Archives for category: Frustration

You know that experience where disappointment, frustration, and anger, collide, and the result is a bit of a tantrum, a lashing out, maybe saying “too much”, with too much ferocity? You know the one; the burning of bridges, the severing of connections? That moment when disappointment hits so hard it feels necessary to hit back (metaphorically, I mean)? Yeah… don’t do that. (Also, don’t do violence. Just… yeah, don’t. Not okay.)

I know, it sound super easy to say. Emotions get to the party ahead of our rational minds, generally. Once we’ve lashed out, said a thing, made a messy bit of drama that will need clean up later, it can seem to have been necessary, “reasonable” (it’s definitely not that) – even “paybacks” may sound satisfying. “Fuck them!”

Here’s the thing, though. We’re all human. Most of us perceive ourselves to be “the good guy” in our own narrative, at least. If asked, people seem generally willing to stake a claim to being in a state of “doing their best”, moment-to-moment. It’s very subjective. If, though, everyone around us is as well-intentioned as we believe ourselves to be, is lashing out when disappointed actually an appropriate reaction to that person or circumstance? (If you are not “well-intentioned”, that’s a very different concern, for another day.)

I recognize that life “isn’t fair”, and that most of the time there’s no “save” at the last minute, no “we brought you back as our wild card performer!” moment to salvage our experience if we’ve been disappointed. (Sometimes there is, though, so… maybe don’t talk yourself out of that potential with a lot of cranky bullshit.) I’m thinking about it this morning, not because it’s properly relevant to this moment, but it may be to some other, in the future, so… sipping coffee, thinking thoughts. Certainly, after the fact, it’s usually pretty clear that throwing a fucking fit over some small disappointment is less than ideal for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that the most obvious result is that we look like a reactive, emotionally immature, jackass (at least until we’ve finished whatever rationalization we’re prone to working so hard at, at that point we’re likely to be blinded by our own fiction). lol Not a great look.

Giftmas is coming. Gifts under trees… dinners out with friends or family… holiday events… it’s easy to forget to cherish these rare moments, to make them the best moments of our lives (and yes, even in spite of conflict, and stress). It’s super easy to lose our shit in a moment of holiday stress. We’re making memories every moment, though; what do we want to remember of our life? To be remembered for? The stress? The conflict? We become what we practice. Being a petty jerk about an imperfect gift creates a memory, becomes a practice. How much better to give generously, and receive graciously? To be kind? To show compassion? To laugh with a joyous heart? There are verbs involved, and choices, and yes – your actual will. It is actually possible to choose – and build – joy. I recommend it as a practice. 😀

Let go of the stress. Lead with gratitude. Be merry by choice when you can. Appreciate each moment; the joyous ones are as lovely as butterflies, the ones that are less joyous are extraordinary opportunities to grow, to learn, and to become that person you most want to be. Sure, walk away from drama, definitely do that, and also connect with others more deeply, more authentically. It is a powerful season for change. It’s a real shot at life-changing forward momentum. Your call. Your choice. Your practices.

Give yourself an amazing gift this year; better practices. 🙂 It’s not always “easy”, and “practice” certainly implies effort, and likely an occasional actual failure. The journey is so worth all that. Are you the person you most want to be, standing where you are, right now? What will you do about that, today, right now?

It’s already time to begin again. I finish my coffee, and smile. No headache this morning; it’s a good beginning. 😀

 

My sleep was restless and interrupted, and I had very few dreams. The dreams I had were hard on me, mostly nightmares filled with mocking laughter, and a feeling of being emptied, gutted, and vacated, and left at the curb for trash pick up day. I woke as if to a strange noise, but the house was dark and quiet. I tried, unenthusiastically, to return to sleep without success. I got up and started making coffee. My Traveling Partner got up, and I made coffee for him, too, then retreated to my studio to write and to weep. No idea where the tears are coming from. My nightmares? Anyway – I’m not fit company just yet, so I am considerately avoiding humanity and taking care of myself until this bullshit passes.

Yes, “bullshit”. It’s okay to refuse to yield ground to my demons. It’s okay to refuse to be overcome by my personal baggage. I’m not mistreating my heart, hear, I’m just not going to allow a visit to The Nightmare City to wreck my day, but getting there is a journey of its own, and one that I find easier to make alone, generally. I’m less likely to take myself too seriously.  😉

So, I’m sipping my coffee and trying to write without allowing a syntax error, missing word, over-looked opposite, or spelling mistake to slip past unnoticed. It requires my whole attention this morning. My mind is still shattered and distracted by the content of my dreams. It’ll pass, and in the meantime? I won’t be taking my nightmares personally.

I sip my coffee frustrated that I’m closing in on 57 and still chasing lasting relief from the chaos and damage. I’ll just point it out; when we hurt people the damage done can really last a literal life time. Do people “let it go” and “get over it”? Sure – for some values of letting go, for some values of getting over it. The damage is done. If we break a leg, and have it properly cared for, and it heals nicely, and we have full use of it restored… did that do anything at all to remove the experience of having broken it? Of going through that healing process? Of dealing with the pain? Nope. All that is still a real thing. So it also is with emotional hurts, and really any sort of trauma at all. From simple inconsiderate rudeness or petty cruelty, to massive trauma resulting in hospitalization and everything that is traumatic or hurtful, however large or small. Once we do the damage, the damage is done. Fix what you can, for sure. Be accountable for your words and your actions, most definitely. Don’t be under the impression that accountability, contrition, or making amends does anything at all to change the fact that the damage was done. :-\

…Hang on though… I’m not saying, either, that it is a necessary (or good) thing to destroy oneself with guilt or regret, either. Be your own best friend. Be open to failures, and accepting that you’ve done damage, do what you can do to make amends, to offer a sincere apologize (no excuses, no reservations, wholly authentic) – then let it go and hopefully move on in life without being so careless, or inconsiderate, or hurtful, or callous, or foolish, or whatever it was that caused the damage you’ve done to another person! …Because, yeah, sooner or later you are going to cause some damage. 😦 For real, though; no one is immune to hurting another person. It’s actually pretty hard not to, sometimes. We’re fairly fragile creatures, particularly from an emotional perspective. Complicated. We learn most from our mistakes, but there are some mistakes we really don’t want (or need) to make…

…Well, shit. I guess I’m learning stuff? Damn, I fucking hope so. :-\ In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just begin again. It’s a lovely morning for meditation, and a great day to spend restoring order to chaos. 🙂

 

No kidding. Damn little gets more “real” than actual reality colliding with the fictional version of reality we generally live with in our heads. :-\ It’s a bit like petting a beautifully fluffy strange cat on the basis of how cute and soft it appears; sometimes those’ll bite back unexpectedly – and it’s not even personal… “cute and soft” are simply not reliably the most important things to know about a strange cat.

I’m still getting over being sick, and my defenses are down. My ability to “get” humor is rendered somewhat unreliable. My will to accept as humor those “zingers with stingers” falls short of the need, sometimes. I end up taking something small quite personally, and end up with hurt feelings. My temper flares more easily, while I also need more tenderness and patience. It sucks more than a little when the result is conflict, particularly when what I wanted is affection. Sometimes reality can be more than a little vexing.

Yesterday at work was efficient. Purposeful. Challenging. Satisfying. Also – short. I went home a couple hour early, still committing to self-care. Still getting over being sick. Unfortunately, I’m not over being wholly made of human, and much of the evening in no way met my short-term, or long-term, self-care needs. My Traveling Partner and I did not make as much of the opportunity to spend that time together as we could have, and the result was some unpleasant back-and-forth that, looking back, doesn’t seem very productive. No epiphanies, no light bulb moments, no feeling of greater connection or shared relief on the other side… We sort of just picked ourselves up from each difficult moment and began again. It wasn’t satisfying. It wasn’t pleasant. It didn’t feel connected (just frustrating, and, well… hard). I should be more clear here; I’m only talking about my own experience, subjectively, and while I seriously doubt his was better than that, it may very well be that it was worse. It’s hard to know.

You know what I do know? I know that love requires effort, and care, and reinvestment… and I know that we (both) give it those things. Last night sort of seemed like neither of us saw how much the other does put into it. Like I said, it was less than pleasant, and rather unsatisfying. I’m not sure the specifics of the underlying circumstances really matter (or what they may or may not really have had to do with our difficult moments last night). It felt a little existential at points. I’m making a specific point not to cast blame, or attempt to triage in a more detailed way, primarily because doing so doesn’t hold value in this moment, right here; I’d rather focus on growth and healing, and where still needed, self-soothing. I can easily see points at which I could do a better job communicating my needs, my boundaries, my thoughts (likely, nearly always, so, yeah, definitely with regards to yesterday). I give those things the thought they deserve, and sip my coffee… thoughtfully. This human being I love so well, this partner who gives so much, certainly deserves that consideration. 🙂 I have a responsibility (and opportunity) to make time for it – and it is a worthy endeavor for a partnership so dear to me. Love takes some work. Love is worth the effort.

…So… sipping coffee, thinking thoughts. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. The winter holiday season begins with gratitude. That’s a lovely beginning. I borrow that theme for my morning, and give myself over to considering all that I am grateful for in this relationship, in this life, in this moment. I feel it ease my very human (and in at least one case, fairly silly) hurts; it’s hard to be petty and grateful in the same breath. 😉

Damn I love that man. Doing our best isn’t always enough for any one circumstance, moment, or conversation, but I am most definitely confident that he is doing his best for me, and for us, pretty much 100% of his time. That’s a lot to ask of a person who also has to deal with their own bullshit and baggage in life. I don’t think I can claim to do more/better, at all. I make a mental note to be kinder… to keep practicing taking that breath before I react to some small thing in some larger-than-necessary way… to treat love well. To listen. Really listen. Like… a lot more.

…so human… and adulting is so… complicated…

I take another sip of my coffee, and prepare to begin again…

This morning it takes me awhile to get where I’m going with this. Please forgive. Short night, early morning, sluggish thinking.

Sometimes patterns of light distract from illumination

Is it really notably different whether you are being obviously aggressive to someone, or acting out passive-aggressively? I personally don’t think there is, aside from the lack of forthrightness, and personal accountability. Micro-aggression fits in there, too; it’s in the intention, it’s in what the underlying feeling is, it’s how the person attacked feels the harm. I think most of us dislike feeling attacked, whether or not it is provoked by obvious ill-intention, or subtly camouflaged.

With overt aggression, I am at least certain I’ve been attacked. There’s an honesty to it. A certain… certainty. It’s not pleasant, but it’s clear. I may be taken aback, or wounded, but I also have unmistakable means to deal with it. Passive aggression is sneaky, sly, and dishonest. The attacker masquerades as well-intentioned, in some cases convincingly (to outside observers). The attack is no less damaging. The attacker no less intentional.

I try to avoid passive-aggressive attacks, and micro-aggressions (sometimes complicated by a lack of self-awareness), as well. I’m not a perfect human being, but a willful, considered, attempt, and a good-heart, go a long way. There’s less I understand to do about my own potential for overt aggression, beside stifle it, keep it in check by force if necessary, and continue to work on not having to deal with it, by making it less a part of my implicit thinking, and “natural” behavior – by practicing other ways with a firm commitment, and apologizing swiftly and without reservations when I recognize I’ve hurt someone.

…I’m my own human being. I find living with other human beings incredibly difficult. I’ve been badly damaged by violence, aggression, passive-aggression (and her evil twin, gaslighting), and the scars are, in some cases, still very raw, the wounds still easily re-opened. Healing from this kind of damage can take… a lifetime. I’m sitting here at 56, feeling rather as if I’ve used up most of the time available, without much improvement. Oh, I take the improvements I do get. I value those (they are the thing that makes life livable). I keep at it. There’s plenty to work on. It’s true, too, that the only thing I can truly effect change on – talking about human beings, human feelings, human experience, here – is this one. Mine. Me. What I do, what I think, how I behave, how I feel – all mine to work on, and perhaps improve. There is literally no realistic potential to change anyone else’s behavior, or how they interact with me. It’s hard, if I hold onto a perception that “they” are the cause of my experience.

Stare at something long enough it may appear to be more significant than it is

Sleep matters too much – even to love. I don’t get enough good sleep. It affects my cognition. It affects my emotional balance. It affects my ability to reason. I take some pretty profound steps to maintain good sleep hygiene – because it’s necessary to ensure I get the minimum amount of rest necessary to sustain human life. It’s been two weeks since I last got more than an hour of deep sleep, according to my sleep tracker, and that was interrupted and in smaller increments. Before that? Back in September, same thing; interrupted, 5 and 10 minute chunks of deep sleep, interspersed with light sleep and wakefulness. I have to go all the way back to July to find a night when I got more than an hour and a half of continuous deep sleep. I’m often short on REM sleep, too, mostly just getting “light sleep” that is neither deep or REM sleep. It’s no wonder I’m tired so much, and I guess no surprise that my resilience has been reduced, and my temperament more irritable, over time.

…During my first (very violent) marriage, I went nearly a decade without actually sleeping more than an hour or two a night, mostly just resting motionlessly, and sleep-walking through my “waking” life… My sleep issues are not about my current relationship, they have been with me a long long time, even into childhood.

I don’t have any idea, just now, what to do about it. “Stop being annoying” and “stop being irritable” are bullet points on a long list of things to change that don’t work that way. I know to start with improving my self-care. Meditation matters that much. I know to harness the power of gratitude when I am feeling resentful and hurt, and to let go of small things, understanding that we are each human, each having our own experience, and that taking things personally is what allows them to hurt so much in the first place – as well as giving others power over my experience. Even the most direct actual-no-bullshit-fully-intended-to-specifically-hurt-me attack isn’t all that personal; it’s usually an expression of that other person’s own pain, frustration, challenges, hurts, and baggage. Often, people don’t know another way to behave. They do what has worked for them in the past. Taking that shit personally just piles my baggage onto their baggage, and it all gets very heavy – for everyone.

It’s not as if people who favor aggression or passive-aggression are actually enjoying all that stress and agitation. (The sorts of human beings who enjoy that kind of thing are a wholly other sort of monster, and I do my very best to stay far far away from those.)

is there really a pattern, or is it a trick of the light?

Then, too, there are so many circumstances in which my own understanding of “what’s going on” is colored by my baggage, my perception altered by my own pain, and I see an attack – or an attacker – where there is really only another human being, being human, and it just happens to conflict with me, also so human, being human, myself. My own feelings of being hurt, or my own petty resentments, build up a foe in my thinking – an opponent, a challenger – against whom I struggle…

…I’m nearly always, in truth, struggling with myself. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go. There are a lot of great reasons to let go of my own bullshit. (No good reasons to hold on to it.)

I sit here this morning sipping my coffee, past feeling sorry for myself, around the corner from feeling aggrieved by the brief restless night. I am listening to my Traveling Partner working out his feelings his own way, tidying things, handling chores that nag at him visually, checking things off his “to-do list”. It was a brutally early morning for both of us. Neither of us slept well, I’m fairly certain. It wasn’t personal, or chosen, or intentional, or deliberately inflicted in any way. No bad guys. No real “good guys”, either. Just people. Human beings who choose love, but struggling in the moment to live that intention, gently. Too real? Too common, for sure. I listen with care, identifying the tasks by the sounds, mentally refreshing my own to-do list as I hear him move through the house.

I used to think love wasn’t a “real thing”, because it isn’t easy, and requires actual effort. lol I’m grateful for love, even when I am frustrated or confounded by what love asks of me, as a human being committed to love and loving – and doing so well.  That’s really where it gets complicated. Every-fucking-body is so damned human. I can love haplessly, without real skill, and it doesn’t take too much work… aaand.. doesn’t last too long, flaring up and flaming out, leaving chaos and sorrow in the aftermath… that’s the “easy” way (and most common outcome). Harder is working together, listening deeply, fostering a long-term sanctuary in our hearts, keeping a welcoming embrace always at the ready, and seeking to build, approach, support, and persist in our tenderness and gentleness, day after human day. Life is a long journey – I’m fortunate to have the Traveling Partner I do; we chose each other. Some days we have to reach across a very human moment, to choose each other all over again. (So worth it, rarely effortless.)

sometimes it is enough that there is sunshine streaming through a window; it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that

He puts his head in my studio, makes eye contact, asks a question, starts a conversation – builds a bridge. Love is worth a little bridge building, when our very human stormy weather floods our path. He gets it. (Usually before I do.)

I finish my coffee and begin again. 🙂

 

One thing I routinely find myself struggling with (and I use the word “struggling” very specifically, aware that there is definitely a better way, and other practices), and struggling rather unsuccessfully, is getting enough “cognitive space” and cognitive rest to really be rested, and really get what I need out of my own mental bandwidth. It’s hard. All day, when I’m at work, continuous input, stimulation, and other human voices. Then, at home, my only opportunities to connect and be close with my partner have to come out of whatever time is also left for me to care for myself, to take care of hearth and home, and finally, if I’ve left myself anything at all – time to simply be. To reflect, and to meditate. I too often find myself either left without adequate clarity of thought; distracted from my own by the world, or those dear to me, or commonplace noise… and distracted from those distractions by my own persistent attempts to read what interests me, or sit with my thoughts, or plan, or consider the future… and, those attempts are distracted by all the things that preceded them… and around and around, until I am dizzy and short-tempered, and unable to form correct sentences, or really understand what I’m hearing…

…It is 100% a crappy experience, and deeply fatiguing. People end up becoming impatient with me, and by that point, I already can’t adequately explain myself, through my frustration, and theirs.

I’m not particularly skilled at dealing with this. There are no pleasant ways to say “not now, I need to be there for me, myself, right now, and this is too much” without somehow communicating rejection. It’s hard to tell someone I care about, who is super excited about what is going on in their experience, that I need to also enjoy my own, for me, and that I’m running out of room to do that, somehow. It’s boundary-setting I need to do for myself… and I’m honestly fairly terrible at it, generally not wanting to be “a buzzkill” or seem disinterested… I do my best, whatever that is, in the moment, and it often feels inadequate; everyone wants to be heard. I even know this. I just don’t know how to definitely be fully present and 100% engaged with someone else, when I also need to ensure I am doing the same for me.

I’m sitting here frustrated and angry with myself. I’m still a bit ill, which isn’t helping. I isolated myself rather than continue to piss off someone who matters to me so much, but… I seem unable to put the time to any better use than this; bitching about my frustration that I am so challenged by this particular puzzle. How do I both be fully present for everyone else, all the time, and also do so for myself? How does this work? When is “my time” for me? And I’m not asking that rhetorically to drive an emotional point, or express resentment – this is a sincere and gently intended question – when is that time?

I haven’t been sleeping deeply for quite a long time. Even when my sleep tracker tells me I am getting enough hours of sleep, very little of it is deep sleep, almost none of it is continuous. I am mostly getting interrupted light sleep. How do I treat myself better? Would I be having the same frustrations in ordinary interactions with other people, if I were sleeping better? What does that take? Why am I having these challenges?

I know it isn’t helping that I’ve been taking OTC symptom relievers for this cold. I foolishly let my partner talk me into taking Sudafed yesterday, too. Experience tells me that some of my experience right now, emotionally, is likely an unwelcome after-effect of yesterday’s cold medications. Why isn’t it easier to hold that thought in my real-time consciousness when I am interacting with other people?

More questions than answers tonight. I feel the tears that want so much to fall. I refuse to accommodate them out of self-directed pique, maybe a bit of personal spite with myself. I hear my partner put on music he knows is “everything to me”… I find myself wondering what he means by it, and whether he understands this music the way I do. Probably not; we’re each having our own experience. How human. Still… I assume positive intent. I know he loves me. If nothing else, it’s a gesture, a hand extended across a divide. A moment of shared experience. A chance to begin again, together.