Archives for category: Despair

Damn. Rollercoaster ride of a few days. Crazy. Some lovely on-again-off-again rainy days, which I find generally quite pleasant. Less pleasant is the ebb and flow my anxiety. I had a lovely relaxed weekend with my Traveling Partner – it seems ridiculously far away, now. I’m not certain either of us actually recall it.

My last surviving grandparent died over the weekend. It hit me harder than I expected. I keep making that observation, in various conversations. I’m not sure why I feel I need to explain or excuse my feelings. Grief and grieving are very personal processes. My partner is loving and considerate of my grief. He’s good like that.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

My partner is less loving and considerate of my anxiety; it tends to provoke his, which then causes mine to worsen (seeing him anxious), which, of course, aggravates his (seeing my anxiety increasing) and around we go. He does his best – and his best is pretty good. I’ve been – often right here – “working on” my anxiety for years now. Study. Practice. Consult. More practice. Repeat. It’s hardest on us when we’re both having an experience that is characterized by feelings of anxiety. “Background anxiety” is particularly insidious. I too often feel that I’m managing things skillfully, feeling good…but miss some detail that could predictably be a thing that might trigger his anxiety… and we’re off. My fairly chronic picking at my cuticles, for example, although it is a sort of a “tic”, and hard to shut down or “break the habit”, it functions as a trigger for his anxiety (likely by sending subtle “anxiety signals” to him that suggest I am anxious, myself) – I’ve fought this “habit” for years. It’s nowhere near as terrible as it once was (I can not now imagine what observing that horror show must have been like for onlookers), but I still bite my nails sometimes and pick at jagged cuticles something awful, and often without being aware of it. Yeesh. I could do better. It’s hard, and there are verbs involved, and it is a major bummer to see so little obvious progress over time. I keep at it.

Anxiety and grief. My week, this week. That’s already a lot to take, but on top of that – I woke yesterday from a late afternoon post-crying-over-death nap with a serious case of vertigo. Did I sleep on my neck wrong? Do a poor selection of dumb bell exercises? Was it because I was working with the 3D printer on my hands and knees, instead of sitting comfortably and being aware of my posture? Is it viral? Was it doing all the show-and-tell stuff my physician asked for during yesterday’s video appointment? I rose from bed with care, severely dizzy, and fighting the anxiety that comes with the vertigo (hard not to panic, it’s very scary). It soon made me physically ill, and I gotta say, I did not enjoy the experience of cleaning up puke while also still fighting the spinning of the room. I did impress myself, though (less by the quantity and distance I achieved, more the unexpected success with the clean up.) I went back to bed – not much else I could do (literally). I just didn’t have the balance to be doing things. I woke a couple times during the night, still spinning. Managed to make it to the bathroom without an incident. This morning? Not quite as bad, and I worked, more or less as is typical.

Well.. I worked, and I juggled the anxiety. Mine and his. I don’t really know what caused his – maybe mine. For sure a portion of mine is caused by his. It’s a pretty problematic feedback loop that seems solved only by literal distance from each other, at least lately. His tense request is that I do a better job of managing my anxiety. I can’t even argue with that; it’s a reasonable request. “Already on it!” is what I’d like to reply, but don’t want to sound flippant, or dismissive, or in any way take away from his message – which is that he is struggling to feel comfortable and manage his own anxiety, when he is with me. Especially hard when he wants to be with me so very much. I want that too.

My arthritis pain competes with my anxiety for my attention, and with the vertigo continuing to flirt with my awareness from the periphery. Adulting is hard. I sigh and email my therapist to request an appointment time. There are steps to take. There are things I can practice – or practice more. There are things within my power, right now, to do better/differently to care for myself with greater skill. It’s not about “easy” – there are no promises that it will be, and I don’t expect it to be. More failure than success? Comes with the issues being tackled here. Incremental change over time is slow. Anxiety fights back. S’ok. It’s a process. Failure doesn’t truly characterize the journey unless I stop moving forward entirely. 🙂 One step at a time, walking this hard mile. I’m having my own experience – and I feel fortunate that I am also sharing the journey with someone who truly cares about my wellness, and to see me thrive as an individual. More practice? Sign me up. It’s really that simple. I don’t have time for blame-laying, I just want to heal and be well. I’m willing to work pretty hard for that, and willing to do so in the face of literal years of failure and frustration, just to manage some small improvements. I’ve had to be. Is it “worth it”? That’s not really a question I can answer for anyone else.

It’s time to begin again. Again.

Keepin’ it real on a Sunday. Later I’ll just get to work on housekeeping chores and try to get past being a fucking human being, with all the flaws and limitations and confusion that seems to include. This morning sucks. Shit-tastic moment right here. Crap-tacular.

I’ve managed to up-end what might have been an ordinary lovely Sunday morning over-reacting to something my Traveling Partner said. I could have “let it go” or allowed myself to understand his perspective without sharing mine, but in attempting to speak up about my own perspective and experience, the whole entire morning just came crashing down around me. I don’t communicate skillfully in that moment, he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m trying to communicate. I manage to hurt his feelings, frustrate, and anger him. Now we’re separate people with separate lives in separate rooms having separate moments quite removed from each other, still, I’m sure, entangled emotionally with this shared shitty experience. It sucks on a lot of levels. We’re each having our own experience. We each understand our lives in a context we may not be able to actually share with each other in an understandable way. We’ve got our own perspective, our own baggage. Our own PTSD.

I’m trying to avoid creeping despair with limited success, as it attempts to weave its way into my emotional landscape.

I feel isolated and lonely. I lack a feeling of being understood, or even accepted. My fingers pause on the keyboard while my brain grinds through all the ways this is “my fault” and all the many things I have sought to do differently in one partnership or another to be other than I am, with varying degrees of skill – or success. The more my thoughts swirl around all this shit, the more it blurs together, like bad finger painting at that point at which the colors are just becoming a muddy homogenous gray. I’m already not even making sense, to myself. The tears keep coming.

I know, I know. It’s clearly time to begin again. The weight of the ennui and learned helpless is tremendous and if I were standing in an inch of water, I’d likely drown. My attempts to communicate are falling so short that each new attempt is at risk of being an escalation, and I was told I’m “being dramatic” several times this morning, before I finally withdrew into my carefully crafted one-room private hell. (I know, I see it. It does read like I’m “being” “dramatic”; I’m having trouble making myself heard over the din in my own head.)

New beginnings do tend to require that something else end. I don’t really know what needs to be ended, right now, in this moment. I feel sad and worn down. Tired. Frustrated. I assure myself “this too shall pass”, and although I know that to be pretty reliably true, I don’t have much confidence in whatever may come after it. A literal lifetime of struggling with my mental health, and specifically in the context of intimate partnerships and familial relationships, has worn me down past the point of being sure I can make constructive, practical, healthy, useful changes that result in being whole and well and emotionally self-sufficient. I’m frustrated by that. Most of the “obvious” choices, in this particularly difficult moment, seem rich in potential for self-sabotage or self-spite, wildly contrary, and the sorts of things that follow someone shouting “Well, fine, then I’ll just never…” (or, you know, “just always…”) before going immediately to gross hyperbole and refining the discussion to some ludicrous probably irrelevant extreme.

I read those words once or twice more. It’s true I’m definitely not feeling heard. It’s also true that when my experience hits that wall, I do tend to become more prone to drama (in both word choice and tone). I become more ferocious in my delivery, seeking any breach in the wall of misunderstanding, trying to force the person I’m talking with to hear me, to acknowledge my humanity, to “get it” – when they clearly don’t get it. It’s not helpful. It’s not helpful for them or for me; it’s not possible to force people to understand something they don’t understand. Just letting it go… like… forever? Not helpful for me. Might save the relationship, though. Is every point of contention a “hill worth fighting for”? I mean, obviously not; I used the word “every”. Along with “always”, and “never”, “every” is pretty much the customs stamp of a logical fallacy; if the argument is taken to that extreme, I can be pretty certain, generally, that whatever is claimed to be “always”, “never”, or some portion of “every”… it’s incorrect. Fallacious. Not accurate.

I start on better self-care.

I breathe. Relax. Try to let this one go, again. What matters most? Maybe I can let myself focus on this list of chores. Do those, as mindfully as I am able, let this other shit go… deal with it when I feel stronger. More emotionally safe. Clearer of mind. Choose a better moment, from a more rational perspective – sounds super smart. I’d like to be that person. It doesn’t make sense to keep expecting other people – any other people, including my partner(s) – to really understand my experience from my side of it. Pretty silly, actually, in the context of “we’re each having our own experience” – which we are. Another breath. Another sip of cold coffee. I’m fortunate to enjoy this loving partnership with this human being I cherish so much. Expecting that it will also be characterized by a universally aligned, wholly informed and accepting shared understanding of self, of each other, and of the world around us is, at best, wildly unlikely. I don’t think it’s very reasonable, at all, actually.

I think I’ll shoot for “reasonable” and “contented” today. Pretty lofty goal from the vantage point of this desk, and these tears drying on my cheeks. It’s something to work towards. I’ll focus on practical matters like good self-care, and perspective, and this list of chores. I’ll keep the achievements small and achievable. I’ll let the emotional weather pass like clouds. I’ll work on keeping my expectations of myself, and of the day, quite manageable, and reality check my assumptions regularly. It’s not “everything” (what is?), but it’s a starting point, and it’s within reach, and looking over the commitments with care, it looks both reasonable and emotionally healthy. That’ll have to be enough today.

My Traveling Partner looks in on me. He says kind words. He has a kind face and a concerned look. We connect gently, carefully, seeking to ease the emotional hurts, reduce the stress. He tells me that spiders have invaded the house during the night. I say I’ll make a point to vacuum with care and do my best to make our space unwelcoming for them. The interaction approaches normalcy. It’s something to hold on to. A stepping off point from which to begin again.

My week started out pretty rough. My sleep health wasn’t good. Nightmares (again), and disturbed rest. Flare ups of emotional volatility, partially due to the poor sleep, partially due to “whatever” was driving that. I mean, I’m not unfamiliar with my own issues, I know what’s up. Political and legislative attacks on women’s health care options. Political shenanigans (seriously??) regarding basic good sense medical care during a pandemic (the heights of ignorance are astonishing). I’ll admit I’m offended that medicine, medical care, or the healthcare system are politicized in the way that they are. (Although, just being real here, I’m also offended that those are “for profit” industries, too.) Then, on top of the stressors this background crap presents, we’ve got people objecting to ending our endless war in Afhganistan. What the fuck?? I get it, it’s hard watching those media images of terrified people trying to get out of their country – away from war – against limited time, and limited transportation resources. My PTSD flared up hard. Rough. I don’t really want or need to deep dive the details; ruminating on the start of a downward spiral is not especially helpful (for me, now).

I’m okay right now. Yesterday was pleasant, too, and Thursday was better than Tuesday, so… “nothing to see here”. 🙂

The “downward spiral” of a flare-up of a mental health condition isn’t new for folks who deal with it. It’s frustrating. Terrifying. Causes a deep sense of futility and despair. All the work to heal… all the therapy… the expense… the effort… and then… still human. Still capable of suffering. Still wounded. Still struggling. It’s hard. It’s also super real. Are you in it? Sliding down? Scrambling for any possible hand-hold to slow the progression downward? I feel that. I see you.

This time was better, for me. I didn’t slide as far as fast. I didn’t get mired in my own bullshit, blinded and deafened to anything else. I was able to ask for – and accept – help. I was more clear, with my words, about what I was going through, and be more open. I was able to stall the slide – which still kind of wows me, sitting here this morning, with my coffee and my contentment. I’m pleased to acknowledge the very real progress I’ve made that I could not see, sense, or appreciate on Tuesday. Was it Tuesday? Monday? Earlier this week. 🙂

My Traveling Partner was taken by surprise by my flare up. He was a support super star, after the initial chaos rocked him off center. I not only stayed open to being supported – which was hard for me – he also stayed committed to supporting me. I know that couldn’t be easy. Apologies were exchanged, where appropriate, and the love we wrapped each other in was authentic, and deep and abiding.

I guess I’m just saying… don’t just give in to the slide down. Breathe. Take a nap. Drink enough water. Handle your self-care. Walk in the sun. Take a day off work. Get some exercise. Let it pass – it will, eventually, but let that happen. Don’t hang on to the pain and the chaos. Distract yourself from your ancient pain, don’t just sit there picking at the scabs. I mean… I’m no expert, I’m just saying, you have options. 🙂

You’re stronger than you know. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve got this. Begin again. ❤

Don’t forget to enjoy what’s good about living life. Simply that. Please. Yes, reflect. For sure, honor those who were lost. Just… also live in this moment, and embrace what’s good, what’s working… enjoy and celebrate and make merry. Every day. Love with your whole heart. Forgive what can be forgiven (and that’s mostly all the things) – and make sure that you forgive yourself, too. Breathe. Relax. Hug someone you love. Tell a silly joke. Be okay, because even that becomes a practice. Let go of what you can let go of. Set down the baggage that’s grown too heavy to bear – if you can. Speak kindly. Speak gently. Lift others up instead of knocking them down.

Yesterday afternoon went sideways pretty abruptly. I guess I’m not surprised looking back on it. I triggered him, and he triggered me… or maybe the other way around? I don’t know. I just know I didn’t manage to pull out of that tail spin, and the the whole mess lingered in my consciousness through the night. I am unwilling to catastrophize it now… relevant to things that could go wrong, it was a small thing. Harsh words. Tears. I definitely wanted to do better than I did. I need more practice. I certainly wasn’t my best self.

My morning coffee is ordinary. The day ahead stretches beyond this moment without any agenda beyond being a better lover and a better friend. There’s a lot to contemplate about getting those things right.

I sip my coffee and queue up a video my Traveling Partner shared with me during the night, and raise my mug in a silent moment of remembrance to fallen brothers and sisters at arms. Memorial Day. The dead have no chance to live their lives well, or to become the person they most wanted to be. I do.

It’s time to begin again.

I am sipping the cold remains of my second morning coffee, abandoned earlier, on my way into the garden. It’s less than ideally satisfying, as cold coffees go, neither properly cold, nor at all warm. I don’t much care; relative to other concerns it is a meaningless detail. Today, I’m feeling the weight of Memorial Day; it’s been a very long time since Memorial Day was any sort of celebration, for me. It is a day to remember the fallen: lives lost to war, lives lost to violence, a moment to contemplate the wasted human potential sacrificed to the causes of various governments… some of those lacking in moral high ground of any kind. I don’t find it something to celebrate. Instead, I honor those I’ve lost, and the lives lost that matter to others that I will never know. It’s simply my way.

I spent yesterday afternoon in my studio, painting. I’ve commented in other places that I am less likely to paint when I am content, fulfilled, happy, or satisfied. It’s an emotional experience that requires emotional impetus, and emotional momentum, and, for me, a way to communicate what I lack the words for. Make of that what you will. Honestly? I dislike “watching the world burn” in these problematic, chaotic times… but in my studio, and so many elsewhere, these are conditions that have a lot of potential to create great art. (Fingers crossed that anyone is around to appreciate any of it… later on.)

I am feeling a bit glum, and a bit angry. How is it 2021 and sexism is still a thing? Or the chronic condescension of patriarchy? How are so many people unwilling or unable to see the strong connection between sexism & misogyny – and literally all of the other evils of our society? (How many racists do you know who are not also sexist? How many people filled with hatred toward immigrants are not also sexist? How many elected idiots are not also sexist?) Sexism isn’t even limited to men, for fuck’s sake; there are ever so many women willing to carry that apologist torch to maintain this system that burns us all. This is where my head is at today; perplexed and sorrowful about all the human relationships tainted by the ugliness of implicit sexism. I’m not feeling open to excuses, explanations, denials, or “othering”, today. I’m not interested in justification, or placating platitudes. Hell, it’s not even connected to Memorial Day sadness – not even a little bit. It’s just where my head is at. I’m in a place in my own life where I no longer feel any obligation whatsoever to placate various men in my life, although out of general consideration, and a lack of interest in their opinion on an experience of sexism they can not share (and largely seem unable to recognize, as a result), I mostly just don’t discuss it, at all. Complicating all this is that is sometimes feels like a conversation with my father. He’s dead, though… hard to “feel heard”. So the anger comes and goes, not unlike the sorrow of any one Memorial Day; it has a place in my experience, a moment taken to care for it tenderly, to consider and soothe it, and then I move the fuck on to other things. There’s no solution that I reasonably expect to see in my lifetime, and I’ve got things to do.

I put on music to write to, suited to this peculiar headspace, while I sip this cold coffee and practice self-soothing a lifetime of seething rage until I am “okay” once more… For most values of “okay”. It is what it is, I guess. Life is, generally, pretty good. I find it worrisome to see so many people take their anger out into the world, along with a gun… and then end someone else’s life. That seems pretty unfair and entirely inappropriate. I don’t like seeing it become more and more prevalent… but of course, it’s hard to be certain that it has; likes, clicks, views, and the eager drive to capture consumer attention dictates what is in our news feeds every day. The undermining of “truth” – real, factual, documentable truth – has progressed to the point that I’ve even removed satirical and comedic content that uses current events for the foundational content from my feeds. I don’t care to risk my understanding of what is real and true, if I can avoid doing so. I try to stick with content that is fact-checked reliably. It gets harder all the time.

What do we do with all this anger? I feel it, too. I’m trying to find healthy ways to process it, to deal with it, to care for my own tender injured heart without doing damage to someone else’s. Painting is one way. Funny thing; yesterday I was not “painting anger”, although it was among the mixed emotions that pushed me into my studio. I was painting love, and painting hope, and painting joy, and the comfort of emotional safety. I was painting what I want to see in the world and in my own life. I surprised myself with that. Maybe it’s a good practice? I guess I’ll be needing to practice to see what comes of it, over time.

Today, though, is a day for housekeeping, and mindful service to hearth and home. This, too, is “my way”. I’m not sure why Sunday. I could say “the habit of a lifetime” – but it isn’t. Growing up, I most commonly saw housework being done more or less in all the waking hours of our family life – and all of it done by my Mother, or Grandmother, or some other woman, in some other home. I’m fortunate. I get a lot of help from my Traveling Partner. We generally both handle routine basics during the week. I do a few hours of focused housekeeping on the weekend, to get ready for a new week; I like the results, all week long. My partner tackles a lot of the maintenance and upkeep of the house and the technology we live with. It mostly seems a pretty fair division of labor. My resentment, when it occasionally builds up over time, tends to be more about my own shortcomings self-care-wise, and lack of skillful boundary-setting or time management, and discomfort with asking for help when I need it. Recognizing that’s “on me” to resolve, I try to be aware of my bullshit before it spills over elsewhere. No doubt I could improve in this area. lol

I look at my list of chores for today. It’s honestly not “all that”, and definitely doesn’t amount to enough work for any hint of annoyance or resentment or fuss. It’s just a routine Sunday on a long weekend. 🙂 Hell, I may even paint more later – I’m feeling very inspired lately. I don’t suggestion that that is a good thing… it’s just fuel for the artistic fire within.

I glance at the time, and into the bottom of my now-empty coffee mug; it’s time to begin again.