Archives for category: more than a little bit of bitching

I have spent “too much” of my lifetime feeling “irritated” about one thing or another. lol This morning I woke from a restless-but-deep sleep filled with bad dreams from which I could not wake. They were not specifically “nightmares” and I was not frightened, just… irritated. Bad dreams. I woke still feeling rather unspecifically irked, just generally, at no specific thing, or moment. I feel… annoyed. No idea why. I feel aggravated in advance of any obvious cause. Fussy. Irritable. Cross. Cranky. Rather disinclined to be at all social, and facing a day ahead of me filled with people. Shit. That’s annoying. (To be fair, emotions require no defense, no justification, and take no argument; they are simply feelings. Responses. Reactions. They are what they are.)

How do I figure it’s “too much” over the course of a lifetime? lol Totally subjective; as it turns out, I really dislike these emotional experiences of being aggravated, irritated, fussy, or annoyed. Any particular amount of time spent feeling this way just feels like “too much”, however little it is. 🙂 My life. My experience. My definitions. 😉

I sip my coffee and reflect on irritation… and on pearls. Pearls are lovely. Vaguely luminous in appearance, iridescent, sleek, precious… and they begin their existence as an irritant. Literally, in some cases, a grain of sand in an oyster starts the whole process. The pearl itself? A coping mechanism. The cause? Irritation. It gets me thinking about transformations, generally. How best to turn this morning’s irritation into one of life’s pearls? No idea, just now, but I do find it a lovely promising thought. (So many are!)

This whole TBI-PTSD journey from chaos and damage to manageable wellness is very much about transforming disadvantages to advantages, chaos to order, madness to reason, and hell yes – irritants into pearls. Metaphorical pearls, in this instance, but pearls of great value nonetheless. It’s not something that happens “automatically”. As with many things, there are verbs involved, an effort of will required, and an intention that must be formed before that process even begins – and so much practice!! Omg. So much practice. Incremental change over time is a given, we become what we practice, but it is a notoriously slow process and it often feels as though nothing is changing at all. It’s easy to become frustrated with that, to give up on myself, to give up on change, to give up on eventual actual manageable sustainable emotional wellness… but… change is legitimately a thing that is going to happen, and it will be wrapped in my choices, and my practices. Over time, my irritants may become pearls. (Or, they may not. My results vary.)

It’s a nice thought over my coffee. I pause on another thought, “this too will pass”. Also totally true. This morning’s irritability is what it is – but only that, and nothing more. It’s not sustainable. Emotional weather comes and goes. The climate in this life is pretty mild, much of the time. Contentment is fairly practical, as emotional goals go, sustainable, and something that can be “crafted” from components available in a great many lives, lifetimes, and experiences. Have you had a go at contentment, yet? It’s rather lovely. It lacks many of the dizzying highs of “happiness” – there is no euphoria – it also lacks the deep lows that go with chasing happiness, too. It is more a walk through a pleasant urban green space than a through hike on an unmarked wilderness trail; it is predictably level and comfortable. I find myself smiling past my irritability as my day-to-day contentment becomes a wellspring for more of the same, and slowly my heart fills up on that softer, sweeter, more satisfying emotional content.

My dreams were pretty shitty. They begin to fade from my recollection as my irritation recedes.

It feels, generally, fairly effortless to “begin again” when I feel pretty good. Harder when I feel irritable, angry, or strange. It’s still a choice, and even still a choice entirely available to me – it’s just a bit harder to choose it. Still an option, though. Needing a cognitive reset just to get to that place presents its own challenge. This morning, I find it useful to focus on a metaphor (those pearls) and gratitude (that I’ve come so far, already). It’s super hard to remain irritated (or angry) while feeling grateful or appreciative of something. 😀 (Nice trick, Brain, thanks!) Gratitude is an extraordinary way to hit the reset button on a moment, and find a new beginning – I definitely recommend it.

…And this morning, having begun again, I feel more than usually motivated to get a couple things done before I leave for work. Useful. I finish my coffee, and check my list. 🙂

This morning I had to admit it; I’ve hit a wall. I’m stalled. I sat for almost an hour staring into the text editor of my blog, fingers – and mind – motionless. What the hell?

I scrolled through Facebook rather mindlessly. I put that aside, aggravated with myself. I tried to read the news, but I don’t actually want to fill my thoughts with that garbage, either. lol I put on music, which satisfies me and fills that cognitive void, but doesn’t “fix” anything. I update my “to do list” – rescheduling all the crap I could have done yesterday to be things I intend to do today. Then I move them to tomorrow. Omg. Seriously?

I pause everything for meditation. No timer. No agenda. Just a few moments of alone time with the woman in the mirror, breathing. Shifting gears from thinking to practicing awareness, only, is what got my attention more clearly focused on this bit of stalled progress. More awareness of the underlying fatigue, the yearning in the background, the loneliness competing with the delights of solitude, the world in fierce competition for my attention with the things that truly matter most to me, personally. It’s a puzzle. How do I snatch my attention, energy, and effort back from the agendas of the media, my employer, and the world?

…With great commitment and a lot of practice, I suppose… there are verbs involved. So many verbs. lol

I get back to my “to do list” and my coffee. I consider the one or two tasks that keep being reliably postponed, rescheduled, pushed off for another day, and wonder if I am allowing those, and my reluctance to deal with them, to derail me generally…? Or… Am I “just being lazy”? (Whose words are those, I wonder?) When I examine the tasks on my list that I’d like to finish up, I can see there isn’t even 2 hours of real work involved… I just… yeah. I just haven’t been doing those things. This is a less than ideally productive approach. lol

Tonight won’t be the time for all that, and it feels inconvenient to want to wipe that list clean now. I smile into my coffee, aware my impatience is one more way my primate brain seeks to distract me from simply doing; I can lead with my frustration and annoyance, become invested in the emotional experience and … not do anything about the things that create the experience. Uh-huh. Well… okay, so I specifically don’t want to do things quite that way, so I get up from my chair, in the middle of my writing and do one thing, and cross it off the list. I sit down smiling, and continue to sip my coffee.

Did you know that checking things off the list gives me a boost? It does. Fairly similar to the feeling of reward and satisfaction I feel when I receive a like on a post, or when I get a notification that someone has messaged me. It’s a very real chemical reward, but does require the bit of effort needed to go from seeing the item on the list, to completing it, to checking it off. I’ve noticed just checking off shit I haven’t done does not produce the same effect – although adding something to the list that wasn’t listed, but got completed, in order to simply check it off is every bit as rewarding as checking off something that has lingered on the list for ages. Do you keep a list? Have you noticed that little jolt of good feeling chemistry, and a sense of accomplishment, when you check things off that list?

Here’s where the verbs pile up, though, like rush hour traffic; I know these things about my experience, and still find myself stalled sometimes, and not doing the verbs. Very human. How to get past that? Push on. I don’t have a better answer. Do one thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Turn off the TV. Turn off YouTube. Disconnect. Do the thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Check it off the list. Did something not listed? Add it to the list. Check it off. Repeat. See something else that needs doing? Add it to the list. Do it. Check it off. Repeat. There is a path to completion – it is paved with verbs. lol These chores are not going to do themselves!

Time to begin again. 🙂 I’ve got this list, and a bit of time before work…

…I still got the invitation to join the fun under the big top. That’s sort of how OPD (Other People’s Drama) works; it’s not your own, but nonetheless, it draws you in, consumes your attention, your time, your resources… if you choose to allow that. The alternative, which is to say, choosing to avoid, or depart from, the local circus of human drama means accepting, first, that you can.

Some people cultivate drama, relish it, and insist you sample it with them.

You don’t get those minutes (hours, days, weeks… whatever) of your life spent on drama back. Ever. You likely also don’t recoup any more tangible losses, should you have been so foolhardy as to waste your literal resources on Other People’s Drama. Most often, our compelling, seemingly unavoidable (it isn’t) drama is that of family members, and friends. We may feel “invested”, or obligated to do something about for… reasons. We may think we can “help” (unlikely; drama is chosen by those who love it, and they aren’t going to relinquish all that attention any time soon).

The drama isn’t “real”…

My weekend was weird. I cherish the time I spent with my Traveling Partner. The unexpected drama swirling around an unexpected couch-surfing house guest staying with his other partner was… both unexpected, and dramatic. It was also utterly willful, built on the narrative in said house guest’s head, and entirely untethered from any obvious connection to reality. Chosen. Emotionally invested in. Shared with persistent enthusiasm. I excused myself several times to be away from it altogether. No advice I could offer will alleviate self-selected willful suffering.

…like a mushroom, what is on the surface of most drama is only the outward expression of something far more vast …

Then there was the alternate undercurrent of drama that is simply the ebb and flow of change as my Traveling Partner and his Other get settled into the new location, and adjust to nearer and farther away friendships also adjusting to those changes. Getting to know new neighbors. The welcoming of deepening associations among now-local friends. The boundary-setting and limitations on resources that must sometimes be placed on friends lacking recognition that generosity has limits, that resources are not unlimited, that circumstances change. Learning to live well in an entirely new context. It’s lovely out in the country on their acreage – it is also not city living, at all. Change is a thing. What works when one can just pop down to the big box chain at the large shopping megaplex down the street isn’t necessarily an effective strategy when the nearest neighbor is a drive away, the corner market doesn’t have all the essentials because it is only the size of a storage shed, and “town” is miles down the highway – and more of a village than a town. I’m not being critical of country living – I’m eager to retire and embrace it – it is simply quite a lot different, and requires altogether different strategies to maintain good quality of life. It definitely drove the point home to be part of the experience of shopping for more complete first aid and emergency care gear; there is no chance an ambulance could arrive to deal with a first aid emergency in less than 45 minutes or so out there, at best.

…like raindrops clinging to surfaces after a storm, tears fall, tears linger, tears eventually dry…

The drive home was… surprisingly restful. lol No traffic and no drama. My timing was excellent. I left after enjoying morning coffee with my partner. I got home in the early afternoon, with plenty of time to grocery shop (didn’t need to, didn’t bother), do some tidying up (didn’t feel like it, didn’t bother), and prepare for the week ahead (didn’t need to, already was). I spent the evening meditating, reading, and enjoying the changes in the shadows as afternoon became twilight, and then night.

…there is value in perspective, and looking beyond the storm of the moment…

I still did not wholly escape the whopping helping of OPD that I “enjoyed” over the weekend; more drama when I got home. I (rather humorously, actually) was “unfriended” by a friend – over the other friends we had mutually shared (who, apparently, he also unfriended). I noticed though (while briefly catching up with the world), and, yep, invited drama rather thoughtlessly by asking him what was up with the unfriending? So… he told me. lol Fuuuuuuuuck. Okay, okay. That one’s on me. But – we’re still friends, I think. I even think that matters, since the entire mess was a reaction to an online exchange which I was no part of, and I actually like the guy. I even enjoyed spending some minutes in conversation with him, once we’d moved on from the drama, itself.

…storms pass.

Seriously, though? What is up with all the fucking drama? I mean, I’m not really surprised. We elected drama. We gobble up drama in our feeds every damned day. We make more if we run out. It’s pretty gross, actually; we are not ready to be content, or even to enjoy a moment of quiet. I mean, as a species, or a culture. Me personally? So ready. In fact, I spend much of my time utterly without drama. It’s pleasant. I plan to do more of that. 😀 I’ve even gotten pretty good at it. (If you read my blog regularly, you are probably getting pretty good at it, too. 🙂 )

There’s more to life than drama. Seasons change.

I woke at 2:32 am, this morning, when the power here went out in the strong wind and stormy rainy night. I might have slept through it (most of my neighbors likely did), but the back up power on the aquarium beeps in a friendly but hard to ignore fashion, about every 30 seconds, until shortly before it has done all it can, at which point it beeps rather more aggressively before becoming silent. Once it was silent, I went back to sleep for an hour. The power came back on minutes after the back up power to the aquarium was exhausted (just about perfect, and I remind myself to thank my Traveling Partner, who suggested it), about an hour and a half after the power went out. I dragged myself out of bed earlier than I meant to when my phone, carelessly left on my nightstand, buzzed when morning emails and message notifications began to arrive.

What we contribute to our experience ripples outward into the experience shared with others.

A new day, a new week – hopefully no new drama. lol It’s time to begin again. 😀

I’m awake. Showered. Dressed. Sipping coffee in the usual ordinary sort of way. My day begins relatively gently, and I am eager to return to the office this morning. (I kind of have to write that sentence down, right there, to record factually that indeed I am looking forward to going to work, because I’m not sure that’s a sentence I use very often, or a feeling that is especially common over the entire course of my life, and I want to enjoy the moment.)

I am, for most values of “feeling better”, feeling better. 😀

As with any other sort of subjective state of being, it’s an individual perspective, right? I’ve still got some sinus drainage. Still have some soreness of throat. Still have the cough (which may well linger through the holidays). None of those things are what they were. The cough is seldom, and not as bad, and the sore throat and sinus drainage are also minor. I’m not overwhelmed by fatigue. I don’t have a headache. I’m not shivering while wrapped in blankets in a warm room (very not; the heat is set to “don’t let the house freeze” over night, and I’m just wearing work clothes, not even a sweater, and quite comfortable). I’m work-ready, though, and ready to work. 😀

I’m also super glad I now commute by car, even if distracted drivers keep tapping my fucking bumper at stop lights on an almost monthly basis; I’m well for most values of well, but… I’m not up to walking a mile to catch a bus on a cold morning. Not yet.

Taking care of this fragile vessel is an interesting balancing act. Long-term care means holding down a job and preparing for future retirement… short-term care may require taking time away from work to care for my health right now.

Mental health care works similarly. There is a balance between long-term wellness and urgent care needs to find. There is a balance between addressing issues that are destroying personal perspective and quality of life, and those that degrade relationships with others. A friend struggling with a loved one’s seeming lack of “acceptable” progress, which she feels is required to feel safe in the relationship, doesn’t seem to understand that being in therapy, for the mentally ill loved one, isn’t about that. It’s about saving their own actual life, their experience of living, their quality of life and ability to live and thrive – on their own terms – and achieve mental and emotional wellness – for themselves. I mean, sure. I know when I went into treatment, and this is every time, ever, I definitely wanted to preserve and heal the relationships my condition had affected…but… not at the expense of succeeding to become well, myself. Mental health therapy is for the person seeking treatment – and it’s not about “fixing” that person according to any criteria or standard aside from that determined by the treatment seeking mentally ill person and their therapist. Period. End of stakeholder meeting. Fuck right off if you think you get to insert yourself and your pet concerns into that process to exert influence over a treatment plan intended to achieve reasonable emotional wellness because you have an outcome in mind. Fuck right off indeed – and then go get your own god-damned therapist and take care of your own god-damned needs. lol Seriously, people. “My partner is in therapy” does not equate to “my partner is rebuilding themselves per my specifications”. Just stop and hey, maybe actually support the general emotional wellness of your partner, yourself, and your relationship by being kind, compassionate, listening deeply, and accepting that you, yourself, have your own baggage – and may need your own help. Your partner can not be your therapist, and their therapy is not about you.

Sorry. That’s a bit of a rant there. I’ve just been through it in too many partnerships. The “concerned” questions that mask a hidden agenda. The probing about what is going on in therapy. The lack of willingness to actually participate or seek help, while pushing the full weight of all the issues of a relationship onto the mentally unwell partner because they are unwell, rather than be accountable for some portion of the dynamic. The clear drive to push an agenda into therapy content. The disapproval of selected therapist or treatment modality because it doesn’t meet the needs of the person not even seeking help in the first place. The indirect arguments with a therapist who’s not even in the room if those pesky probing questions are met with openness and trust, but the answers are uncomfortable. Fuck all that. Everyone has their own baggage, and very few people in relationships are “crazy alone” – the crazy becomes shared over time. If you are in therapy, yourself, it’s about you. That’s okay. It’s supposed to be. If your loved one is in therapy, be supportive without being invasive; it’s not about you. It just isn’t. Just fucking chill. (I know, I know, you feel out of control because you can’t control what your partner reveals to the therapist – maybe it is the “wrong” stuff, or not enough, or not “what matters”… and you still don’t get to call the shots, and it still isn’t about you, and you still need to go find something else to do with your time and let your partner handle their business.)

I breathe. I relax. Memories. Wow. I still carry around some pain and some anger about an ex who worked very hard to “guide” my treatment in therapy, with some degree of success, to my detriment – over time I ended up becoming progressively much worse. I’m glad I am out of that relationship. Turned out that mattered a great deal and was an important positive change. Turns out it is still enough to ruffle my feathers when watching friends go through it from an outsider’s perspective. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of damned work. People seek therapy because they are hurting. Therapy itself is sometimes a process of feeling all the hurts until the hurts are processed and in perspective – that just doesn’t even sound pleasant, and it isn’t at all. It’s a process, and the tedium and strain and quantities of change and upheaval are not eased by attempting to interfere, that’s really what I’m saying. 🙂 (And, just to keep it real, I’m still working on plenty of my own issues – remember that whole “living alone” thing? Yeah. Therapy turns out to be muuuuch easier in that context. Much.)

It’s a new day. A good one for all manner of new beginnings, and starting things. Where will you take it? Will you use your human super powers for good or evil? Will you be listening deeply, or waiting for your turn to talk? Will you make taking care of yourself well and with great skill and compassion a high priority? Will you take one step to change the world for the better, yourself? Take a look around. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

It’s been an unpleasant few days being sick with the flu. Leaving early from work Friday was a turning point; I’d gotten much sicker than I realized was likely, and it was time to recognize that and just go home, go to bed, and take care of myself. Last night, although I woke up to pee a couple times during the night, it was well past 2 am before I was up having a hot cup of tea to ease my sore throat, and congestion. I turned things over in my head carefully; I’d actually “slept through midnight” for the first time in 11 days. I considered my current symptoms with care. Would I go in to the office today?

My thoughts were interrupted by a breath-stealing, chest-wracking, gut-wrenching coughing fit – but I was finally actually coughing up the garbage that had settled in my lungs. There was real relief when the fit of coughing was finally over. A feeling of actual improvement. Another turning point. Clearly, I also wasn’t quite ready to return to the office, because a single fit of coughing so violent it takes a grown women to her knees with the force of it, and can’t easily be “kept quiet” in an office environment in which everyone is quietly on the phone, is not a good fit. So, one more work from home day, but… as this stand from my perspective this morning… I’m ready to get back to work tomorrow. 😀 That’s even a pleasant thought.

I was up for a little while sipping tea in the wee hours. It definitely does ease some of the discomfort of my flu symptoms, so why wouldn’t I? Sleep? lol As if. It was the discomfort of my symptoms that woke me. Tea for the win! I went back to bed after some little while, and whether I slept deeply, dreaming that I was awake, until I woke (one possibility) or lay quietly, wakefully, as time passed (another definite possibility), I woke still feeling that clear sense of “getting better” in a more obvious way. I’m soooooo happy to be finally feeling like I am actually recovering. Being sick sucks.

I did work yesterday – from home. It was an okay day, I think I’ve “let it go” largely because I don’t want to deal with it. I did have to make the drive to work early in the morning to retrieve my laptop (I was too sick Friday to think to bring it, even though I knew there was a chance I’d want to work from home on Monday.) and on the return trip I got rear-ended – again – while stopped at a signal light. I was pretty fucking aggravated by that.

This one makes 3 times I’ve been rear-ended at a stop since I started driving the car to and from work. Wtf?? I keep checking my tail lights and break lights as if it just must be that my lights are out… or… something? Nope. Distracted drivers. This one didn’t hit me hard, and immediately through their car into reverse, abruptly pulled a u-turn, and tore off in the opposite direction. I didn’t even have time to do more than watch in my rear view mirror as they did. (So pissed. Seriously? Put down that fucking phone.) Aside from that bit of adventure, though, the day seemed fairly routine aside from being Halloween, which didn’t affect me much working from home. I was unusually moody, overly emotional, prone to negative thinking and self-criticism verging on self-loathing, which was also an unpleasant context for my work experience. When it ended, I puttered around taking care of myself, and crashed out fairly early, but at an almost normal time of evening, and managed to avoid taking my own moody bullshit personally; I’ve been sick, that’s all.  🙂

So here it is… time to begin again. 😀