Archives for category: more than a little bit of bitching

How am I still so fragile? After all this time? Tears come and go. At this point, after days of it, I’m not even sure why. Post-menopause, it “shouldn’t be” hormones… but… I keep fucking about trying to “fix shit” with my body as I age, so… I don’t know. Anything I take to remedy some ailment or condition has potential to fuck with my body’s systems and my emotional balance, so… yeah. I just know the world is too much for me. Just… all of it.

…I keep finding myself weeping and in real emotional pain… but why, for fucks’ sake, why??

…I mean… I guess it’s enough that the world is this messy strange violent circus of nightmares, with an ever-increasing body count. That, by itself, is worth weeping over. I just can’t sustain doing all the fucking crying, by myself. It would make more sense to stop the killing, wouldn’t it? I drink more of this bottle of water sitting next to me. Tears = drink more water. A lot more.

…I have the strange slightly hilarious thought that maybe the water drinking itself is causing the tears somehow. That’s ridiculous, it’s just a passing notion.

My sleep is chronically disturbed and restless, this isn’t new, it’s just… yeah… chronic.

Ping…ping…ping…ping… work pings on my consciousness. My Traveling Partner pings me eager to iron out details for this or that, or share something cool. Ping. Scam calls. Ping. Another email. Ping. An announcement in a Slack thread at work. Ping. A walk-up co-work colleague with a question. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Everyone, everything, seems to want a piece of my attention, or a moment of my time. I feel overwhelmed, but it’s all quite ordinary. There’s nothing to see here.

A long time ago, in another life, a 14 year old me, feeling something similar, packed a small bag, and lacking any notable experience of the world, just sort of … walked away from her home, her family, and her life, headed… nowhere. Away. I didn’t have a plan exactly… I was “going to Florida”. Why? A rock star I was crushing on lived there, and… I don’t know. I thought I needed a destination? I was fortunate; I survived the adventure to return home to commonplace misery. I survived to see adulthood, to go on to survive domestic violence, military service, warfare, trauma… you know, life. I’m almost 60 now. Still holding on.

…Shit… is this about that? I don’t feel any obvious angst over turning 60, specifically, it’s more… the issues hang on right along with me. How much further does this journey go? How many more verbs are there? G’damn it – when can I relax and just fucking be?? I’m so tired…

Why do I feel so trapped?… Why does this all feel so fucking pointless??

…I’ve got tools. I’ve got verbs. Choices. This isn’t “hopeless”… just hard.

…I’ve just got to begin again. Again.

Fuck, being a human primate can be ridiculously complicated and fraught with misunderstanding, conflict, distraction, and absolutely pointless emotional garbage, sometimes. Just saying, I am not enjoying my Sunday experience, today. I seem to be endlessly at odds with my Traveling Partner, which completely sucks (and not in any of the good ways). I am in pain, which is more suckage layered on top of other suckage, and the end result? Unusual. (Maybe that’s progress?)

I am sitting in the “food court” seating of my local grocery store, thinking thoughts, drinking an electrolyte beverage, and… writing. Using my cell phone instead of my computer at home. My Traveling Partner is trying to get some rest after our unpleasant moment(s) (which were peculiarly interspersed with a couple very nice meals, and some fun hang out time). I can’t seem to find a really good way to create (or maintain) a reliably quiet environment for him to nap, typically. So, yeah, I got the fuck out of the house, without really having a plan… but I did have a couple errands and a short grocery list.

I ran out of errands and shopping in about an hour. That’s shit for nap-worthy time, so I figured I’d just sit down somewhere and write. I don’t have to be at home to put words to page, so… yeah. Tick a self-care box, however awkwardly.

That’s sort of where shit went wrong this morning… My Traveling Partner was feeling restless and wanting to go for a drive – we’d had so much fun doing that yesterday! He invited me to go for another drive. I get it. It did sound fun, and we did have a great time yesterday… only… there were (and are) other things I very much wanted to do today, and I said so. Somehow it managed to become an unpleasant interaction; the more I tried to “explain” with some sort of reason not to go, the more annoyed he got. I felt like I was being criticized for wanting to do things other than “whatever he wants to do”. I don’t think that’s how he intended it (or how it actually was), any more than I was intending to reject him as a person (though it sure seemed at some points that he was taking it that way).

Most troubling for me is that I came away from the discussion feeling perhaps I am “too much to handle”, or that I have no legitimate potential to be a better partner (than I am)… or a partner at all…

He went for a drive, by himself. I had a couple hours to myself. When he returned home things were strained and frosty for a while. I made lunch. We ate. Things seemed to be improving… It’s rarely that easy, eh? So… here I am. Writing a blog post at the grocery store. lol New experience. I wonder what I can learn from this?

Yesterday, though? Amazing. Entirely different experience. What an incredibly lovely day together. We went for a drive out towards one of the interesting camping destinations we had discussed (but which my partner couldn’t reach due to snow just a few days ago). We figured most of the snow would be gone after a few days of heat. (Foreshadowing; we were wrong!)

It was a gorgeous day to go for a drive. A great day to share an adventure with this human being I love so deeply! As we headed further into the forest, we saw a couple unexpected camouflage-wearing guys, just walking down the road… no gear. My partner slowed down and we stopped to ask if they were okay? Nope. They were stuck in a snow bank up the road, and had been walking down the mountain hoping to catch a cell signal. (Good luck with that, there!) My partner offered to give them a ride back to their truck and pull them out, if we could. We could. We did. It was amazing to feel so prepared! Being able to give fellow travelers a hand feels great. It was even fun.

I am impressed and proud of my Traveling Partner and his skill and general readiness. I am super excited to get out there with him again, more, and further. Nothing about today’s stress changes yesterday’s joy, delight, and wonder. I make time to reflect on that and cherish him from afar.

It’s hard to get “everything” “right all the time”, and however much I may feel like this is what is required or expected of me, it’s not a reasonable expectation. What is reasonable is that I will make room to listen, make a point of hearing my partner, communicating that he is heard, continuing to do my best, and keep practicing.

I know my results will vary. I know frustration and disappointment suck. Still, my best effort has to be enough (for me), even when it also “isn’t enough” (for someone else). Intent matters. Will matters. Sometimes I am going to fail. That’s just real. When I do? I will begin again.

It’s a lovely sunny (hot) weekend. I’ve spent some time in the garden. Spent some time making shower fizzies. Spent some time on the trail. My Traveling Partner has spent some time traveling. He’s spent some time unpacking the truck, now that he’s home. His adventures were not ideally successful, camping-wise, it’s just too early (this year) for some of the location he (we) wants to go to. We learned a lot about better ways to pack the gear, and other things we’d like to add to that. We (meaning, in this case, he) learned a lot about what the truck can do out beyond the paved roads, too. Worthwhile.

He sent me pictures along the way. (credit to my partner for this image)

I got some solitary time. I also feel incredibly loved; I can’t even fully wrap my head around my partner’s willingness to just keep hitting the road to give me some space, once he understood how badly I needed that time to myself. I am so very loved.

There are sights to see on a small scale, in the garden.

The garden is looking good. I finished the spring and early summer planting by adding a couple tomato plants – a yellow cherry tomato, and an heirloom San Marzano plum tomato variety. I tried to ensure that everything I planted in the veggie bed met two basic criteria: we actually eat those particular vegetables, and the varieties can be expected to do well in my location. lol Flavor, novelty, and experimentation were not my first concerns; I want success this year. I want to harvest veggies and take them straight into the kitchen to add to a salad, a side dish, or a stir fry. I want lush green greens, and good harvests. Everything can be relied upon to taste fresher than the store, just because it’s growing right here, and allowed to ripen before picking, no need to strive to achieve better flavor beyond that, really, it’ll be fine. : D

The lupines are blooming out on the trail.

So… a pleasant weekend. Enough. More than enough. Good…


Fuck I am in so much pain. :-\ It sucks. My neck aches, and my occipital neuralgia has flared up. My back aches with arthritis, in spite of the sunshine and the heat. It seems unfair. On top of that, this morning on my walk, I got buzzed by an aggressive jay (I probably strayed to close to a nest, maybe), and without thinking, planted my right foot, and twisted “out of the way”. The twinge of pain in my right leg, outer thigh up high toward my hip, shot through me and immediately impaired my ability to walk (at all). I was (and remain) incredibly grateful I already had my cane with me, but I could have done without the additional pain (and injury). I hobbled carefully back up the trail, and headed home.

My Traveling Partner is in pain, too. He’s been working pretty hard for more than a few days. The pain makes him cross and easily irritated. I suppose I am, too. He makes a point to grief me about mulch left on the sidewalk, assuming that was a byproduct of my gardening instead of the remnants left behind after I cleaned up most of it after cats or racoons made a mess of things last night. I point out the error, and he accepts the correction graciously, but walks away while I’m still talking, and without apologizing for the irritated accusation. It’s that kind of day, I suppose. Pain shrinks our world, and pulls our focus inward, while filtering everything through our negative state of mind. Very human. I don’t make any kind of point about it, instead I just return to my writing, letting the moment go. It’s not personal, it’s just pain.

…Don’t get me started about the allergies. The cottonwood trees are blooming, and I am apparently allergic to those. LOL Fuuuuuuck. Summer’s coming. 🙂

There’s more to do. It’s time to begin again… slowly… while also managing this pain. lol (It’s still a lovely weekend and I am in good company.)

I’m sipping a cup of tea and thinking about life. In general, things are good. My anxiety has flared up, though, and it often feels as though “dial is turned up to 11“. My PTSD is reliably aggravated by my anxiety… and my anxiety is aggravated when my PTSD flares up… and around and around I go. My finger tips are torn and my cuticles are ragged from gnawing at them mindlessly. My Traveling Partner notes my overall stress level and suggests various things to help me “relax” – I reliably reply that I am relaxed – I’m not.

My self-care is going to shit quickly… there’s definitely a “mind-body” connection to be considered, too. As my anxiety worsens, I sleep more poorly. As my quality of sleep degrades, my pain becomes harder to manage. As my physical condition worsens over time, my emotional resilience is undermined, and I become more volatile, more easily provoked to anger, and struggle more and more to maintain a rational perspective on circumstances and events. It’s an emotionally painful and demoralizing process.

…I’ve “been here” before. I have tools now that I lacked years ago. I know to address the source(s) of my stress, and to meditate regularly, and practice non-attachment. I have learned over time that my reaction-in-the-moment, at the best of times, is likely to be less helpful that a well-considered, responsive approach, that is nuanced and thorough. I know that I am prone to “catastrophizing” and that this can become a real problem very quickly, robbing me of perspective, and a sense of sufficiency. I quickly “lose my joy”.

So, I am sipping this cup of tea and thinking about practices, and next steps, and how best to take care of myself under the current circumstances. It’s not “easy”, but that’s often the case with stressful situations. I’m fortunate to have a supportive partner, and good quality of life; at least I’m not having to also worry about those details!

I had talked things over with my therapist at my most recent appointment. He made some follow-up suggestions – almost a “homework” assignment, in practical terms. It was just 4 things he wanted me to consider doing. I’ve done two of those, so far. Feels pretty good.

I sigh. I am thinking about how often it seems that when a person expresses a deep interest in a topic, or shares some detail that gives them great joy, there’s often someone lurking in their social network who seems eager to pull the rug out from under them. Weird, eh? Don’t do that. Treat people as people. Treat them with kindness (you don’t know what they are going through). Appreciate that you can’t possibly know life and the world (or the decision-making of others) from the perspective of someone else – even if they choose to share that perspective with you. We’re each having our own experience. Do what you can not to fuck things up for someone else, eh? If we each did just that, the world would be far more pleasant for many more people.

This weekend my Traveling Partner when for a long drive together. We talked about life, and future other camping and cool drives we’d like to take together out in the wildernesses of America. It was lovely. Time well-spent. It’s not enough, however pleasant, to remove all my challenges from my experience of self. I’ve got the issues I’ve got. I’m learning to manage them more skillfully – and sometimes that means “change”.

It’s time to breathe. Exhale. Relax. And begin again.

It’s an okay morning. Saturday. Good cup of coffee. Had a pleasant frosty-morning walk through bare wintry vineyards as the sun rose, this morning. Returned home once my Traveling Partner pinged me that he was awake and starting his day. Could be that was a mistake (in timing)… I rushed home rather eagerly, to enjoy the day with my partner, and I may have been working from expectations and assumptions that were a poor fit to the reality of the morning.

I got home and he was just making his first cup of coffee, immersed in the emotional experience of being angry about the condition in which parts had arrived, and the likelihood that the parts he had ordered are not in any way actually usable for the order he is working on. His anger over the situation seems reasonable. He shares his feelings. He shows me the parts. His anger is evident, and he is actively working through it. (The way out is through…and…we become what we practice. Hold that thought.)

…I have difficulties with anger, particularly the expressed anger of male human beings with whom I am in a relationship (it feels uniquely terrifying and threatening even when only expressed verbally), and it makes it sometimes very difficult to endure the experience of being in proximity to that visceral emotional experience in the moment… It could be that this alone makes me potentially unsuitable for long-term partnership. I find myself thinking about that today. Today, my partner explicitly challenged my overall value as his partner due to my “lack of ability to be emotionally supportive”.

My sense of things is that I listened with consideration, compassion, and care for some length of time while he vented his feelings (my watch suggests about 40 minutes, but I don’t think that matters as much as that he didn’t feel supported). Maybe I don’t really understand what my partner needs from me when he’s angry about something? Listening doesn’t seem to be it. Even listening deeply and offering support, or asking how I can be helpful (if I can at all), doesn’t seem to meet the need. Commiserating with his position doesn’t seem to meet the need, and often seems to prolong the intensity of the emotional storm. Attempting to “be helpful” or offer any “troubleshooting” perspective is usually unwelcome (and most of the time I don’t have the specific expertise to offer that in the first place). It’s often been my experience that eventually, however supportive I am seeking to be, one common outcome is that at some point, the anger that is “not about me”… becomes about me. Terrifying, even in a relationship where there has never been any violence. The anger feels threatening. This is a byproduct of violence-related trauma in prior relationships. Decades later, I’m still struggling with this. It seems unfair to my current (or future) partner(s).

When a person with PTSD embarks on making a relationship with another human being who also has PTSD (or similar concerns), there are some additional complications that sometimes make living well and harmoniously together more than a little difficult to do successfully – and it’s less than ideally easy, no matter how much we may love each other. Sometimes love is not enough. Maybe that seems obvious? It probably should be obvious. I sit with that thought for a few minutes, uncertain what it is really telling me. Maybe nothing new. I mean… I know, right? It’s hard sometimes. (“This too will pass.”)

…Resilience is a measure of our ability to “bounce back” from stress…

Using meditation and mindfulness practices is one means of building improved resilience. Resilience lets me “bounce back” from stress more easily, and allows for greater “ease” in dealing with stress in the moment. Resilience supports improved intimacy. Resilience along with non-attachment is a good means of learning not to take things personally. Resilience makes some practices produce better results – “listening deeply” can be incredibly difficult and emotionally draining without resilience, for example. Resilience is like a glass of water, though; once the glass is emptied, no amounting of drinking from it will result in slaking thirst. I’ve got to refill the glass. (It’s a wise practice to keep it “topped off”, too; that’s where self-care comes in.)

G’damn, I really need some time away to invest in my own wellness and resilience. Quiet time taking care of the woman in the mirror for a few days, without any other agenda or competing workload. My resilience is depleted. Even “doing my best” is not enough right now – I feel comfortable acknowledging that. Can’t efficiently move forward from one place to another if I don’t recognize where I am right now – and start there. In this particular instance, it is less about physical fatigue than emotional and cognitive fatigue. I’m “brain tired”. I’ve been lax about my meditation practice, and it’s clear how much that does matter. I’ve taken on too much, and can’t seem to dig out in order to get to the practices and experiences that support my wellness; I’m scrambling just to get “all the other shit” done, that seems to have been given a higher priority than my emotional wellness or mental health. I can’t blame anyone else; it’s called “self-care” for a reason. I’ve been giving 100% of what I have to offer to work, to the household, to my partner, and not leaving much “left over” to take care of myself.

I find myself wondering if I would do well to leave for the coast a day earlier. It would probably be good for me. Probably not good for my partner who has been missing me, and potentially feeling un-cared for and lacking an adequate portion of my undivided attention and emotional support. I’ve only got the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else has – and figuring out how to parcel that out is sometimes difficult. I could do better. Seems like everyone needs a piece of me… and the only person who seems ready to yield what they feel is their “due” is… me. Fuck. That’s how I get into this quagmire of cognitive fatigue and emotional fragility in the first place, though. Taking care of myself really needs to be a non-negotiable – at work, at home, and in life, generally. I could do better.

…When I take better care of myself, not only is there “more in my glass” to share with others, the glass even gets bigger and holds still more… and I know this

We become what we practice. When I practice calm, I become calmer. When I practice good self-care, I become cared-for, resilient, and confident in my worth. When I practice deep listening, I become a better listener more able to “be there” for others. Understanding this is important. It is true of unpleasant emotions, too. If I “practice” losing my shit in a time of stress, I become more prone to being volatile. If I “practice” anger by way of confrontation, venting, or tantrums, I become an angrier person less able to manage that intense emotion appropriately. True for all of us; we become what we practice. How do I become the woman – the person – I most want to be? Sounds like I need to practice being her …and when I fall short? I need to begin again.

I finish my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin planning the packing and tasks needed to prepare for my trip to the coast. I remind myself to take time to meditate, to check my blood pressure, to stay on time with my medications. It’s a lot to keep track of some days, but the pay off is worth it; I feel better, enjoy my life more, and I am more able to be there for my partner when he needs me. I’ve just got to do the verbs.

Time to begin again. Again. It’s slow going, sometimes, but I do become what I practice.