Archives for category: health

It’s an okay morning. Saturday. Good cup of coffee. Had a pleasant frosty-morning walk through bare wintry vineyards as the sun rose, this morning. Returned home once my Traveling Partner pinged me that he was awake and starting his day. Could be that was a mistake (in timing)… I rushed home rather eagerly, to enjoy the day with my partner, and I may have been working from expectations and assumptions that were a poor fit to the reality of the morning.

I got home and he was just making his first cup of coffee, immersed in the emotional experience of being angry about the condition in which parts had arrived, and the likelihood that the parts he had ordered are not in any way actually usable for the order he is working on. His anger over the situation seems reasonable. He shares his feelings. He shows me the parts. His anger is evident, and he is actively working through it. (The way out is through…and…we become what we practice. Hold that thought.)

…I have difficulties with anger, particularly the expressed anger of male human beings with whom I am in a relationship (it feels uniquely terrifying and threatening even when only expressed verbally), and it makes it sometimes very difficult to endure the experience of being in proximity to that visceral emotional experience in the moment… It could be that this alone makes me potentially unsuitable for long-term partnership. I find myself thinking about that today. Today, my partner explicitly challenged my overall value as his partner due to my “lack of ability to be emotionally supportive”.

My sense of things is that I listened with consideration, compassion, and care for some length of time while he vented his feelings (my watch suggests about 40 minutes, but I don’t think that matters as much as that he didn’t feel supported). Maybe I don’t really understand what my partner needs from me when he’s angry about something? Listening doesn’t seem to be it. Even listening deeply and offering support, or asking how I can be helpful (if I can at all), doesn’t seem to meet the need. Commiserating with his position doesn’t seem to meet the need, and often seems to prolong the intensity of the emotional storm. Attempting to “be helpful” or offer any “troubleshooting” perspective is usually unwelcome (and most of the time I don’t have the specific expertise to offer that in the first place). It’s often been my experience that eventually, however supportive I am seeking to be, one common outcome is that at some point, the anger that is “not about me”… becomes about me. Terrifying, even in a relationship where there has never been any violence. The anger feels threatening. This is a byproduct of violence-related trauma in prior relationships. Decades later, I’m still struggling with this. It seems unfair to my current (or future) partner(s).

When a person with PTSD embarks on making a relationship with another human being who also has PTSD (or similar concerns), there are some additional complications that sometimes make living well and harmoniously together more than a little difficult to do successfully – and it’s less than ideally easy, no matter how much we may love each other. Sometimes love is not enough. Maybe that seems obvious? It probably should be obvious. I sit with that thought for a few minutes, uncertain what it is really telling me. Maybe nothing new. I mean… I know, right? It’s hard sometimes. (“This too will pass.”)

…Resilience is a measure of our ability to “bounce back” from stress…

Using meditation and mindfulness practices is one means of building improved resilience. Resilience lets me “bounce back” from stress more easily, and allows for greater “ease” in dealing with stress in the moment. Resilience supports improved intimacy. Resilience along with non-attachment is a good means of learning not to take things personally. Resilience makes some practices produce better results – “listening deeply” can be incredibly difficult and emotionally draining without resilience, for example. Resilience is like a glass of water, though; once the glass is emptied, no amounting of drinking from it will result in slaking thirst. I’ve got to refill the glass. (It’s a wise practice to keep it “topped off”, too; that’s where self-care comes in.)

G’damn, I really need some time away to invest in my own wellness and resilience. Quiet time taking care of the woman in the mirror for a few days, without any other agenda or competing workload. My resilience is depleted. Even “doing my best” is not enough right now – I feel comfortable acknowledging that. Can’t efficiently move forward from one place to another if I don’t recognize where I am right now – and start there. In this particular instance, it is less about physical fatigue than emotional and cognitive fatigue. I’m “brain tired”. I’ve been lax about my meditation practice, and it’s clear how much that does matter. I’ve taken on too much, and can’t seem to dig out in order to get to the practices and experiences that support my wellness; I’m scrambling just to get “all the other shit” done, that seems to have been given a higher priority than my emotional wellness or mental health. I can’t blame anyone else; it’s called “self-care” for a reason. I’ve been giving 100% of what I have to offer to work, to the household, to my partner, and not leaving much “left over” to take care of myself.

I find myself wondering if I would do well to leave for the coast a day earlier. It would probably be good for me. Probably not good for my partner who has been missing me, and potentially feeling un-cared for and lacking an adequate portion of my undivided attention and emotional support. I’ve only got the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else has – and figuring out how to parcel that out is sometimes difficult. I could do better. Seems like everyone needs a piece of me… and the only person who seems ready to yield what they feel is their “due” is… me. Fuck. That’s how I get into this quagmire of cognitive fatigue and emotional fragility in the first place, though. Taking care of myself really needs to be a non-negotiable – at work, at home, and in life, generally. I could do better.

…When I take better care of myself, not only is there “more in my glass” to share with others, the glass even gets bigger and holds still more… and I know this

We become what we practice. When I practice calm, I become calmer. When I practice good self-care, I become cared-for, resilient, and confident in my worth. When I practice deep listening, I become a better listener more able to “be there” for others. Understanding this is important. It is true of unpleasant emotions, too. If I “practice” losing my shit in a time of stress, I become more prone to being volatile. If I “practice” anger by way of confrontation, venting, or tantrums, I become an angrier person less able to manage that intense emotion appropriately. True for all of us; we become what we practice. How do I become the woman – the person – I most want to be? Sounds like I need to practice being her …and when I fall short? I need to begin again.

I finish my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin planning the packing and tasks needed to prepare for my trip to the coast. I remind myself to take time to meditate, to check my blood pressure, to stay on time with my medications. It’s a lot to keep track of some days, but the pay off is worth it; I feel better, enjoy my life more, and I am more able to be there for my partner when he needs me. I’ve just got to do the verbs.

Time to begin again. Again. It’s slow going, sometimes, but I do become what I practice.

I’m awake brutally early on a Sunday morning. I’m in the co-work space I sometimes work from, drinking bad office coffee and feeling sad.

My Traveling Partner woke me abruptly, shortly after 0400, poking me and sharing his frustration by way of swearing at me. Something about my sleep (or lack of it) or breathing (or lack of it) or snoring was keeping him awake, and he’d finally had it with that, and woke me. Actually, he asked me to turn over, which is reasonable. The poke and the hostile frustrated tone woke me thoroughly. I wasn’t going to go back to sleep after that, and I was laying in the dark for a moment, contemplating maybe just getting up and what to do next, when my partner reappeared in the doorway and made a point of telling me more about his experience. The additional emotional load was too much for so early, and tears started to slide down my unprepared-for-this face.

I got up and started dressing. No way I seriously wanted to start my day this way. I also did not feel up to sticking around for more. He‘d have some chance of getting more sleep, perhaps, if I weren’t hanging about stewing over my “wake up call”. It made the choice to leave the house at that dismal hour a fairly easy one.

So, here I am. Bad coffee. Early hour. Dealing with it.

My Karma must be sooooo fucking bad… I mean, for real?

This morning this co-work space is my version of a mundane hell. I’ve got the solitude I so often crave, sure… but… there’s no potential for actual sleep, and I’m so tired (I did not sleep well last night), and the muzak in the background is pretty dreadful. Plenty of coffee – and it’s terrible. I dunno that I “deserve” this… I manage to be grateful for this place and time; it could be worse. It’s been worse, other times, other places, other relationships, and having a place to go to, when I need to walk away is a major improvement in my quality of life, generally.

Maybe that’s the lesson on this one? That there is generally an alternative to our misery, when we can accept it, or choose it, and that “grateful” is a path to a better emotional place…? Maybe there’s no lesson… just a woman, a laptop, a quiet place to write, and some sorrows?

I slept poorly last night. I’m grateful for the sleep I got.

I sit here drinking coffee and… seething quietly. I’m annoyed to be awake. I’m annoyed to be dealing with my emotions at this hour. I’m annoyed by the emotions themselves. My head aches fiercely and I’m tired. I’ve had sleep disturbances of various sorts “all my life” – or at least since I was a toddler, that I know of. I know the importance and value of good quality sleep. (I don’t actually get much of that. Don’t know how, maybe.) I do the good sleep hygiene stuff, and my sleep is the best it’s ever been – still not great. Not even reliably good. It’s not at all helpful that my Traveling Partner has gotten so comfortable with waking me up anytime he’s having trouble sleeping. I don’t know how to set a clear reasonable boundary on that; I’m often what’s woken him. He wants to sleep, too. Seems pretty fucking reasonable.

My Traveling Partner wants me to get screened for sleep apnea. Okay, sure – I’ve got an appointment to talk to my doctor about it. (I’m feeling a bit like a hamster on a wheel; I’ve done this step before.) I did a sleep study a couple years ago that resulted in… nothing much. I did not get a sleep apnea diagnosis. If I did? What would the result be? Probably a CPAP machine. I don’t expect an outcome like that to do anything much of value for my sleep (in part due to feeling “tethered” and in part due to the noise), but it’ll likely improve his. Maybe it would help – I don’t actually know. I can feel my internal resistance to the idea of it – not helpful.

…I do know I’m fucking over being awakened from what little real sleep I do get…

I’m tired and irritable, and tears start spilling over and sliding down my face. I don’t do anything to stop them, I just let them fall. Not one of my finest moments. I put my head down on the desk in front of me and sob helplessly for awhile, feeling grateful for the solitude, and the freedom to cry.

Eventually I lift my head and wipe the tears off my cheeks. I mean, for fucks sake, I’ve got a good life. This is ridiculous. I breathe, exhale, relax. Drink more coffee. I miss my partner right now. I miss my cute little house. I miss the warmth of my bed. I miss the good coffee there at home. In another couple of weeks, a stressful morning will just be the starting point for some miles on a trail, with my camera. Right now it’s still too dark for that (for me to do safely). My back is aching, and I remember that it is Sunday, and take my pain meds early. (“Maybe you won’t be such a bitch.” some inner voice remarks crossly.) My shaking hands manage to fling the contents of my pillbox all over the desk when I open it. These sorts of stressful mornings tend to make my pain perceivably worse, and my ability to manage it feels reduced. I get up and stretch, and wander the room restlessly before sitting back down to try and finish this rambling broody collection of words.

…I sometimes miss living alone. It felt easier. I’m frustrated that intimacy isn’t easier to build and maintain, however much I love my Traveling Partner. I’m willing to accept that it’s probably “mostly me”; I’m familiar with the quantity of chaos and damage I’ve got piled up, and I know my trauma history. Doesn’t make it easier to let go of wanting things to be easier. I’ve got a good therapist – I’ll just keep working at it. Eventually, maybe, I’ll be the woman I most want to be…

In the meantime, I’ve just got to begin again, again. My results vary. Sometimes it’s hard. There are verbs involved.

I type the word “pieces” into the title field, and immediately get distracted wondering why it appears to be misspelled. That’s the way of things sometimes, isn’t it? We puzzle over things that are not especially puzzling, mislead by a mistake in our thinking, or an erroneous “observation”. It’s pretty human that we do this – we are imperfect creatures with a persistent notion of being “better than” other creatures in some noteworthy way. lol

My coffee is good this morning. It’s a quiet Saturday. I had planned to sleep in. My Traveling Partner woke me. All good; he woke me sufficiently late in the morning to totally count as having slept in, and truly there is a new day ahead and plenty to do. It was nice to start the day with a few minutes of meditation, then coffee together until the point at which he began finding me less comfortable to hang out with (perhaps due to my fidgeting, or perhaps the pattern of my breathing had become irregular making affinity behaviors uncomfortable, or perhaps nothing really to do with me at all, but nonetheless ascribed to something to do with me). I give him some room to breathe, and take my coffee into the studio.

As soon as I sit down at my desk I feel uplifted and lighthearted; my Traveling Partner built this lovely space for me. Well, I mean – it’s a room in our house, and he outfitted it with this desk, built my computer, and installed the acoustic treatments. So, yeah. He had a lot to do with this space that wraps me in comfort and inspiration. The paintings on the walls are mine. I am surrounded by things that encourage and delight me. It’s an important space in my home – and in my experience. A piece of a bigger puzzle.

There are so many “pieces” in being this human primate that I am. My love of writing. My compulsion to do so. My willingness to share it. My fondness for my partner. My delight in this home. The enjoyment I take from the sound of rain. The pleasure I find in a cup of coffee – down to the coffee beans, and the cup itself even. I can spread the pieces out quite far and find value in distant forest trails, paths that wander the edges of a marsh, or suburban sidewalks that meander through neighborhoods filled with other human primates living other lives. I can focus on quite tiny details and find myself in the sensation of bare feet on carpet, deck, or lawn, and the sensation of fabric on skin.

There is so much joy and pleasure to be had in a single human lifetime. It’s easy to overlook all that when things go wrong and when I face challenges. There’s sorrow in this life, too. Pain. Hurt feelings. Lost opportunities. Vast choices such that the mind is overwhelmed and shortcuts just feel… easier. There’s so much to learn, and so many things to fail at before mastering anything at all. In years that I have focused too much on the difficulties, the joy in my life was diminished and life was dismal. In years when I have focused on hedonistic pleasures with a devil-may-care disregard for any moment but “now”, I’ve failed to grow as a human being – and also somehow failed to thrive. I find it a peculiar balancing act to find a comfortable middle ground, somehow settling on seeking calm, contentment, and joy – without “chasing” happiness. It seems to come to me often enough when I take this approach, though, so… I’m good with it. 🙂

I’m rarely deeply unhappy anymore. It’s been a long journey. It’s not over. I still struggle with the hardships I face. I still have challenges and fight the internal battles with my personal demons daily. It’s a worthwhile endeavor – and the conviction that this is the case is one major victory among many. I’ve come so far! Sure, I still have some rough days. Still struggle to get adequate restful sleep. Still have nightmares. Still have this headache, and this arthritis. Still deal with lasting effects of early life trauma, my TBI, my PTSD – but what a difference it has made to select my partnership(s) with more care, and to properly take care of myself! Meditation has proven to be a long-term value. Simple health-improving steps have also “given back” more than it feels like I have had to put in. Totally worth the “effort” to drink more water, to take my medications on time, to eat a calorie-and-portion managed nutritious diet, and get more exercise. Hell, those things are working out so well, I’m motivated to “do more better” and take things further. I keep practicing.

Nothing fancy or particularly unusual about today. It’s just another day. A sunny weekend Saturday with no explicit agenda unfolds ahead of me. Where will my path lead? If it’s not too chilly, it might be a good day to do some garden prep and tidy up spaces for Spring… Certainly looks like a lovely one to get a nice walk in, too. Maybe I’ll paint? I could work on my manuscript. I could bake some cookies, or finish tidying up and reorganizing the library (which is also our guest room, and presently a bit cluttered). What I do with the time is actually less important than that I do something, and that I treat myself and my partner well. The quality of the experience matters to the outcomes. I reflect on that and sip my coffee.

It’s a lovely day to begin again. What will I do with it?

I woke too early – failed to change the time on my alarm. I woke quite groggy, roused from a pleasant dream that I was sleeping soundly. Which I was. I somehow managed to not notice that the living room lights were actually already on, and didn’t realize my Traveling Partner was awake (just in another room) – we could have shared our morning coffee and a few minutes hanging out. I was on “autopilot”, though, and went efficiently through my usual routine, unaware that he was awake, and unaware I was “ahead of schedule”. He messaged me just as I was arriving at the co-work space to start my day, and we chatted for a few minutes. I made a plan to go home for lunch.

I got my laptop all set up and sat staring at the monitor for some time. I don’t recall what I was thinking about, but I sat quietly in this space just… staring at the monitor. Not really listening to the quiet music playing over the audio system in the background. Not reading the news, or looking at my email… just… sitting here.

“Some time” later – actually about 100 minutes later – my brain booted up and began actually functioning. lol My coffee is more than half gone, so… I was drinking coffee. My mind is more or less a blank on the entire 100 minutes I sat here staring at my monitor. I guess I could count it as “meditation”? LOL Seems my brain wasn’t ready to wake up with the rest of me.

The weekend is almost here… and I’m looking forward to having time to spend in the studio, or helping my Traveling Partner with projects in the shop. This morning, life feels filled with promise. I make a point of sitting with that feeling, and drinking it in along with my coffee, and the bottle of water next to it.

Time to begin again.

Weird weekend. (I could stop right there, honestly…)

“Baggage” is a tough challenge for people who have been traumatized. It can be super hard to put that shit down, and properly “begin again”. Our baggage tends to linger in our hidden corners, tucked away carefully where it’s difficult to see how problematic our thinking has become. We struggle with decision-making and outcomes that create an unpleasant experience or prevent us from thriving in our lives. It’s hard sometimes.

I’m hopeful that a particularly painful and difficult conversation with my Traveling Partner really does have the promising positive outcome it appears that it may… I’ve just got to set down some baggage and back away from it, then do some things differently going forward. Him too, I suppose, although in this instance the focus was for sure on me and the chaos and damage I sometimes struggle with.

Love and words. So many words. So much love.

Once we were “on the other side” of that difficult conversation, we enjoyed our evening together. I woke this morning feeling loved (and hopefully he did too). I’ve got a massive headache, still managed to enjoy a cup of coffee with my partner before I left for the local co-work space I sometimes work from. So far a promising start to the day and week. Nice.

Moving back into my studio was a sort of mix of manual labor and thoughtful work and careful selection. Now that it’s finished, I can’t fathom why I stalled for so long. I find myself returning to my studio again and again, thinking about creative projects. I’ve rekindled my eagerness to finish a particular manuscript that has been languishing in a file on my hard-drive for awhile – almost a decade. Long overdue, and I did not understand that two things were holding me back: 1 poem I had included that I had serious second thoughts about, and those journals tucked away in a bin. Funny; I took care of the journals, and now project after project that had been stalled seem to percolate to the surface for their moment.

What’s holding you back? When will you tackle that?

How much baggage are you dragging along every day? How much can you “just set down” and walk away from? Are there things you could let go of, that you… just don’t? What is that doing for you? (Seriously, you probably wouldn’t cling to some of that sticky bullshit if you weren’t getting something out of doing so, if only the strange comfort of familiarity – which is totally over-rated.)

I’m no therapist, just saying – lightening the load makes for an easier journey. 😉

I sip my coffee and think my thoughts. There’s a garden to plan. A life to live. Love to embrace and nurture. Already time to begin again.