Archives for category: more than a little bit of bitching

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.

I slept poorly last night. I managed one good nap, and spent the remainder of the night restlessly drifting in and out of a half-waking, half-dreaming state. Most of the dreams were unpleasant. I woke and started the day. My Traveling Partner woke me, unaware I hadn’t slept well, or deeply, or enough. I couldn’t fall asleep again, and even later, when I could have napped, I felt “sleep-averse” and unwilling to do so. I did try…

…Later, I walked the forested trails at Airport Park. The pictures I took seem more real than my recollection of the hike, which is a tiny bit sad; I had the park entirely to myself today, and it was even a quiet day at the nearby airfield. I heard nothing but birdsong and breezes. I saw woodpeckers, and robins. I spotted chipmunks darting away in the underbrush, and bunnies bounding across the path ahead. I listened to the creek chuckle at my fatigue as I crossed the bridge with great care. It’s slippery from the rain and the generally slickness of the various molds and mosses and whatnot that make the bridge so treacherous in winter, nothing unusual in that. The humor would only be in seeing the silly human lose her careful balance.

Watch your step… or at least pay attention.

…Losing my balance came later in the day, while attempting to bake biscuits. LOL Thankfully, with good human, and the patience of a loving partner, it was only a moment. The moment passes. It was brief.

…I’m so tired. I’m not good for much this evening. It’s too early to go to bed, and as tired as I am I don’t feel “sleepy”, yet. I’ll find something else to do. A video game, maybe? Read? Plan the garden? I can at least begin again. 🙂

Perspective can make so much difference in how I experience the moment.

Snow is falling. I don’t mind that; it’s pretty, and I’m comfortable at home. What I do mind are these tears. Oh, and the headache. The tinnitus. The crossness and fatigue that come of sleeping poorly. I mind all those things. “I’m doing my best.” It’s not “enough”.

I’ve lost my sense of enthusiasm even for something as innocent and delightful as a snowy winter afternoon.

I’ve lost my balance, and my way, and I’m as a hapless motorist in a blinding snow storm – drifting, then… stuck.

I’ve lost my perspective.

I’ve lost my sense of humor about all the maddening bullshit that has to do with caring for this meat suit until it finally rots around me.

…I’m just tired…

My Traveling Partner is annoyed with me. I’m not communicating well. I’m terse without realizing it. Apparently. I’m making a completely fucked up mess of the day in all but one respect; work. I’ve got this work in front of me. For now it keeps me anchored and aware that in some future moment maybe things won’t feel so utterly completely shit… I mean… “this too shall pass”… ? Right? I just need to stay focused on this spreadsheet for another couple hours…

…It’s surprisingly difficult to hold on to non-attachment when I need it most…

I’m angry with myself and disappointed. I don’t tell myself I’ve set the bar too high; I’ll myself that I’m fraud and a failure and a clown because I am not right now 100% of every inch of the woman I most want to be… in spite of this headache, and this fatigue, and this absolutely entirely fallible mortal and very human experience. It’s a moment. It’s not a great moment. It’s not a delightful moment. It’s not a moment I’m going to want to carry with me for a life time of recollection… but it’s part of my experience of being this particular human being. It has to be enough – and it has to be just another moment, one more step, one mile on a much longer journey. If I let it swamp me and become “everything”… yeah, then I definitely lose my way. 😦 Been there, too.

I take a breath. I let the tears fall. I watch the snow flakes coming down. I let the minutes pass without requiring anything more of them – or me.

The snow continues to fall. It’s beautiful. It’s cold out there. I stare past my monitor to the window and into the sky. That sky isn’t so blue right now. Weather versus climate. The pain in my neck is distracting in an unpleasant way…but it reminds me to turn my attention back to the work in front of me. Whatever. It’s something.

…Sometimes “something” has to be enough to hold onto. That’s okay. There will be a chance to begin again.

Today is already more than a little “off”. I’m sitting in my studio with tears in my eyes, feeling super aggravated, and faced with a clear loss of perspective and sense of humor. I feel ragged, and angry, and potentially exceedingly easy to piss off. I did not sleep well.

…Yesterday, early in the afternoon, I allowed myself the luxury of a 3rd cup of coffee – a half a cup, really, but I did so knowing afternoon coffees have the potential to disrupt my sleep. That coffee did get me through the rest of the work day, which was helpful. I commented to my Traveling Partner with a laugh that if it disrupted my sleep he could say “I told you so”, because we both know it is a concern for me. This morning… he did, and I struggled to accept that probably good-natured teasing graciously… partly because I’m tired and stupid and cross this morning, and partly because, subjectively, I don’t think that’s what disrupted my sleep, actually, because the experience felt very much like a specific other thing (that is also a known concern) was responsible for my lack of restful sleep. I wasn’t ready for the humor in things, at all. Now I’m cross with myself, fatigued and frustrated by it, and also having the experience of managing to have “set my partner up for failure” by encouraging him to approach me in a way that was frankly amusing in the moment I said it, but the timing resulting in doing so when I am not so easily able to appreciate the moment. Fucking hell.

Today? Already sucking. My partner is definitely trying his best to get things back to a positive and merry place. I try to cooperate with that heartfelt intention. Yesterday was hard. Hard on both of us. This morning, my subjective experience of self is fraught with the funhouse mirror effects of being very tired. It makes the work day a fucking pestilence on my consciousness, and I’d honestly just like to go back to bed, and maybe not see or interact with any human beings at all for … a few days. I’m feeling sort of “over” people in this present moment. It’s an experience fraught with misleading illusions and distortions of reality, and I don’t trust myself to manage my emotions skillfully, or maintain a comfortable, rational, balanced perspective moment-to-moment. Why would I just straight up admit that? Because that’s how I get from here to somewhere better. 🙂

…This too shall pass. Generally, change is a constant I can count on, and this is just one moment. I mean… as moments go, it’s a fairly shit moment, for many values of “shit” and “moment”, but… considered through another lens… I’m employed, my wages cover our expenses, we’ve got indoor plumbing, potable drinking water, and a hot tub on the deck. My kitchen appliances match. The floors are comfortable under my feet. The house is a comfortable temperature, and the gas fireplace is a pleasant way to take off the chill on a cold morning. Small things matter. My desk is comfortable to work at. I’ve got a solid day of good work time ahead of me. Noodles for lunch are easy, tasty, and available. I’ve got another cup of coffee to look forward to. So… my “shit” day? Luxury for someone who doesn’t have such fortunate circumstances. It’s humbling.

I sip the cold last sips of my (fairly dreadful) cup of coffee feeling very aware of the juxtaposition of privilege and being in a crappy mood. I make a point to be real with myself. I remind myself (again) to be patient with the woman in the mirror – it may be that no one else will. I remind myself (again) to speak gently, to be kind, to be patient, and to “make room” for other experiences, and other people (well, at least one other person). My Traveling Partner steps into the room to share something with me. We converse pleasantly. He makes a cheerful joke that completely goes over my head. I am too fatigued for smart jokes or quick wit. lol It’s fine, though, and we both seem “calibrated” to the needs of the day, now…

…Still… this day is more than ideally challenging…

Do I need more coffee? Or do I just need to begin again?