Archives for category: loneliness

I woke with a headache. No arguing with that; it’s a headache, it hurts, I feel it. Being a positive person isn’t about pretending there is no headache. That’s silly game playing that lacks consistent results. It’s more about… being aware that the headache is a temporary thing, that it will pass, and that it is only a headache. My choices still matter more than the headache itself.

We can do a lot to predict outcomes of events and choices, given a willingness to be self-aware, honest, and true to the data. Our choices still matter; our choices change the outcomes. Predictably enough, predictable outcomes change over time, as our choices are made, and our will brought to action. There’s no reason being angry about an outcome we’ve chosen, ourselves, with our actions; we could have seen it coming, generally, as human primates are fairly predictable. Even the unpredictable ones, if you’ve observed their specific ways long enough. Hell, the predictable nature of unpredictable people is so predictable, in fact, that fairly realistic scripts can be written of such things, for our amusement.

I sip my coffee and wish my Traveling Partner well. Day break soon. It’s been a rough couple weeks as his Other’s mental health declined, and her behavior spiraled out of control; that shit gets ugly fast. It was also fairly predictable, taken in the full context of my own experience of her. I take a deep breath and relax. He’s okay. Our friends are okay. Material losses are just things. Hopefully all that ugliness and stress is behind them, and everyone can move on with healing. Done with that.

Emotional resilience in times of turmoil is a big deal. If I don’t have it, I don’t bounce back from stress, and if I am not easily able to bounce back from stress, it begins to wear me down over time, becoming harder and harder to deal with, and as smaller things begin to loom larger in my daily experience, I become raw, emotional, off-balance… and I start to take shit very very personally (and almost nothing at all in life is actually all that damned personal). It all spirals downward from there. How is it that emotional resilience isn’t a common every day emotional wellness talking point? Why is there not elementary level course curriculum in emotional health in public schools? Why has it been such a struggle to get health insurers to cover mental health care fully and without limits? Who the fuck came up with the idea that emotions are the bad guy? Our ignorance about our emotions is far worse than any single emotional experience ever could be. Our personal demons are less likely to be our actual emotions than our lack of emotional intelligence, our lack of cultivated emotional resilience – and the ensuing chaos as our intellect attempts (and fails) time and again to “cut to the front of the line” in every experience. Reliably, our emotions get there first. Visceral. Raw. Real. Felt. Unavoidably we feel our emotions. (That’s why we call them “feelings”.) What we do about them is a wholly separate matter.

…Emotions are still only emotions, though. A reaction to stimulus. Sometimes that stimulus isn’t a high quality of “real” at all. We react emotionally with equal intensity to actual events as we do to imagined ones. Our internal narrative drives our emotional experience every bit as much as actual events and interactions do (for some people, less tied to reality, more so). This is problematic when our own lack of emotional intelligence, or a lack of developed emotional resilience, results in being unable to discern the relative value of whatever is the source material of our emotional experience.

If I am thinking about my Traveling Partner, and imagine losing him… forever… and I evoke an emotional reaction in myself with that thought, I may briefly feel a terrible grief. (No kidding – it won’t be anything like the real deal, but I won’t discern that difference in the moment I am feeling my momentary emotion.) Is the grief not real? Oh hell yes, the emotions are real! That’s what often undermines our ability to maintain resilience in the face of storms of hormones, as women; our emotions are entirely “real”. What is questionable is the quality of the source material driving that experience. Our emotions are bio-chemical. We’re literally on drugs when we’re enraged. On drugs when we are euphoric, in love, experiencing “new relationship energy”. On drugs when we are sad, feeling low, and overcome by ennui. Emotional intelligence is the quality that allows us to understand ourselves sufficiently well to say “omg this sucks, I’m not myself today, I need some space (or I need some hugs) and I’m sorry in advance – I’m feeling a little less able to find my center today”… without laying waste to the experience of our loved ones in a shitty moment by weaponizing our emotions and attacking the world. Over time, “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, if you regularly treat your loved ones poorly. Eventually, too much damage is done, and no apology eases the hurt feelings, or restores the lost trust.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

We are creatures of emotion and reason. Understanding the complex interplay of intellect and feelings, of reaction and resilience, of emotional intelligence, cognitive skill, and intellect, goes a long way to making us seem more rational while we are also experiencing a rich and varied emotional life. Trying to tip the scales in favor of one or the other is an exercise in futility that weakens our ability to adapt to change and to overcome trauma. Avoid or shut down our emotions, and we become distant, tend toward callousness, prone to clueless insensitivity, unable to fully experience intimacy in relationships with others. Suppress our intellect, eschew a factual basis to life, and we find ourselves chaotic, reactive, and unable to gain perspective. Either of those results in our treating everyone around every bit as badly as we treat ourselves. (Well, yeah, because it’s a true thing that we do generally; we treat everyone as badly – or as well –Β  as we treat ourselves). Fuck all that – it is a more comfortable experience to walk my path mindfully as much as I am able, aware of my emotions, appreciative of my intellect and cognitive gifts, able to balance and use them both comfortably. I am able to bounce back from stress and trauma with greater ease. It does take practice. Yep. And, you guessed it, there are verbs involved. (And maybe a meditation cushion. lol)

Real is real. I still have choices. You do, too. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again.

Couldn’t we all do better? A bit? Give that some thought. Are you really the person you most want to be? Every day?

I am feeling frustrated with humanity, generally, and it pivots on competing memes, the willful stupidity of human beings defending pet ideologies, and the unavoidable truth that every damned one of us has some pretty fucking hateful moments, and lugs around some pretty vile baggage. I’m mostly quite done with every damned body pointing at the other guy with criticism about hate, seemingly unaware that they, themselves, have some similarly hateful moments.

Fuck, people, look in the god damned mirror.

I’m not making this point unaware that I am, myself, quite human. On the contrary, I am frustrated and puzzled by some basic confounds in my own thinking. I am concerned about implicit biases I am likely wandering around with, that may inform my decision-making in a fairly stupid way. I worry that things I think I “know” are not well-grounded in fact, to the point that I am regularly seeking proofΒ that I am wrong. (Because, frankly, finding out I am wrong is the only shot at correcting poor quality reasoning – I don’t give fuck-all for being right, and it isn’t helpful to “know” that I am, when it comes up.)

What’s specifically giving me metaphysical indigestion this morning is the head-on conflict between posts/memes/commentary suggesting that “gun control is not the answer –Β  be kind to lonely kids!” is The One True Way, and the other batch retorting “don’t suggest anyone else is responsible for violence except the sociopaths committing it – you could be encouraging vulnerable kids to become entangled with sociopaths!” because setting good boundaries is The One True Way. Fucking hell – are we all really that stupid? Is it not 100% entirely obvious that this is a false dichotomy? That the jigsaw puzzle of American violence is a tad more nuanced than that? Fuck your overly simplistic idiocy. So done with that kind of simple-minded horse-shit.

It matters how we treat people. It matters what we accept, as a culture, with regard to how people treat each other. It matters when we frame the discussion in terms of the value of one group of lives or another, or the worth of one individual or another. It matters how we talk about – and how we prosecute – violence. Yes, when we let domestic violence crimes go unnoticed, undiscussed, and unprosecuted, we build a culture in which some children grow up thinking their anger (an emotion, nothing more) has more value than the actual lives of others. We created that scenario as a culture, as a society. We deepen it when we devalue women, people of color, and other vulnerable populations. When we foster rape culture, and suggest in our institutions and laws, that how women dress or behave is somehow righteous justification for another human being’s lack of self-control over their use of sexual behaviors, we defend violence over “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. We are at fault for the culture that exists.

Does that mean we are also accountable, individually, for the individual acts of violence of other individuals? Nope. We are each responsible for our own actions… including those actions that foster a culture of violence. So. Yeah. It’s not us vs. them. It’s not as simple as a single choice between two clear options. It’s about actually fucking being aware of the consequences of our actions, and of our institutions and laws, and we are responsible for the society we create. We built this. Stop acting fucking surprised. Fucking fix it.

Fuck, I am so angry about this. Just do better, damn. How fucking hard is that?

What are you going to do to make this a better country to live in for everyone who lives in it? (Yes, including people who are incarcerated, people who are poor, people who are undocumented – have you read some of what they are put through? Every.Damned.Day. “Inhumane” doesn’t begin to describe it, and that’s really not okay.)

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do better. Just that. Something. Each day, today too, I am going to put my will and my actions toward being a somewhat better human being than I was yesterday. And again tomorrow. Then again the day after that. I will spend a lifetime working towards being the woman I most want to be, building the world I most want to live in. Tearing down the bullshit and baggage I learned growing up, or later on, or built myself. No excuses. I can do better.

It’s time to begin again.

This morning, my pain, my tinnitus, the white noise of the furnace blowing through the vents, and the subtle anxiety in the background (as I begin “waiting around” for time to leave for yet another doctor’s appointment), are competing for my attention. My cognitive space feels very busy, but the quality of the content is poor. I sip my very excellent cup of coffee and stare forward into the void, more groggy than calm. There is no action to take in this specific moment aside from sipping coffee, and waking up.

I don’t think I did anything much last night. I’m fairly certain of it, since my recollection seems largely without content. Am I forgetting, or was it that completely uneventful? I wonder for a moment, then my attention wanders to more practical matters. I remind myself to take out the garbage. I consider whether I remembered to take my medication this morning. I notice that I am thirsty. I don’t do anything about any of those, I just sit quietly, sipping my coffee. Later, I’ll head to my appointment, then to the office, and I hope to just sort of slide comfortably into a very routine day from there… and I’d like to wake up. πŸ™‚

The mountain as a metaphor for love; always there in the background, even when I don’t see it. Endlessly beautiful when I am in its presence.

…As I wake, I write a love note to my Traveling Partner, reminiscing fondly about morning coffees together. Another time, perhaps. πŸ™‚ My brain immediately sneak attacks me from behind the calendar reminder about my appointment, and I am forced to face my mortality as tears spill down. What if the news at this appointment is… bad? I let the tears come. It would be hard to say good-bye to a life I am finally starting to learn to live truly well, to value, to appreciate, to experience fully. I’ll have to eventually though, as will we all. We don’t yet have the technology to stop mortality in its tracks. I sip my coffee, eyes stinging with tears, and a weird smile on my face. It’s not a happy one. I feel it from inside. I don’t know this smile. Bitter. Resolved. Hurting. Still standing. Still walking on. Still beginning again.

It was neither sunny nor warm, yesterday evening, but Spring doesn’t seem to care much about that.

…I’ll say this, with great conviction; if I have the opportunity, ever, to know with certainty that the end is imminent? I won’t be spending my last days, weeks, months in a fucking office.

I make a point to breathe, relax, and let that painfully poignant moment go. Emotional weather. I let the small storm pass like a spring shower. Brief and drenching, relieving in some hard to describe way, and I move on somehow refreshed. I’m certainly awake. I sip my… oh, shit. My coffee’s gone.

I can choose to embrace the dawn, or dwell in the evening light.

…It’s a good morning for a second coffee, and a second chance. It’s a good morning to begin again. I may not be able, in this one moment, to save the world… but I can save this one moment in my experience. πŸ™‚ I get up and head for my meditation cushion, on my way to a second coffee. πŸ™‚

Sometimes life reminds me that I’ll be taking time for all the lessons – not just the ones I think I most want or need to learn.

Feeling well-loved takes many forms.

One of life’s least popular lessons, for me, has been subtle and regularly reinforced; we are each having our own experience. We walk our own hard mile. We see the world from the perspective we have. We work with what we’ve got. This is not subject to argument. It is what it is.

I learned another subtle lesson, some time ago, (and thankfully learned it most coherently through video content (Rick & Morty, mostly), rather than through heart-breaking personal tragedy); sometimes our “best” actions, our most willful intention to “do the right thing” still result in unavoidable suffering elsewhere, or a negative consequence that we are nonetheless responsible for. Again, it is what it is. Understanding that it is, may be the best route to mitigating such things in a way that lessens the negative outcomes in some way. Learn from the lesson. πŸ™‚

I regularly learn (again, because, apparently, I forget?) how human I am, how fragile, how limited, how awkward, how fallible, how error prone… yep. All the things. So human. Being well-meaning? It’s not enough, far too often.

I’ve just finished the strangest weekend seminar in life’s university. lol There’s been coursework on Setting and Managing Expectations, Clear Communication of Boundaries, Building Healthy Relationships – that one was a pop quiz, and I’m pretty sure I flunked. I hope it gets graded on a curve. lol I think most of these are pretty essential life lessons (and skills), but I don’t think I’ll ever “master” any of them; there always seems to be one more opportunity to be more authentic, to speak more simply and clearly, to be more open, to be more compassionate, to show more respect, to be more considerate, to reciprocate more fully, to love more – and oh, my goodness, that one definitely matters most. Love more. Love first. Love a lot. There is so much to share with one another. We each have so much to give to the world.

…And…yes. There are mistakes to be made – because mistakes get made; we are human. We learn so much more from what went wrong than from what goes right. There are hurts that will be felt. There are needs that will go unmet. There are moments that will feel out of step. The wheel continues to turn. Speak up! Listen more. Really listen. No, seriously, shut up and really listen, mostΒ  especially if someone is saying they “don’t feel heard”. So much to learn to be skillfully human, to be beautifully, wonderfully, delightfully human, to be that human so profoundly content and emotionally well-developed that all the other humans rally around to bask in the warmth of comfort of that love… gotta have goals. I’ll keep studying. Keep practicing. Keep beginning again. πŸ™‚

 

I woke a bit early, showered, and made coffee. I caught up on Facebook, and disengaged as soon as I’d flipped through the posts of dear friends, because that’s all I was there to do. My weekend bag is packed for the weekend. I’m eager to the point of confusing excitement and anxiety, which also means – more, better, self-care, and closely managing behavior with an eye on the potential to reach that tipping point at which excitement might actually become anxiety, because that’s not a place I want to reach. πŸ™‚

Every weekend that I go home – and it does, at this point, feel very much more like home there, than here – I promise myself I’ll write while I’m there. I don’t. It’s not a lack of inspiration, it’s more a lack of will to pull myself from those moments even long enough to write about them (or about anything else). It tends to point to the greater urgency to truly care for myself, and be present in my relationships, over sharing the tale of the moment with others. I’m sort of sorry for that – and sort of not. I don’t think I’ve spent any other portion of my life this emotionally well, and I feel generally pretty okay aside from the signs and symptoms of aging, and physical pain associated with such things (and other similar such things that have lasted far longer than any sense of age). It used to be that I could mock my physical pain because it was nothing compared to the chaos and damage, nothing compared to my emotional pain. Weird to actually notice how very different my experience is now.

Still, here it is Friday. Last week I drove down after work, after an appointment. This week… I’m so eager to get the weekend started I am seriously considering the drive down tonight, in spite of Friday evening commuter traffic being a definite thing for the first 18 miles or so, and likely taking about 90 minutes to get past that mess. I just want to go. I want to be there, more than I want to be here. The yearning makes my heart ache, and makes me breathless with excitement.

I’m so human, though. I remind myself that each journey in life, across distance, also represents – in living metaphors, if we’ll have them – our metaphysical journey through life’s experiences. My last trip down and back was ferociously hair-raising, and uncomfortably so. I’ve been working on the specifics of my emotional experience as a driver on American roads in my commuting. This is no different. I consider my intention. Get there safely. Get there without wrecking my emotional experience. Get there while also following traffic rules. Driving with the average speeding of traffic, neither slowing things down by being needlessly slow, nor screwing with the flow of things generally by aggressively insisting on going faster than the average speed of traffic. Considerate. Polite. Skillful. Safe. Purposeful. Alert. Aware. Unaggressive. Not taking things personally. Mindful we are each having our own experience. Arriving at my destination still happy I made the trip and feeling something other than profound relief to have arrived alive. πŸ™‚ Gotta have goals. πŸ˜€ Committed to the journey, not the outcome. Not the time or the timing. Drive the drive, and enjoy that process first. Get there when I get there, and enjoy that then.

I’m so ready to begin again. Are you? Where will the journey take you?