Archives for category: Love

I am sitting quietly at the end of my work day, listening to rain falling into the trees and onto the pavement of an untraveled roadway. The sun is streaming through the window of my studio. These things exist because they can. The rain is falling on video, a pleasant enough way to drown out background noise during the work day, but now, at the end of the work day, it’s not necessary. I turn it off, and take off my headphones. Still a sunny afternoon beyond the window. Lovely hints of spring all along the boughs of the pear trees on the other side of the fence. It’s quiet here. I am actually entirely alone for this moment; my Traveling Partner has made a rare trip out of the house during this pandemic, and with great care. He needs the social time with a friend (who is not me) and I need the solitude every bit as much. It works out well.

…I breathe… exhale… sip my water… relax…

The heat comes on for a few minutes. It reminds me that beyond this window and these walls it is still (what passes for) winter here. I smile and listen to the quiet, feeling it sink into me, filling me up with softness and peace. I let my mind wander, and bring it back to my breath. I breathe awhile, then wander the house on soft feet, feeling the sensation of being in this place, wrapped in silence and solitude, and everywhere I look reminded of love.

…I breathe… exhale… have another swallow of cold refreshing fizzy water… I relax as this moment becomes the next…

…How satisfying and comfortable is solitude? I smile, and my mind veers off that path and onto another. The work day is ended… the sun is shining… maybe a walk? A soak in the hot tub? Quiet time with a good book?

…What a lovely gift this solitude is… and a choice moment to begin again. 🙂

An emotional storm of unexpected magnitude blew in from deep within the darkest recesses of lingering chaos and damage. Maybe it’s my “fault” – it nearly always feels like it must be. I am, after all, the broken one in many interactions. It is, at least, how I often see myself. It feels, in such moments, as if “it” (meaning my experience of self in the context of my own life) is inescapable. An ugly tantrum. Hurt feelings all around. Yelling. My explosion of emotion. My tears. My apologies.

…This shit again??…

I can’t seem to hold on to the slippery recollection of how rare this really is these days, post-menopause. I’m reluctant to point to “hormones” as a root cause (can’t I do better than be a slave to biology?), but in acknowledging a recent rare use of HRT, I find myself wondering.

It’s frustrating. Small issues blow up and become seemingly larger than life. A moment of frustration develops into a cesspool of futility and despair. I end up weighed down by baggage I thought I’d set down a long time ago. Fucking hell.

Breathe

Another coffee. Another moment. A break to stand in what remains of the morning’s sunshine, watching the storm on the horizon approach as if to mock me. Nah… It’s not that bad. I’m okay right now. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership with someone who loves me even beyond moments of tears or madness. It’s fucking hard, though. Having to apologize, again, while sweeping up shards of emotion, and mopping up tears… it’s not on my list of favorite experiences. I could do without it. I don’t mean the act of apology or experience of remorse and contrition – I mean having put myself in a position that earnestly requires it. That sucks. It’s very human. I still don’t like it.

My Traveling Partner doesn’t bullshit me when he’s angry, or hurt, or cross. We’re pretty real with each other. We find our way to a more comfortable place, emotionally, pretty quickly. He understands the trauma history, and the lasting damage. He has his own. We’re in this together, more than many people understand to be. It’s enough, generally, and fairly often it’s far more than enough. Doesn’t make a difficult moment less difficult in the moment, sometimes, although we do both try.

My tears dry. The ringing in my ears left over from my … whatever that shit was… will likely last the day. I mean, the tinnitus is always there, it’s just a bit worse right now. That’ll pass. So will this gray fog of ennui and anhedonia. I remind myself not to confuse these states as having any sort of permanence, and to allow them to pass as if clouds on the horizon. I remind myself they are only the chemical aftermath of strong emotions, and not to be taken personally.

…We begin again.

It’s afternoon. Near the end of the work day. I decide to take my break here, writing and reflecting. It’s been a busy few days since my last bit of writing. Busy with winter weather, and winter power outages. Busy with a bit of leisure, a long weekend that most definitely turned out quite differently than planned (see “winter weather” and “power outages” in the previous sentence). It was still a very enjoyable weekend…

Winter view of an icy dawn through the kitchen window.

…There was this one thing, though…

“Are you breathing?” It’s not an unusual question for my Traveling Partner to ask me, with varying levels of aggravation, frustration, or concern. I get frustrated by it, myself – although most of my frustration has had to do with interrupted flow, interrupted reading, interrupted thoughts, interrupted concentration, all interrupted by what felt like a fairly silly question. “Am I breathing? Well… for fucks’ sake, how am I not??” I would think it to myself, before “checking in with myself” to determine whether, for some reason, I might actually be “holding my breath”. I mean, seriously though, why would I be holding my breath?? BUT… and it’s legit… my Traveling Partner cares about me, loves me, and wants me to thrive, so… why would he be making shit up and just randomly interrupting my every leisure moment with such a silly sounding question?

…Tl;dr? He wouldn’t.

…Frustrating for both of us…

Monday I found myself crying over this well-intended, concerned, loving question. “Are you breathing?” I’d fucking had it with that question. Why does it keep coming up?? I cried and cried, all of my frustration with this one question spilling over as tears, and – possibly for the first time – I let myself actually think about the question. I got angry with it. I fought it in my head. I denied it with reasonable arguments, alone in the twilight of a quiet dimly lit room (I was at that point on the edge of a stress-migraine), but I was actually fully considering the question, and what could be driving it.

…I caught myself “holding my breath” while I sat there thinking and crying, too, more than once… Well… shit… so… this is thing?

My partner checked on me a couple times, offering hugs and sympathy, and assurances of his love and abiding affection. He maintained a non-judgmental approach, and gave me room to have my experience without taking it personally. He “let me cry” – and I needed that. See… this “breathing thing” sources with some very old trauma. Very very old. Ancient pain. Unresolved heartache and chaos and damage, from a lifetime ago. Well, damn… I guess, as my partner pointed out to me encouragingly later on, I may just be, finally and at long last, in a place in life where I can actually tackle some things that were too big for me at any earlier point. Squelched and squashed down for so long… erupting unexpectedly in a fury of tears and sadness, like a timer going off.

Later he shares an interesting article with me that seems potentially relevant, about some people experiencing “email apnea“. Reading it gave me a framework to understand the physical behavior of “not breathing” and how that may be affecting my experience moment-to-moment if it is any sort of common concern. A way to understand the observed phenomenon without mistreating myself, and giving me a way to put it into the context of my TBI, or my PTSD, or both. Well… I like science, and I like empirical evidence much more than opinion… so… I took advantage of the technology at hand to begin taking a measurement of my blood oxygen if my partner expressed concern that I wasn’t breathing… I’ll admit, hoping very much to “prove this wrong”. It only took a few such measurements to have to acknowledge that he is noticing something that could be a legitimate concern. I can’t take “real” personally. Instead, I put practices in place to get better at noticing if I am holding my breath (without requiring someone else to point it out), and also to breath more fully without having to actually stop every-damned-thing and actually meditate.

I know to expect incremental change over time to be slow. I know my results may vary. I know I need practice. That’s okay, too; new need? New practice. Hilariously… kinda the same old practice in a fairly basic way. Breathe. Seriously? (I hear myself laugh out loud. Okay… at least I’m still laughing.)

…By the end of the day, we’d had a lovely day together, one of the most pleasant days I can recall in a while… just… really comfortable, connected, pleasant, romantic, tender, wholesome, and just… fun. Good bit of positive reinforcement there. I smile thinking about the day. Today I keep practicing, and find myself recalling scenes from Demon Slayer (season 1), in which the hero, Tanjiro, is learning “Total Concentration Breathing”. I smile and feel considerably less insecure, or sad, or diminished, or frustrated, or put out, or inconvenienced, or… yeah, I’m not feeling anything but love, and gratitude; I have a partner who cares – literally – that I am able to breathe. That’s pretty amazing.

I smile. I check my blood oxygen monitor. 99%. Nice. I pause for a moment to breathe mindfully… and begin again.

Choosing change can bring such tremendous calm. Choices made become contemplation of next steps, a plan develops, new choices, other actions, and with care and consideration, momentum toward a chosen change begins to build. Plans begin to become outcomes. Through all of it, chaos is managed through practices chosen for their proven success at managing chaos. Meditation. Good self-care. Self-compassion. Non-attachment.

I’m walking my own path. I am my own cartographer.

Sure, I already know my results will vary. I understand that the map is not the world. I embrace the new beginnings life offers. I continue to practice, and work toward becoming the woman I most want to be. So far, it’s enough; incremental change over time seems to be something I can count on.

For now, I’m sipping my coffee contentedly. I’ve chosen change, and made a plan, and each step forward takes me a step further down my path. Where does it lead? I don’t really know that; the future, at least how I am able to experience it, is not yet written. There are changes that occur around me, some chosen by others, some simply turns of circumstance, and perhaps those will become the sorts of things that change something in my own experience, too. Change is.

I stare out at a gray wintry sky. It hints at rain. There is snow in the forecast. It’s a gray rather uneventful day. I think about baking coffee cake to snack on later. I smile recalling my Traveling Partner’s request for specific flavors, winter spices. Vanilla glaze on that, I think, sipping my coffee. It’s a lovely partnership to share, and I take a moment for gratitude as he walks away after standing close, rubbing my shoulders as I write. Hot coffee, cold day, and the warmth of being loved… nice moment.

“This too shall pass”, my brain rather grimly reminds me. I laugh back, because, sure, yeah, that’s true… but I have memories of love and partnership for a lifetime, and an enduring relationship to enjoy now, whatever the future may hold. That’s enough. More than enough. It’s honestly pretty splendid compared to a lot of the options in the vastness of human experience, right? 🙂

I look at the time. My break is over, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday was rough. I’m glad it’s over. I mean… for most values of unpleasant experiences, it was not any sort of record-breaker. Snowy day during a pandemic, stuck in the house committed to a work day, fatigued and irritable from not sleeping well… there were so many things that could have gone much more seriously wrong than two people who love each other having a tough time communicating easily, and feeling frustrated, hurt, and cross with each other. Life is capable of delivering far worse upon a human being.

…It did snow… It was lovely.

It started rather suddenly, big fat flakes that splashed, at first, melting and cooling everything.
It wasn’t long before the forest beyond the deck rail was wintry, snow clinging everywhere – so much of the stuff than my Traveling Partner took down the overhead shades to prevent the weight of the snow from snapping off the poles that support them.
It was only a couple of hours of snowfall, and today, much of it is already gone.

I admit, I was in such a snit it was a real effort to really enjoy the snow at all, as much as I wanted to. My delight collided with my fatigue and irritability, and I just frankly did not find my way to a notably better experience. Clearly, my results vary. I need more practice.

I consider yesterday. I consider today. Certainly, the start of a new day helps a lot. I’m literally not the same person I was yesterday, in the sense that I am 1. an entire day older, 2. a whole day’s worth of experience more actually experienced and operating with more knowledge, 3. benefiting from an entire night of good sleep, and 4. fortunate to have a partnership with a growth mindset, real love, and mutual recognition and respect for each other. It’s just not always a lovely afternoon walk holding hands, is all. There are things that I know I can do better – for myself, and for my relationships. That’s just real. Today I focus on lessons learned, and new practices – and reinforcing the ones that work well to support this strange journey. Love is worth that.

So. Another beginning. Another step along this journey. I smile when I start to type something commonplace about “staying on the path”… I think about recent trail walks at Airport Park, and wonder what it looked like there, yesterday, in all that snow… “Maybe next time,” I tell myself.

Busy day of work. Personal growth ongoing in the background. (I call it “multi-tasking”. lol) Breathe, exhale, relax… and begin again.