Archives for category: Frustration

I dislike moving. It’s true. I mean, I’m eager, today, and excited about the new place, but… generally speaking, I dislike moving, and I’d like very much not to have to do so again. I am aware that I have at least one more move awaiting me regardless; this is another rental. πŸ™‚

I got out of the Army hoping to settle and not move again. You know, put down roots in a community of friendly neighbors, build a life, that sort of thing. That was… 25 years ago. That was… 3 long-term relationships ago. That was… 10 moves ago. 10 moves. That’s including one address at which I lingered for 13 years; all the other moves lack a significant time commitment to a single address. I’m tired of moving. Since 2010, when I moved out of the only address in my life that lasted me more than a decade, I’ve moved 5 times. So tired of moving. 54 years of life…31 addresses. So… moving again. Moving with enthusiasm. Moving with considerable planning and preparation. Moving into an address that looks entirely livable and more than sufficient. Moving into a suitably pleasant neighborhood. It is a move that amounts to a quality of life upgrade. I still have to move, and get settled again, and meet new neighbors again, and rebuild my routines again, and learn all the new noises and shadows again. I’d still like to settled down somewhere and not move again. lol

Someday… a place that is really my own…

So here it is, moving day. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I woke from a deep sleep to some kind of noise…a persistent sound of some sort…a beeping, or chiming, or… and it wasn’t stopping… Oh. My phone was ringing. Only one number rings through my “Do Not Disturb” settings; my Traveling Partner. I quickly lurch from bed and careen through the apartment, stumbling on shit that doesn’t match my mental map of my apartment; there are stacks of boxes everywhere. I reach the phone and answer it, delighted to hear his voice. No emergency, he’s just back in town and wanted to hear my voice. πŸ™‚ It was a short call, and a quick return to sleep…

…only…

Nope. Not sleeping.

…I couldn’t so easily return to sleep. Β Just as I was about to drift off my brain decided to attack with a barrage of insecure doubt and anxiety and dread, and oh, just all the things available to keep me laying wakefully for some time. I did eventually return to a restless unsatisfying sleep. Nightmares of loss and loneliness occupied my sleeping mind until the alarm went off.

I woke feeling okay. Feeling thoughtful. Feeling… thought-filled. lol This too will pass. I make a point of reminding myself how pointless rumination is, and that anything of substance that truly needs to be considered will still need to be considered later… after I wake up, after meditation, after my morning coffee, and perhaps even just quite a lot later today – after work. Perspective is helpful. Context matters. Oh, and also – brains make shit up all the damned time. lol My imagination is just as likely to work against me as to delight me. So, I shrug off as much of the weird lingering insecurity, anxiety, and doubt as I am able to, and I push on with the morning.

I have a practice for this one, and although it works, it’s not to be undertaken lightly first thing in the morning by a sleep-addled brain. (I learned that the hard way!) My practice for dealing firmly with insecurity and anxiety is to look my fears in the face without flinching. Seriously – I consider as frankly as I can whatever bundle of fears and bullshit that is freaking me out, and I consider it as if it were simply a given and life is no kidding going to deliver on all of it as if it were a promise. Feeling insecure about my relationship? I consider life without it, no bullshit, no drama – what does that look like? Could I still be okay? What advantages might that bring? Is there a future from that point that may still be quite nice? Does it change who I am? What am I truly afraid of? Is there an opportunity for growth, here? This works for any sort of insecurity, doubt, and anxiety, really. Emotions are powerful. It’s a good idea to choose some moment when it feels truly safe to fully consider my deepest fears. Results vary. Scary, tense, anxious, insecure, doubtful emotions can go sideways so easily, plunging me into real despair… but, all the more reason to learn to face them unafraid of the emotions themselves, and there is so much to learn.Β They’re still only emotions; getting to know them well, becoming comfortable with emotion, generally, and working to develop a measure of emotional intelligence that supports good quality of life is not only completely achievable, I have found that improving my emotional intelligence improves my interactions with others, too, and sort of “tidies up my thinking”. πŸ™‚

So much of what goes on in our heads is actually completely made up bullshit going on in our heads. πŸ™‚ I am as likely to find my anxiety provoked by things that are delightful, or changes that suit me better than whatever had changed ever could, as I am by things that are legitimately worth being anxious about. Silly primates – given both emotion and reason (which work so nicely together), and yet time and again we keep trying to choose one over the other. lol

I sip my coffee and watch the dawn slowly becoming day. I consider my imminent move. Just two more work shifts before that actually becomes a thing happening in the moment…and one of those work shifts is today. This is happening!! πŸ˜€ My conversation with my partner last night opened some opportunities in the context of moving that I hadn’t considered, and although I spent some time wracked with anxiety (because changing plans sometimes causes me anxiety), the opportunities themselves are worth considering fully. Later.

The calm of the morning develops like a Polaroid. I feel settled and secure, and focused on changes that meet my needs over time. I feel content. I feel loved. Fears and doubts fade away as the sky lightens, and anything that lingers to day’s end can be fully considered at some later point, in a comfortable, practical way.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Living alone sometimes also means feeling lonely. I’m fortunate that it doesn’t come up that often for me; I enjoy living alone. In the words of my Traveling Partner, I “thrive on it”. It’s true. I’m content, I’m happier, I rarely struggle with my symptoms (aside from noise sensitivity and shitty sleep), and it’s been ages since I had a bad meltdown. My symptoms and bad flare ups are mostly triggered by… people. So yeah, living alone works better. But.

Life is a funny thing, is it not? It seems, often, to force me to deal with the shit that is the most difficult when I feel least prepared to do so. Living alone works for me. But. And it’s what comes after the but that is a heavy burden to bear this morning – and I’m “not alone” on this one – but, I am lonely. This morning I ache with it. I woke with it. I went to bed with it. I felt it as a sharp pain late last evening, cuddling the wee stuffed puppy my Traveling Partner gave me as a gift on a whim. (I already love this little stuffed dog, fully house-broken, and very quiet. lol) Loneliness is a real thing, and I really feel it now and again, and it is painful. Anxiety may be a liar, but loneliness? Loneliness is a bully who follows me home, relentlessly mocking me where I am most vulnerable.

Loneliness is actually painful. When you feel it, and you notice, and you wonder that you actually physically hurt – no need to keep wondering, that shit is real. It is uncomfortable. Biology probably intends to drive us to seek out companionship, which makes good sense; we are social creatures, who thrive in company, who succeed together, who celebrate in groups and tribes and families… alone we are… vulnerable to attack. Less well-defended. Small. Singular. Loneliness sucks, and chronic unaddressed loneliness can become mental illness or physical ill health, and even be fatal.

The little stuffed dog surprised me; gift wrapped and left on the front seat of the car, which I’d come to pick up for the week of moving, a couple days early since he wouldn’t be using it, himself. There it was. Soft. So soft. Cute button eyes that sparkle a bit. So soft. I turned to my partner has he came around the corner smiling and tears came to my eyes. His embrace wrapped me in warmth and love and we stood wrapped in each other’s arms a long moment. I miss specific things about cohabitation, mostly to do with intimacy and touch. Like it or not, I’ve made a specific willful exchange in life; I have exchanged hugs, kisses, everyday interactions, contact, intimacy, and frequent sex in favor of improved mental and emotional health (it is generally an unmistakably positive choice that benefits me).

An alternate spelling of “I love you”.

Today, I am lonely. I ache with it. I miss being greeted at the door when I get home in the evening. I miss shared meals. I miss hugs – I miss hugs maybe most of all, even to the point of hugging occasional strangers (in contextually appropriate moments) (if you know me in life, you get how hilarious this actually is). I miss being an everyday part of my partner’s life. I miss having sex, pretty much any day I don’t get to. This morning all of these things make me feel sad. I’m also feeling fairly practical and realistic about it, and understand myself well enough to “get” that it isn’t about inviting random strangers into my bed (didn’t work in my 20s, isn’t the solution now), but I am unquestionably still searching for a really comfortable balance between living alone, and finding/creating the quantity of emotional intimacy and touch that I need to be emotionally well over the long haul.

This morning is hard. My hand reaches without thinking to the little stuffed dog. I scratch its ears as though it were real. I stroke its soft “fur”. A real dog? A real cat? Other pets? I’ve got both baggage and boundaries in this area. Pets are not a good solution to the loneliness issue for me. Β I used to have cats. They absolutely destroyed some precious things I could not replace…and… they walk in their poop, then all over everything else. Just no. Dogs? I grew up with dogs. I even like dogs. But… being responsible for another living creature’s entire livelihood and well-being isn’t something I’m super well-qualified for, frankly, otherwise I might have done the motherhood thing… and… dogs smell bad (to me), and caring for a dog well is a huge time commitment…and… okay, okay, I just have baggage and it wouldn’t be a great fit, can we leave it there? lol Chinchillas? More chaos and damage, and… they seem to me to be every bit as sentient as any primate, so that just feels too much like keeping a prisoner. I can’t. Guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, reptiles… I’ve had pets. Lots. (I’ve got an aquarium now, and that’s about my speed, really.) They don’t fully “solve for X” in this equation.

Filling the hole in my experience labeled “I miss being touched” with animal companionship would be, realistically, a second best (for me). Instead, I’ll attempt to be more aware of my needs, learn to communicate them more clearly, learn new/more/other ways to take care of me that may meet those specific needs – bitch about it, undoubtedly – and walk on, wiping my tears away and getting back to other things.

But. I do get lonely. Yes, it hurts. Finding some sanity, contentment, and balance are actually worth the hurting right now, even in this shitty lonely moment. I just have to begin again, and do my best to take care of the woman in the mirror. We’ve always got each other. It’s generally enough.

[Oh hey, I’m talking about emotion and domestic violence in this one. No surprises. Please take care of you. <3]

Think about this carefully; anger doesn’t solve very many relationship problems. It’s not that anger is “powerless” – it isn’t. It’s a dangerous force for change, particularly in the context of lost self-control, lost perspective, and a righteous sense of entitlement, possession, or justification. Tragedies happen by way of uncontrolled rage. Clearly, anger can be quite powerful. “Violence never solved anything” is both true and false – and very much dependent on what we mean by “solved”. If we end an argument with violence, we’ve ended the argument certainly, but whether that counts as a solution depends on whether everyone walks away undamaged.

There was a time I didn’t understand emotional violence as violence – primarily because I lived in a messy tangle of both physical and emotional violence, served up with a hearty helping of military life, as well as gas-lighting. Emotional violence was the least of my worries. I didn’t understand my experience. I lacked the emotional intelligence to understand that I had options – and choices. It’s hard to look back comfortably on the choices I did make. Like a barefooted journey across hot asphalt and broken glass, every step did more damage. I lived with continuous fear and anxiety. I rarely slept. The emotional violence in my relationship was the least of my worries; I just wanted to survive the physical violence. I eventually got out of there, safely away, and sadly still unaware of the worst of the damage that had been done, because that wasn’t physical at all.

Physical injuries heal in a physical way. Bones mend. Scars fade. My arthritis follows me everywhere, but as a consequence of earning my freedom from fear it is a reminder that I live…still…it fucking hurts. I never forget how I got here. Tomorrow is 22 years since a nightmare ended. I ended it. I walked on.

…I took the chaos and damage with me…

The worst of the damage was emotional. I didn’t understand that for a long time. I understood “symptoms” – complex PTSD has many – diagnosis in hand, I recognized that I seemed to have no ability to manage my emotional volatility, as a symptom – as something that happened to me. I didn’t understand how accountable I actually was for my actions, though. I didn’t really “get” that like it or not, when my feelings become choices that become actions that affect other people, I am responsible for my actions. There’s no argument there, so just don’t. “Hormones”, “PTSD”, “a terrible headache” “a tough day” – none of these things actually make it okay to be emotionally violent with someone (most especially and particularly someone I say I love). I didn’t understand that I could – no, seriously, I totally mean this – I could choose to behave differently. My experience is my own. My emotions are entirely mine to feel. My choices are mine to make. I am responsible for my actions. Not one moment of personal misery really excuses treating someone else badly. Β I was slow to learn this lesson. I carried the violence forward into my future with me, woven into the damage I’d survived, and expressed it as uncontrollable impotent rage, meltdowns, tantrums and frequent loss of rationality. I’m done making excuses for emotional violence – few people die in a literal way from emotional violence, but the life they are left with is changed. It’s really not okay to behave that way. (Nope, PMS, PMDD, they don’t excuse it either. Get help. Make amends. Say you’re sorry, for fucks sake. Do better over time.)

I’m glad to be moving. Escalating domestic violence next door is uncomfortable to live around. It fucks with my head when I hear the yelling through the walls, the slams and bangs, vague and undefined. There are no good guys. Only human beings unwilling to choose differently and calling it “love” (it isn’t).

Look around. There’s a lot of that going on. We can choose differently. All of us can do better. I can. You can. That person pulling out a gun on the highway to shoot a teenager can choose differently, too; they chose their actions. Think about what that means. Feel your feelings. Behave well. Treat others well. Recognize the subjective nature of your emotional life, and don’t inflict weaponized emotions on other human beings. Fuck your hormones. Fuck your PTSD. Fuck your anger. Care. Care enough to choose better behavior. Care enough to be the person you most want to be. Care enough to seek help if you need help. Care enough to take care of you – well. Care enough to take a step back from a difficult situation. Care enough to understand that each of us is having our own experience – and it’s ours, not to be taken from us. None of us belongs to another.

I say that, then sadly spend minutes contemplating the very real continued existence of slavery and violence around the world. I don’t really know what to say. I am saddened by the constant awareness that there is so much violence loosed on the world. That we wear the face of our own destruction, as a species.

We can all do so much better to treat people well than we actually do. What will you do today to become the person you most want to be? We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

I woke in a lot of pain this morning, and it feels like it is going to be a hot day. My device says 84 degrees (F), so manageably hot, I guess. It’s a “boxing day” today (packing things up to move), and a chance to get some laundry done, too. I smile and enjoy the awareness that in the new place I have my own washer and dryer in the house, saving both time and money.

It’s a nice morning for gratitude. Yesterday ended on a difficult note at work, not “bad” just… work. Real work. Work that matters. Work I am satisfied and rewarded by. Still work. Still requires working. However difficult the work at hand, I also felt valued and appreciated by my colleagues and my boss, which feels… amazing. So far a very healthy environment for me. I definitely seek to spend more time appreciating those good qualities than dwelling on one difficult day – that still ended very well, with work I am proud of.

Yesterday I also had the opportunity to “be there” for a friend who needed a moment to be heard. We all do, now and then, right? I was glad to be there when he needed someone, and it was good to reconnect.

Another friend is gathering his resources and harnessing his will, considering making a 750 mile drive north to see me, hang out, and help me move. I’m pretty blown away by his affectionate regard that he would do so. I smile every time I consider it – and will for a long while, whether he is able to make it or not. He really wants to. That’s awesome. πŸ™‚

Tonight I will get to hang out with other far away friends, in town visiting a friend who isn’t so far away, and who I enjoy but rarely break out of my routine to see. Yeah, that’s a thing – I’m very human. πŸ™‚ I’m eager to see them all, this evening. Maybe my Traveling Partner will accompany me, although probably not; he is still recovering from his recent surgery, and travel would likely be very awkward.

Life isn’t always easy. I got home last night still suffering the day. The time I spent hanging out with a friend helped. The time I spent meditating helped further. The sleep I got, deliciously restful, found me waking with the dawn and a smile, eager for a cup of coffee, having let go of any lingering stress from the prior day. This ability to bounce back developed over time, and I can’t provide any really sound expectations about “how soon” or “when”…because it is a slow, gradual thing that was an incremental change over time with so many setbacks and “will this never end?!” moments that it was a little like I simply woke one day… changed. I suppose it was sometime between when I began and yesterday, right? lol So… let’s go with an easier question, okay? “How many days from the day I first began “practicing the practices” has it been to achieve yesterday’s results?” That I can answer – after I choose a staring point. So… I think I have to look at two different starting points, and answer with a range. First starting point; when my Traveling Partner recommended that I read The Four Agreements (it’s linked on my Reading List), which puts me around 2,575 days (7.05 years – bit of a long haul, frankly). Okay, that sounds… long. Impossibly long. Second starting point, would be when I began with my current therapist, shortly after I started writing Evening Light, putting me at a more comfortable to contemplate 1,610 days (4.4 years). Soooo… it’s taken me, depending on how I look at where I began, between 4 and 7 years to get this far from where I began… that sounds like a long time to have to “wait”, but there have been verbs involved, so I haven’t exactly been “waiting”…

…It hasn’t seemed so long. The quality of life improvements over time began quickly with small things, and have been entirely worth the work, the verbs, the constant practice, the regular beginning again… It’s a lot to commit to, though. So… I haven’t. I’ve refrained from committing to a specific outcome, and focused mostly on moments, practices, and treating myself (and other people) with great consideration and compassionate understanding – neither of which came naturally to me, so, yeah – practice. A lot of practice.

…I’m not “there” yet. I don’t know that there is a “there” at all. I just know that this morning is quite lovely, even though yesterday was difficult in spots. I know I am well-loved, even though I am, myself, quite difficult in spots. I know that so much of my experience is within my ability to choose change, even though that sometimes feels difficult in spots. I know, too, that anytime things are difficult – I can begin again, right here, now, in this spot. πŸ™‚

It’s a good day to practice being the woman I most want to be. We become what we practice. ❀