Archives for category: grief

Yesterday got off to a great start, and finished, rather literally, with a bang. Well, more of a crash. I got tail-ended in rush hour traffic. No “lol”, no emoji, no minimizing, no catastrophizing; I got hit from behind by an inattentive driver while I was stopped, with sufficient force to leave an impression of her license plate frame in my bumper. It wasn’t what I planned for the evening, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but it is a thing. It occurred.

I’m okay.

It was a generally weird day that stands out a bit in a sort of “report card” fashion, because quite frankly an ever-loving-shit-ton of stuff (all super strange oddball outliers of events and circumstances) went peculiarly sideways yesterday, a lot of it rather inconsequential, some of it to do with money, all of it touching on the sorts of things that would have grievously triggered me even a year ago. I’d have been emotionally incapacitated, flooded, and completely overwhelmed by a day like yesterday. It most likely would have sent me crashing into a period of learned helplessness and despair that could last weeks, punctuated by reactive relief-seeking acting-out that wouldn’t have helped at all, probably made things much worse.

This morning, I am relaxed after a good night’s sleep. I feel pretty comfortable physically. I’m still on for my trip down to see my Traveling Partner, and don’t seem to be dealing with any significant after-effects of yesterday’s experiences. Things seem quite fine, actually. As though yesterday were entirely separate from today in every way, other than being adjacent to one another on a calendar page. So. Apparently it is possible to “enjoy” a day of utter chaos, with some destruction and loss, and yet somehow not go to pieces, not melt down, not lay waste to whatever is left to hold on to… It’s possible to do a bit better than merely survive what is uncomfortable, chaotic, and destructive. That’s some good news right there. 🙂

I got hit hard enough that I felt light-headed and strange when I got out of the car. Wobbly. Worried about my back, my neck, my head – the other driver. Late into the evening I continued to wonder if the persisting headache was from being struck, or just another persisting headache like so many? This morning – no headache. That’s enough. I slept well, and I feel comfortably able to get back in the car and drive down the highway. Road trip!

Today feels like a good day for beginnings. I find myself hoping this particular day includes a big reduction in the quantity of weird shit going on compared to yesterday. lol Yesterday was a bit much to take, and I’d started to feel a bit.. hexed. Still… wow. How much more well-prepared for living life am I, that yesterday didn’t destroy me? Didn’t even blow me off course! That’s… yeah. Wow. I gotta stop celebrating at some point, though; it is far to easy (for me) to let a moment of celebration become a careless presumption that I am “entirely well” or in a place where I “don’t even have to worry about any of that”, and I lose myself in a quagmire of poor decision-making and frivolous use of resources, and find myself both accountable, and unprepared to care for myself. Like a kid taking the training wheels off their bike for the first time, then falling on their ass. I’d like to avoid that fall.

I find it best to have my moment, enjoy recognizing the progress I have made, and return fairly quickly to practicing the practices that support my wellness over time, and that meet longer term needs, and keep me on a path that supports my goals. 🙂

So, this morning I begin again. Again. I make choices. I get up gently when the alarm goes off. Yoga. Strength training. A leisurely shower. I check my list and begin doing the small things I’d want done before I return home: top off the aquarium, make the bed, tidy up a few things, drop my kindle in the side pocket of my bug out bag. I look around before I sit down with my coffee to write a few words before the weekend really gets going; is this the home I want to come home to? Will I feel “welcomed” when I return? Will I be comfortably able to just walk in, set down my bag, and chill? Satisfied that I have met the needs of a future me (only days into the future, but you know, we haven’t met, yet, and I do want her to be welcome when she gets home) I relax and make an Americano.

I sip my coffee contentedly. I take a few minutes to check in with friends. I smile thinking about a moment in the office, yesterday. I’d seen a colleague looking a little… well, we’re both veterans, and he had that look of being “stuck in a different moment” and avoided eye contact. I reached out over our messaging service a little later and just asked him how he was doing? He said “I’m good”. I wasn’t sure I believed that, but it’s not necessarily helpful to pry people open like clam shells. I replied “Awesome. Big plans for the weekend?” He sent me an emoji back and commented “That’s a solid buddy check right there. I had a moment, earlier. I’m okay now” and proceeded to tell me about his upcoming plans. We shared a bit. Turned out I felt the need for some support too, but it was less obvious to me that it was to him. The power of connection. The power of relationships and shared experience. That interaction was one high point of a strangely chaotic and messy day.

I’m not sure I’ll ever fully leave some of life’s pain behind me. I don’t really expect to entirely clean up all the chaos and damage – but it is pretty fucking splendid just to be able to live my life without everything seeming to crash down, over and over and over again, like a house of cards in a strong breeze, any time something goes a little sideways. Progress. Incremental change over time. Lots of practices. Lots of verbs. Lots of choices.

Oh hey, look at the time! There’s a highway just over there… and a journey to make. I’ve got a map for this one, but even in this instance, the map is not the journey, and I have to make this trip, myself. 🙂 I’m having my own experience.

It’s definitely time to begin again. See you on Sunday – in the glow of evening light, perhaps? 😉

I am slow to wake this morning. The alarm roused me, but I sat quietly for some minutes trying to understand why I was awake, and why the light was on. I have trudged through the morning so far, mostly spent looking over my camping plans for an upcoming weekend of beach camping spent meditating, walking, and observing the autumnal equinox, but not really getting anywhere with my thoughts; I haven’t any.

I notice my first coffee is nearly gone, and more than an hour of my precious limited lifetime too, and still I am not really awake. I add another item to my “to do list” for the upcoming weekend, which I plan to spend on quality of life improvements, generally, and housekeeping, tidying up, and things of that sort. A relaxed weekend of taking care of myself and my living space seems like just the thing to follow a weekend road trip.

I make another coffee. I make some oatmeal. I remind myself to start the dishwasher when I leave for the day. I wonder briefly when I will actually feel awake, and “why today?” I could so easily just go back to sleep… a rare thing for me. I find myself wishing it were already the weekend so that I could – also not my usual approach to morning. A loud irritated sigh punctuates the silence. I definitely need to begin this one again…but…where to start?

This is a very physical experience, so I begin in a physical place. I get up and stretch, and take some deep cleansing breathes, make my way to the kitchen and pour a big glass of water, and take a multi-vitamin. Oatmeal is my common breakfast, but it can’t be said to be nutritionally dense as it is. Coffee? Isn’t water. I walk from room to room drinking my water, and adding a few things to the list of planned weekend tasks. I make a point of being aware of my posture, and holding myself fully upright as I move through my space. I make a point of being aware of my breathing. Hell – I make a point of being aware.

…In time, being “aware” becomes being awake. Beginning again? It’s a thing we get to do, if we choose to do it. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Still… as often as I’d like to do so, I can begin again.

There were other things on my mind to write about as the evening ended last night. Oregon is burning. It’s sort of on my mind, you know? The air is hot, sort of humid or thick feeling in my lungs, and irritating to breathe. The smokey sky has worsened over the past two days, as has the fire in the gorge. I chuckle when I think of the POTUS awkward hurricane Harvey photo-op; I know he won’t be coming to Oregon to be pelted with rocks by black bloc protesters. For some reason, that makes me smile in spite of the terrible natural tragedy of the many wildfires destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of forest as days pass (at least one of which was caused by careless people who didn’t think the fire safety restrictions applied to them). This too will pass. The fires will dwindle, or burn out once their fuel source is consumed. The weather will change, as will the climate. The land will be re-seeded, and will bloom again. More likely than not, the Earth will survive us.

Will we? 

Isn’t that what we’re really all afraid of? It’s less about the Earth than it is about our own experience on it. Perhaps we are seeing the end of our human infestation on the Earth…? Grim thought. We could do better with our resources, with our conservatorship of this fragile singularly lovely world, and with each other. We could choose to save the world…

Will we begin again?

 

Not my alarm – I woke up ahead of that one, this morning. We had a fire alarm go off in the office yesterday and evacuated the building. Turned out to be a mistake by a construction worker, I heard. These things happen. What came next was hard; it had triggered me.

My anxiety and symptoms of my PTSD flared up. The noise of the alarm itself worked my nerves over as I calmly and efficiently left the building with haste. What got me, though, was “civilian behavior”. My anxiety continued to increase the longer I was exposed to the chaos and disorder of folks ambling down the stairs in distracted confusion, chatting about the day, and milling around outside very close to a building they had no reason to believe was still safe. I began scanning the crowd for an unseen enemy – we were all so exposed, to vulnerable, they seemed so unaware. The hyper-vigilance lasted the remainder of the day. My startle reflex was turned way up. My chest felt tight. My mood had become detached and mildly aggressive, “battle-ready”. By the time the all clear was given, I was no longer “safe for work” in some difficult to describe way, but had meetings left in the day, and workload to attend to.

I did my best. I went home as soon as I could. The commute was just more verbs and more practice. My startle reflex is dangerous in commuter traffic; cars or people approaching from my periphery reach my consciousness as an imminent threat. My hyper-vigilance combined with my agitation, anxiety, and aggression, result in a seething mess herding powerful machinery capable of killing, down crowded streets, too slow to feel satisfying, frustratingly slow, and being wholly made of human, I really just wanted to go home and cry quietly until the feelings passed.

My face still hurts this morning from gritting my teeth the whole way home.

I’m okay. I did get safely home. No one got hurt. No fender bender. No angry tirade – either on the road, or in the office. I managed to keep my shit together, and that’s something to pause for, to be aware of, to value – and this morning I sip my coffee focusing on the recollection of what worked, and how well, and less on the alarm itself, or the “civilian behavior” – people are people. My coworkers are not machines. They are not soldiers. This is not (no, seriously, it’s not) a war zone. My coworkers were the ones being rational; there was no cause for (the) alarm. 🙂 Admittedly, I still think they would do well to move with purpose in an emergency, to gather in an organized fashion and take a count of folks on their teams to be sure every is safely away from danger… but… they’ll probably need to actually experience danger to understand how important that actually is. So. There’s that.

This morning is so much more ordinary. I take a moment to be mildly irked with myself that my mental health situation last night threw off my timing getting ready for the weekend. I’m behind on my “to do” list. lol I’ll get over it. Yesterday was hard. I’ll get over that, too.

The sun is not yet up… I think I’ll get an early start on a new beginning. 🙂

The commute yesterday was ugly. I was calm. People drove badly. I drove calmly. The trip home was slow, traffic density was high, and it was a hot, muggy day. I arrived home… still calm. New. Nice. It was almost a pleasant drive in spite of the shitty traffic and terrible driving behavior of some of the other drivers. This was not a coincidence, or serendipity; I built those moments myself, with mindful awareness, non-judgmental compassion, and frequent reminders that we each see ourselves at the hero of our internal narrative, generally, and are each having our own experience. That jackass ahead of me, weaving back and forth over the yellow line? Human. Like me. Probably trying to see ahead – past the large truck ahead of him. Perspective. (I was still super glad that he finally turned off that road, and it was most definitely a bit annoying to see him stray over that yellow line again and again, but my annoyance was my own to deal with, and literally nothing to do with him.) The entire drive passed in this fashion.

I got home. I spent the evening relaxing, doing a couple things around the house – but mostly relaxing. I may have needed that more than I understood; I also went to bed a tad early, and without reading, or meditating, or any sort of dilly-dallying, was fast asleep so quickly I didn’t have time to consider the day. I woke to the alarm, rested, and feeling mildly distracted, as if torn from a pleasant dream. It’s been a lovely morning. I’ve taken good care of this fragile vessel, and the day starts well. I think I’ve finally come to a comfortable decision about the change in my transportation resources (having a car) and what kind of commuting options I have (both the driving sort, and the transit sort), and I’m finally ready to update my budget and my planning with the necessary details.

This morning, adulting feels rather comfortable and natural. It’s a nice change. I smile and sip my coffee and enjoy the moment of acknowledgement, and the feeling of ease. My smile deepens as I allow the awareness that, yes, “this too will pass” – even the pleasant bits are really fairly temporary. Always were. It’s totally okay. They come and go, and holding on ferociously can’t prolong them, it only makes the pain of their impermanence linger. So. This morning I feel light. I enjoy this carefully hand-crafted moment, as I did the moments in commuter traffic, or standing at the sink washing the dinner dishes, or standing in the shower feeling the water flow over my skin, or looking through my closet for something to wear and feeling content that anything I choose – I am still this person that I am, and I am loved. It’s nice. I highly recommend enjoying moments – and making the choices that result in more pleasant ones than unpleasant ones. There may be some verbs involved. Your results will likely vary (I know mine do). No doubt, you will have your own experience.

I look at the time. I’m eager to begin again. 🙂

Waking up was hard this morning, but with some commitment, I managed it. I did not sleep well last night, and it was very late before I was able to fall asleep. Today, I’ll park at the nearby-ish park-n-ride location, and ride the bus to work. I am not sufficiently rested to be driving in commuter traffic.

Emotionally, I am in a far better place this morning than I was the evening before last, or, again, last night. My visit to see my therapist was well-timed, and the offered insights were helpful.

I arrived home to roses in bloom.

A pleasantly long conversation with my Traveling Partner ended my evening, and although I have been feeling lonelier than usual lately, it definitely went a long way toward putting that right, just hearing the love in his voice.

Moments matter. I make time to really appreciate seeing all the roses recovered from the summer heat and the move.

Waking up is still a struggle this morning. I’m making today work on about 3 hours of nightmare-filled sleep. I sip my coffee, relieved to find it is not too hot to safely drink and drain the cup. I make a second. I’m eager for the weekend after a couple fairly stressful weeks. I even have plans (and if I didn’t, my plan would be to make the drive down to see my partner) – this weekend is Musicfest NW. I’m pretty excited about the lineup. I’m almost as excited about my appointment with my new eye doctor Saturday morning, though, as I am about the music. LOL (I really really need new glasses.)

A few minutes go by, fuzzy and vague, music in the background. I lose track of time thinking about moments that are not now. I smile, finish off the last of coffee number two and pull myself back to “now”. Being present, even for the painful moments, the tired moments, the frustrating moments, matters so much. Life is an experience, disconnecting from it sort of defeats the purpose of living.

I allow myself a moment to “reset”. I’m okay. There’s climate and weather, right? The “climate” of this life is fairly choice, quite good actually, much of the time. I’ve still got emotional weather to deal with now and again. I’m very human.

The morning sky reminds me that change is a thing, and life itself has cycles and seasons; the still-pre-dawn-at-this-hour sky becomes a metaphor and a reminder. I make coffee number three, and begin again. My results do vary, and there are verbs involved… I’m definitely having my own experience. 🙂

There’s a metaphor in the resilience of a rose bush. 🙂