Archives for category: grief

Eat less or exercise? Personally, I have to do both. It’s non-negotiable. If I get less exercise, still keep my caloric intake well-managed (and low) and eat healthy food, I gain weight anyway. If I get plenty of exercise, but make poor nutritional choices, I also gain weight. If I eat a poor quality diet, don’t manage my calories closely, and also don’t get sufficient exercise, I not only gain weight, I gain a lot of weight, and I pack on the pounds fast. Some medications cause me to gain weight, too; that’s something I reliably find out the hard way. So… eat less or exercise? I don’t get to choose, I’ve got to do both. πŸ™‚

There are quite a few things in life that we sometimes get snared viewing as a choice between options, when, actually, it’s a choice to change, or not to change; all the options involving change may be required to make change occur in the direction we’d specifically like to see. Real-life doesn’t tend to negotiate with our whims.

Emotion, and the skillful management and expression of strong emotion, specifically, has some things in common here, with a twist; incremental change over time is super slow, but our emotions jump to the head of any queue, lead every moment, and arrive to every party too early. So sure, it’s reasonable, and true, for someone mid-freak out to have the recognition and understanding that their experience is based on “irresistible” internal forces beyond their immediate control; strong emotion, particularly powerful emotions like rage, frustration, and sorrow, can erupt from within us, sweeping over us, taking away our sense of control, and eventually leading to regrettable words and actions. The “I’m sorry”s begin to pile up (if you are that decent sort who regrets treating others badly). So do the rationalizations (about hormones, childhoods, provocation, circumstances…).

It’s also quite true that our behavior is a choice. Yes, all of it. Yes, pretty much all the time, every time. The first time someone lashes out with an act of violence, they might get by with “I didn’t know” or an expression of astonishment that they could be provoked to that point, but second times? Third times? Times that occur after someone – anyone – has pointed out that’s not okay? Yeah, those are choices. Yielding to strong emotion and relinquishing control over behavior is a choice (unless maybe you are profoundly mentally ill and urgently in need of inpatient treatment). Well, if that’s also true, is everyone who ever treated a loved one poorly, or punched a wall, or lashed out with horrible words deeply mentally ill and urgently in need of treatment? Some of them probably are! Most of them likely are not. That they are choosing such behaviors is still a choice, and they could choose differently, and no you can’t “make them” change, and omg – if they decide to change themselves, that is a process that can be infernally slow, fraught will failures, and varying results.

…And before we can change ourselves through our willful choices in the direction of being our best selves, we actually need to 1. be aware that we would like to be other than we are, and 2. understand that change is possible, chosen, and must be practiced. It’s a lot to hold onto. It’s a lot of work. The practice has to come ahead of the need to be changed. It’s necessary both to feel, and to practice our best behavior under the stress of an “emotional load”. We’ve got to do both. It’s work that will have to be done in the face of real-time failures, disappointed frustrated loved ones, relationships that don’t make it through the process, friendships that end because it turns out some of them were invested in what is being changed. It’s work that is continuous and ongoing. Change is a verb – and you have choices.

Another school shooting. I read about it and can’t help but wonder where so many people have gotten the idea that their anger, disappointment, frustration, or any other emotional experience, entitles them to take a life – any life. Where did that come from? How long has this toxic seed been part of our culture? Did the shooter understand this is unacceptable behavior? If he did understand that, and chose to do it anyway, where did he get the idea that this is a course of action appropriate to his emotional experience? Why do so few people understand what poison their “righteous anger” actually is? Even otherwise good-hearted people can be drawn into making the most outrageously hateful statements about the value of another life (don’t read the comments on the internet, People, I’m just saying there’s an astonishing amount of rationalized hate out there), given the opportunity to frame that other human being as a bad guy of some kind. We most commonly succumb to hate due to a lack of empathy… I don’t know how to fix that for the world, or my nation. I’m still working on it for me – one practice at a time. Changing myself is within my control; I have choices.

Time to begin again.

I’m sipping a quiet hot cup of tea. The tea is hot. The room is quiet. The music is quite loud, in spite of the quiet room. I’m enjoying the contrasts. Cool room. Hot tea. Quiet room. Loud music. I am in pain. I feel that too, although I enjoy it less; it is part of my experience. I have mixed feelings about the pain; I am alive. I have survived all I’ve been through so far. My pain reminds me of how strong I can be. My pain is a reminder of my resolve. My pain hints at my pure will; I walk with it, work with it, every day.

…Fuck, I’m a bad ass! lol You are, too. Here you are. You’ve survived. Fuck yeah – all of it. πŸ™‚

Tonight isn’t fancy. I am making time for me. The woman in the mirror needing a little care, getting the care she needs. It’s a nice system.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. That’s soon enough. It’s okay to get some rest.

There’s more to say on such a big topic. A paragraph or two about love and lovers isn’t going to cover the subject thoroughly at all. I won’t try. It’s early in the morning, and I’m headed to work soon. The morning is rainy. The coffee is hot. My mood is merry. Easy stuff on a Tuesday.

The view from my weekend away.

I scroll through my Facebook feed, catching up after a weekend away. I flip through the posts – what’s with all the angst-y relationship drama? (More than enough over the weekend, as well – seasonal?) I don’t laugh – it really isn’t a cause for amusement or celebration when lovers suffer in each others arms, most particularly consider the great care some lovers take in crafting their shared misery. The choices! The effort! The lovingly hand-crafted artisanal misery! It’s amazing to me that even if pointed out such that awareness is unavoidable, a great many people will still “well, she…”, “well, he…”, with real ferocity to return to an acceptable understanding that allows them to rationalize not making any changes at all. It’s weird. It’s as if – wait for it – they are actually choosing to be unhappy together instead of choosing to be actually happy, or at least content and blissful. So strange. It’s hard to watch. It’s always been hard to watch. It makes my acid reflux flare up to have to watch it. It makes me heartsick to have to turn away. (I can’t fix it!) 😦

Love isn’t misery. If you are miserable, I assure you, it isn’t the love causing that. It’s the bullshit. πŸ˜‰ Drop the bullshit. lol (Sounds so easy in those terms, but yeah – there are still a lot of verbs involved, and you can’t avoid those, or pay for someone else to do them.)

I’ve had cause to be soaked in drama recently. Not so much a choice as a test of endurance, loving kindness, compassion, and the experience and (limited) wisdom that come of age – and that come of fucking up several potentially wonderfully promising relationships myself over the years. Doesn’t make it easier to bear witness to the misery of lovers who refuse to see that they are choosing their misery for themselves, with great care, and putting every ounce of their being into tending and maintaining it. Yikes. I can’t even imagine the power and joy of a relationship into which similar effort and energy are put directly into actually loving each other!

Sharing the love, and sharing the building. Destruction is far less joyful.

…Oh. Wait. Yes, yes I can actually imagine the power and joy of a relationship into which lovers are putting the full weight of their effort and energy directly into actually loving each other! I have that! How wonderful! πŸ˜€ I worked – and work – with great care to build (instead of destroying) to support and nurture (instead of criticizing and tearing my partner down) to attend to my own chaos and damage (because we really only have the power to change our own ways, to deal with our own issues, to put down our own baggage), and to learn to love well.

A gray, black, and tan moth is colorful up close. Perspective matters. πŸ™‚

I’m still learning. I practice every day. I make mistakes. I make amends. I screw up. I make it right. Again and again. I learn something new that works. I practice it often. I find out something I do is problematic. I look at ways I could change my approach for a better result. I face the awareness that something my lover does is uncomfortable for me. I learn to bring those issues to the table with kindness, patience, and understanding that I am having my own experience, and “demanding change” is not always the most effective (or efficient) way to achieve the result I want. I learned to assume positive intent, and learned to share my words gently, and to listen deeply. I learned to let go of assumptions and expectations, and to distinguish between acceptance and being a doormat. lol So many life lessons to love well! We have to learn each of them on our own. The verbs pile up.

I may be writing about love for the rest of my life – there is that much to say about it, and I’m no expert. πŸ™‚ Love matters most. Love inspires. Love pulls us. Pushes us. Changes us. Love is powerful stuff. I spent the weekend wrapped in love. Home now to begin a new work week, I’m still thinking about love – and lovers.

There is always time for love. (Make time for it.) What could be a more worthy use of your precious limited mortal life than to love?

Speaking of time… it’s time to begin the work day. πŸ™‚ One new beginning among so many. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I am in a fairly crappy mood this evening. No particular obvious reason stands out. Nothing really seems to be wrong. The work day wasn’t bad. The commute wasn’t bad. Just my mood. The headache isn’t helping, but I’ve taken something for it, had a big glass of water, and made a healthy evening meal of left over acorn squash stuffed with kale and quinoa. Pretty yummy. I’m okay. The house is secure and warm and quiet… so… what’s this bullshit about? That’s not really a rhetorical question – and I do know the answer. Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage “you’ve gotta pay for your thrills”?

I’m managing a smile in spite of my crappy mood, and feeling sort of… accomplished? I broke all my routines celebrating the new year with friends and loved ones. Late nights hanging out, listening to music, celebrating or grieving change, all of us together, enjoying irregular meals that didn’t conform well to specific dietary needs (sugar!!!!) – and all the over stimulation a great house party can provide have finally taken a real toll. I’m not just tired. I’ve gotten some good rest, and my sleep cycle already seems pretty well restored to the usual sleeping/waking timing, so no, it isn’t that – or, that’s only part of it. It was a damned good time, and I’m finding it hard to “come back to real life”, in the sense that merry-makers making merry don’t find much cause to have to “manage their time” – and I was really enjoying that. lol Now it’s back to planning, managing, and dealing with a steady grind that – however pleasant – is not built on my agenda, and over which I have very limited power to influence the course of events, or decision-making. Honestly, I’m just an analyst. A cog. A worker. A human being converting precious limited life-force into cash money for later use elsewhere.

Sure, beautiful…but… it isn’t “home”.

I sigh aloud in the empty still room. This too shall pass. I’m feeling a bit moody, but not particularly broken; this seems a positive change. I’m not angrily protesting the status quo, or furiously ranting about the unfairness of it all (the status quo kinda sucks, for a lot of people, and worse than for me – and frankly, we’re all pretty fucking familiar with unfairness, too). I’m calm and quiet, just sort of irritable – and I guess I’m even okay with that, sitting here quietly, after a nutritious meal, thinking of “home” – is it? Out there in the quiet countryside… among friends… out in the trees…Β Is it “home”? It could be. God damn it, I very much want it to be.

More than a beautiful view. A life.

What if I don’t live that long?

Okay, that goes too far, Brain – what’s with the vicious attack in the middle of a quiet evening? I catch myself tearing at my cuticles. So human. Shit. My mood wobbles toward frustration, fear, despair. I’m still okay right now. There is nothing going in this immediate moment that puts me at any greater risk of imminent death than I’m in at any other moment. We will all die at some point, and it is the rare circumstance when the end comes at a planned time. I sneer angrily at the lame attack on my emotional balance by my irritable brain. I seethe over my own bullshit. I’m not having it tonight. Another sigh punctuates the quiet, and I switch up my approach; I decide to “be here” for me – because I am literally the only person here right now. lol Maybe I can cut myself some slack? I really did throw self-care into the waste bin for 4 days, in the sense that my effort was half-assed at best (it’s still a lot of ass, just less than usual). πŸ™‚

I take a minute, remind myself “this too shall pass”, and think back on other disruptions to routines, other trips away with challenging emotional outcomes. That trip to Vegas? The meltdown after that must be legendary – I haven’t had to face anything like that, this time. I’m just a little moody – and not even a lot. Just headache-y, a bit irritable – and still totally okay right now. I smile, noticing how heavily I am reinforcing that awareness. Practices take practice.

Sometimes it isn’t even obvious if there’s a path to be on.

One step at a time, we each walk our own hard mile. Tomorrow, I’ll begin again.

I left work later than I’d planned, after getting both more and less done than I intended – and needed – to do. I slumped against the hand rail in the elevator as the doors closed around me, alone at long last. Tears didn’t wait. I stoically stepped off the elevator doing a first-rate impression of being dry-eyed and calm.

I messaged my Traveling Partner that I would be heading home. It’s of no direct consequence for him, though, is it? Hardly. I’m here. He’s there. Fuck, why do I do this? I wonder as I buckle in for the commute home. Rain. I start the car – my washer fluid warning tells me I’ve run out. Shit. Really? Today? God damn it. As I pull out, the “time for an oil change” reminder comes on, too. My lips tremble. I’m not up to this. I’m not adult enough. It’s too much…

My phone bing-bongs at me. I haven’t pulled out of the parking lot, and stop, set the break, and check the message. Love and well-wishes for a safe drive from my Traveling Partner. More than that, really, a proper love note, heart-felt, yearning, and reminding me how much I would be missed if I didn’t make it home. Wow…

…I cried most of the way home, the slow enduring weeping of strong emotion that won’t be defeated. Not quite “happy tears”, just… relieved? Reassured? Profoundly moved. I took care with the drive, hearing the reminder still fresh in my thoughts and in my heart. I made it safely home in the usual amount of time, maybe less, and with far less stress – I’m sure there’s something to learn from that.

The box on the stoop reminded me again how loved I am. I sat down on the stoop, in the rain, and just fucking wept. “Too much.” Too much stress in the week, too much emotion in the moment, and it all came pouring out at once, on my front step, on a rainy night. When I became to cold for sentimental moments, too rained on to pretend I wasn’t cold, and my tears had dried, I gathered up my package and went into the house. I messaged my partner, so he’d know I was indeed home safely. His evening had already moved on to other things, and I don’t expect any immediately reply, so I move on to a hot shower, a few more tears, and then make a healthy bite of dinner.

I hurt, but it’s just pain. I’m not on the edge of tearing someone’s head off over nothing, or disintegrating into a sodden tearful wreck. It’s a quiet evening. I have made a lovely home here. I start a fire in the fireplace and take a seat on my meditation cushion, and feel “too much” begin to fall away, leaving behind only enough.