Archives for category: grief

It’s been a month since I was laid off. Shortly afterward and largely unrelated, I took time to go through a large storage tote of odds and ends I’ve been hanging on to. It was a mix of military memorabilia and war mementos (why do people hold on to this shit??), and various employment-related paperwork items from past employers (decades of old reviews and accolades, exit paperwork, offer letters…). My purpose was to pare things down to just those items I really did want to keep. (I’ll make a point of observing that having kept the contents of this bin since the last time I went through these items some 10 or so years ago, I haven’t gone through them or needed/wanted to access any one item in this bin. Ever.)

The tl;dr on the process itself? I cut that bin of stuff down to about 30% of its original contents, with the remaining kept items being limited to a small assortment of military mementos, including 1 complete uniform from my war time deployment. The project seems to live on in lingering intentions to contemplate what I found and learned along the way; I had saved a quick draft with some notes.

about letting go of the past, tossing out mementos, old work papers, moving on from trauma, learning to truly let things go, shit like that

impermanence & non-attachment

fresh perspective on the woman I once was contrasted with who I thought I was at the time, and what it can teach me about getting to be that woman I most want to be

the value in keepsakes, the value in not keeping them

the added challenge in growing/changing if also clinging to reminders of what was

draft notes from the blog post draft of 9/12/22

This morning, I sit with my now-cold coffee, thinking about time, thinking about change, and thinking about how peculiar it was to actually read those old reviews and coaching notes (and yes, reprimands). It had been so many years, my own recollection of that time and those events was pretty firmly skewed toward me-as-hero-of-my-narrative. Fucking hell I needed a bit of work. LOL For one thing – I was 100% wrong every bit as often as I was 100% correct, and I was neither as awesome as some reviews make me out to be, nor as problematic as some of the warnings suggest I was. I was sometimes a liability and a headache, just by being myself, and probably quite difficult to manage, having both cPTSD and a TBI creating noteworthy cognitive quirks and emotional volatility.

Please note, I’m thinking back on events of the early ’00s, and well-before any legitimate push in the direction of “authenticity” in the workplace! Wasn’t a thing, yet, and quite often people really were punished or held back for the sole “crime” of being themselves and being different than the approved corporate drone template – which still goes on, but now we’re more likely to be offended by that. Progress? I’m just saying; I wasn’t always the “good guy” I saw myself as being. Very human. Also? Sometimes quite angry and kind of a bitch. Impatient. Inconsiderate. Smug. Rude. “Basic.” Unsympathetic. Lacking in compassion. Not a good look.

Sounds like I’m being pretty hard on myself. I mean, giving myself some credit …in spite of all that, I managed to find love…so..? Not a “lost cause” among human beings, surely. 🙂

The “truth of who we are” is more complicated that one perspective, even when that one perspective is our own. I know myself pretty well. I’m deeply acquainted with the woman in the mirror, but… until I really sat with a calm heart and new eyes to read those old reviews, coaching notes, and warnings, and really heard the messages, I did not understand the perspectives those Others were sharing with me. It must have been frustrating for people that it could be so hard to get through to me. I’m not into “taking it personally”, particularly at this late date; I am not the woman I was then. Still… I was that woman then. I understand her better now, not because of these old papers, but because I’ve gained so much new knowledge and perspective since then, generally. These old papers filled in some gaps, made sense of some “errata” that crept into my recollections over time. It was a great opportunity to loosen my grip on my existing personal narrative to allow that to be deepened and to become more nuanced through the addition of some really complex outside perspective.

I made a point of being open to listening to those past voices with more vulnerability, and willingness to learn as I went through all those papers. Does it change who I am now? Possibly not. Helps me understand who I was then more deeply, and provides a better understanding of how/why my journey over the years has had some of the complexities and challenges that it has had. Useful. Forces on me some useful and necessary humility, and if I’m being wholly honest, I need that. It also served to give me a moment to really put down some baggage and let go of some pointless bullshit that had lingered far too long. Needful.

If you spend your life thinking that you are Superman masquerading as Clark Kent, your choices (and words, and actions) are likely to be quite different than if you understand that you are Clark Kent daydreaming of being Superman. This is something worth thinking about. 🙂 Is there something so wrong with being an ethical person with a good heart, who is kind and who cares – but totally lacks any super powers at all? Just saying it’s something I think about.

Strange how I worked so hard to hold on to those papers over the years. They served no purpose besides taking up space… until I sat down and reviewed them, read them, and gave them real thought without taking any of it personally at all. And now? Having done that, I don’t need to keep them. What did I do with all that waste paper? Shredded and recycled. Gone. And then? Time to begin again.

Where does this path lead?

I’m down to the end of this cup of office coffee, here in the icy chill of the co-work space. (Seriously? It’s summer, it’s okay if the office is 75 degrees, instead of 67! It’d still feel cool. LOL) There’s so much angry shit in the news, so much violence, and generally bad behavior. It’s hard to fathom how so many people can take the actions they do, say the things they do, treat each other the way they do. Why is there so little practical effort to “make the world a better place” – most particularly by the people making it bad to begin with?!

We could all do better, I’m sure. This is not an “us vs them” thing; we each have opportunities to do better, with regard to something. This isn’t about “left vs right”, either – there are some shady “bad actors” on the left and on the right. There is a seemingly endless uncountable number of misogynist racist xenophobic ass clowns just… every-damned-where trying to rationalize or excuse their bullshit (or force it on the rest of us). It’s pretty horrible, and I’m frustrated and saddened by it.

I’ve heard that if I’m inclined to complain, I ought to come with a solution to propose. I’ve got you. No problem. Here it is; practice Wheaton’s Law. Every day. All the time. Reliably. Everyone. Simply that. If everyone really did embrace Wheaton’s Law to guide their day-to-day interactions, I suggest that that world would be a far better place than it is right now. Just saying. Do better.

…Yes, you, too. Yes, me too. Just do better. Be a better human being today than you were yesterday. One interaction at a time. Practice. Sure, your results will vary (I know mine do). It’s still better than just not doing a damned thing about human misery. Do something. Some small thing.

Practice Wheaton’s Law.

Begin again.

My neck and back hurt. I did my physical therapy “magic moves”, with limited benefit. I catch myself “pulling on” my neck, even knowing that is not helpful. Background stress drives physical pain, much the same way physical pain makes me more vulnerable to background stress. Yep. It’s a cycle. How best to break that cycle? Choose the most appropriate practice(s) and do that(those) thing(s). “Simple!” (It isn’t.)

Trigger Warner for Snowflakes: discussion of gun control.

I’ll go home early today. I’m fortunate to have a job, a role, and a boss, with room for empathy and compassion. A lot of folks are suffering emotionally this week. Maybe everyone. Another school shooting. Another round of back and forth bullshit over gun ownership vs violence, and the regulations we may need to reduce the latter as a consequence of the former. I have my own thoughts on that. You’ve got yours. Honestly, I’m not opposed to civilian ownership of firearms generally…but… I also think that there are individuals that likely ought not fucking have firearms within easy reach! (Um…duh.) My thoughts? Maybe overly simple…

  1. To own a firearm, I think a person should be required to have specific training on the use and safety practices of each individual type of firearm they wish to own. No exemptions. Pass a fucking test. (There don’t seem to be many objections to the requirement to pass a test to drive a vehicle… just saying.)
  2. To own a firearm, I think a person should be required to be licensed for that firearm in their state – and I think the training requirement and knowledge test isn’t enough; get a mental health “physical”, and demonstrate that you are rationally and emotionally fit to have that weapon. (People routinely have to pass a physical exam to get a commercial driver’s license, or a psychological screening to work in some environments – how is this any different?)
  3. To own a firearm, I think a person should have to carry specific insurance against the chance that their firearm is misused, used in a crime, or accidentally injures someone. (Again, own a car? You’ve got insurance. Own a home? You’ve got insurance. Own a business? I bet you’ve also got insurance.)
  4. One last detail – I don’t think “open carry” is appropriate everywhere, and should be explicitly prohibited for civilians. I think “concealed carry” should be heavily restricted. If your firearm is a “home defense” weapon, keep it at home. If it is a hunting or sporting firearm, keep it secured until you go hunting, or lock it up at the gun club where you do your target shooting.

I’m just saying, I see a huge difference between responsible gun ownership and every ass clown with an agenda having “a right” to have a gun. I don’t understand why any potentially responsible gun owner would object to 1. getting training and passing a test, 2. passing a mental health screening to ensure emotional fitness and ability to assess risks, 3. having insurance to protect themselves financially against any potential bad outcome associated with their firearm, or 4. not carrying their firearm in places where firearms ought not be. What am I missing?

Oh. I know. I know what I’m missing; it’s a misleading question. What I am “missing” is that there are quite a few angry or emotionally wounded individuals who know they are, who want a gun knowing they are potentially at risk of using it inappropriately – or even explicitly intending to – who do not want their “rights” restricted. There are a lot of other folks who just don’t even want to have to deal with the question “should I really have a gun?”, because they have doubts. My next question is – why would we ever let those people make the decisions regarding access to firearms, for everyone?

Too often I read the news, and someone says “obtained the gun legally”, followed somewhere by “could not have predicted…”, when, actually, it’s often far too predictable, because that eventual killer started out as angry, violent at home (or known to have expressed violent ideations on some forum or another), and struggling with their overall emotional wellness. Yes, we fucking could have known – someone probably did know. Maybe someone even reported the individual to law enforcement because they did know, and were concerned, and tried to do the right thing? How horrific is that? To have the solution within such easy reach… and just let it happen all over again?

Maybe get the fuck up out of women’s reproductive decision-making for one fucking legislative season and work on something that really does need (and have) a solution?

Wow. It feels good to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading. Please write and phone your legislators. Ask them to stop being dishonest assholes about this issue and develop some realistic, responsible gun ownership laws. This is not a partisan issue; I promise you none of the slaughtered children were Republicans or Democrats.

It’s a dumb question, isn’t it? It’s probably clear that this is not “how happiness works”. There’s no minimum investment in time required, there’s no proper single process with a reliable outcome. There is this “now”, these fleeting minutes of time, and an assortment of practices to choose from.

…It’s been more than a month, I think, since I last wrote anything here. Aside from a couple of note cards sent to family or friends recently, I haven’t written at all. I’ve overlooked personal correspondence to friends pretty much completely. Every minute of chat or idle conversation with anyone who isn’t my partner feels sort of stolen from the limited time we share with each other (even though we’re together very nearly 24/7)… or from time I’m paid to spend on work. 40 hours of life gone, right off the top. Those are not my minutes.

…Some days it feels like literally everyone wants a fucking piece of me, and nothing much is left over. I already know this is, in part, self-imposed and perhaps also a bit of an illusion caused by the additional emotional pressure and background stress caused (for me) by simmering threat of global conflict. The cold war no longer feels like the distant past, for sure. Subjectively, I feel like I “can’t get a break”. The only activity that seems to sooth that stress is meditation, or… just sitting still, alone, quiet. There are so few minutes to spare for that… because there is all this other shit to do: housekeeping, grocery shopping, budget keeping, errand running, meetings at work, don’t forget to make that call, appointments to make, to keep, to get to, fuck – aquarium maintenance! There doesn’t really seem to be an end; it’s life. The minutes – and the tasks – just keep coming. (Sit still for a minute and sooner or later someone will come along with something that needs to be done “since you’re not doing anything”.) Even hitting that “pause button” for a few minutes of meditation barely takes the edge off, at this point. It’s not a good place to be.

Today, in the middle of an ordinary work day, tears started falling. Just… yeah. The HRT? Maybe the anxiety? Did I take my allergy meds? Did I overlook my vitamin D? Have I had enough water to drink? Am I being sufficiently kind to myself? Is “all this” really worth all the stress and feeling of pressure? Am I doing it to myself 100%? Is there a way to get off this fucking treadmill???

I set a timer. 15 minutes. I am sitting with my thoughts and a few minutes to write, and reflect. I figure I deserve that from me. Me first, for just a fucking minute or two.

Chat…text…email…phone…Zoom… ping! ping! ping! ping! …Don’t let it distract me from that one thing I’m trying my damnedest to focus on…

“Fuck, I’m tired.” Sure, maybe. I think so… but it’s not really that, is it? If not that, then what? I’ve got that weird jones to “just walk away from everything, completely”. That, my friends, is not a “mood” or a legitimate sense of initiative unfulfilled. Nope. It’s a symptom of mental illness. I’m on the edge of too much and feeling the imminent threat over being entirely overwhelmed. Yes, better self-care is absolutely required, potentially urgently. I feel grateful that I’ve got an appointment with my therapist tomorrow, and a loving partner to go home to at the end of my day. I miss hanging out with friends. I miss being easily able to “keep track” of all the details of what is right in front of me day-to-day. I miss “easy”. When was that…? Ever?

Sometimes adulting is hard.

“Ding!” goes the timer. Back on the treadmill… I check my calendar, check my hair, click the Zoom link and smile for the camera.

I’m having a moment. It lives here, in this piece of music.

I listen. I put everything else on hold for a moment or two, just to sit with the feelings and recollections of times past, and lost loved ones.

I listen again. I ignore the tears, but hear the words. Each moment we have is so… finite. We are mortal creatures. I sit quietly listening to the music, to the words, thinking about the world. What else is there to say…

…Hug someone you love. Say something nice to someone. Reach out to an old friend… What could possibly matter more than our relationships?

…There’s only so much time.