Archives for category: loneliness

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. 🙂

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.