Archives for category: pain

This headache I woke with is no joke. Ouch. Too real. I woke later than usual; sleeping in is one of my favorite “day off” experiences, and I’d taken today off. I woke gently, bumbled around haplessly a bit, made some coffee… felt a bit “off” somehow, but didn’t clearly identify the headache as the cause for some minutes. I wasn’t quite awake enough, yet.

…I definitely “get it” now. :-\

I sip my coffee, and plan my day. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Feels good. I’m thinking I’ll spend the day tidying up the studio to be more work-ready (for painting – it’s plenty ready for working). Later, a delivery of livestock for my aquarium will arrive (lots more delivery options than there used to be; no one wants to shut their business down, no one wants people in the shops), and I’ll spend the afternoon getting them settled in, and enjoying them. 😀

I make a point of continuing to clearly distinguish between work hours (and days) and non-work hours (and days) – healthy boundary setting remains an important practice for long-term quality of life. I see how easily work could become a solution for boredom or confinement stress, but also recognize that succumbing to that short-cut would likely reset expectations long-term regarding my willingness to work through my leisure hours, or at the convenience of my employer without regard for my own needs. I think I won’t do that. 😉 No, not even now. What I want and need from my own life, and leisure, for myself, remains of value to me.

Pulling my focus away from the morning news, to sit a few minutes and write, while sipping my morning coffee, seems to be a worthy endeavor; the headache seems to have lessened, and has begun to fade into the background. Looks like today is not the day to involve myself with the news. Less screen time, more aquarium time. Less “content” more housekeeping, perhaps. Be here, now. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Why add media chaos to this chill vibe? Meditation, instead of news headlines – that sounds lovely. A second coffee, and some bird-watching, as spring unfolds in the strip of forest beyond the deck, perhaps. Confinement in the time of pandemic feels less confining, and more like a leisurely day at home, if I stay focused on these small delights, and refrain from involving myself in the concerns of the media (which, truly, are already very well-covered, and rather unchanging, at present).

I smile and finish off this first cup of coffee, eager to get on with the day, eager to see new fish swimming in the aquarium, and familiar squirrels on the deck. Eager to begin again – right here at home.

However much we love the people we love, however good the hearts of those around us, especially in such trying times, it’s not a reasonable expectation to think it will always be easy, or that we will always “get it right”, just because we want to (perhaps even more than we usually do). Sometimes an otherwise comfortable moment may skid sideways, and suddenly become a challenge, or moment of conflict, hurt, or sorrow. So human.

…I could say “deal with it” or “happens to everyone”, and try to shrug it off irritably. I’m not really that person, though, and more often, I simply retreat to “sort myself out” and cry for a few minutes. Generally just some handful of tears of frustration and disappointment, sometimes tears of hurt, or tears of anger. It’s true, though; I cry over shit. I used to be very strict with myself over crying, working furiously to shut it down, stuff it into a dark corner of my consciousness, wrap it up quickly, hide it, wiping those errant tears away as quickly as I could, before anyone could see them, splash some water on my face and move on with things. It was not a helpful approach. Now? Now I just go ahead with it, generally, and cry. (I often seek out some privacy for that purpose, because I also don’t find someone else’s intervention, disapproval, need to “fix” things, or whatever like that at all helpful in those moments, either; sometimes I just need to cry.)

I only bring it up because I often feel some better after having – and experiencing – my emotional moment. It matters to be present with those feelings. To feel and acknowledge them, without shame, without guilt, can be incredibly freeing, and a big step toward restoring balance.

Things in the world are pretty scary right now. The media isn’t doing much to help with that, with the ceaseless 24/7 COVID-19 coverage painting every news story as somehow “about” that, and presenting a picture of the world that somehow suggests there is nothing else newsworthy going on, at all. It’s a weird lens through which to view the world. Eventually, it may “get to you”. Go ahead. Have that moment. It’s okay to cry over it, too. Give yourself a break if you do; it’s a very human thing, and honestly, not at all harmful. 🙂 You may even feel a bit better for a while, having giving yourself a chance to feel it.

…Then, begin again. Move on from that moment. Let it go. Grief is a real emotion. Feel it when you feel it. It does not have to own you, or make you over in a new image. You can choose to let it go, when you’re ready.

I am sipping my coffee in the studio. Starting my day. It’s another work day. Another Tuesday. Another day in the time of pandemic. My Traveling Partner wakes early. We’re both struggling with physical pain, this morning. Rainy day ahead? Maybe. I don’t give myself the time to over think it; it is what it is. Another sip of coffee, and I do what I can to let even the mundanity of physical pain “just go”. (It’s not that effective, right now, and my results definitely vary on this point.) I breathe, exhale, and relax. Just another work day in the “new normal”.

I glance at the clock; already time to begin the day in earnest. (I’ve been making an effort to keep to my usual schedule for a sense of normalcy.) Time, in fact, to begin again. 😉

This too shall pass. I sip my coffee and sigh, this morning. I’m groggy. I could go back to sleep, so easily. It’s a work day, though, and I will log on to my work laptop in a few minutes, and get started. The work day felt pretty short, yesterday (it wasn’t). Will today?

Yesterday’s moment of tension, between my Traveling Partner and I, is still on my mind. It wasn’t a big deal, and it wasn’t about him, or us. I had a moment of feeling “overwhelmed”…by circumstances, by demands on my time, by lack of cognitive bandwidth, by a sense that I somehow wasn’t doing enough to actually take care of myself, and I started weeping over the need to do one more thing in what had already felt like a very busy day. It didn’t last long, and once the moment passed I was more easily able to reflect on it (and take time to meditate, properly, for a few minutes). What was up with all that? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure it matters. If I were a younger woman, I likely would have called it “hormones”, just based on the way it swept in and swamped me, and then simply dissipated. I have a sip of coffee, and let it go. That moment has passed.

This coffee is good. My shoulders ache, an extension of the pain in my neck, and back. I breathe, exhale, relax… I go through all the physical therapy stuff, looking for relief. I go through my history, on YouTube, and remove all the COVID-19 stuff, all the Democratic campaign stuff, all the stuff clicked on absent-mindedly that I don’t need clogging my feed… maybe the content will improve? Small steps to improve the quality of my experience, generally. I glance at the time, reluctant to yield my consciousness or my soul to the work world, again, so soon. There is more to do, and to enjoy, with life’s precious few mortal years, and this morning I find myself more than usually resentful of having to maintain “gainful employment”. I’m yearning for “a proper rest”…

…Then it hits me; once source of background stress is simply the right-now reality of having to let, now, two little vacations go, over COVID-19. Restrictions on gatherings, closures of state parks, closures of many retailers not determined to be “essential”… I was really looking forward to a spring camping outing (and entire week out in the trees), but the reservation has already been canceled by the state park system, as a recent measure to limit the spread of the pandemic. I am “dealing with” the prolonged stay-at-home social distancing mandate pretty well, generally, but this morning? I also find myself seriously peeved about a vacation planned for May becoming… not a thing, after all. I could certainly still take the time off… but… how will it be any different than any day at home, right now? I sigh, and stare moodily into my now-cold coffee.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and let all that go (again). Another breath, another opportunity to let it go. Again.

And another breath. Another opportunity to let go. I make the effort to feel it effortlessly.

And another breath. Another letting go. Another effort. It amounts to practice.

We become what we practice; so I practice calm, and contentment. I practice non-attachment. I practice breathing. I practice letting go.

…I practice beginning again. 🙂

It’s been harder than usual to find (make) time to write… or… maybe I’ve been uninspired? There’s truth to the idea that we only grow in uncomfortable circumstances. My circumstances lately have been more than adequately comfortable. My day-to-day quality of life is generally very good, aside from the tedious constant that is dealing with physical pain. (Bah! How banal.) So, yielding the time I might have spent writing, to have a coffee with my Traveling Partner in the morning seems very much worth it. I enjoy those moments. Our short mortal lives are best truly lived, are they not? I don’t know how many hours, days, months, or years we may yet have together.

…Hopefully, you “get it”, and don’t feel that I’ve let you down somehow, with my lack of presence, here. 🙂

I’ve been spending happy hours watching a new school of fish settling into the aquarium. Shrimp, too. A newer, brighter, light shines down on the plants – some healthier than others, and in the bright light, new concerns are illuminated.

Watching fish swim.

…”In the bright light, new concerns are illuminated.” I repeat it silently, several times. Not as some kind of mantra. More that there is a sensation of renewed engagement with an idea that was once an epiphany. I sit with it awhile. I hear, in my head, my therapist’s voice calmly intoning familiar words, “let’s stay with that…”, before asking some question I’d not previously thought to ask, myself, putting me on another path of discovery, or opening my eyes to another perspective.

Some moments are… complicated. Days of pleasant hours in the company of this other human being I enjoy so much have passed gently. Today? We’re both a bit under the weather, feeling a bit off, dealing with head colds, and tempers flare to easily. I feel fragile and raw. Still seething a bit, and feeling entirely misunderstood, and resentful of the lack of patience. Doesn’t matter that I’m here, in the stillness of my studio, safe, and alone, and easily able to step back and reconsider the moment from another perspective. My heart is in that other room, held captive by affection being squeezed between my anger at him, and my anger at me. None of it is really about whatever I’m mad about it; it’s simply a reaction. Emotional weather. Like the weird March snow storm that blew in out of nowhere, today, on a day “too warm to snow”. It’ll pass. It will be no more relevant or significant than any other one moment torn from a lifetime and examined too closely, by the end of the weekend.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax – rather unsuccessfully. I shake my head for a brief instant, rather rapidly, as if to shake off my aggravation. My sigh is too loud. I hear him, softly, gently, through the closed door, from another room, “I love you.” It does seem that way… my reply seems too obvious, really, “I love you, too.”

Sometimes love is complicated. Not “complicated” as if to say “tragic” or “doomed” or anything of that sort. More… complicated in the way that an elegant watch has “complications”. Some of what makes life and love so rich, and so worthy of being “in the moment” – even an uncomfortable one – are these odd details, these “complications”, that are “features” in one moment, and… possibly… sort of a pain in the ass, in other moments. (I mean, for real? I could seriously do without having a brain injury that undermines my ability to manage strong emotion, and layering on top of that the added “bonus” of being sick, and further challenged with easily roused strong emotions… It’s just too much.) Buuuuut… I do love that human being sitting in the other room, and the joy we share is by far the majority of the time we spend together. That’s saying a lot. I could not truthfully say there’s never a cross word between us, or that my TBI “isn’t a big deal” for me, or him, or both of us. It is what it is. I see us both doing our best, and both being pretty human in our effort. There are, though, some moments I could frankly do without, now and then. Hell, I get pretty fed up with me, sometimes. I’m not surprised he does, too, once in awhile. lol Too often, my aggravation with myself is perceived as directed at him, or mis-perceived as an emotional attack. I understand how it could be. It’s not what I intend. I suppose I will get a lot of practice, sorting that out, over a lifetime.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I find myself annoyed that my aquarium isn’t in here – where I could see it right now… only… what is more true is that I don’t want to be here, as much as I want to be there – with him. Relaxing together.

Fuck I wish we weren’t sick. Adulting is already hard enough!

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I think about my plans for tomorrow… more time with the aquarium. Pruning plants. Moving rocks. Cleaning glass. Replanting plants in new places. Looking at the aquarium, under a bright light, from a new perspective.

Yes, of course; it’s a metaphor. It’s time to begin again.

I see another doctor today, up at the VA. I haven’t reliably had good experiences with medical care. That’s not an uncommon experience for people. I found myself feeling tense in advance, and aggravated ahead of any clear reason to feel aggravated, and on top of all that, I’m in pain. I was fussing over it internally, and it had grown to the size of a wee demon capable of wrecking my mood entirely – or my day. Considering the pleasant morning I had with my Traveling Partner this morning, that seemed pretty “unfair”…

I took a minute for a break in the sunshine – a rare sunny winter afternoon, uncommonly mild (although a bit chilly in the shade) – and asked myself “the hard question”; do I have a practice for this situation? I had to admit to myself, yeah, actually, I do.

I stood there in the sunshine, feeling it warm my back, vaping, blowing clouds in the direction of the clear blue sky visible between slumbering chunks of concrete and steel, pocked with windows. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. I started letting go of my assumptions and expectations of this appointment, allowing all that baggage to fall away. I gave myself room to accept my anxiety and my anger – then I let those go, too, with some self-directed kindness, and compassion. I finished my break, eventually, with a reminder to assume positive intent – yes, even about this – so I can go into this appointment with fresh eyes, open to a new outcome. Ready to listen deeply. Ready to answer questions from the perspective of (likely) sincere interest in my health and well-being. Ready to answer those questions gently, and directly, without a lot of “extra” discourse. One at a time, as they are, without reading into them. (Tall ask, honestly, still… a worthy endeavor.)

I’m okay. I’m ready for this. This moment here? It’s not about that. It’s about beginning again. 🙂