Archives for category: pain

I’m enjoying the quiet moments before the work day begins. For about an hour I’ve been just sitting quietly, reflecting on this-n-that, mind adrift – it’s a favorite way to start my day slowly that can often result in a workday that feels like a weekend day, and a work week that moves purposefully toward the next weekend without agita, stress, or drama. It’s lovely. So, I’m sipping this decently good cup of coffee, breathing, and being. Not much else, really.

Spring is here. This morning I stepped out into a light misty rain, and felt the kiss of droplets on my cheeks without the sting of morning cold temperatures. The thermometer told me it was 44 degrees. Pleasant. I spent the short drive to the co-work space thinking about the young blueberry bushes that arrived just two days ago – they’ll replace the dying hedge we cut down last summer, and those unfortunate shrubs along the walk that I dislike. It’ll be really handy to have blueberries in the garden. 😀 I’ve got 6 bushes to plant, and 3 different varieties for good pollination and for disease resistance. Seems the wise long-term thinking…

…Thinking long-term, I’m expecting to get those blueberries into the ground this coming weekend, and getting the shrubs cut down and removed, and beds prepared, this week. I should stop by the local nursery for any needed soil amendments, and some blueberry-suitable mulch. I add that errand to my list for the week.

I sigh and sip my coffee contentedly. I love this quiet time, alone with my thoughts, uninterrupted. I breathe, exhale, relax. My heart is filled with love and enthusiasm, which is an enjoyable state of being. I sit with it awhile, thinking about my Traveling Partner, sleeping (I hope) at home. Beyond the windows, dawn begins to turn to day, and the white building across the street is a pale blue-gray that merges with the blue-gray of the dawn sky. The sun hasn’t yet risen. Another deep breath, and with this one I pull myself more upright, and give my posture and physical experience of self some attention. My pain today is a very commonplace “5 out of 10” – more or less “normal” for the season. I’ve already taken pain management steps, and there’s nothing more to do about it for now. I get up and stretch, anyway; Tuesdays are “long” in the sense that once the day begins, it’s more or less back-to-back meetings until late enough in the afternoon that I’m already thinking about calling it a day. I don’t even mind; most of my weekly meetings are on Tuesday. I can plan for that (and do). It’s convenient.

Before I went to the coast, my Traveling Partner (seeing my enthusiasm for making the shower steamers) sat me down at the computer with him and designed a simpler press (hoping for better finished results) than the inexpensive mooncake press I had purchased online. That one works pretty well, and creates a lovely steamer with a fancy very detailed top surface – but the result is unreliable and often doesn’t come out of the press cleanly. I had beefed about that a bit, and said I’d love a simple round puck with a flat surface. Boom! He designs one for me, and while I am away, he printed it on the 3D resin printer. (Wow!) I can’t believe I haven’t taken a picture of it yet… weird. (I definitely thought I had taken a picture of it…) That very day (that he designed the round press for me) he designed another that produces a hexagonal puck. So cool. He went a step further and added one additional design detail – the monogram with which I sign my paintings. The thought makes me smile so hard my face hurts. lol

One of the “Violet Forest” shower steamers, showing that I clearly need more practice getting the consistency and pressure just right. lol

The new presses are much easier to use than the mooncake press is, and they both produce an appealing result. I definitely need more practice getting the mix just right, and getting the press filled to just the right amount (about 50g), using the right pressure, and building a reliable process that is efficient. I think I’ve got a recipe I like sufficiently well to just keep at it with the same recipe, varying the fragrances and colors for fun. I greatly enjoy using the shower steamers I make; they are to showers what bubble bath is to a hot bath. 😀 Pure delightful luxury.

Another breath. I exhale, relax, and look at the time. The morning is now more blue than gray, and the clock says the work day is due to begin in mere minutes. I guess it’s time to begin again. lol I guess I’m even ready for it. I smile and finish my coffee.

Feels good to be taking better care of the woman in the mirror.

Feels good to 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.

Yesterday was rough. I’m not really sure why. I think about it over my coffee for a few minutes.

It is the week following the daylight savings time change for Spring, and while it’s not as hard on me as the one in the autumn, it does change the timing on all my medications, and that does affect my experience. Maybe that was it? Maybe it was the headache? Maybe it was a byproduct of my sour mood after my Traveling Partner snarled at me (after I allowed myself to be distracted while he was sharing information he expected I would need in order to complete an errand I had offered to run on his behalf)? Maybe it was the cascade of shitty other (small) experiences that followed? I mean, it was a lot to take: I smashed my hand in the car door, broke a couple nails, almost ran out of gas on a day when timing mattered, my GPS failed while I was in a strange city, and I also missed a meeting I had planned to attend and had to reschedule… I mean, seriously? Shitty bunch of happenstances.

At any rate, yesterday was rough. I finally got home from running that errand… in a vile mood, cross, feeling dark and just fucking seething with negative energy, generally. I still had hours of work ahead of me that needs to be completed before I take a week off next week. Somehow, together, my Traveling Partner and I still managed to have an okay evening together. We ate a meal… I don’t remember what it was now. I was just grateful to dine in quiet harmony with this human being I love, avoiding opportunities to be at odds with each other, and just enjoying what remained of the day. It was enough.

It’s likely that my whole self is just needing the down time I’ve already got planned – I’m “all peopled out” for the time being, and every additional interaction with another person is… too much. lol We’re social creatures, though, and it’s an unreasonable ask to be wholly entirely “left alone” when we live and love and work with … people. Next week I’ll get away for a couple days, unplug, walk the beach alone with my camera, walk the trails along the coast that lead across meadow and marsh and through the salt-sprayed forests. It’ll be lovely. And quiet. I’ll nap. I’ll write. I’ll read. I’ll meditate. I’ll make each day a pause from how busy life can feel. Hopefully, the result will be that I come back to the day-to-day feeling recharged and grateful and appreciative of the good life I lead, instead of snarling my way through the minutes feeling crowded and encroached upon. 🙂

…I have stayed at the same place often enough now that they texted me this morning to ask if I’d like my usual early check-in for my arrival on Monday…

My attention slips to work before I’ve even finished writing, and before I’ve actually started my work day. It’s been that kind of week, and, honestly, that’s part of the challenge for me right now; I’m exhausted and struggling to put my attention on taking care of this fragile vessel. Human.

I sigh out loud and sip my coffee.

It’s time to begin again.

Another morning. Another Friday. Another cup of coffee. 😀

I sat down with other thoughts, but as the minutes passed my thoughts just sort of … dissipated. I’m left with this pleasant quiet moment and this cup of coffee. It’s enough. I feel contented, and I am safe and warm inside, while a strangely snowy rain falls steadily outside.

I woke too early. Headed to the co-work space early. I was hopeful my Traveling Partner would be able to get some additional rest (he was already up when I woke), but based on the continued conversation via text, I guess he was not able to go back to sleep. I sip my coffee hoping he has at least had enough rest to support the needs of his day. I’m tired, but not groggy (which is nice), and I would have happily gone back to sleep after getting up to pee at 04:25, but his audible exclamation of relief that I was “finally” up fueled a decision to, instead, properly get my day started a bit early. I’m not cross about it; should be a short day, today.

I think about the weekend ahead. What will I do with it? What will we do with it together? Sunday evening I’ll head into the city for a work “on site” event that spans a couple days, before returning home Wednesday. The week after that I’ve got a couple days on the coast planned. I find myself hoping he is easily able to sleep while I’m gone.

My back aches from the cold chilly weather. My face hurts because my occipital neuralgia has flared up. My head aches, but, honestly, when doesn’t it? It’s all just physical pain. Noise. I breathe, exhale, and relax – which rarely seems to actually reduce the pain I’m in, but sometimes does sort of “push it off to the side” and render it rather harmless. I take time to meditate. Do some yoga. I feel ready for the day ahead. It’s a good feeling.

I yawn and queue up a study playlist – maybe this week I’ll take my next certification exam? Life itself doesn’t give us many “credentials” for basic adulting or successfully thriving… but “credentials” are out there for the taking, on a wide variety of topics and skills, in many areas of human endeavor. Feel like you need one? Go get it! Do the coursework. Do the study. Take the test(s). Looks great on a resume – and feels pretty good to complete. 😀 What are you interested in? Are you learning that? If not, why not? What are you waiting for? You’ve got the entire internet in front of you and you’re sitting here with me? Ready this? I promise you my feelings will not be hurt if you choose, instead, to go learn something that could have a significant payoff in skills, ease, or enjoyment of life – or even money. lol Do you.

The day begins to break through the pre-dawn gloom. It’s snowing now (again). The sky is gray. It’s time to begin again.

I’m awake brutally early on a Sunday morning. I’m in the co-work space I sometimes work from, drinking bad office coffee and feeling sad.

My Traveling Partner woke me abruptly, shortly after 0400, poking me and sharing his frustration by way of swearing at me. Something about my sleep (or lack of it) or breathing (or lack of it) or snoring was keeping him awake, and he’d finally had it with that, and woke me. Actually, he asked me to turn over, which is reasonable. The poke and the hostile frustrated tone woke me thoroughly. I wasn’t going to go back to sleep after that, and I was laying in the dark for a moment, contemplating maybe just getting up and what to do next, when my partner reappeared in the doorway and made a point of telling me more about his experience. The additional emotional load was too much for so early, and tears started to slide down my unprepared-for-this face.

I got up and started dressing. No way I seriously wanted to start my day this way. I also did not feel up to sticking around for more. He‘d have some chance of getting more sleep, perhaps, if I weren’t hanging about stewing over my “wake up call”. It made the choice to leave the house at that dismal hour a fairly easy one.

So, here I am. Bad coffee. Early hour. Dealing with it.

My Karma must be sooooo fucking bad… I mean, for real?

This morning this co-work space is my version of a mundane hell. I’ve got the solitude I so often crave, sure… but… there’s no potential for actual sleep, and I’m so tired (I did not sleep well last night), and the muzak in the background is pretty dreadful. Plenty of coffee – and it’s terrible. I dunno that I “deserve” this… I manage to be grateful for this place and time; it could be worse. It’s been worse, other times, other places, other relationships, and having a place to go to, when I need to walk away is a major improvement in my quality of life, generally.

Maybe that’s the lesson on this one? That there is generally an alternative to our misery, when we can accept it, or choose it, and that “grateful” is a path to a better emotional place…? Maybe there’s no lesson… just a woman, a laptop, a quiet place to write, and some sorrows?

I slept poorly last night. I’m grateful for the sleep I got.

I sit here drinking coffee and… seething quietly. I’m annoyed to be awake. I’m annoyed to be dealing with my emotions at this hour. I’m annoyed by the emotions themselves. My head aches fiercely and I’m tired. I’ve had sleep disturbances of various sorts “all my life” – or at least since I was a toddler, that I know of. I know the importance and value of good quality sleep. (I don’t actually get much of that. Don’t know how, maybe.) I do the good sleep hygiene stuff, and my sleep is the best it’s ever been – still not great. Not even reliably good. It’s not at all helpful that my Traveling Partner has gotten so comfortable with waking me up anytime he’s having trouble sleeping. I don’t know how to set a clear reasonable boundary on that; I’m often what’s woken him. He wants to sleep, too. Seems pretty fucking reasonable.

My Traveling Partner wants me to get screened for sleep apnea. Okay, sure – I’ve got an appointment to talk to my doctor about it. (I’m feeling a bit like a hamster on a wheel; I’ve done this step before.) I did a sleep study a couple years ago that resulted in… nothing much. I did not get a sleep apnea diagnosis. If I did? What would the result be? Probably a CPAP machine. I don’t expect an outcome like that to do anything much of value for my sleep (in part due to feeling “tethered” and in part due to the noise), but it’ll likely improve his. Maybe it would help – I don’t actually know. I can feel my internal resistance to the idea of it – not helpful.

…I do know I’m fucking over being awakened from what little real sleep I do get…

I’m tired and irritable, and tears start spilling over and sliding down my face. I don’t do anything to stop them, I just let them fall. Not one of my finest moments. I put my head down on the desk in front of me and sob helplessly for awhile, feeling grateful for the solitude, and the freedom to cry.

Eventually I lift my head and wipe the tears off my cheeks. I mean, for fucks sake, I’ve got a good life. This is ridiculous. I breathe, exhale, relax. Drink more coffee. I miss my partner right now. I miss my cute little house. I miss the warmth of my bed. I miss the good coffee there at home. In another couple of weeks, a stressful morning will just be the starting point for some miles on a trail, with my camera. Right now it’s still too dark for that (for me to do safely). My back is aching, and I remember that it is Sunday, and take my pain meds early. (“Maybe you won’t be such a bitch.” some inner voice remarks crossly.) My shaking hands manage to fling the contents of my pillbox all over the desk when I open it. These sorts of stressful mornings tend to make my pain perceivably worse, and my ability to manage it feels reduced. I get up and stretch, and wander the room restlessly before sitting back down to try and finish this rambling broody collection of words.

…I sometimes miss living alone. It felt easier. I’m frustrated that intimacy isn’t easier to build and maintain, however much I love my Traveling Partner. I’m willing to accept that it’s probably “mostly me”; I’m familiar with the quantity of chaos and damage I’ve got piled up, and I know my trauma history. Doesn’t make it easier to let go of wanting things to be easier. I’ve got a good therapist – I’ll just keep working at it. Eventually, maybe, I’ll be the woman I most want to be…

In the meantime, I’ve just got to begin again, again. My results vary. Sometimes it’s hard. There are verbs involved.