Archives for category: Despair

Yesterday, rather unexpectedly (entirely unexpectedly), my Traveling Partner called gently to me from inside the house “…can you come into the house quickly?” So, of course, I made my way into the house with some haste. I stepped into the living room, and first saw him, standing in front of the aquarium, looking at it, perplexed and concerned. As he pointed, my eye followed… to water flowing from the aquarium… the water on the floor… back to the “leak” (which appeared to be coming from nowhere, just sort of “seeping, aggressively” from the lower rim. What the hell? (And, also… 29 gallons of water is a lot more water than it seems like it would be, when it is flowing down the front of furniture, pooling on the floor, and expanding in all directions. Just saying. “Astonished” just about describes my experience.)

A lot went on from that moment of recognition, until the completed resolution some hours later. My Traveling Partner stayed cool and calm. I did pretty well in that department, too. I obtained a new aquarium was quickly obtained from the local fish store (a genuine stroke of good fortune on that – it’s a strange size, and not commonly carried everywhere). While I was doing that, my partner siphoned the remaining water into buckets, rescued plants and livestock, and cleaned up literally every sign that there ever was a leak, anywhere. (Call me impressed – I got home seriously worried about “all of the things”, and committed to doing my part… which was, after all that, simply to set up the new aquarium. Wow. So much love.)

I spent a relatively relaxed evening setting up the new aquarium, and enjoyed having the help of my Traveling Partner. We worked together on it, and the outcome was a good one; not one fish fatality, a thorough water change (that was due), significant pruning and algae removal, and some tidying up and re-scaping the substrate and object placement. This morning, clear water and happy creatures were waiting for me.

The point of relating all of this is mostly to point out how fucking cursed I felt in that moment of discovery; yet another “aquarium-related” mishap. Another leak/water damage concern. Another moment of chaos. I could have just fucking lost it… and I didn’t. Not this time. Neither did my partner. Fish could have died. I knew that, then. I even contemplated, briefly, just … not. Meaning just give up on the aquarium (the eternal cry “this is too hard!” so readily within reach). I chose differently. Not because I felt obligated, or cornered, or expected to – I chose to “do the needful”, because I really enjoy my aquarium. It matters to me.

We each practiced good emotional health practices last night. We supported each other. We “played to our strengths”. We took immediate action, but without panic. Hell, my partner even made sure I specifically took breaks – we worked on this together for hours. With his help, we didn’t end up exhausted or cross with each other. It was simply the adventure we shared that evening.

Then we began again. 🙂

Fog is weird stuff. We pass through it easily, still, it blinds us and alters what we see of the world around us. Try to shine a bright light directly into fog, and it becomes more difficult to see, rather than easier. So weird. So… metaphorical.

Sure is foggy… am I really so certain I know what’s hidden out there?

How many times have I driven a familiar road, blinded by fog? Or walked some foggy trail listening to muffled steps through the mist, with only my thoughts for company? Or just sat quietly, in the dense damp of morning fog, imagining whimsically that the fog held more meaning than mere droplets of water densely dispersed in the air?

Fog is a pretty good metaphor for the various thinking errors I find myself prone to, and even the “obscuring mist” of misleading assumptions that can so easily crowd out any perception of my reality in the moment. I think about that, on and off, from that first moment standing outside, early this morning, wondering if the mist were properly fog, or more likely the smoke of distant wildfires. Both, maybe. The stench of it suggested at least a considerable portion was – is – smoke. Blech.

…Maybe rain tomorrow? The weather hints at the potential. So does my arthritic back. Fingers crossed! We could use some rain. We could use a way out of the fog.

Yes, of course, it’s a metaphor. 😉

Begin again.

My coffee is a memory. By the time I got to actually drinking it, it was already rather tepid. It lingers, cold, and bitter, in my recollection. My day is off to a rather poor start for no good reason. At some point, the quality of my experience becomes up to me…

I reflect on things quietly, thinking perhaps I’ll gain perspective through writing, then find myself stalled, unwilling to tackle the “harder questions” this morning, in spite of knowing they would do well to be asked, and where possible, answered. Instead, I make an ambitious list of household chores and resolve to complete those. It’s easier.  Today is, in most respects, an ordinary enough Sunday.

…Order from chaos… sometimes I find it helps with other challenges troubling me in the background…It helps to have a list.

Same view, different day. Perspective matters, but we each have to walk our own hard mile.

I remind myself to make room for other perspectives, to listen deeply, to be open to change…

A slight change in point of view can make a difference in understanding our circumstances.

…I wander off to get started on my list. Another new beginning… the day may improve, if I can stay open to that potential. I can always begin again…

…Sometimes this shit is hard. Seems so, I mean. Subjectively. I remind myself “one practice at a time, one step at a time, one task at a time; it all adds up”… I feel unconvinced and blue. Some days suck. I make a mental note that change is – even the most miserable moment is just a moment, and it’ll pass. I have choices. I have practices that I know I can count on to be uplifting. Yeah, not super convincing that time, either. I’ll “get over it” and “move past this”. For now, this is the experience I seem to be having. I try not to take it personally, and stay with both this actual moment, and these feelings; the moment, which is frankly fine, is my anchor, my point of “safety” that gives me a firm foundation to consider the feelings without becoming mired in them (that’s the intention, anyway). I’m okay right now. That’s real. The emotions are emotions. I make a point to refrain from conflating the feelings with actual experiences.

…I make a point to consider the experience separately from the emotions I feel during or about the experience, itself…

…Uncomfortable or unpleasant experiences are something I can learn and grow from. Fighting that isn’t particularly helpful. Getting mired in unresolved emotions isn’t particularly helpful (or comfortable) either. I take a breath and turn towards my discomfort, seeking growth… and begin again, again. I eye my “baggage” and personal demons with some distaste and impatience, and snarl to myself “bitches, I can do this “begin again” shit all fucking day, just go ahead and fucking bring it“. That at least gets a laugh out of me.

I check my list, and yeah, I even check it twice. There’s more to do… and it all begins with a beginning.

Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes predictably so, sometimes unexpectedly. It’s going to happen. That, by itself, is pretty certain. Life can get messy, complicated, painful, and unpleasant, sometimes.

…Still worth living…

Begin again. Take a breath. Cut yourself some slack. Take a step back and look at the situation differently. Make healthy choices. Express sincere regret, and offer (and accept) an unreserved heartfelt apology. Give people (including yourself) room to be human. Listen deeply. Breathe.

No, seriously – breathe.

Eventually tears dry. Eventually angry words stop lingering in the air. Eventually there is an opportunity to reconnect. Make a point to give room for those things to happen. Beginning again sometimes requires us to let go of hurting, or at least be aware of the hurting of those we have, ourselves, inflicted hurts upon – and ideally seek to do something about that.

I definitely pay the price when my meditation practice falls apart.

No finger-pointing or blame-laying here. I’m a mess and every bit as human as I could possibly be. This is not written from the perspective of me telling you, from atop some lofty tower, these are reminders for me. The woman looking back at me from the mirror is not always the person I most want to be.

I have some things to reflect on. Things I need to grow from. Things I need to make amends for. Things I need to make right. I could do better. I know there are choices to be made. There are practices to practice. There are verbs involved.

…First I’ve got to begin again.

Yesterday was hard. Very. The day before that was easy. A exceptional day. I didn’t write on either day. I don’t recall the reasons, now, but by the end of yesterday I was feeling very much like it was a massive self-care fail that I hadn’t been writing. The whole day was drenched in similar fail-sauce. Communication breakdowns. Loss of emotional balance. Taking shit personally. Mild frustration in one moment or another becoming, over the day, a sort of chronic feeling of being “over-extended”, with too much to do, too little time, and everyone wanting “a piece of me”, leaving nothing at all left of me for me. It was entirely subjective. It was shitty, as experiences go, and the result was an abyss of internal chaos that spilled out into real interactions with others – most especially my Traveling Partner.

Sometimes apologies don’t cut it. (A very unhelpful observation.)

Since the move, we’ve done a lot to improve how we’re set up in the house, how well things work, and continue to make repairs and small quality of life improvements. Since the AC leak and associated water damage have kicked me out of my studio temporarily, I feel even more displaced than I did from moving – while I’m trying to get settled in, and build new healthy routines that support my mental health and emotional wellness in a new place. Yesterday was clear evidence that I’m struggling with the “getting settled in” process. I’m finding very little traction as I work toward building new healthy routines for living my life; every fucking thing is constantly changing, even moment to moment. Mostly good changes. Still changes. I can’t seem to “get used to” anything. I’m overwhelmed and feeling the instability in my environment in a very visceral way.

“This too shall pass.” Still true. Doesn’t make this shit “easy”. (No one said it would be.)

The days are mostly good days. This life is a good life. I focus on the observation that I feel generally okay, and things are generally good… This experience is not about how things are, though, it is a very personal experience of how I feel, which may not even be tied to reality in any direct way. (Doesn’t serve to make the experience of those feelings any easier.)

The solitude I woke to this morning lasts very few minutes. My Traveling Partner wakes early. I make him coffee and return to my writing. A minute or two later he asks “What are you doing?” I reply “I’m writing.” His surly, mildly sarcastic reply, “wonderful”, is followed by “I’ll be somewhere else”. As he leaves the room, I feel my anxiety level rise in the background. Is my typing extra loud? Am I hitting the keys super hard, or very fast? Does my typing convey my emotions (or suggest an emotional experience I may or may not be having but is uncomfortable to listen to)? Yesterday was hard on both of us. I don’t resent his irritation, or take it personally. He’s having his own experience, too.

Damn I want my studio back. I can’t paint. My gaming computer is in there, too. I generally write in there; it’s also my “office”. My studio is a haven where I can experience and explore strong emotion without interfering with other people (and similarly they would not be interacting with me). I feel, subjectively, like I “can’t get a minute to myself” or “can’t hear myself think” or “can’t get any cognitive down time”. I’m not sure those things are objectively true at all. I suspect they are not. I do know the chaos is incredibly uncomfortable, and I’m not dealing with it well (or wasn’t, yesterday). In spite of decently restful sleep, I don’t feel “rested”.

…The pandemic isn’t helping. My Traveling Partner and I, aside from a small number of errands that get run by necessity, are together 24/7 and take “the lockdown” very seriously. I do enjoy his company. I also very much enjoy solitude. I feel a need for both. Without my studio to retreat to, I struggle to set healthy boundaries, and yesterday’s meltdown makes it clear this is not a sustainable set of conditions. Looking back on yesterday, I can see how the day started as a poor mix of me working from home, and his enjoyment of my presence prompting him to seek out more interaction with me, in spite of my (clearly inadequate) boundary setting and expectation setting about my work day. It could have been a lovely day, in spite of any of that, but at some point I lost my grip, and my perspective. “Everything” felt like “too much” at some point, and things spiraled out of control for me from there.

I can tell from my partner’s tone this morning that he is still feeling hurt by yesterday’s chaos and I feel that sad lingering concern that “I’ll never get any better than this”. Probably a common feeling for trauma survivors still struggling with their chaos and damage over time. I remind myself that context, perspective, and self-talk matter. I remind myself that my partner and I are indeed “separate people”, and to avoid fusing with his emotional experience, and seek instead to tend to my own, and care for myself more skillfully. Sitting down to write is part of that. Even in the dining room. Even when I don’t feel encouraged. Even when time is short.

…I remind myself how loved I am, and how much love I feel for this other human being who is now more or less forced to deal with me without a break…

I breathe, exhale, and relax. I let go of the persisting anxiety about how my partner is/may be feeling, what he is thinking, and remind myself that we are each having our own experience – that’s not only unavoidable, it’s okay. Nothing to fix. I focus on the day ahead. How do I get back on my path, make wise choices, care for myself well, and be the person I most want to be? What practices will matter most, today? I look at the time… and my half empty cup of coffee. I have time to take a walk before work. I check my work calendar. I’ll have a good opportunity to soak in the hot tub a bit later. Another errand to run. I look for a good time and put that on my calendar, too. What about meditation? Where will that fit in…? And household chores…? The work day? I start feeling the anxiety rise up, again. I breathe, exhale, relax… definitely need that walk.

…It’s time to begin again.