Archives for category: loneliness

Queue “Love Rollercoaster“… or…maybe “Love Rollercoaster“? Love has its ups and downs, not unlike a rollercoaster; it’s an appropriate metaphor. We deal with our own challenges – and our partners’. I’m confident that my Traveling Partner loves “all of me“. I count on his enduring love, “right down the line“. Maybe ours is an uncommon sort of love story – maybe not. I know this is our love – and it’s where I want to be. Sometimes love is like dancing, and I feel like I’ve “got the right dancing partner”, at long last.

Valentine’s Day? It was lovely. Spent lived, out loud, and wrapped in love. There are other experiences worth having. 🙂

I originally wrote a very different post under this title (on Friday). It was hurt-sounding, and infused with strong emotion, seasoned with pointless frustrated tears, and more than a hint of self-pitying catastrophizing. As the weekend proceeded, quite differently I’m pleased to note, my thinking on the writing (and events) of Friday evening continued to morph, evolve, mature, change, and deepen. I ascribed to the events first greater significance, then less, dwindling in magnitude of catastrophe and emotional pain over happy days spent in my partner’s good company, feeling loved, and loving, and enjoying our precious mortal moments together. At several points, I re-wrote, edited, adjusted, and refined my written thoughts, as my lived thoughts of the moment themselves changed. Mostly, I focused on being a better partner, better friend, and better love, and didn’t put nearly as much into writing about any of those things.

I spent quite a bit of time in a thoughtful place, reading “You Are Here” by Thích Nhất Hạnh. You’ll see a lot of his written work linked in my reading list – or on my book shelves. This one was a recent gift to me from my Traveling Partner to ease my sorrow when I learned of Thầy’s passing. Funny, I was so moved by my partner’s gift that simply receiving it was emotional and memorable; I felt so loved and understood. Diving into the work and actually reading it, this weekend of all weekends, I could see so much of the depth of my partner’s affection; every page seems to speak to our “here”, our “now”, and the very nature of Love itself. It led my thinking onward, gently, over the course of the weekend. Like a map, it helped me “find my way”.

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, I woke to an entirely different understanding of Friday evening’s moment of hurt and conflict. I found myself looking at it through a very different lens – one of real compassion and empathy, and awareness of what my partner is/may-be going through, himself, and pushing myself out of the hero’s role of the narrative in my head, to view our experience of each other through a more… equitable(?) perspective. We both have PTSD – and for both of us, the majority of that damage comes from intimate partnerships (other than our own, though at this point we’ve done ourselves a fair bit of emotional damage over a decade) or familial relationships. I now find myself painfully aware how often I insist I be nurtured and supported, while also pretty reliably overlooking his triggers, and his need to be emotionally supported, also. I shut him down when I “don’t feel heard”, instead of listening deeply because I care. I could do better. For sure. Like… probably a lot.

The tl;dr on Friday’s misadventure was simple enough; I triggered him (and did not recognize that in the moment), he reacted, and his reaction triggered me. I threw a fucking fit, and behaved incredibly poorly, and had a nasty temper tantrum we both could have done without. I wrecked a lovely romantic moment in the making, and we had a shit time of things that evening. (I feel fortunate that our love endures our individual and mutual bullshit.) We turned things around together over the course of the weekend, each of us “doing the verbs” to live our best versions of ourselves, and to love each other in the most healing way we could. Win and good; we enjoyed a lovely weekend together.

I thought about posting the original writing from Friday’s moment…but reading it, and even reading various edits and footnotes, I just “couldn’t find room for it” in my current thinking – I’ve already adjusted my thinking, and made room in my awareness to be more supportive and directly nurturing of my partner’s needs, and less strictly focused on my own. Self-care is supremely important, and boundary and expectation-setting is a pretty big deal for building lasting love – no argument there – and I’m not saying that it is any part of my plan to undermine those things (I’ve worked too hard “to get here”!). What I am saying is that I’m more aware that I’ve got room to grow and improve on how well I identify my partner’s need for emotional support, and could use some additional work on those skills, too. Love is a verb. Balance is a healthy quality.

…As silly as this is likely to sound, I put a ton of study and practice into self-care, and meeting my own needs, I somehow almost entirely overlooked how best to support a partner and their unique emotional needs in the context of their PTSD. I mean… for fucks’ sake, really?? Omg. Definitely time to begin again!

It’s 3 a.m.

I woke unexpectedly. Like… fully awake. Even “rested”. Mind restless. I wander around the hotel room aimlessly for some minutes. Drink some water. Use the restroom. I finally just put on jeans and a sweater, my coat, and went outside into the fresh air for a few minutes.

The night air was mild. The city sleeping around me is quiet. There was a sea breeze carrying a hint of nearby ocean along with it. The sound of the wind pushing between the buildings overcomes my tinnitus for awhile. I stand in the twilight of street lights in the wee hours, alone. I enjoy the quiet. I enjoy the breeze.

For a moment, I am not in any pain at all. I stand quietly enjoying the moment without asking it any questions.

Back in the room, some minutes later, I open a fresh bottle of water, cold from the refrigerator, and take an antacid. Now, here I find myself, at 3 a.m., sipping water in the glow of the laptop screen, writing about a sleepless moment in the wee hours, alone in a strange city. It’s not any sort of remarkable moment, either. I’m just… here. Awake at 3 a.m.

My alarm is set for 5 a.m. with a busy work day planned ahead of me. I could stay awake. I could return to sleep. It doesn’t matter too much which I choose to do, really. If I don’t – or can’t – sleep, it’s not a big deal; I feel relatively well-rested as things are now. If I can – and do – return to sleep, it’ll be nice to get a bit more rest; these long work days take a lot out of me.

I sit quietly a few minutes. No agenda. No stress. Stalled for a moment, without stress, just sitting quietly. I sit. I breathe. Slowly I begin to feel the soft edges of sleepiness begin to wrap my consciousness in a foggy blanket.

It’s hours past my coffee. Nearing the end of a busy day, actually, and even my bottle of water is empty. The rootbeer my Traveling Partner brought me at lunch time, long gone. The enthusiasm of the morning hours has given way to afternoon pain and fatigue. I’m alright. I’m barely bitching, just noticing.

Have I run out of words? Maybe, maybe not. Certainly, the cadence of my writing routine has changed rather a lot. It’s more a weekly thing these days.

…I’m so tired at the end of each day… I could write in the evenings, but rarely have the energy for it, cognitive or otherwise.

The font on this draft looks peculiarly small. I find myself wondering what combination of key strokes I may have struck to reduce the size of the font, or perhaps change the resolution of the window, or browser tab. It keeps me wondering, half-curious, half-annoyed. I struggle to let it go, which leads me to wonder what I’m really fretting over in the background… how could it be something this fucking dumb?? I shrug that off, make a sipping motion with my empty water bottle (I had already forgotten in was empty, and picking it up was reflexive).

I begin again.

…And then again.

…And still another time, never quite getting traction on my restless “monkey mind”. The weekend is almost here. Next week I’m out of town on business, and sort of excited about it. I’ll pack on the weekend, Sunday, maybe, fitting it in between the routine housekeeping tasks.

…I’m still super tickled by the robot vaccum my partner encouraged me to buy. It saves me so much work and expended energy, and yields such a lovely tidy result. Worth the expense. I honestly wasn’t sure it would be.

I guess I’m just admitting to myself that at least for now, I’m likely a weekend writer. You should know too, eh? Of course, knowing me, just saying so will kick my brain into high gear with all manner of inspiration for writing. It is, sometimes, the way of things to be contrary to plans or expectations. lol

The holidays are just ahead. I’m feeling the season this year, but also have no elaborate plans or grand expectations – just some cozy romantic connected time at home with my partner. Some holiday baking. Some holiday feasting. Some small amount of gift-wrapping. The tree – always the Giftmas tree. I wonder when I will become too old, or frail, or tired for that? Ever?

…I’m suddenly feel a blue moment of emotion wash over me. Loss. Loved ones no longer here to celebrate with. Family and friends far away, or out of touch. It is a poignant little moment of sorrow, painful, and personal, and shaped of tears and lingering heartache. I let the tears fall. I know this feeling is fleeting. It comes and goes with the times. Apparently now is a time for a few sad tears over severed connections. It’ll pass. It’ll pass sooner for having been felt, acknowledged, and given room to exist. I take a breath and let it go.

It’s already time to begin again.

“E” is also for effort. Sometimes “easy” isn’t within reach. This morning is one of those times. The weekend, so far, has its ups and downs. My head aches today. My arthritis joined the party before I even woke up this morning. My sleep was restless, disturbed, and filled with strange nightmares of failure and inadequacy, and being tangled in dense sticky spiders’ webs. It was not a restful night.

I remind myself to begin again. To stay open to success. To choose. To choose again. To practice good self-care, to practice self-compassion. To treat myself and my partner well in spite of where I find myself this morning. I breathe. Exhale. Let my shoulders relax (again). I acknowledge my pounding headache, and sip my coffee as if the headache doesn’t matter. Later, I’ll pull myself together into some form similar to an adult human being equipped to handle the needs of the day, and go do those things I’m up to doing. For now, I’m here. Thinking my thoughts. Sipping my coffee. Hoping to one day be a much better version of myself than I was yesterday. (Right now, the bar seem relatively low there, so perhaps I do have a shot at that, in spite of how I feel right now?)

…All too human. The anhedonia and ennui are dragging on me a bit. It’s not as bad as despair would be. I make myself fully consider those words as I type them; this truly could be much worse. Another breath, it becomes a sigh. I exhale slowly, deliberately. I let the feelings come and go, observed but not interfered with. Acceptance and awareness are important steps for change.

My coffee grows cold. My thoughts begin an unproductive spiral. I shake it off. It’s time to begin again.

Keepin’ it real on a Sunday. Later I’ll just get to work on housekeeping chores and try to get past being a fucking human being, with all the flaws and limitations and confusion that seems to include. This morning sucks. Shit-tastic moment right here. Crap-tacular.

I’ve managed to up-end what might have been an ordinary lovely Sunday morning over-reacting to something my Traveling Partner said. I could have “let it go” or allowed myself to understand his perspective without sharing mine, but in attempting to speak up about my own perspective and experience, the whole entire morning just came crashing down around me. I don’t communicate skillfully in that moment, he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m trying to communicate. I manage to hurt his feelings, frustrate, and anger him. Now we’re separate people with separate lives in separate rooms having separate moments quite removed from each other, still, I’m sure, entangled emotionally with this shared shitty experience. It sucks on a lot of levels. We’re each having our own experience. We each understand our lives in a context we may not be able to actually share with each other in an understandable way. We’ve got our own perspective, our own baggage. Our own PTSD.

I’m trying to avoid creeping despair with limited success, as it attempts to weave its way into my emotional landscape.

I feel isolated and lonely. I lack a feeling of being understood, or even accepted. My fingers pause on the keyboard while my brain grinds through all the ways this is “my fault” and all the many things I have sought to do differently in one partnership or another to be other than I am, with varying degrees of skill – or success. The more my thoughts swirl around all this shit, the more it blurs together, like bad finger painting at that point at which the colors are just becoming a muddy homogenous gray. I’m already not even making sense, to myself. The tears keep coming.

I know, I know. It’s clearly time to begin again. The weight of the ennui and learned helpless is tremendous and if I were standing in an inch of water, I’d likely drown. My attempts to communicate are falling so short that each new attempt is at risk of being an escalation, and I was told I’m “being dramatic” several times this morning, before I finally withdrew into my carefully crafted one-room private hell. (I know, I see it. It does read like I’m “being” “dramatic”; I’m having trouble making myself heard over the din in my own head.)

New beginnings do tend to require that something else end. I don’t really know what needs to be ended, right now, in this moment. I feel sad and worn down. Tired. Frustrated. I assure myself “this too shall pass”, and although I know that to be pretty reliably true, I don’t have much confidence in whatever may come after it. A literal lifetime of struggling with my mental health, and specifically in the context of intimate partnerships and familial relationships, has worn me down past the point of being sure I can make constructive, practical, healthy, useful changes that result in being whole and well and emotionally self-sufficient. I’m frustrated by that. Most of the “obvious” choices, in this particularly difficult moment, seem rich in potential for self-sabotage or self-spite, wildly contrary, and the sorts of things that follow someone shouting “Well, fine, then I’ll just never…” (or, you know, “just always…”) before going immediately to gross hyperbole and refining the discussion to some ludicrous probably irrelevant extreme.

I read those words once or twice more. It’s true I’m definitely not feeling heard. It’s also true that when my experience hits that wall, I do tend to become more prone to drama (in both word choice and tone). I become more ferocious in my delivery, seeking any breach in the wall of misunderstanding, trying to force the person I’m talking with to hear me, to acknowledge my humanity, to “get it” – when they clearly don’t get it. It’s not helpful. It’s not helpful for them or for me; it’s not possible to force people to understand something they don’t understand. Just letting it go… like… forever? Not helpful for me. Might save the relationship, though. Is every point of contention a “hill worth fighting for”? I mean, obviously not; I used the word “every”. Along with “always”, and “never”, “every” is pretty much the customs stamp of a logical fallacy; if the argument is taken to that extreme, I can be pretty certain, generally, that whatever is claimed to be “always”, “never”, or some portion of “every”… it’s incorrect. Fallacious. Not accurate.

I start on better self-care.

I breathe. Relax. Try to let this one go, again. What matters most? Maybe I can let myself focus on this list of chores. Do those, as mindfully as I am able, let this other shit go… deal with it when I feel stronger. More emotionally safe. Clearer of mind. Choose a better moment, from a more rational perspective – sounds super smart. I’d like to be that person. It doesn’t make sense to keep expecting other people – any other people, including my partner(s) – to really understand my experience from my side of it. Pretty silly, actually, in the context of “we’re each having our own experience” – which we are. Another breath. Another sip of cold coffee. I’m fortunate to enjoy this loving partnership with this human being I cherish so much. Expecting that it will also be characterized by a universally aligned, wholly informed and accepting shared understanding of self, of each other, and of the world around us is, at best, wildly unlikely. I don’t think it’s very reasonable, at all, actually.

I think I’ll shoot for “reasonable” and “contented” today. Pretty lofty goal from the vantage point of this desk, and these tears drying on my cheeks. It’s something to work towards. I’ll focus on practical matters like good self-care, and perspective, and this list of chores. I’ll keep the achievements small and achievable. I’ll let the emotional weather pass like clouds. I’ll work on keeping my expectations of myself, and of the day, quite manageable, and reality check my assumptions regularly. It’s not “everything” (what is?), but it’s a starting point, and it’s within reach, and looking over the commitments with care, it looks both reasonable and emotionally healthy. That’ll have to be enough today.

My Traveling Partner looks in on me. He says kind words. He has a kind face and a concerned look. We connect gently, carefully, seeking to ease the emotional hurts, reduce the stress. He tells me that spiders have invaded the house during the night. I say I’ll make a point to vacuum with care and do my best to make our space unwelcoming for them. The interaction approaches normalcy. It’s something to hold on to. A stepping off point from which to begin again.