Archives for category: loneliness

I didn’t sit down to write until nearly 9:30 am, after a leisurely shower, and close to 12 hours of sleep. Rare for me. (I didn’t sleep continuously through the night; I woke up twice to pee. lol) When I woke, I was unsure of the day, and considered just going back to bed…

…but, there’s an entire day, and a long weekend, ahead of me to enjoy this brief solitary time, a few days with the house to myself, and a lot of quiet (some of it quite lonely). So, I stayed up, showered, put on clean clothes, and finally started hot water for coffee. Oh, hey, I hear the click of the electric kettle just now… be right back!

A ‘coffee flower’ – each as unique as any other flower. I enjoy their brief existence, blossoming as I make my coffee, gone in an instant.

The heat comes on just as I return with my coffee. The 72 degrees that felt so chilly at the end of the evening, last night, feels almost stifling this morning. I turn the temperature down to 60; I won’t yearn for the comfort and warmth of a warmer room until later in the day. Hell… how much of the day will I even spend right here? It’s a chilly autumn morning, fiercely windy, and it might be nice to get a decently long walk in today. The thought puts a smile on my face at the same time that a tear streaks down my cheek. I think of my Granny, and walks we took together on autumn days. South Mountain, Pennsylvania… Cambridge, Maryland… Grants Pass, Oregon… thoughts and places roll past like a slide show. The tears fall softly. Honest tears of sorrow or regret, tears of heartfelt loss, these don’t trouble me at all, they are only more love than my heart can contain – and no one to share it with (right now). I’m okay. She was a splendid strong woman of great character, flawed, human, and of tremendous heart, and I miss her in this autumn moment, considering a walk that, once upon a time, we could have taken together. 🙂

I sip my coffee, comforted by the ordinary routine. I listen to the traffic beyond the studio window. Last night I felt very motivated to paint through the weekend. Just now, though? I am filled with eagerness to tidy up, to create order from chaos, to check off tasks from my list, and to do those things while keeping half an eye on the autumn leaves falling to the deck beyond the glass door, watching for squirrels. It’s that time again; the colder weather, the autumn breezes, I’ll begin putting nuts out for the squirrels and chipmunks, and suet for the birds. 🙂

My thoughts drift to my Traveling Partner and his adventures, and I hope he is doing well. I’m eager to see him when he returns home. I miss him greatly.

I had also definitely missed this solitude, and I had failed hard at the self-care skills needed to ensure I managed to get the quiet time I routinely need, or to seek, or create, the stillness I need to maintain my most chill and contented self. I smile, and forgive myself for my obvious limitations. lol I will continue to practice. Keep working at it. Keep learning and growing. Keep speaking up when the need becomes too great. Keep communicating my needs in an open, honest, and gentle way. All the things. There’s a lot. If I try to write down all the tiny very fine details of “how to” care for oneself very skillfully, from the perspective of what I understand, myself, it would be such a long detailed list that it would almost certainly appear ludicrous to even contemplate! In practice, though, it’s just practice. Do a thing. It worked? Repeat that. It worked again? Pretty reliable. Try it a few times more. Still working? Awesome; now practice until it is quite natural, almost effortless, and it has become part of “who you are”. 🙂 Add another thing. Repeat the process. Simple enough. Stop doing what doesn’t support your emotional well-being and general good health and contentment. (That’s surprisingly a bit harder, and may take more practice.)

I sit sipping my coffee, barefooted, in my studio, with four lovely relaxed days ahead, suitable for my leisure needs. I have not decided what, specifically, to do with them (besides sleeping, showering, and sipping coffee – those I guess I can count on). I listen to the traffic, loud beyond the window. There are dishes to do. Things to put away. A container garden on the deck to “winterize”. There is this heart full of paintings with which to shout what I don’t have the words to whisper. I am hovering in that place of indecision, without urgency. There are no “wrong answers”, only an opportunity to begin again. 🙂

The possible (likely) impeachment of the US President? I don’t care right now, at all. Local weather? I’m indifferent; it’s meaningless. Work? Connectivity? Housekeeping? The appointment I have scheduled later? Nothing matters beyond one small (huge) thing; I’m sitting alone, heart aching, while my partner is elsewhere, also alone (an assumption), and probably having a less than ideal experience, too.

…I’m not even sure what went wrong, exactly. We started down the path of a conversation… we converse daily, often, and manage both deep conversations, and light-hearted banter (and lots of things in between) quite effortlessly, most of the time. Was I pre-disposed towards frustration, after spending a morning frustrated by technical difficulties, on a rare day working from home? Was he having his experience from within a context that had him potentially predisposed toward difficulties, himself? Is this even “about” either of us, at all? We are each having our own experience – this much is reliably true. I feel, at the moment, sort of bitter, rather heartsick, fighting off tears I don’t want to deal with, and feeling that I am a failure as a partner because – how can I not manage something so fucking basic as a conversation??

In all respects it was a lovely morning to start with. I sit staring disinterestedly into this 3rd cup of coffee, trying to hold onto the morning’s delights. Elusive. Those moments feel as if they were only a dream, now. I am acutely aware I have a “routine” check up with my therapist coming in a couple weeks, and I find myself struggling with a feeling of shame over maybe really needing that time, even after so long, and so much progress. It flares up as resentment and anger, then recedes as a sort of sad gray shadow over my experience, and a hint of despair and futility. “Doesn’t it ever stop…?” My demons attack where I am weakest, that’s a given, and I’m unsurprised by the bleak feeling of doubt, the sense of loss, of abandonment, the feeling of hurt and unworthiness. Damn, this is shitty.

…I hope he’s okay (he’s probably feeling shitty, too).

I look into my coffee mug again, as if I were even going to drink it. I put the cup back down. I also don’t care about this cup of coffee – not compared to how much I care that I am enduring this moment, or that he is enduring his… or that we ended up in this place, in the first place. This coffee doesn’t even smell good. I made it the same as always. No interest in drinking it now. It just sits. Same as me. Just sitting here, mired in this mess. I tried the “walk away and calm down” approach to handling miscommunication and frustration… it does not seem to have provided any useful benefit. I mean… I suppose it’s better than waiting around poking a hornets’ nest until one or the other of us seriously lose our temper. I can’t stand raised voices. Instead… oh sure, it’s fucking quiet, but… I am isolated with my despair… my most dangerous personal foe. “Misery loves company”? Nah. I don’t buy that. Misery doesn’t love a fucking thing, it’s grim, stoic – a loiterer who takes everything pleasant and destroys it without hesitation.

…I even know the steps to take to not be here… and can’t raise the motivation to do a thing about it… like giving up. The futility becomes a quiet waterfall of hot tears. A lifetime of frustration and learned helplessness clench my jaws. My back aches with the weight of it. This? This right here is another very human experience. (“It’s just a moment”, I hear my internal reminder on autopilot, “this will pass. It’s just weather, not climate.” I can’t hear it; it feels very distant and irrelevant.)

Too fucking human. So… what’s to be done about it, then? Yeah, um… I don’t know right now. I’m too busy feeling hurt and filled with chaos and damage. Let me get done with all that, then I’ll move on to doing something else… probably sort myself out at some point… maybe even begin again.

I woke to the alarm, switched it off, and lay quietly for some time, eyes open, lingering in that place between waking from a deep slumber, and truly being “awake”. It feels luxurious to be so deeply well-rested. Savoring that moment of unfolding realization that, indeed, I am “well-rested” this morning was so worth the time (and risk of falling back to sleep). 🙂 The hotel in-room drip coffee tastes delicious this morning; it is flavored with contentment, and a sense of satisfaction. No idea why this particular morning feels so good, but I’m not going to argue with it.

LA dawn, poolside breakfast.

…I’m looking forward to breakfast. It was a very good start to my day, yesterday…

Considering the stress involved in my arrival, on Tuesday evening, this has been a remarkably pleasant and productive trip so far. My time feels well-spent. I feel valued and appreciated by colleagues. I’m getting things done that I’d felt were needful, and that feels very satisfying.

LA, itself, is a strange place to find myself. lol It has a polished weirdness and vaguely persistent feeling of artifice that is hard to “see through”. Yesterday morning, I watched a woman twirling on her balcony… which seemed even more peculiar when it became clear it was part of her morning workout. On my way to work, I walked past a tv show being made, which only heightened the sense of artifice that seems to permeate this area of the city. Maybe it isn’t this way everywhere in LA? Even the homeless people, at least in this particular neighborhood, seem to take their lives to the level of “craft”; their pitches are fairly similar to the approach a carnie might take, trying to bring passers-by to their schtick, before packing up and moving on to the next city. It rises to the level of performance art… definitely weird. People in the office discussed the latest “cleanse”, and seemed to be fairly serious about it. I managed not to smirk at anyone over these details; people choose the lives they live, and it’s not really for me to choose for anyone else. My teal-blue-aqua hair got more stares in LA than it ever does in Portland, which struck me as seriously humorous. However seriously silly LA sometimes strikes me, Portland is also fairly weird, and we’ve all got more in common with each other than we often care to notice. LA is, most assuredly, more… tan. lol

By the end of the day, I was surprisingly exhausted. Grand plans of walking to the marina or catching the sunset on the beach, or hanging out with local friends, or doing, really, anything at all not work-related, quickly gave way to a newly ambitious plan; having an adequate, healthy, meal, and going to bed. LOL 🙂 LA… you win. I can’t keep up. 😉

I got back to the room, put the phone on the charger and lay down “for a minute”, which became a couple hours. I got up, grabbed a bite of dinner, and returned to the room, feet aching. I took the time I needed for self-care: time in the hotel gym, a shower, meditation. I felt rested, at ease, and comfortable with myself. I thought about the contrast with my Las Vegas trip, a couple years ago, for a work conference. The self-care really matters. I exchanged a few words with my Traveling Partner – who is at home, while I travel – and read awhile, before sleep caught up with me, for real. It was a lovely day, overall. 🙂

…Here it is, time to begin again. Half an hour before breakfast will be served in the hotel restaurant. Another hour before I head to the office for another work day. I give thought to the plan for the day, and work ahead of me. I check the calendar and remind myself what day of the week it actually is (Thursday, as it happens). I contemplate making the world a better place, and what that really means – and requires. I think about narrowing that down to the work pieces, and how best to craft, nurture, and maintain a truly exceptional (and good) place to work. I sip my coffee. The day, so far, is off to a good start.

My thoughts touch on love and loving, and suddenly I feel a deep yearning ache, and I’m swamped by a moment of loneliness – I miss my partner. The words form in my thoughts, and bring tears to my eyes unexpectedly. I take deep, even, breaths, and soothe myself; it’s a short time away, really, and I’ll be home tomorrow evening. I finish my coffee, and dry my tears; it’s already time to begin again. 🙂

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor, if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… 😉

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. 🙂 It’s already time to begin again. 🙂

This cup of hot coffee tastes well-made, and satisfying. An early hour for it. I woke this morning, ahead of the alarm clock, alone. The morning unfolds quietly, gently, without any fuss. It could be any morning. How does it feel so very different, simply lacking the (sleeping) companionship of my Traveling Partner? The subtle shift in my awareness accounts for that, I suppose; I am not dedicating a portion of my awareness to continuously maintaining consideration for another human being, asleep in another room. I sip my coffee, contentedly. No loneliness this morning, just quiet.

He departed yesterday, some time after I left for work. We’d had our morning coffee together, quietly, contentedly. There wasn’t much to talk about; the planning had been skillfully done, the car was packed, the day was ordinary in most other regards. We sat together, waking slowly, gathering our thoughts, forming our intentions, sipping our coffee. I enjoyed the moment a great deal, and it became a happy platform upon which the day ahead would be built. After an ordinary enough work day, I returned home. All so very beautifully mundane, so easy to overlook the tremendous warmth and affection that infused it, like the strawberries in the infused water in the office – subtle and mild, and quite lovely.

Work was work. Summer flowers are blooming everywhere. The day passed quickly.

…I’ve no idea how any of that was so tiring, really, nonetheless; I had little energy or interest in doing things after work. I got home, more thirsty than hungry, and after quenching my thirst with many glasses of water, and enjoying a few minutes of conversation with my Traveling Partner, (once he arrived at his destination, for the night, moments after I got home, myself) I went to bed. I don’t think it was even 7:30 pm, yet. lol I didn’t “read awhile”, or meditate, or toss and turn; I was sound asleep within some few brief minutes after laying down. My sleep was deep and satisfying. I woke gently – to the sound of a chat notification on my phone, of all things (had I really left the ringer turned up??). When I checked my phone, there was no message, no notification, no sound – and the ringer was off, phone set to Do Not Disturb, for the hours between 11pm and 6am. lol I dreamt the sound. Just time for a new day, I guess.

It feels luxurious to get up, turn on a light without concern about waking someone else, and move through the details of my morning routine unconcerned by clumsiness, or someone else’s needs, just focusing on starting my day well, and caring for myself. I make a point to savor the things about living alone that I enjoy so much; there will be ample time to “appreciate” the things about being alone that are less pleasant, and I will make room for them in my heart, too, and hopefully grow from those experiences, and learn more, better ways to love and to share space. I sip my coffee, and consider the differences between living alone, and living with someone. I take a moment to fully appreciate having a partnership that so skillfully supports my need for solitary time. My Traveling Partner “gets me”, and I feel very loved.

…I take a moment to appreciate the way we “choose” this partnership, every day.

Sometimes our path is illuminated. Sometimes we walk our mile in darkness.

….Mmm… This is a very good cup of coffee. I find myself hoping my partner’s morning cup of coffee is similarly good, and smile at the first hints of day break showing through my studio window. So far, a pleasant morning. 🙂

There’s little truly shareworthy content in this quiet morning, beyond the quiet itself, and that’s only worth sharing if I consider it in the context of yearning for quiet and not finding it, or lacking any conviction that the quiet is worth experiencing, or… well, it’s all very subjective, I guess I’m saying, and not exciting, or the sort of thing that great adventure builds from. I’m just here, now. It is morning. I am content. By itself, quite worthwhile, and exceedingly achievable, with some verbs, and open communication, expectation-setting, self-care, and a well-chosen partnership. Nothing about that is “easy” or without effort. All of it is within reach, based on choices, generally. Real life happens. That’s a thing. I remind myself to be grateful for these easy-feeling moments, and to savor this quiet morning; life can be chaotic. Struggle is real. The wheel turns. This, too, shall pass.

…My coffee nearly finished off, I notice I’ve let myself become distracted by thoughts of work, already. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let that go – it creeps back, anyway. I sigh, and laugh out loud, disturbing the stillness. I check the time, and decide to get an early start on the day; this moment is as good as any to begin again. 🙂