Archives for category: more than a little bit of bitching

This morning I woke to the sound of distant music. I couldn’t place the source. I turned over once or twice, thinking perhaps I might go back to sleep, once I wasn’t hearing it. It was faint. Ambient. Vaguely familiar. I finally sat up, wondering if my Traveling Partner was awake, quietly watching TV or something. There was a hint of light, under the bedroom door, so… maybe?

Well…shit. Now I’m awake. LOL

I got up, and made my way down the hallway in the morning darkness. No lights were on, there was only a hint of light from the front stoop, illuminating my studio through open blinds, which gave some small amount of light and the hint of an appearance (from within the dark of the bedroom) that a light could be on. (No lights were on.) I stood in the darkness, puzzled. The house was quiet. There was no music. I had stopped hearing it, as soon as I opened the bedroom door onto the utterly ordinary darkness of the house in the wee hours. Strange. I turned my head, and thought I heard something, again, like music… I shrugged off the inconsequential mystery and started to get ready for a new day.

I started making coffee, and it was then, while the grinder was running, that I heard the music again. It’s not music. Now I’ve sorted it out. Between my tinnitus, and the sounds of the fridge, and the aquarium, when the heat kicked on, too, I heard it; a hint of an impression of the sound of distant music. Frequencies of noise, blending strangely, and becoming vaguely musical. lol Damn it. That woke me? Wild. I sip my coffee, breathe, relax, and let that go. It’s not really relevant to anything else, at all. 🙂

I dress myself every day. I’m not bragging, most people do. I’m just saying, usually I feel pretty comfortable and satisfied with those choices. Easy enough. Today, weirdly, I just… don’t. LOL I’m not sure what I wanted out of wearing clothes today, but somehow… this isn’t it. LOL I’m feeling my years. I’m feeling my weight. I’m feeling aggravated by the sensations of fabric and constriction and confinement and… wtf? Oh. Hang on.  I breathe and let that go, too. I notice that my tinnitus is pretty loud today, just generally, and allow the awareness to become more real, as I listen to it. Okay, so, a quiet noise woke me, and my clothes “feel weird”. I give myself some self-care and attention. I listen to the woman in the mirror beefing about the weird of the day, and wonder how much is symptomatic of one issue or another. TBI or spinal injury… I guess I can take my pick, or admit that acknowledging the potential is enough to initiate heightened attention to my physical wellness and self-care needs today, and let that be enough.

A few minutes of meditation. More coffee. Neck pain. A headache. More self-care. Appropriate medication. A glass of water. The day, oddly, is beginning pretty well, in spite of whatever bullshit and weirdness is going on with my nervous system today. I’m content to enjoy the parts I can, and nurture the parts that need care, and just let the rest go. It’s enough.

One last swallow of coffee. One more quick scan of this moment, and this space, right here; do I have what I need for the day ahead? I guess it’s time to begin again. 🙂

…And… Last night was nothing like a good night’s sleep, at all. No kidding. I “woke up” groggy, too, to the infernal ceaseless beeping of my alarm clock. I snarled a silent “good morning” at that thing, and with a single swat to silence it, I got up, and got started on a new day.

…So tired. So groggy. At least it is a Friday. That’s something. 🙂

My coffee tastes good this morning, luxurious with a splash of half-n-half in it. That’s also something. 🙂

One thing at a time, I begin to assemble a morning, that can become a day. I am starting with the things that are enough. Sufficiency is a more comfortable place that striving, grasping, and reaching ever farther for something more. Having, being, or doing “enough” is, quite literally, enough. lol

I continue to sip my coffee, half-amusing myself (and half quite seriously) by considering whether program management software (like Jira) would be a good choice to manage projects at home… lol It’s just that there is so much to do in life, and I’m constantly forgetting in one moment a project or consideration that seems “more important” long-term… and wouldn’t it be easier for two people to plan together when the planning is right there, where it can be easily reviewed? I don’t know… this coffee, right here, seems far more practical in this moment.

I glance at the time. How is it already time to head to work? I yawn. Finish my coffee… and begin again. 🙂

I’m feeling frustration and despair, this morning (yep, still morning, and not even 4 hours into my day). I’m struggling to pull myself out of the emotional muck, and find perspective. I’m working through the tedious effort involved “letting shit go” and “moving on”. I’m forcing myself through practices that both my intellect and my experience tell me definitely work, but I’m also having to fight a frustrating, pervasive feeling of resistance to the effort, and futility about the likely outcome. This moment right here is hard. Not what I had planned or expected for this first day of the new year. :-\ Fuck 2020. I mean, so far…

PTSD is an absolute motherfucker of a mental health condition. No need to exaggerate, or attempt to persuade; if you’ve been there, you know. If you love someone who has PTSD, you know. Flare ups, episodes, freak outs, flash backs, cognitive distortions, and the frustration, despair, depression, guilt, sorrow, grief, or anger that follow any of those, aren’t as predictable as they might seem they would be, and come at us unexpectedly – in spite of the fairly lasting certainty that we’ll experience them again. Trust me, it’s not a pleasant sort of “surprise”.

I’m having a rough New Year’s Day. Well. Sort of. Right now, I mean. Actually, only about an hour of it was unpleasant. Confusing, surreal, and scary – also good descriptions. Now I’m just… sorting myself out and trying to find my way.

Are you having a rough New Year’s Day, too? Have you handled your self-care skillfully? Are you in a (physically) safe place? Have you taken time to breathe, maybe even meditate? Can you convince yourself to take a step back from the problematic moment? Can you take that a step further and reflect on impermanence (“this too shall pass”), and non-attachment (letting it go)? Can you put your spun up consciousness on pause long enough to reflect on the small things for which you can feel grateful (yes, even right now)? (Anger and gratitude don’t easily exist side-by-side in the same moment.) Do you have a useful distraction at hand (a healthy one), like completing a task that requires some focus, or simply reading a book? (Or writing… see? Here I am, and it does work pretty well, for me, generally; your results may vary.)

…When “things blow over” (assuming you didn’t wreck someone’s property, or injure someone, or do or say something with lasting serious consequences), at a minimum, you’re probably going to have to deliver real apologies to people affected by your PTSD (yeah, I know, it fucking blows, because you already know you most likely won’t receive the same in return, however hurt you feel by the circumstances; it’s not a fully equitable, reciprocal world, and human primates can be dicks – you’ve got to let that go, too, in favor of simply being the person you, yourself, most want to be, because there is real healing in that). An apology is a relatively small thing, isn’t it? Just deal with it, graciously, compassionately, and accept that your “issues” really do affect other people, in some ways every bit as much as your PTSD affects you directly, only… their experience is the only one they can actually feel. Your experience of being disordered, broken, wounded…? They only understand any of that in the abstract, and yes, even if they also have their own PTSD issues to deal with. We have a limited capacity to truly understand each other, however commonplace our experiences may be. We are each having our own experience. For people hurt by a loved one’s PTSD, those sincerely intended, genuine, unreserved and unconditional apologies for the damage done really do matter. Say you’re sorry so you can move the fuck on.

“Stop catastrophizing” may be some of the least useful “advice” ever offered from one human being to another. Just saying – it’s a lot like suggesting that someone should calm down, when they are upset. Well-intended, often potentially correct, inasmuch as it would be helpful (and wise) to do so, but… who can hear the words and then act on them with fond appreciation for the concern? Like… no one, ever. LOL Not how that works. Still… if you can, it’s worth taking the steps needed to shift gears from catastrophe and despair to something, anything at all, less bleak. Small steps are fine. Incremental change over time may be all we can rely on in such moments. While you’re at it… breathe.

One of the nuisances of PTSD is how long it can take to “bounce back”, emotionally (the chemistry of emotion is tricky shit). I’ve been less than consistent with my meditation practice over the past year, and it shows; my resilience is less reliable, less deep, less durable, and I feel it today – it may take me hours (instead of minutes) to recover a positive sense of self, and move on with my day open to any outcome other than this bullshit right here, now. I feel sapped, and vulnerable. I take another drink of this water (self-care 101; if you’ve been crying, you need to drink more water), and remind myself that my “episodes” were once much more severe, lasted a great deal longer, did real damage, and the recovery period was measured in days and weeks, not hours, or minutes.

Progress made is not lost just because one moment goes sideways – it just feels that way. Expect that to be a thing, and be willing to give yourself a fucking break. This shit is hard.

Every word of this today is for me, now. I write, and read it back, paragraph by paragraph, as I go. I am reminding myself, practice by practice, of what it takes to maintain emotional wellness, and attempting to make good on that promise to myself. The feeling of internal resistance has dissipated, which is progress.

In the background, I hear my Traveling Partner slaying monsters of one variety or another; video games are another excellent “escape strategy” when a peaceful morning explodes in emotional chaos. He’s got his own hard mile to walk, and I don’t doubt being my partner makes that all much more complicated. I listen to the measured cadence of his game-play, and find it calming. I pause my writing long enough for a self-inventory of where I’m at right now. I still feel sort of muted and a bit blue, and may be prone to being easily hurt (emotionally) for some hours to come. I put that aside, reminding myself not to take shit personally. My head aches. The ringing in my ears almost deafens me if I turn my attention to it. I feel wrung out. Fatigued. Emotionally bruised. Having a bite of lunch helped. Drinking some water helped, too. The lingering feeling of personal failure and disappointment is a bummer, but, and this is true; it’ll pass.

Hell of a start to a brand new year. I expected better of the day – and of myself. It’s not “too late”, though. I can hit the reset button, any time I choose… right? I consider how best to make use of the moment; there is growth and momentum in mastering the chaos and healing the damage (more than any pleasant easy moment can offer). It’s definitely time to begin again… again.

I woke drenched in sweat when the alarm went off. I’d already committed to working from home today, so I reset it and went back to sleep for another hour. I woke 30 minutes later, still drenched in sweat, but waking at a more comfortable point in my sleep cycle was nice. I’ve been down with a nasty head cold that first made its presence known late on Friday, with a hint of a tickle in my throat after an entire day of being generally cross about stuff without cause. I didn’t think bringing it back into the office (where I likely picked it up, let’s be real) would be considerate, particularly immediately before Thanksgiving. So. I’m home. Still fairly sick, but I think I’m up for working… mostly.

I pause to appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to work from home when I choose to do so.

Then I also pause to wonder what I’ll really be good for today, and to appreciate that it is a Monday, a day (on my calendar) that is short on meetings, and generally filled with updating workbooks,  slide decks, and preparing notes for meetings that occur tomorrow and on Wednesday. I think I’ve got this. 🙂

…I haven’t started yet. LOL I’m still thinking about it. Sipping my coffee, and making the day as normal and ordinary as I can. This? This is my “commute”. 🙂 Although, I may take out the trash before I actually start working, to feel the cold morning air, and really differentiate the work part of the day, from the non-work part of the day.

This cup of coffee is terrible. Is it me? Is it the coffee? Seems unlikely to be the coffee beans, themselves; they were excellent when I had coffee Friday morning. (Yesterday it was just pretty tasteless.) That means that 1. something wasn’t quite right with the preparation or 2. my sense of taste is altered by being ill, or by the symptom relieving remedies I’m taking to address that. Either way; something’s a bit “off”. My results, even with coffee-making, definitely vary.

My Traveling Partner has been sweet and considerate while I’m sick. I am pretty sure he’s sick too, although not nearly as severely taken by this particular head-cold. He’s worried aloud once or twice that perhaps I have the flu? Fucking hell, I hope not. 😦 He’s encouragingly tried once or twice to suggest in a hopeful tone that perhaps it’s just allergies? Not likely; I don’t have allergies on this order of magnitude, ever, really. I’m not particularly allergic to pollen, and those sorts of things, and can happily inhale deeply the scent of newly mown grass, and bury my face in flowers. (Aside from some “late in life” developments with food sensitivities, and bee stings, I’m largely allergy-free.) I kind of wish it were allergies… I could go into the office in good conscience, and tell myself this “drenched in sweat aching all over” feeling is… a coincidence. lol

The last two days has been fitful restless sleep (hard to sleep deeply when I can’t breathe), naps, drinking tea, water, chicken broth, and sitting around bitching about being stuck sitting around. Once or twice I’ve dragged myself out of the house on some errand that seemed important enough to warrant the effort. I’ve regretted each one by the time I returned home. I didn’t write, because my head was aching and full of snot, and I just didn’t have anything much to say that wasn’t 100% pure bitching about being ill, like a fussy child. So… yeah. I think you’ll get enough of that, here, this morning. 😉

My attention to my surroundings is much improved today. I even feel mostly up to working a bit, in spite of every movement making me cough, and the house feeling like we’re trying to roast chestnuts using the furnace. lol If nothing else, I know I can begin again, and I know “this too shall pass”. My results may vary… but I get results. 😉

 

One thing I routinely find myself struggling with (and I use the word “struggling” very specifically, aware that there is definitely a better way, and other practices), and struggling rather unsuccessfully, is getting enough “cognitive space” and cognitive rest to really be rested, and really get what I need out of my own mental bandwidth. It’s hard. All day, when I’m at work, continuous input, stimulation, and other human voices. Then, at home, my only opportunities to connect and be close with my partner have to come out of whatever time is also left for me to care for myself, to take care of hearth and home, and finally, if I’ve left myself anything at all – time to simply be. To reflect, and to meditate. I too often find myself either left without adequate clarity of thought; distracted from my own by the world, or those dear to me, or commonplace noise… and distracted from those distractions by my own persistent attempts to read what interests me, or sit with my thoughts, or plan, or consider the future… and, those attempts are distracted by all the things that preceded them… and around and around, until I am dizzy and short-tempered, and unable to form correct sentences, or really understand what I’m hearing…

…It is 100% a crappy experience, and deeply fatiguing. People end up becoming impatient with me, and by that point, I already can’t adequately explain myself, through my frustration, and theirs.

I’m not particularly skilled at dealing with this. There are no pleasant ways to say “not now, I need to be there for me, myself, right now, and this is too much” without somehow communicating rejection. It’s hard to tell someone I care about, who is super excited about what is going on in their experience, that I need to also enjoy my own, for me, and that I’m running out of room to do that, somehow. It’s boundary-setting I need to do for myself… and I’m honestly fairly terrible at it, generally not wanting to be “a buzzkill” or seem disinterested… I do my best, whatever that is, in the moment, and it often feels inadequate; everyone wants to be heard. I even know this. I just don’t know how to definitely be fully present and 100% engaged with someone else, when I also need to ensure I am doing the same for me.

I’m sitting here frustrated and angry with myself. I’m still a bit ill, which isn’t helping. I isolated myself rather than continue to piss off someone who matters to me so much, but… I seem unable to put the time to any better use than this; bitching about my frustration that I am so challenged by this particular puzzle. How do I both be fully present for everyone else, all the time, and also do so for myself? How does this work? When is “my time” for me? And I’m not asking that rhetorically to drive an emotional point, or express resentment – this is a sincere and gently intended question – when is that time?

I haven’t been sleeping deeply for quite a long time. Even when my sleep tracker tells me I am getting enough hours of sleep, very little of it is deep sleep, almost none of it is continuous. I am mostly getting interrupted light sleep. How do I treat myself better? Would I be having the same frustrations in ordinary interactions with other people, if I were sleeping better? What does that take? Why am I having these challenges?

I know it isn’t helping that I’ve been taking OTC symptom relievers for this cold. I foolishly let my partner talk me into taking Sudafed yesterday, too. Experience tells me that some of my experience right now, emotionally, is likely an unwelcome after-effect of yesterday’s cold medications. Why isn’t it easier to hold that thought in my real-time consciousness when I am interacting with other people?

More questions than answers tonight. I feel the tears that want so much to fall. I refuse to accommodate them out of self-directed pique, maybe a bit of personal spite with myself. I hear my partner put on music he knows is “everything to me”… I find myself wondering what he means by it, and whether he understands this music the way I do. Probably not; we’re each having our own experience. How human. Still… I assume positive intent. I know he loves me. If nothing else, it’s a gesture, a hand extended across a divide. A moment of shared experience. A chance to begin again, together.