatedly post this sort of quagmire of terribly self-contempt-filled morsels on which to feed themselves? Horrifying.

I don’t have to look too far in the past to “get it”. I only “don’t get it”, now. It’s one major drawback, for me, of healing and forward momentum; it can be hard to understand, or identify with, those past challenges. I guess I’m grateful for that, generally, but when I want to offer comfort, or suggest there is another way, I wish I were more easily able to do so. How do I tell someone in such circumstances “that’s just your opinion of yourself, and only for right now, and holy crap – did you know you can change that??”… when it is their own heartfelt convictions, and deepest terror, about themselves, that I’d be seeking to challenge? I mean, I can say words. Words I’ve got – lots of them – but, generally, these friends are not listening to those words. They hear the words they say, themselves, about the self they so loathe. Anything I could (and often do) say is drowned out in the din.

…It can be heartbreaking to scroll past egregious thinking errors that recognizably mire dear ones in misery. We each can only do so much. If a feeding frenzy of corrections, positivity, love, and encouragement, in response to such posts does nothing to bandage a wounded heart… what can? Well… being present helps. Listening deeply helps. Constancy and steady patient friendship helps. Eventually, though, it’s down to that person and those feelings. …And the verbs…? Yep. No surprise; they’ve got to do the verbs, themselves. No one else can actually undertake to do the work to feel better, aside from the person having the shitty experience – particularly if that shitty experience is one they’ve willfully crafted for themselves and reinforced over time.

Well… shit. That sucks. I’d love to be able to reach out a hand to a friend and take their pain away. Generally, it does not work like that. If I cling to them, wrapping myself up in their pain, eventually some may even sap my strength for living my own life, and caring for my own heart – and not out of malice, just done in a way not so dissimilar to someone overboard grabbing for a life vest or flotation device and just holding on desperately. So, I focus on self-care, and listening deeply, and sharing the journey, and “being there” – but I also work to set skillful boundaries, to be there for my own self, reliably, and to avoid getting sucked into drama. I do what I can to encourage friends who are suffering to choose less suffering, if they are able to. I still feel sad when I watch them choose suffering again and again, in a way that appears crafted and willful. My heart aches for them; I’m pretty sure that if they were able to really understand how much suffering they specifically choose, foster, nurture, and feed, they would also understand they could choose differently.

…I couldn’t treat myself differently until I both understood that such a thing were possible, and – but? – also not until I was ready to see myself differently, and as worthy of better treatment from myself. Harsh – but the truth of it is that I can’t walk that mile for anyone else. I can only suggest that there is such a path available to be walked.

It was a lovely quiet weekend, spent in the gentle good company of my traveling partner. Some snow fell. Some rain fell. Movies were watched. Content was shared – as was contentment. It was warm and connected and close. It feels good to share the company of such good companions: my Traveling Partner… and the woman in the mirror. It feels good to be in a place in life where my own good company is precious to me. I finish my coffee, wondering what words it takes to suggest to the worn down, forlorn, depressed, or anxious, that they, too, have this amazing relationship near at hand…? That perhaps the answer to the question “when will I find someone?” could be found in their mirror, right now?

The coffee is finished. It’s time to begin again. 🙂