Archives for category: pain

There are other voices than mine. There are other lived truths than the truth I live myself. There are other perspectives, other viewpoints, other angles from which to consider each very human moment. There are other tales to tell, told by other travelers. Each existing alongside all the others, their existence, itself, does nothing to diminish the truth of the others; these are narratives. Subjective experiences of being human, in all its wonder, glory, pain, and joy. I tell mine here, my way. 🙂

A friend posted on Facebook recently that she is undertaking her own healing journey, walking that hard mile, processing trauma, seeking healing, and that she had started a blog. She started a group, to post to, understanding that perhaps not everyone wants to share that journey with her. I appreciate the consideration. I respect the journey; I’ve been on my own such journey for a while now. I reflected back on that moment when I decided to start a journey, and a blog, and considered how that “went down”, and the reactions I’d gotten at that time, from friends and loved ones (a fairly discouraging mix of disinterest, distance, and patronizing comments, generally, and a couple folks sincerely interested in being supportive). I asked myself, explicitly, “how do I want to ‘be there’ for my friend, and her experience, right now?”

I provided a reply I hoped would be welcoming and supportive, and accepted the request to join her group. Why would I not? Reluctance to be triggered? I grant you; it’s a risk. (People in my life spend a lot of time opening up to me about trauma, as it is. I’ve survived it so far.) People need to feel heard. They need emotionally secure relationships in which to open up about what hurts them. Me, too. Can I “be there” to support that? Of course I can. It’s on me to set and manage my boundaries, if it gets to be too much, and even that is a way of being there for a friend or loved one, setting that powerful example that it is also okay to set boundaries, and showing what that looks like, in practice. Practice. Yeah – and also, because I, too, am entirely made of human, I need practice, myself. Practice at listening deeply. Practice at maintaining perspective on past trauma. Practice understanding that we each walk our own hard mile. Practice at “being there” for others. Practice, frankly, at being the woman I most want to be – in every interaction, every moment, on every day. Words are just words. It’s the verbs that make changes come to life. It’s what we practice that matters; we become what we practice.

This morning I read the first of her posts (that I’ve read). I savored her voice. The difference in her style of communication. I read from a place of non-judgmental acceptance, and non-attachment. Her tale is not my tale, however similar some details may seem; she is having her own experience. I listen with empathy, consideration, compassion. I listen deeply. I recognize her humanity, her unique experience. I acknowledge the human experience beyond the words. I nod quietly, more than once. “I know you,” I think to myself. Still, I also allow her her moment; we are individuals, with our own experiences, our own pain. We’re in very different places on our individual journeys. That doesn’t matter as much as “being there” – being present, aware, and compassionate – because although we are each having our own experiences, we’re also “all in this together”. I sip my coffee and contemplate the journey stretching ahead of her.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs. Begin again.

It’s a question worth asking, I think. It’s at least worth reflecting upon it, asking it of yourself, and perhaps even being prepared that this could eventually be a thing you have to wrap your head around; what if you had to completely start over – with nothing?

Where you would begin in life, if you had to begin again on an entirely different level? What if you lost everything, even losing your “way”, your sense of place in the world, your job, your home, your standing in the community? How to start over…? Where to begin…? What matters most?

What matters most?

If you’ve “lost everything”, it’s likely you still have something precious to count on… this moment. Here. Now. Maybe some choices? If you’ve already lost everything, you’ve also lost reasons to turn away from choices that could take you somewhere really new… that’s something. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, by itself, just the freedom to choose. Choose anything. To start from nothing and rebuild doesn’t sound at all pleasant, but once we’re on the other side of that “rip off the band-aid” moment of loss, isn’t it, potentially, all forward momentum?

For fuck’s sake, though, grieve if you’re hurting! Don’t mistake loss – and the emotions that it evokes – for anything more permanent than any other emotional experience, but do give yourself – and take – the time you need to heal and be okay! Impermanence is one thing, but please, oh please, don’t treat yourself harshly when you’re hurting. Feel your feelings. Be the best friend you may not feel you have, right now. Treat yourself with the consideration you’d give anyone else who is hurting. There’s no magic happy pill (no, really really there isn’t). Maybe it’ll be slow going to pull yourself out of whatever you are mired in right now… but you can.

Where would you begin, if it were you? A cup of coffee and a good book? A few minutes on a meditation cushion, a lovely view, the sound of breezes through tree tops? A few hours playing video games? A walk alone through a beautiful forest? I don’t know where you’d begin again… that one’s on you. I’ve gone without more than a few times. I lost a lot in life, and rebuilt a time or two; it’s why I refer to my lives in the plural, and reference “past lifetimes” – it really feels that way. lol I’m here, now, though, and I’m okay. Choices.

Yeah, but… circumstances, too. Don’t forget about the circumstances, right? Unavoidable, undebatable, immutable circumstances. Well, shit…

…Nah, I’m going to argue that one. Not gonna let that go. It’s an excuse to fail. Circumstances are circumstances; you still choose your adventure, still decide who you are as a human being, and you still have choices – how to act, how to react, what to say, how to treat people, how to treat yourself, where to go in life… all choices. Are you going to get handed some tiles in this game? Yep. It’s true. Starting points. From there; choices.

Choose wisely.

There’s much suffering in the world (and in my feeds), and I don’t much want to call it out, but some of it appears to be based on… choices. You can choose so much of your experience, and yes, even the suffering. Why choose to suffer?

We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

Damn, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. That’s a choice. ❤

A friend gave me a small sign, says “Speak Gently”. It sits on my desk, part of the background at this point. For no particular reason, it was really in focus at a couple points today. I paid attention. Some things I expected to go very badly, weren’t so bad. That’s something.

…It also feels better to depart from the enormity of the stress and emotional back-pressure that often seems to accompany raised voices, frayed nerves, or terse dialogue. That much I definitely appreciate. Sure. Verbs. Reading is a verb, yeah? I read that sign, and heeded the caution – with the thought of a dear friend in mind, which was even nicer still.

Now a gentle evening, and even the self-talk is bordering on tender. Certainly, I’m giving myself no grief at all this evening, as any lingering twilight is overcome by night. I feel content, and relaxed. It’s enough.

The day seemed much more complicated in real-time. This moment here doesn’t seem to hold any shards leftover from all that. It’s behind me. I look around here, in this place, in this moment, and see a few things I could take care of before bed… Then… I run out of words. 🙂

Strange day. Quiet, slightly sad “celebration” of moments, as I packed up all the Giftmas decor and put it away for the year. Uneventful. Fairly routine. It’s been a generally pleasant day spent on “endings”; most new beginnings are preceded by an end of some sort. It’s a thing.

I feel a certain heaviness and sense of ennui. I’m a little bit blue. I’m okay – and even okay with my emotional weather. It’ll pass.

It’s a gray, vaguely wintry day, chilly without quite being cold. Cold enough to be unpleasant to stand around outside. Nonetheless, I did spend some minutes outside on the deck, puzzling over rebuilding my garden after the scorching and neglectful summer. I fed the squirrels. Tidied up a bit.

The afternoon has turned quite gray and dismal, but I’m not certain that’s truly the weather, today, or just the weather I’ve brought along, subjectively. I would nap, but I’m not tired. lol I feel preoccupied, and also lacking in content. Or contentment. So human. As I adjusted the lighting more for evening, I firmly and purposefully (without intention) stubbed my toe on the floor lamp (has a foot switch) that I broke my toe, shearing much of the nail from the nail bed. I created some brand new obscenities for the occasion, never before uttered. lol It is still painful and throbbing some hour later, and has turned a rather amazing shade of deep violet, almost black.

My foot is cold from the ice pack resting on it. I consider the fragility of toes, and how amazing it is that so often we can still walk on the affected foot, even put weight on it. I guess, easily breakable toes are less bothersome or deadly, if one can still get around on them.

I continue to sit with my elevated foot, iced, laptop precariously balanced on my knees. The foot isn’t hurting so much now. Now it is more obvious that the impact also jarred my (bad) ankle. Shit. That’s likely to hurt more longer. I let go of worrying about it; it doesn’t help with anything. I give the evening ahead some thought, and begin again. 🙂

Yesterday got off to a lovely start, wobbled a bit with a moment of consequence stemming, most likely, from a miscommunication or misunderstanding. I got past it, but the day built on that with small details, snatches of over-heard conversations that had nothing to do with me, and a few interactions with strangers, that amounted to a busy, fairly purposeful, intended to be very fun day that turned out to be just filled with anxiety, and triggers. Well, shit.

By the time I crossed town to spend time with a dear friend I hadn’t hung out with in while, catch up, and see his “new place” (he’s been there a year), my hands were… sort of torn up. Yeah. I pick at my cuticles when stressed, and don’t realize I’m doing it, generally. “Nervous habit” doesn’t cover it, and managing it is impaired by my fucking TBI. So, by the end of the afternoon, my finger tips were bleeding in places, from torn cuticles, tugged at hang nails, and I was feeling both uncomfortable and self-conscious, on top of the anxiety.

I was also early. Shit.

I was sitting in a parking lot, just a shopping center away from my friend’s address, in a neighborhood I once called home. Familiar territory. I strolled through a couple specialty shops with Giftmas on my mind. I kept catching myself still tearing at my poor suffering innocent cuticles. I finally had a “fuck this dumb shit” moment, when I spotted the cheery neon “Open” sign of a nail salon right there. I looked at the time. We’d been firm, in our plans, on “not earlier than”, and even so, I had plenty of time yet ahead of me – I’d been planning to grab a bite. I was not at all hungry, though, and every ounce of my being was yearning for actual self-care. So… Nails? Nails. I mean… if they turned out to have a walk in opening, at all. It’s the weekend before the weekend of Giftmas! (What was I thinking??)

It had been awhile since I’d been to this nail salon. Could I do a ten minute wait, the receptionist asks me politely, glancing at my hands with a frown. The place was packed. She called one of the manicurists over, who asked to also see my hands. She looked at me sternly, and spoke to the receptionist in Vietnamese, and briskly returned to the sea of manicurists’ stations. The receptionist said, firmly, “please take a seat, 10 minutes” and hands me a quantity of color samples, “choose color”. She returns to the phone. Two or three women were waiting ahead of me, another came in with a scheduled appointment. All the stations were entirely full. No way this is going to be 10 minutes, I thought, rather stoically. Still, I felt that I was in the place I needed to be in the moment, taking care of an important bit of self-care; the worse my fingers were chewed on, ragged, and picked at, the worse they were going to become; it’s the snags that grab my attention in the background, when I’m “not looking”. It was becoming actually painful at that point.

I sat quietly, breathing the fumes commonplace in nail salons and amused myself with thoughts of the Oracle of Delphi. Time passes.

A customer leaves. Then another. And another. 10 minutes passes quickly, and it really was all I had to wait. The next 45 minutes passed so gently, and I felt so cared for. Hell… I relaxed and allowed experiences – new experiences – I would not have known how to actually ask for, because I simply put myself (and my hands) in the care of someone expert.

On my way to be seated, I managed to actually break a nail – into the quick – but did not allow myself to tear it off. She fixed that. (I did not know that was a thing.) She put tiny tips on my chronically bitten to the quick pinky nails, making them appear utterly ordinary alongside the others. She looked carefully at where the worst damage was and as she trimmed and removed damaged bits, reminded me to moisturize my hands to limit snags and keep my cuticles supple. “More moisture.” She repeated it several times, over the course of the work she was doing, pointing out exactly where it matters most. Tense? She used a lavender massage lotion for the hand massage. I felt my stress melting away. I walked away with nearly indestructible (gel) nails for the holiday ahead, and feeling far more relaxed and comfortable with my body.

I had a great time hanging out with my friend. The day was, although busy, well-spent. I feel ready for the holiday ahead, and eager to spend that time with my Traveling Partner. Today, I’ve got a gentle day of housekeeping, and gift-wrapping, and a trip to the market planned. A nice Sunday. Laundry and cartoons? I think so. A good beginning on a new week.

I’ll go get started on that. 🙂 I won’t be changing the world in any noteworthy way, but maintaining the kindness, order, contentment, and sanity in my own wee corner at least serves to help, in some very small way. 🙂