Archives for category: Frustration

A few years ago, a much younger version of me was heading home from work, it was late, a hot evening, and… the train seemed to be late. The later it got, the more anxious and agitated I was becoming. There was already so little time. The more stressed out I became, the more bothered I was by even the slightest restless movement of other aggravated commuters – and the longer we waited, the more of us there were. Frustrated clueless conversation reached me from various pairings of “been waiting” and “just got here” commuters; that was making me angry, too. “Just stand still and wait!” I snarled quietly under my breath. In fact… I had, at one point, gotten to the “teeth-grinding and sub-vocalization” level of stress and pure, distilled frustration. I wanted to rip my damned heart out of my chest to stop the pounding.

…I just wanted to go home. That’s all.

Yesterday morning, on the way in to the office, I observed that there was a rail interruption for construction, and a shuttle-bus detour provided, on my usual route to work. I didn’t think much about it. It did add some minutes to my commute, but at 5:30 am, that’s not exactly noteworthy – and there are no crowds, just stoic sleepy-eyed commuters quietly heading to work on auto-pilot.

After a very busy, very weird, day in the office, I headed for home quite a bit later than usual – or planned – and made my way to the train platform. I didn’t see anything much to be concerned with, and I wasn’t troubled by the awareness of that bit of construction… I mean… they were probably done? Or… maybe I forgot? It wasn’t on my mind, is what I’m saying, even after I saw the sign.

Oh. Huh. Well… I guess that’s a pretty big project.

Pre-occupied with my own thoughts, I got on the train, and promptly forgot about the construction. Some few minutes later, the train stops. I look around puzzled and realize I’m at the last stop; the detour. Time to grab a shuttle bus… wait… where are the buses? I see a lot of passengers milling around waiting. Hell, the transit company is giving away free shave ice to the passengers waiting in the heat (almost 90 degrees F, a bit more than 32 C). No shade anywhere. It’s hot, and people are cross about waiting. An absolute raging douchebag pushes past a substantial queue of passengers growling “where do we get on the shuttle? where do we get on the shuttle?” squeezing past people with strollers, elders on walkers, and women in burqa’s to get to the front of the line. So rude. I’m irked, but… I breathe, and let that go.

We wait, and wait longer. I see transit employees on walkie-talkies beefing about the delay with the buses. I can see that traffic patterns have been interrupted to accommodate shuttle buses, there are cones, barriers, and signs everywhere, and frustrated workers in oranges vests – and more walkie-talkies. A bus arrives, after a time, and we all crowd on it. Finally. It won’t be long now. I’m almost merry – I’m at least content. I’m heading home.

So… about that.

Quite a crowd, waiting for a train, on a very hot day.

I ease myself past groups of strangers. I notice that even considering the construction, it seems odd that the platform is so crowded. It looks like more than one train’s worth of passengers. I overhear someone complain that they have already been waiting 20 minutes. I keep walking, to the far end; it looks less crowded.

10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes later… no train. More shuttle buses have continued to arrive. There are easily 200+ people waiting on the platform, crowded together, fussy, irritable, frustrated with waiting, growing more and more impatient, and potential for conflict increases. Giving the matter some thought, I realize I will not even want to try to crowd onto the first train that eventually arrives… maybe take an Uber, or… a bus? I make my way to a shady spot at the edge of the park alongside the platform. I exchange expectation-setting messages with my Traveling Partner. I hit my vape a couple times. I drink some water.

Well…so… the traffic around the construction is such a snarl, and being peak rush hour on top of that, and Uber was going to cost me dearly (on this whole other unreasonable level), so that was out. The estimated time for the closest bus I could walk to that would take me more or less directly to where my car was parked was a bit of a walk, followed by a bit of a wait, and then quite a long ride… the train would be faster, when it got here… So. I waited.

The crowd was sufficiently large that getting them in one shot from eye level was difficult.

More people accumulated on the platform, until it was clearly no longer safe for more, and they spilled onto the track that was not in service, and on into the edge of the park, where I was seated in the shade, at the edge of the piled up human stress-puppets, all waiting for the train. Still no train.

By the time the next train arrived, there were easily 300 commuters waiting for it. Trust me, they don’t hold that many. No way I was going to take that train. Maybe not the one after it, either. I watch people push on, crowding each other. I sat back, away from all that, having a vape, and watching the afternoon sunshine slowly turning golden as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. That train left so crammed with human beings, they were literally pressed against the doors and standing two abreast in the aisles as it pulled away. No thank you. The next train looked much the same, but as it left, there was actually room on the platform to stand and wait for the next, which came in just 5 minutes.

(As it turned out later, in addition to the construction snarl, a transit employee confirmed that there was the additional hassle of someone having thrown a shopping cart in front of a moving train, further east on the westbound line, resulting in the transit company having to remove that train from service, and clear the track – and backing up trains rather a lot, creating the fairly horrible delay I’d found myself caught up in.)

I got on the train, no pushing, no snarling, no frustration, and took a seat. All the seats ended up full, and a handful of folks standing – that’s what the train generally looks like in the evening, as I head home. People were a bit more tense and aggravated than usual, and there was a crying baby (the shrieking “I’m fucking pissed and you just don’t get it” crying of a confused, discontented, uncomfortable, too hot in the summertime, baby who has no will to be consoled). At one point, the entire train had to be stopped over … drama and bullshit. Tempers flared over priority seating for disabled passengers; a seated disabled woman with a child in a stroller refused to yield her seat to a woman insisting she was “more disabled”, rail-thin, appearing intoxicated, pushing a wheeled shopping basket. All hell broke loose when rail-thin woman touched the seated woman’s baby, as if to move the child out of her way. People were yelling. I was more than a little surprised it didn’t break out into a proper brawl. Other passengers got involved. Eventually the driver call-button was pushed. That’s when the train was stopped, and held, at the platform, while the driver intervened. The rail-thin woman was ejected from the train by the driver, firmly, although he did point out (and truthfully) that another train followed closely behind his. We continued our journey. The baby commenced to crying again.

At each stop, a few more passengers disembarked. It got quieter. The train reached my station, and I got in my car, and went home (by way of the grocery store, for salad ingredients for a dinner that we didn’t have, because it was late, and we were neither of us very hungry). I enjoyed a pleasant evening with my partner.

So… simple. So… easy. No freak out? Nope. No tantrum? Nope. No snarling at other people impatiently because… “omg, what the fuck??” Nope. I was pretty chill the whole time – in spite of the heat. (lol) It’s summertime, and that means construction, and construction delays, and… well… I don’t know. I’m fine. It wasn’t a big deal.

Who is this woman I have become over time? She’s pretty patient about construction delays, cranky passengers on crowded trains, shrieking babies, and douchebags who line-jump crowds on hot days. I like that about me… I sip my coffee and wonder when I became this woman, and what did I practice that got me here? Did the meditation get me here? The reflection and perspective-seeking? The savoring small pleasant moments and building emotional resilience over time? The creation of, and existence within, a calm and generally contented environment at home? I’m not perfect; I’m surprised. I fully expect that some time in the future I’ll lose my shit over something dumb (I have priors)… but… last night? Last night wasn’t that time. 😀

This morning? Pretty nice morning. My coffee is just okay, but it’s still coffee, and I’m grateful. I load up the dishwasher, and set it for a delayed start to avoid waking my partner (who I think I already woke with my bumbling around half-awake after the alarm jerked me from dreams of love and contentment). I consider the commute ahead of me. Maybe I’ll drive in. LOL I smile to myself; a good start to the day. I look at the clock… definitely time to begin again. 😀

Even more exciting, and much more worthwhile, than The Bottle Cap Challenge! Yep – and we can’t even opt out, not really. It’s The Communication Challenge – the one where any given pair or group of human beings attempts to communicate ideas, across the vast chasm of differences in perspective, filtered through individual experience and assumption-making, using poorly defined terms. lol Oh my.

…It’s not always easy, is it?

Yesterday, my day was literally filled with variations on the theme of challenging communications. It was an interesting assortment.

…Team communications…

…Individual entirely non-work-related social communications…

…Communications overheard in passing by uninvolved-but-now-interested individuals…

…Communication with people who lack emotional intelligence…

…Communication with people far more emotionally intelligent than I am…

…Communication with people who have a clear – but also hidden – personal agenda at stake…

…Direct communication…

…Misleading communication…

…Necessary and also delicate communication…

…Frank communication that was “long overdue”…

…Heartfelt warm communication…

…Tense, purposeful, communication in which I, myself, had a clear (and also frustrated) agenda…

…Dispassionate routine communication of factual details…

…Passionate communication of concerns…

…Communication advocating a position…

In some cases, some of those were a single conversation, others were common occurrences in several conversations; there are so many opportunities to communicate, in a single day. Some conversations were easy, comfortable, helpful, or merry. Other conversations felt like work – real effort was involved in “getting an idea across” or in truly listening with my whole attention to ideas I felt disinclined towards, to the point of being reluctant to hear the speaker out. It was a very interesting assortment of moments.

I arrived home, tired, at the end of what felt like a long day (because it was), and definitely ready to stop communicating. LOL

…I’m sure I learned something. I know that during my struggle to relax at the end of the day, fighting off a surge in anxiety that was making sleep difficult to come by, I was pretty certain that mastering my greatest communication challenges would have a lot to offer in the way of reduced stress, because damn, I was definitely stressed out. I sip my coffee and think about that.

I think over the communication challenges in which one or more parties to the conversation showed signs of stress, or frustration; how can I do better? Create a less stressful experience? Listen with greater care? Be more patient? Define my terms more clearly? Slow down enough to avoid being provoked? All of these seem like excellent steps. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I contemplate the very nature of “being provoked” in conversation, and wonder… to what end? I definitely have some room to grow here. You, too, probably. 🙂 Everyone.

…I promise myself another reread of The Four Agreements. I consider, with some amusement, that none of the books on my reading list are specifically on the topic of effective communication, most especially considering how much of it I need to do, day-to-day. lol I think about how little real coaching, encouragement, mentoring, or development, we provide each other as human beings… Where did we get this notion that so many things in life will just sort of “happen” over time? It’s rather strange, is it not? 0_o

I tell myself “the weekend is almost here”, then tease myself for the lie; it’s only Wednesday, and frankly, weekends do not have curative powers. We’ve all still got the lives (and baggage) that we do. The way out is through. 🙂 Another breath. Another exhalation of breath. Another moment. The wheel continues to turn.

I’m not perfect. Still practicing. There is so much to learn – and so much I can do to be more the woman I most want to be. I see daybreak turn the sky from dark – to slightly less dark. I am reminded that seasons do change, and that moments do pass. It’s time to embrace a new one, and begin again. 🙂

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor, if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… 😉

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. 🙂 It’s already time to begin again. 🙂

So human. Of course. It’s bound to happen now and then. I think I’ve got a head cold. :-\

I’m doing my best to take care of myself. I crashed ludicrously early yesterday – couldn’t actually stay awake. My head was already stuffy. My body had started to ache all over. I gave up and went to bed. I woke once during the night – shortly after 1 am? I remember drinking cold water, thirsty, feeling sort of “dried out”, standing in the puddle of light from the open door to the refrigerator. I went back to bed. It was hard to wake when the alarm went off, and even half an hour later, I feel sort of clumsy and uncomfortable in my skin.

I’d hoped it was “allergies” (which I don’t actually have) but… no. Head cold. I can’t tell if I feel better, at all, this morning, or not. I sip iced coffee and iced water, in alternation. I don’t notice any particular difference, this morning. Cold is cold. One tastes a bit like… bitter garden soil. LOL I don’t really care about that, and just keep sipping one, then the other.

I’m not really complaining… head colds happen. Human beings can be fairly gross, and a lot of them don’t wash their damned hands, or cover their sneezes and coughs. I work in a call center-ish environment, one with an “open office” floor plan. Contagion spreads quickly, and there’s nearly always someone walking around sick. So, I work on self-care, and getting well, soon. There’s not much else to do about it, other than avoid spreading it around.

I finish my coffee, and my morning routines. I try to “get my head right” for the day ahead, and let go of wishing I were “just okay, for fuck’s sake” – since that does nothing to actually help. Another day ahead, full of potential. Time to get started on enjoying that as much as I am able to do so, today. 🙂

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.