Archives for category: grief

I didn’t sit down to write until nearly 9:30 am, after a leisurely shower, and close to 12 hours of sleep. Rare for me. (I didn’t sleep continuously through the night; I woke up twice to pee. lol) When I woke, I was unsure of the day, and considered just going back to bed…

…but, there’s an entire day, and a long weekend, ahead of me to enjoy this brief solitary time, a few days with the house to myself, and a lot of quiet (some of it quite lonely). So, I stayed up, showered, put on clean clothes, and finally started hot water for coffee. Oh, hey, I hear the click of the electric kettle just now… be right back!

A ‘coffee flower’ – each as unique as any other flower. I enjoy their brief existence, blossoming as I make my coffee, gone in an instant.

The heat comes on just as I return with my coffee. The 72 degrees that felt so chilly at the end of the evening, last night, feels almost stifling this morning. I turn the temperature down to 60; I won’t yearn for the comfort and warmth of a warmer room until later in the day. Hell… how much of the day will I even spend right here? It’s a chilly autumn morning, fiercely windy, and it might be nice to get a decently long walk in today. The thought puts a smile on my face at the same time that a tear streaks down my cheek. I think of my Granny, and walks we took together on autumn days. South Mountain, Pennsylvania… Cambridge, Maryland… Grants Pass, Oregon… thoughts and places roll past like a slide show. The tears fall softly. Honest tears of sorrow or regret, tears of heartfelt loss, these don’t trouble me at all, they are only more love than my heart can contain – and no one to share it with (right now). I’m okay. She was a splendid strong woman of great character, flawed, human, and of tremendous heart, and I miss her in this autumn moment, considering a walk that, once upon a time, we could have taken together. 🙂

I sip my coffee, comforted by the ordinary routine. I listen to the traffic beyond the studio window. Last night I felt very motivated to paint through the weekend. Just now, though? I am filled with eagerness to tidy up, to create order from chaos, to check off tasks from my list, and to do those things while keeping half an eye on the autumn leaves falling to the deck beyond the glass door, watching for squirrels. It’s that time again; the colder weather, the autumn breezes, I’ll begin putting nuts out for the squirrels and chipmunks, and suet for the birds. 🙂

My thoughts drift to my Traveling Partner and his adventures, and I hope he is doing well. I’m eager to see him when he returns home. I miss him greatly.

I had also definitely missed this solitude, and I had failed hard at the self-care skills needed to ensure I managed to get the quiet time I routinely need, or to seek, or create, the stillness I need to maintain my most chill and contented self. I smile, and forgive myself for my obvious limitations. lol I will continue to practice. Keep working at it. Keep learning and growing. Keep speaking up when the need becomes too great. Keep communicating my needs in an open, honest, and gentle way. All the things. There’s a lot. If I try to write down all the tiny very fine details of “how to” care for oneself very skillfully, from the perspective of what I understand, myself, it would be such a long detailed list that it would almost certainly appear ludicrous to even contemplate! In practice, though, it’s just practice. Do a thing. It worked? Repeat that. It worked again? Pretty reliable. Try it a few times more. Still working? Awesome; now practice until it is quite natural, almost effortless, and it has become part of “who you are”. 🙂 Add another thing. Repeat the process. Simple enough. Stop doing what doesn’t support your emotional well-being and general good health and contentment. (That’s surprisingly a bit harder, and may take more practice.)

I sit sipping my coffee, barefooted, in my studio, with four lovely relaxed days ahead, suitable for my leisure needs. I have not decided what, specifically, to do with them (besides sleeping, showering, and sipping coffee – those I guess I can count on). I listen to the traffic, loud beyond the window. There are dishes to do. Things to put away. A container garden on the deck to “winterize”. There is this heart full of paintings with which to shout what I don’t have the words to whisper. I am hovering in that place of indecision, without urgency. There are no “wrong answers”, only an opportunity to begin again. 🙂

The possible (likely) impeachment of the US President? I don’t care right now, at all. Local weather? I’m indifferent; it’s meaningless. Work? Connectivity? Housekeeping? The appointment I have scheduled later? Nothing matters beyond one small (huge) thing; I’m sitting alone, heart aching, while my partner is elsewhere, also alone (an assumption), and probably having a less than ideal experience, too.

…I’m not even sure what went wrong, exactly. We started down the path of a conversation… we converse daily, often, and manage both deep conversations, and light-hearted banter (and lots of things in between) quite effortlessly, most of the time. Was I pre-disposed towards frustration, after spending a morning frustrated by technical difficulties, on a rare day working from home? Was he having his experience from within a context that had him potentially predisposed toward difficulties, himself? Is this even “about” either of us, at all? We are each having our own experience – this much is reliably true. I feel, at the moment, sort of bitter, rather heartsick, fighting off tears I don’t want to deal with, and feeling that I am a failure as a partner because – how can I not manage something so fucking basic as a conversation??

In all respects it was a lovely morning to start with. I sit staring disinterestedly into this 3rd cup of coffee, trying to hold onto the morning’s delights. Elusive. Those moments feel as if they were only a dream, now. I am acutely aware I have a “routine” check up with my therapist coming in a couple weeks, and I find myself struggling with a feeling of shame over maybe really needing that time, even after so long, and so much progress. It flares up as resentment and anger, then recedes as a sort of sad gray shadow over my experience, and a hint of despair and futility. “Doesn’t it ever stop…?” My demons attack where I am weakest, that’s a given, and I’m unsurprised by the bleak feeling of doubt, the sense of loss, of abandonment, the feeling of hurt and unworthiness. Damn, this is shitty.

…I hope he’s okay (he’s probably feeling shitty, too).

I look into my coffee mug again, as if I were even going to drink it. I put the cup back down. I also don’t care about this cup of coffee – not compared to how much I care that I am enduring this moment, or that he is enduring his… or that we ended up in this place, in the first place. This coffee doesn’t even smell good. I made it the same as always. No interest in drinking it now. It just sits. Same as me. Just sitting here, mired in this mess. I tried the “walk away and calm down” approach to handling miscommunication and frustration… it does not seem to have provided any useful benefit. I mean… I suppose it’s better than waiting around poking a hornets’ nest until one or the other of us seriously lose our temper. I can’t stand raised voices. Instead… oh sure, it’s fucking quiet, but… I am isolated with my despair… my most dangerous personal foe. “Misery loves company”? Nah. I don’t buy that. Misery doesn’t love a fucking thing, it’s grim, stoic – a loiterer who takes everything pleasant and destroys it without hesitation.

…I even know the steps to take to not be here… and can’t raise the motivation to do a thing about it… like giving up. The futility becomes a quiet waterfall of hot tears. A lifetime of frustration and learned helplessness clench my jaws. My back aches with the weight of it. This? This right here is another very human experience. (“It’s just a moment”, I hear my internal reminder on autopilot, “this will pass. It’s just weather, not climate.” I can’t hear it; it feels very distant and irrelevant.)

Too fucking human. So… what’s to be done about it, then? Yeah, um… I don’t know right now. I’m too busy feeling hurt and filled with chaos and damage. Let me get done with all that, then I’ll move on to doing something else… probably sort myself out at some point… maybe even begin again.

Well, last night the guy repairing our A/C came by, fixed a thing, and wryly admitted that doing so hadn’t fixed the A/C. Something entirely else is wrong, and there are parts to be ordered, and it’s fucking hot, in the middle of summer, and uncomfortable as hell, and…

…And my Traveling Partner enjoyed the stifling hot uncomfortable evening in good company, together. It was fine. Hot, sure. Summer, definitely. We drank plenty of water. We stayed comfortable. I enjoyed a cool leisurely shower at some point. Later, I went to bed. It was hot. I still slept. As soon as the outside temperature was equal to, or less than, the inside temperature, we opened the windows to the breezes, and let the house cool down with the night temperatures.

I woke to the sound of rain, very audible through open windows. Lovely. The smell of petrichor quickly dissipated the last of the smell of burning electrical components of the A/C. The house is comfortably cool. I make a cup of tea and sit by the open door to the deck for some minutes, listening to the rain fall. I am thinking about how often what feels catastrophic in life is, after all the fuss and bother, really not that big a deal after all. 🙂

I listen to thunder in the distance, and the shhhhh-shhhhh of the earliest commuters heading down the rain-slick hill beyond my window. I consider how often a moment of patience, of non-attachment, of perspective, have preventing me (lately) from over-reacting to what seems catastrophic in some moment. It’s rarely helpful to treat some circumstance as catastrophic; so few really are. It’s a trap. Stuck in some past or future moment, we let our fear, or our anxiety, or our baggage, call the shots. It’s generally a poor choice.

We could have treated a failed A/C as a catastrophe (it isn’t). We could have bitched endlessly and ruined our shared good time together. We could have been nasty to the repair guy who showed up very late, and then “couldn’t even fix it”. We could have been sour with our landlord, who lives far away, and chose the repair guy based on cost and convenience to himself. Doing those things would not have fixed the A/C faster, and most definitely would have created problems in those helpful relationships. And…seriously? Are there not much more important things to be stressed or angry about than the damned weather, and an A/C failure in summertime? lol The entire fucking planet definitely needs us each to be our best selves – but that’s also a journey, and “the best I can do” right now, in this moment, is likely not the best you can do, or the best some repair guy can do, or the best someone else, over there, can do… we’re each having our own experience. We do well to do our best with each other, because we’re also all in this together. Less a contradiction, than something to meditate on. 😉

…So, we did our best to simply deal with the A/C failure, as we do with so many things that go wrong in small ways (which is most things, when they go wrong in some way), and this morning? The rain falls softly. The air is cool and fresh, and the day unlikely to be quite so hot. Good enough.

I sip my cup of tea, thinking about a friend in recovery. Life took a pleasant turn toward success and security for him, and… he relapsed. Fuck. Recovery is already hard without that. I find myself wondering if he knows to forgive himself? If he will remember to begin again, and simply go forward, counting his recovery time from a new date, or hell, even simply acknowledging that we fail, we fall, we stumble, we struggle – and it’s okay; we can get back up and start over. It’s a hard mile to walk. I wish there were anything at all I could do to make it easier for him. I reached out and let him know I’m still here if he needs to talk. I wonder if he understands? He’s taking steps. Even this mess doesn’t have to be catastrophic, but he’s blinded by his regret and shame, and weighed down by guilt and a sense of “letting people down”. Fuck that’s hard. I want to tell him to let it go, to trust that the rain will come, the wheel keeps turning, and this, too, shall pass.

(I hope you’re reading this one, that you get what I’m trying to tell you, and that you are okay. You can begin again.)

My morning started a bit early; the clock tells me it is time to get up. Well… sure…? lol I sip my tea content to be where I am in life, and present in this moment. This morning, after years of practice, years of new beginnings, years of “resetting the clock” and walking my own hard mile, it feels pretty easy, and very natural. It wasn’t an overnight transformation, although there were many epiphanies and “light-bulb moments” along the way – mostly, there was a lot of practice. I see on the calendar that I’ve got an appointment scheduled with my therapist; I scheduled it during a stressful time, shortly before my Mom died (was that really only a couple months ago?). I had to reschedule it, and there it sits on my calendar, in the middle of a week I’ll be out of town for work. lol I smile; rescheduling it doesn’t feel like a catastrophe, either. I don’t actually recall quite why I wanted it, from the vantage point of this rainy morning over a hot cup of tea. Progress. Incremental change over time.

I send my therapist a request to reschedule our appointment, finish my tea, 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. 🙂

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.