Archives for category: loneliness

Note: this is a long one (>1500 words), figured you might want to know that before you get started. LOL

I’m on the coast with my camera for a couple days solo. I definitely need this sort of break from the day-to-day relatively frequently – one of my most easily identified regrets in life as an adult is that I waited so long to begin making a point to take this time for myself. I’m fortunate that my Traveling Partner recognizes the need, too, and supports me taking care of myself. The change in my medications has been a good thing, generally, but it also seemed to have accelerated my need to “take a couple days” to pause and reflect deeply on my experience, and to indulge in some time spent alone with my thoughts.

My timing is a bit awkward for this getaway; it’s the weekend before Giftmas. My Traveling Partner’s planned work while I am away was almost immediately derailed by a fulfillment error in a part shipped for his CNC machine; it’s the wrong part, which stalls the build entirely while he waits for that to be replaced. Fuck. Furthering his frustration, a recently added (and carefully measured & placed) outlet turns out to be in a less than ideal location (even after taking tremendous care with measuring) and has to be moved. The end result? Well, I potentially should have planned ahead for a couple days after the fucking holidays, if nothing else. …But…I really was seriously struggling to get acclimated to the new medications (and change in timing of existing medications), and I was feeling very short-tempered and cross with… just every-damned-thing, honestly, and wanted to be well away from people in general. So… good timing? Poor timing? Hard to be certain.

I visited some interesting places. The gulls at Boiler Bay were happy to pose for me.

I am certain my partner misses me. I feel very loved. His attentiveness at a time when we both expected minimal contact with each other for reasons isn’t unwelcome – and it forces me to explicitly practice reasonable boundary setting with the one human being in my life with whom I most definitely struggle to do so; my partner. He can’t see what I’m up to when I’m away, so it’s entirely on me to choose to take a look at a message, or to set my “do not disturb” setting on my phone, or set expectations that I am – or am not – available to chat. That’s not even unexpected or unreasonable; it’s part of skillful adulting. Just happens that some of the emotional debris of my trauma history results in some fairly poor boundary-setting with those closest to me, and it’s something I need to practice. Kind of a lot.

Here’s one way this matters, as an example. I won’t text while I’m driving (it’s very dangerous), so if he messages me while I’m in motion, I often find myself parking the car to respond without even checking in with myself whether the conversation even needs to happen in real-time (most often it does not, and frankly when it does he calls me so we can just talk hands-free). It can add a crazy amount of “travel time” to a short errand if I fail to communicate that I’m driving and he’s not aware that I am; he will just go on having a conversation with me that feels reasonable to him, while I seek out a parking spot every couple minutes like I’m lost or something. LOL I even know this is neither necessary nor practical; it’s something I need to work on. Just one example of why the expectation and boundary setting can matter so much. There are for sure others.

…I’m working on it…

When I am reading, writing, painting – all of which require focus – I sometimes get exceedingly frustrated with interruptions. Same when I’m “at work”, at home. Interruptions wreck my focus. This is not “a me thing”, it’s true for a lot of people (including my partner, when he’s reading, or doing complex calculations, or taking measurements). Interruptions break focus. Well… who “owns” that? I think if a clear boundary and clear expectations have been set, the person doing the interrupting owns that shit, and it’s pretty rude (if there’s no actual emergency). More often than not, though, I find that I’m the one who has erred in some way, by failing to ensure that I have set a clear expectation that I’m not available, along with a reasonable explicit boundary established with regard to interruptions of specific sorts of things. It’s for sure not reasonable to be irked with someone who did not know I was engaged in focused work, or needing to be left alone awhile, if they interrupt me unaware of those details.

In more succinct terms, if I don’t silence my ringer it’s not fair to be annoyed with a person who calls me at a bad time; I had another option that would have preserved my focus!

My earliest beach walk began at “first light”.

Yesterday, in the morning, I left for the coast before dawn. I arrived far earlier than “early check-in” for my hotel room (because the prior night’s guest hadn’t even checked-out yet). I spent the morning walking beaches and taking pictures, and in between I drank coffee while warming up in my car. Chilly morning. I drank 3x as much coffee as I generally do, and I expected I’d most likely messed up my sleep, later, but… nope. I checked into my room before 1 p.m., and managed to crash twice for longish naps, and then still went to bed early (like, for real early – around 7:30 p.m.). I slept deeply, waking around 3 a.m. to pee and immediately went back to sleep.

I made a point of snapping a picture of the holiday lights on the restaurant near the hotel during the wee hours. (It’s not a great picture; I was half asleep and never put on my glasses!)

I woke feeling quite rested, around 7 a.m. or a little after, around the time my Traveling Partner woke and pinged me a greeting. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised by how much I slept if I had felt that I was exhausted, or had felt deeply fatigued. Lacking those sensations, it caught me a bit by surprise to sleep so much. Still… it’s my time, my hotel room, I guess I can do what I like (within reason), including sleep the day away, which I definitely feel like I did, although my fitness tracker logged almost 7 miles of walking before noon. LOL

It’s been exceedingly pleasant (even luxurious) to have so little contact with other people for a couple days. The loudest sound in this hotel room is my fingers on this mechanical keyboard. (My tinnitus is infernally loud, too, but no one else would ever hear that.) The hotel staff go about their business. We don’t exchange words, just smiles; I’ve come here before and they are very respectful (and friendly if approached). I’ve managed to enjoy this trip to the coast without conversation beyond “can you fill it with regular please” or “16 oz Americano, please”. Yesterday was sunny. Today is gray and overcast. I spent yesterday sleeping (and walking and taking pictures). I’ve spent today meditating and writing (and walking and taking pictures). Time well spent all around, and mission mostly accomplished.

…I miss “home” (already), and take a few minutes to reflect with immense gratitude that I experience that feeling when I am away from the house I now live in. It’s already very much “home” – and filled with love, and memories of love, and the presence of this other human being who is so incredibly dear to me. I feel my heart fill up with my affection for my partner and spill over as “happy tears”. I am struck by how easily even the thought of this human being I love so deeply can move me with just the recollection of the love we share. That’s powerful. I miss him greatly any time we are apart – even when we are apart specifically because I just need to be alone for a while. It’s part of who I am. I am grateful that I’ve learned how to meet that need, and grateful to have a partner who “gets it”. I chuckle when I consider how often I do return home earlier than I had planned to, when I have gone, simply because I am so eager to be in the good company of my partner again. How very human. 🙂

Same location, different visit.

I watch the tides rise and fall on each of these trips to the coast. I am amazed by how much the view changes with each visit. The seasons change. The sunrise and sunset changes. The hour of the day for the high or low tide varies. The weather, too. Each detail paints the picture anew. I sip my now-cold coffee and think about that. So many variables. So many small details. I keep expecting to become bored with a single view or perspective. It hasn’t happened yet. I return to some locations with every visit just to see the view with “new eyes” on a different day. There’s something here worth understanding more deeply. I make a note on the notepad I’ve kept with me on this trip, and let my thoughts wander on.

I reflect awhile on the things that have held me back in life. Some of these were pure circumstance, others clearly my own doing or decision-making, few of them were the sort of non-negotiables that were unavoidable or immutable. I’ve had an enormous part to play in where I’ve landed in life. When I’ve chosen wisely, I’ve done well. When I’ve chosen poorly, I’ve often paid the price in consequences. This seems reasonable and “proper”, but when I reflect with care, deeply and honestly, and quite thoroughly, there have also been situations in which my good fortune “over-compensated” for my poor decision-making, and I’ve found my life improved thereby, anyway. Other times, seemingly good decision-making and actions that could be viewed as necessary, appropriate, or “right”, nonetheless resulted in… consequences of a wholly problematic sort. I have had an “enormous part to play” in where I’ve landed in life…but it’s also been a matter of “luck” more often than I can count, and some cases it’s been the help of friends or associates, or… just a coincidence that I’ve done as well as I have. Sometimes I’ve found myself standing in some unexpected moment in life struck by how unprepared I am to be there. Other times, extraordinary happenstance still manages to feel quite… ordinary. It’s hard to know in the moment which events are truly significant and meaningful, and which are simply future memories. Sometimes, when I’ve thought I was being “held back”, the passage of time has revealed how fortunate I really was to follow the path I did. Perspective has proven its worth more than once.

…My mind wanders on…

When I sat down with my notes this morning, I had some specific things I wanted to consider. I walked the beach with my camera and my little notepad, thinking, walking, pausing now and then for a tidepool, a bird, or an interesting rock. I don’t know that I “got anywhere” specific – but I wasn’t following a map, or hiking a trail with a destination, or running an errand. I was, frankly, as much as anything, just giving myself the space and time to really “hear myself think”. Was I successful? In every way I that I needed to be, sure, I think so. Is this bit of writing the outcome of all that? Mmm. Doubtful. Not in any clear cause & effect practical sense. I wasn’t seeking to develop a plan of action, or practice a specific practice, or write an essay on a topic. I just needed, rather earnestly, some solitary time to hear myself and to just be, quite as I am, without any sense of needing to chase a change or measure up to a standard. In that sense, it’s been a wildly successful bit of time away. Would a get away of this kind do wonders for you? No idea, honestly, and I’m sure it kind of depends on how well (or poorly) you are able to enjoy some solitary time – maybe that’s not your thing? Maybe you hate being absolutely alone? Your results would surely vary. Hell, my results vary and I greatly enjoy my solo time away, any chance I get make.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I check my oxygen. 99%. Nice. I take a moment to “feel where I’m at”, physically. Headache? It’s there, but not distracting. Arthritis pain? Managed. Posture? Yeah, okay. I notice it’s not great and “pull myself upright”. I gaze out the window across the mud flats of Siletz Bay – the tide is pretty low. There are a variety of water birds enjoying that, including a couple of larger birds – some kind of crane, and a heron. The gulls have taken their fun elsewhere for now. The water is flat, smooth, and very calm (what I can see), though I know if I step to the patio door and look out toward the ocean, I would see the waves gently kissing the shore.

I take a moment to reflect on a past that no longer wholly defines me (or holds me back) and to wonder what the future may hold, without becoming stranded in either. I sit quietly with my thoughts, poised in this “now” moment feeling fairly prepared to just “go with it” – whatever “it” may turn out to be. It’s a nice alternative to catastrophe, chaos, and despair. I breathe. In, then out. Then again. Some minutes later, I realize I slipped into meditation, fingers still poised carefully on the home row of the keyboard, expectantly. I’ve got a book (a couple, actually) that I also want to spend some time (reading)…

…Seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

Damn. Still struggling with my bullshit today. There’s no obvious driver. For some folks, the weather would be enough; it is gray and chilly and the rain falls pretty steadily. A wet autumn day, with a twilight quality in early afternoon. I’m fortunate that I’m generally not affected by S.A.D. Doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally feel blue on a gray day, but it’s usually not the season… it’s something else. Right now? It’s a lot of small things piling up and becoming “a thing” – my anxiety, my struggle with it, and my stress about the state of the world. It looms large in my awareness, and lurks in my very dreams, most of which, right now, are nightmares.

I’m just feeling a bit low is all. It happens. It’ll pass. Feels even a bit “hormonal”, although I cling to the thinking that menopause should have put an end to that mess. Maybe it doesn’t entirely? Considering the state of medical science regarding women’s bodies and health, I can’t be surprised that we don’t know more even in 2022.

…So, this is where I am today. I feel bleak, a bit blue, not quite overcome by anhedonia. I feel beat down. Silenced. I’m not actually any of those things in any practical or real way. These are just feelings. Perceptions. They have only whatever life I give them, myself. So I keep fighting it. Self-care steps of various sorts – you’re looking at one of those right now. 🙂

I get an irritating email from the VA just as the sun breaks through the clouds for a minute. My aggravation brushes aside the blues and the stabbing pain of a flash of sunshine through an uncovered window straight into my eye are at least enough to distract me from my shitty mood momentarily. So. Here I am. Beginning again. Again.

My morning started too early. The air compressor in my Traveling Partner’s shop “went off” in the wee hours (it hadn’t been shut off the night before, after the work day was completed). Well, shit. I was awake, wasn’t I? He wasn’t, though. I got up quietly, dressed, grabbed my laptop and workday shit, and quietly slipped out of the house, hoping he would be able to sleep in.

I woke feeling a complex stew of crappy emotions. Frustration, sorrow, fragility, the threat of imminent tears without cause or point, anxiety – stress – filling my morning like this Americano fills the cup on my desk. All the way to the fucking top. It’s not a helpful addition to the pain I also woke up in. I’m cranky from being awakened by an unpleasant noise first thing in the morning, too early, on the heels of a bad dream. I’m cross because… I don’t know, just because. I mostly just want to put my head down on this deck in this co-work space and cry for awhile. This coffee isn’t going down very well, and my stomach is sour over it. What a rough morning.

I know, I know, “begin again”… but… it’s easier when it’s easy, you know? Right now, it’s not so easy, and I’m feeling fussy like a toddler with an attitude problem. My “inner adult” knows better, and some of my stress sources in the conflict between that worldly experienced woman with a job to do, and the frustrated fussy little kid that lingers within me.

This lives in my saved images for mornings like this…

I’d like today to be easy. Relaxed. Productive. I’d like to “kick ass” on the job today. I’d like to “win big” at life today. I’d like to be my best self, every moment. In this moment, I don’t know what that looks like. My poorly managed physical pain on top of my poorly managed background anxiety have combined to make me a fairly shit human being right now, hard to be around, cross, irritable, unpleasant, with a seriously dark sense of “humor” that isn’t funny. Looks like a long work day ahead, too – not because I’ve got so much to do, more because I sense that I’m not someone my partner is going to want to be around, in the shape I’m in. May as well spend that time working.

I sit here seething. Sipping coffee. Feeling the tears pooled just at the edge of my eye lids, not falling, not going away. Therapy tomorrow… I can do this, right? I can stretch one day to the breaking point, collapse into a deep sleep, and drag myself back to the office, and then on to my appointment…? That works, right?

Fucking hell. Some days being human just fucking sucks all the god-damned dicks. :-/ Well. I guess I’ll do my best – whatever that is today, and then try again tomorrow. The clock keeps ticking on this mortal lifetime… It’s not easy, but…

…It’s definitely time to begin again.

So… the news, right? Problematic, most certainly if you are a woman. Not solely because abortion services are a sometimes necessary piece of a woman’s reproductive healthcare, but also because of what the recent SCOTUS decision says about how those people devalue female human beings, generally. There will be plenty of folks throwing words about the issue(s) at our collective consciousness for days (weeks, months). Anything I might want to say is likely to be covered more skillfully by another voice. I’ll let this one go; know that I’m am hurting over it, myself. Shocked and appalled and angry, like a lot of other people. I’ll be writing letters to elected representatives (not because it is assured to be the most effective action to take, just that I can take it, repeat it, and do so as often as needed to feel heard). I’ve got plenty of stamps for snail mail, and great internet connectivity for emails.

…But… Or… And? Maybe “and” is right… please take care of yourself.

Take time for joy, too.

My Traveling Partner and I have been putting a lot of time into “the (new) family business”. It’s fun to work together on a task, and enjoy the shared experience of successful completion and a job well done. I think it also serves helpfully to give my partner better insights into what I realistically can and can’t actually do these days. When I’m just standing around, or hanging out watching videos, it’s probably pretty easy to overlook how much pain I may actually be in, or that I struggle to climb a ladder, or that standing on my ankle for long results in intense fatigue (pretty quickly), or that I often just “run out of energy” in the late afternoon.

…I started this several days ago. I put it aside, because it didn’t look like political events were going to improve (or change) much at all, and also, life is fucking busy right now, and I grab every chance I can to hang out with my Traveling Partner – even when that choice may not be ideal self-care. I fucking love that guy, and our mortal time together is precious and limited. Today? Today I hurt. I’m quite a lot of pain, and returned home from a long seeming work day in the local co-work space to my partner’s shitty day, bad mood, and surliness. I ran an errand. Came home. He’s frank and clear with me, not unkind just having his own experience. I don’t really want any part of that mess, right now, so… I head to the studio and sit down to write.

Sometimes we just need room to be. Better or bad, convenient or not, there are moments in a human life when handling it alone feels ideal. I mean… that’s one woman’s opinion. I happen to like some solo time (like, a lot of it), so perhaps I am biased. I enjoy my own company. 🙂

When it’s just me, “everyone” in the room wants to do what I want to do, without regard to what that happens to be. lol Read? Sure. Write? Hell, yes. Paint? I’m ready for it. Watch some videos on YouTube? I’m down for that and I’ll definitely be okay with whatever I may choose to watch. lol. Cook a meal? It’ll definitely be whatever I may enjoy, myself, without holding space for other preferences. Just sit awhile, in a quiet room? No problem – and no interruptions (however long I may sit quietly). Go to bed ridiculously early? Sure. Go for it. Stay up foolishly late? Also fine. Listen to the music loud? I can do that any day, any time, but when I’m alone it’s often a different playlist.

…I’m just saying, sometimes I really enjoy hanging out with the woman in the mirror, just being.

Solo time is peculiarly rare these days. Life wedges in a lot of human interaction, in spite of the pandemic, in spite of working from home, in spite of making an effort to get the downtime I actually do need. My Traveling Partner is social (very), and we adore each other. Time together is time well-spent and these mortal lifetimes are limited and too brief. Friends? I don’t see them often enough these days, so it’s rare to turn down a chance to hang out – even if it might have been excellent solo time, with different choices. Work? Even working from home full-time, I “see” a lot of my colleagues on calls, and the conversation is almost continuous in the work channels on Slack. Running errands puts me out in the world interacting with more other people. They’re everywhere. lol Finding moments to be really alone actually takes real effort and planning. I’ve got a camping trip planned for the end of July. 🙂

My partner checks in with me. We’re okay. He’s careful to confirm that he was gentle enough with me; he was having a pretty terrible day apparently, and his emotions were raw and on the surface. I appreciate the consideration, and we share appreciative grateful words of love. I make a point of ensuring he is aware of my physical discomfort, also making a point to be considerate, and gentle with my words. Sometimes we’re sufficiently emotionally “rugged” to roll with a moment of temper – helpful because we’re both fucking human – other times we need more tenderness and care from each other. Today feels good. Connected and intimate. Aware. Compassionate and empathetic. Nonjudgmental. Feeling heard without having to try so hard. It’s nice.

Late afternoon hints at becoming evening. It’s a warm day, and I hurt too much to cook anything that requires a lot of effort. Burgers? Maybe. I don’t mind making the run. A sit down dinner out would be lovely…but… Even now, neither of us feel really comfortable in public spaces that are occupied by people in close proximity. It’s pretty convenient not being sick every two or three weeks with some sniffle or stomach ache, and while it may not have stopped COVID in its tracks, the social distancing thing has been excellent for our health. LOL Sandwiches? Burgers? I don’t actually care much – I barely have any appetite, in spite of taking appropriate steps to manage my pain. The pain shouts into my consciousness louder than my empty stomach. It is what it is.

I take a sip from my glass of clean water, and pause for just a moment to really appreciate having access to a steady supply of potable, filtered, clean drinking water. Then – I begin again.

I tend to think of “challenges” as negative, and to think of “being overwhelmed” as a byproduct of generally negative emotional experiences or circumstances. You, too? It’s a misleading oversimplification, though, isn’t it? I think for a minute about the experience of an “overexcited” or “overstimulated” exhausted toddler, well-past the point that can be supported by their as-yet-undeveloped emotional resilience, frustrated over some “nothing” moment (when viewed externally, as an observer), dissolving into tears or tantrums. Doesn’t matter that the day behind them was excited, fun-filled, positive, rewarding, engaging, or adventurous – they’re tired, they’re done, and it’s finally all just “too much”. They yield to their emotions. I’m 59 years old and it still happens in my experience of life, too. Hard to be irked about it, it’s just a thing. Part of the human experience. I’m sure it serves – or once served – some clear purpose for human primates. Maybe a warning to slow down and let my brain catch up on all the newness and excitement?

Things have been exciting around here. I’ve been helping my Traveling Partner get his business started. Very exciting. His business – our future. It’s a big deal. There are new tools and machines to learn. New processes to master. New skills to pick up. There are other skills to refine and improve. There are tasks yet to be completed – I know we each have our own focus, and our own “to do list”. It’s his business, but I’m 100% about supporting that endeavor with him; we’re a team. A partnership. All of that is exciting and positive – not a single legitimate “down side”, other than the other positives piling up that simply require some effort (mostly in the form of cognitive work, learning some new software, and a couple of really cool tools that I’m excited about artistically, for my own creative endeavors). Still, there is so much new stuff coming at me day-to-day right now, there’s been no time to write. I mean, that’s what it has felt like. I’m sure I could have made other choices, but I’m not ashamed to be making a point to choose supporting my partner’s developing business.

My brain is tired. I have been mostly sleeping pretty well, but kind of a lot. I go to bed pretty early. I sleep as late as circumstances permit. My list of shit to get done exploded over the past couple weeks. I feel chronically behind on just about everything. Hike with my new camera? It rains too hard to go, or too hard to take the camera out into the weather. I feel held back by that and frustrated. I’m eager to get out into the garden. Some days I just haven’t got the strength to do the work. Other days the rain keeps me in. Build a website for my partner’s business? Unfamiliar interface and new software to learn. I feel a bit stalled, but not terribly frustrated; I at least expected to face a learning curve. More to learn. There’s the laser cutter, the Cricut, the pen tablet… so much to learn. Gardening, too. I’m no master gardener. I just sort of get by doing my best. I’d like to do better. I’d like to feed us from our garden.

If I just stack everything up or put it on a list, it does sort of start freaking me out. I feel so behind on “everything”. I had terrible nightmares last night that I had invested so much of my time and attention into all the new stuff to learn, do, try… that my friends all just sort of… slipped away. I was just starting to achieve mastery of “everything”, and turned to share this with my Traveling Partner… and… he wasn’t there. Gone. Just… gone. I looked out my window and society appeared to have crumbled. There were few people, and all strangers to me. I looked at my hands, in my dream, and they were withered with age and effort, and I was feeble and weak. All my “new knowledge” and skills were already … out of date. Useless. I woke feeling sad and lonely, and it persisted for some minutes after waking.

Nightmares are unpleasant. They have a visceral quality that lingers. They are crafted directly from our emotions and feel somehow inescapable. They’re still only dreams.

The thing is, there’s more good here than struggle. It’s just… a lot to take in. Yesterday I harvested lovely peas and Swiss chard and radishes from the garden, and dinner included that bounty. It was delicious. Spending hours with my Traveling Partner designing, building, making, learning – those are happy hours, well-spent in each other’s good company. Learning new skills? Great for keeping youthful well-being and perspective. Every detail taken individually is pretty fucking splendid. I sip my coffee and reflect on that. On the splendor. Feels pretty good. I feel fortunate, and even “blessed”. It’s a good place to be. That “to do list” doesn’t need to drive my experience. It’s just a wee map. Tells me where the turn up ahead is to be, and where to go next. Useful.

Today a friend will come around to visit. There’s been so little of that with the pandemic. I’ve missed the companionship of my friends. Losing touch with so many feels uncomfortable. I tell myself I could do better to stay in touch… which is a lot of pressure to put on one human. We’re all in that place. We could each do more, better, somehow. It can quickly snowball into a spiral of frustration and dismay. I sip my coffee figuring I won’t do that today. Small bites of life are enough to taste it. 🙂 Today, a little housekeeping in the morning. A little hanging out in the afternoon. An evening spent wrapped in love with my Traveling Partner, steadfast and true, best friend, lover, spouse, business partner… I am fortunate indeed.

A glance at the clock tells me it is already time to begin again. 🙂