Archives for category: Frustration

The ringing in my ears is ferocious today. Like a jumbled up combination of a distant (persistent) phone ringing next to a fire alarm, surrounded by chimes. I have the sense that my hearing may even be impaired, though generally that’s a bit of an illusion (tinnitus is very distracting, though). My back aches – arthritis pain. My head aches, too, not sure why, but sometimes “it’s a set” rather than just one something or other hurting.

The work day is behind me, and I sort of feel as though this could/should be a “joyful moment” – but my physical limitations at the moment are aggravating my partner, who is, himself, aggravated by other things – most particularly, his frustration with a new tool that he’d like to upgrade, and has the parts with which to do so, but… sometimes things are not as simple as all that. Real life getting real. Instead of his infectious delight with a new tool, I’m breathing in his profound frustration, which is not at all pleasant. I wish I could help, but aside from offering up one suggestion that seemed to have some small bit of promise, I’m just staying out of the fucking way. It’s the best I can do, right now.

Instead of getting mixed up in his moment, I’ve got mine, right here. My phone has been laggy and less-than-ideally responsive lately, and with the addition of the home automation application – which serves best when it runs smoothly – I am painfully aware of the poor device performance. What I am not, however, is “surprised”. My SD card is 100% absolutely entirely full of photos and videos… and when that happened, some months ago, I haplessly went ahead and told the silly thing to save new ones to the device storage instead. Now that’s full too. Not a little full… I’m talking 10,000+ high resolution images. LOL So, after some apparently-necessary reminding by my partner, I’m cleaning that mess up. With some hesitation (I’ve definitely got some “hoarder ancestry”), I checked “erase after importing”, and clicked “import”… now, it’s a matter of waiting… and writing. 🙂

I take a breath. Relax. Turn my attention to my Traveling Partner when he comes to me with his stress and aggravation. He’s disappointed – it’s an exciting moment to acquire a new tool, and when it doesn’t meet expectations, for some reason, particularly reasons that render the tool no longer a functional tool, it’s a whole other order of magnitude of disappointment. Great customer service was a selling point for the brand… but… so far? Not actually “great”. Well, shit. Here I am, still wishing I could help, still got nothing to offer but my sympathy, my compassion, and my unfortunate empathy. (I say “unfortunate” because I don’t really want to feel this disappointment and frustration alongside him in such a visceral way – it’s unpleasant for both of us to feel this, and my empathy is not helpful or useful, in this instance. He’s having his own experience. I’m mostly working on “being here” for him, and not making it worse, while I have mine.

Fuck. Damn, I was hoping to be feeling the soaring heights of his delight, right about now. Still wishing I could properly help.

…6303 items imported of 10,176. Progress.

My work trip to Seattle fell through. I guess I’m not surprised, although I was momentarily quite disappointed. I’m okay being home. I was able to cancel all the reservations for travel and lodging without any penalties, which was an unexpected success. My partner made a point of mentioning – while also being very grateful and appreciative that I’d be staying home – he would miss having some solo time to work on things around the house. I changed up my plans and found a room on the coast at a reasonable price, and made new reservations for an entirely other experience. I asked for, and got, Friday off to extend the time I can offer my partner for his own purposes.

…My head begins to ache when I recall that he’d asked for that time primarily to work with the new tool that is sure to be returned before I ever check into that room on the coast, and I realize I’m clenching my jaw in sympathetic frustration…

…Was I sufficiently encouraging and supportive…? I wonder to myself and drink more water. (Maybe this headache will go away if I drink more water?)

…Fuck this headache…!

I think over books to read. I think about videos I’ve been meaning to watch. My head pounds in the background. I drink more water.

…My bag was already packed for my business trip. I won’t have to repack it, just swap the shined boots for sandals, and make a point to throw in my sketch book and some pens & pencils, and maybe my watercolors. All I’ve got to do between now and Thursday, to prepare for my short getaway is resist the urge to pull something out of that bag to wear sooner. LOL I think I’ve got this. 🙂 Not that hard.

…8234 items imported…

I feel a moment of trepidation – there likely won’t be any images (of mine) on my phone at all. I could have been more precise, selecting a few to keep on the device for… reasons… (Is this how we accumulate bullshit and baggage? Why yes, I think it is…) I sigh to myself. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of that lingering attachment – there are always new pictures. Always. 🙂

I watch the final steps of the import process playout as a fast sequence of thumbnails in the import window. Entertaining. I feel the pain medication I took before I sat down start to have the desired effect. I hear my Traveling Partner close a door somewhere else… it wasn’t slammed, so that’s progress. (I still wish I could actually help soothe him and ease his stress and disappointment, but we’re each having our own experience, and there’s no real way to it differently, I think.)

The shards of sharp summer sunlight sneaking through the fabric of the window shade pierce my vision, and add to my headache. I recall the vestiges of a dream I had recently, in which bright sunshine was “shining directly on my brain” through my eyes, and as much as I covered them or dodged the light, I could not escape the blinding pain. Strangely, it wasn’t a nightmare at all, just an odd dream, filled with frustration. The recollection dissipates before I can assemble it more completely, and I lose interest in thinking about it further.

I finish my bottle of water, head still aching. I know that once I get up for another, I won’t return to this… it’ll be the beginning of some other thing I will be doing, then… but I don’t yet know what. I sigh, letting the air out of my lungs, and refilling them completely a time or two. Wondering what to make for dinner.

It’s a good time to begin again.

Heat wave. Already hot this morning. Slept well, woke refreshed. Felt… content. Balanced. Merry…

…Whole.

Off to a good start on a hot day. Things slide sideways, slipping gently, somehow inevitably tilting toward irritation in spite of a great starting point. Best efforts. Humans being human.

I put aside my coffee and go for a walk before the heat of the day might stop me, or just make the experience miserable.

A favorite park has finally re-opened after all the damage during that last winter storm.

Muggy warm air filled with the sound of mowers, small aircraft taking off from the nearby municipal airport, and swarming insects seemed to cling to me as I walked across the parking lot to the start of the one open trail. It doesn’t really go far enough to satisfy the need, but it has been a long while and I have missed this place. I walk the trail twice. I take note of the wild roses in bloom – there look to be three distinct species growing in this wooded area. I spot ripe thimbleberries, but none within reach – too fragile for commercial agriculture, they are a rare special treat, tiny, soft, and mild. The birds will get most of them. Piles of cut up trees give some insight into how much damage the storm caused. Every few feet, there’s a pile of logs and branches on either side of the trail. The forest is full of huckleberry bushes, but I don’t see flowers or berries, yet. On my way back down, before my second walk of the trail, I realize I haven’t stopped at a favorite bench… I never saw it! Weird… I begin to really look for that thing, that expected thing, as I head back up the trail. My focus results in missing other details. Something more to think about.

Oh. Reality is what it is. Expectations are shit we made up, and cling to.

It was a lovely morning for walking, in spite of the heat. In spite of the changes all around me. In spite of a less than picture-perfect lovely summer morning. Expectations and assumptions can so quickly undermine a potentially lovely experience. I mean… I even know that. It still trips me up more often than I care to count.

I put on some music. Sip my rather delicious iced coffee – I’ve been planning this iced coffee on a hot summer morning for days. Really looking forward to this moment. I made coffee ice cubes to go in it. I sip it thoughtfully, savoring the moment that is, instead of yearning for another. It may not be what I expected, but it’s quite pleasant, and that’s enough. Maybe I’ll finish it on the deck…

My Traveling Partner and I both hurt today. Pain sucks. Aging is a mixed bag of qualities, and pain is just one of many experiences… We both try to avoid taking it personally, or lashing out at each other in a short-tempered moment of our frustration with the limitations of these very human forms. He says “maybe you should just avoid me today” – right about when I was thinking of saying gently that I’d give him some space because I’m hurting that much today. lol It’s generally an exceptional partnership, even when one or both of us is in pain, or just generally not being our best selves, together.

I sip my coffee and reflect. I think about the walk, the summer morning, recalling the sights and scents, and the feel of the air around me.

Just because there’s sunshine where I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’ll find illumination.

I walked, reflected, observed, and gave myself that time I need to spend with the woman in the mirror. It’s good to get perspective. I mean… I find it so, myself. 🙂 I don’t always do a good job of making time for me, and for what I need from and for myself. I could do better there. More practice? Obviously. I know where I’ll start, too; a familiar place.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Funny thing about The Four Agreements? It was my Traveling Partner who first recommended it to me. Good basic practices to practice that tend to heal a lot of hurts and limit a lot of negative self-talk. That seems so long ago now.

Treating each other well has reliably tended to start with treating myself well, and as it turns out that has nothing whatsoever to do with buying things, and everything to do with reflection, perspective, and practices that build resilience and emotional wellness. Boundary-setting. Testing assumptions. Confirming expectations. Being flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Being there for myself. Being kind, and treating the world as gently as I am able to. Good self-care. Getting enough rest. It’s a lot to juggle, and I suspect that I half-ass a lot of it, just trying to do all of it… but…getting things ‘half right’ or ‘half finished’ is still a more useful result than never making an attempt to be my best self at all. Incremental change over time. I get better at something each time I attempt it… eventually. Learning is a process. Change is often a verb. I keep at it. Incremental change over time requires both time, and increments.

Feeling frustrated and challenged can sometimes mislead me into thinking I haven’t improved – a lot – on a lot of little things that had been far more problematic before this journey began. That’s a shame; it robs me of my chance to celebrate small wins. I think on that while I sip my coffee, gazing into the sunshine beyond the window.

I hear the A/C come on. Then I feel it. I recall the heat of the morning as I walked the wooded trail, and think about the apartment in which my partner and I first began sharing our lives… and that roasting, horribly hot all-drama-all-the-time summer some 11 years ago; no A/C. I feel grateful for the A/C, definitely… but the love matters most. We brought that with us, to this place, across years of shared challenges, growth, change, loving moments, and petty arguments – it’s a very human experience, and it’s hard to imagine spending life differently and still enjoying it as much. I sip my coffee thinking about my partner (my lover, my best friend), and the pain he’s in today. Maybe I’ll bake oatmeal cookies? Would that help? (I don’t know why it would, it just occurred to me to wonder – sometimes I have a mind like a child. LOL)

There’s enough of this coffee left to enjoy a few moments of summer morning on the deck before it gets to hot to enjoy… seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping my coffee and frowning past my monitor, looking beyond the “view” outside the window. Nothing impressive, just the fence, the pear trees that rise above it, and the wall of the neighbor’s house beyond – I’m not really seeing it, right now, I am in my own head. I am ruminating over the bitch of an inconvenience that is the very real truth that however much someone loves us, however much someone cares, no matter the level of consideration, empathy, or understanding – we are each walking our own mile, having our own experience, and there will inevitably be some detail that is simply not visible, or not recognized for what it is, or not understood with any clarity, or seems wholly miscommunicated to the detriment of a pleasant moment. Have a brain injury? Ratchet that up a notch. Grieving? This one too; it’s progressively more invisible over time, and people eventually reach their “you’re not over this yet?” point – sooner than you will, yourself. It’s just real. We feel our own pain most intensely. We understand our own circumstances more than we can understand someone else’s, generally. We filter every interaction through who we are ourselves, and how we personally understand the world, with little regard for the demonstrable reality that it legitimately is not the same for someone else. Sometimes I feel completely fucked over by that whole entire messy business.

I’m not pissing and moaning about this while mired in self-pity. I’m actually more… a tad angry about it. I earnestly want to do better by my friends, family, and loved ones than that, myself. I still struggle with it, too. Maybe it just feels easier to bitch about what someone else is doing than it is to attend to what is within my personal control? I could stop doing that, and redirect that time and effort into personal growth and change… that sounds pretty positive.

I take a breath, and a sip of my coffee. When I got out of the shower, my Traveling Partner had already made his coffee. I generally make coffee for the both of us. It’s one way I say “I love you” and start the morning off pleasantly. I enjoy the routine. This morning, he did not wait on that, he took ownership of needs and made his coffee. I can’t fault him for that. Good self-care. He did not make my coffee. (I could take that personally – it could even be possible that it was intended to silently signal his irritation with me, more likely he just wasn’t sure I’d be out of the shower before it got cold.) I don’t give it much thought beyond observation, and let go of any concern about “sending me a message”, because, frankly, he uses his words. He’s not the sort who goes around being under-handed or passive-aggressive with communicating his needs or feelings; it’s a pretty unhealthy approach. I try to avoid that sort of thing, myself; it’s very imprecise, and not reliably clear. I’m not even certain I’d “get the message” – I tend (more often than not) to be very “face value” about those sorts of things, in my interactions, and it’s likely that that kind of thing would “go over my head” anyway. 🙂

I’m working on taking better care of myself, generally, which I also generally suck at. It’s a lot of work. I enjoy spending time with my partner to the point that I overlook taking time with myself. It doesn’t take long before my background stress is evident, and becoming unmanageable. So… I reset, begin again, and work on building better habits, and practicing the practices that I know support my emotional wellness, best. It is, however, still an ongoing, challenging, messy, aggravating, frustrating, endlessly fiddly bit of bullshit and effort that will no doubt plague me to the end of my days.

…It could be worse…

I sip my coffee. I’m writing on a pleasant summer morning. I’ve got a partner who loves me and does his best, reliably, to love me well. I could say “that’s enough”, but I’m aware how much more than “enough” that really is; I haven’t always had it like this. My good circumstances just don’t happen to alleviate me of my burdens in life. (Why did I expect that they might?) The work day peaks at me from the clock… it’s time to 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.