Archives for category: pain

Shouldn’t “embracing change” be easier than this? Is “easy” not actually “a thing”? Questions over coffee, on an overcast summer morning. My mind wanders unproductively between sips. The coffee is good, and that’s enough for this moment, right here.

I was sitting barefooted, cross-legged, in a favorite chair (the only comfortable chair in the new living room, presently… more room in the new house, same amount of furniture), on a morning so quiet I imagined I heard my Traveling Partner sigh as he woke, in another room. It’s a quiet house (so quiet!), and it seems unlikely that I actually heard the soft sound of his sigh, over my aquarium and my tinnitus. He approached a moment later, wearing his “just woke up” face. I offer to make coffee, and we share that. It is, generally speaking, a pleasant moment on a summer morning. I pretend, for the purposes of joy and love, that I’m not in the pain I’m in. I make room to be kind, and to listen, and to offer whatever support I can; he’s in pain, too. It’s been 10 days of fairly intense labor, getting moved out of the rented duplex, and into our home. For reasons of pandemic, and limiting exposure, we handled almost all of every bit of it ourselves, instead of hiring movers. I’m not sure I still think that was a great idea. lol

It was 10 days trying to get the internet set up. I wrote in the mornings, anyway. 🙂

“Home”. Damn, that sounds nice. I let the sound of it roll around in my thoughts contentedly for some moments. I find it so important to savor the successes – small, large, and in between. What I am suggesting is really taking time with those successes, enjoy and appreciate them, linger over their memory, and invest more of my cognitive and emotional bandwidth in that enjoyment and awareness, than I do in fussing over what didn’t work, or worked out uncomfortably or with problematic other outcomes. That “negativity bias” can really become an emotional wound, over time, swallowing up all the joy, and all the fun. Having a home of our own is a major milestone in our life together, and for me, in my own life as an individual human being. Huge win. Definitely needful to celebrate that. 🙂

I sip my coffee and look out the window of my new studio/office space here. I see the neighbor’s new fence, two pear trees, branches laden with young fruit hanging over the fence, and the cream-colored wall of their house just beyond. I see a sliver of gray sky. The neighbors – and neighborhood – are very pleasant, and very welcoming. Every new conversation begins in a similar way, with an apologetically, charmingly awkward excuse for not shaking hands or offering a hug; the pandemic is still a thing (very much so) in America.

…I hear my Traveling Partner call to me. As he wakes, his pain is more well-managed (mine, too, it seems very human). I want to hang out… I want to write. It’s been a while. There’s much to say, much to share. I think. Maybe. I mean… you’re here, reading, I should make that worth your while, yes? 😉 Perhaps, for now, this is enough?

Perspective, or view? What matters most? What is “enough”? Where does joy come from?

I sip my coffee. Finish my writing. I begin again.

 

I was sipping my coffee on a morning after my Traveling Partner had returned home from some trip or another. It was quiet in the room, and in our home, and even out on the street beyond. I woke ahead of the alarm by quite a bit, and there was no hint of dawn-to-come in the sky. Not at that point. My coffee was too hot to easily drink. Based on a couple hesitant, testing, sips, it was also not very good. I pondered the variables in a cup of coffee, mystified and still groggy; how is one cup so crappy, and another so sublime? Don’t I make them all the same way? Do the tiniest subtle differences in timing or process make that much difference? (Are the differences, perhaps, not with the coffee, itself, at all?)

I sighed quietly, a measured, careful, observed exhalation, slowly released following a deep breath. I felt my chest expand as I inhaled, contracting as I exhaled. A cough interrupted the quiet. Another sip of coffee. That moment was okay, and I remained with it, centered and calm, for a while.

(This particular moment was almost a year ago – a blog post written, never published. It finishes thusly…)

It was an okay homecoming. I knew, when I arrived home, that my partner was wholly exhausted, having driven 1800 miles straight on home, then on arriving, unable to actually sleep (coffee is an excellent tool to keep one awake for a long drive, and the risk to our sleep, later, is often one we find acceptable at the time), until much later – shortly before I went to bed, myself. I made dinner. We ate it. Shared a couple of anecdotes. Managed to be contentious and at odds with each other for a moment, and got over that. We are, unavoidably, quite different people, and also quite similar. Neither of those things is an assurance of always being comfortable together, or always being in genial shared space, or even holding the same opinion about literally anything. We’re individuals.

The evening passed gently after dinner. We entertained ourselves with conversation and videos. Eventually, he called it a night, and later so did I.

I woke easily, and well-rested. I’ve already forgotten some useful habits for shared space. lol I think about the commonplace usefulness of any basic tool, whether it is a screwdriver or a habit; lacking the most appropriate tool for any given task is likely to result in greater than average difficulty, increased task complexity, frustration, and time lost to struggling with pieces that don’t fit. In the same way a screwdriver isn’t the correct tool to fit a pipe, good self-care practices are not likely to also be good communication practices (although good communication is a part of good self-care, when it comes to boundaries and expectations). It has been a common (and way too real) experience on this healing path that my own wellness does not change the general state of wellness for any one other person – and they still live their life, and see things through the lens of, their own perspective on life, on circumstances – and on the relationship we share. We are each having our own experience – and we’re not all using the same tools to get any given job done. It’s pretty complicated stuff, and a lot of human beings are barely managing their own bullshit; it’s a lot to ask that people also be kind, compassionate, patient with one another, assuming positive intent… it starts to feel more like juggling than living, at some points. It’s still worth making that attempt, in my own experience.

…It also takes practice. As with using any unfamiliar tool, it definitely takes practice, and some basic knowledge. Your results may vary – particularly where relationship skills go! (You’re not doing that job alone, and even such things as “getting along” and “communicating” and “sharing” require practice, and a commitment to learning and growing, and you can only do your own.) It can be seriously frustrating, however familiar and commonplace a task seems, to grab that screwdriver, and once already frustrated, realize that the damned thing is a Phillips-head screwdriver not a flat-head. Well, shit. That got complicated fast. True in life, love, and home repairs. LOL

So… I guess I keep practicing. 🙂 Honestly, in every practical way, I only need to practice my own practices, and handle my own self-care. The relationship stuff works out much more easily when I give other people room to be themselves, care for themselves, and we’re open to both the differences, and the things we share – while still understanding that however close we are, or may become, we are nonetheless quite individual. I smile and drink my coffee; nothing new here. I struggle, mostly, when I forget to let go. Attachment to assumptions, expectations, or internal narrative can quickly sabotage an otherwise good time.

…Strangely timely as we two individuals prepare to move. I found it “by mistake” (or at least not looking for it) moments ago, as I considered writing something that, oddly, feels pretty well-covered by the draft I opened with an errant mouse-click. Helpful circumstance. One that puts me gently “back on the path” feeling I’ve understood myself just a bit better in this moment right here, right now… I settle myself into work, and begin again. 🙂

My duplex neighbors were partying hard last night. I slept hard, but poorly. I woke, abruptly, at 6:30 am (on a Saturday), for no obvious reason. I got up and made coffee, waking my Traveling Partner, too. This morning I take a few minutes to wake up slowly, in the quiet of my studio. I can see the CPU fan on my computer spin; I don’t hear it over my tinnitus. I am in pain. My arthritis does not appreciate the higher humidity of recent days, and I ache. I’m stiff when I move. My head hurts. Rough morning, physically, and I’m a bit cross over it – thus the self-enforced moments of solitude, giving me a chance to be a better human being before I have a chance to snarl at my Traveling Partner over something pointless or petty. It’s a practice that works for me.

I get through the waking up portion of the day one practice at a time.

My “to do list” for the weekend is now sorted into “outside stuff” and “inside stuff”. I’m not certain why I bothered with doing that; it’s obvious from the listed tasks, and they were already grouped thusly. Simply proceeding down the list would like have been sufficient. Still, it seemed, in that moment, a distinction worth making. I was not yet entirely awake. lol

I sip my coffee, correct my posture, stand up, stretch, sit down, breathe, exhale, relax… and correct my posture again. It doesn’t do anything for the pain immediately. It’ll help later on if I’m not slumped over my keyboard like some sort of mythical writing monster.

I find my mind wandering to brunches out. I fucking miss brunch. lol Life in the time of pandemic… Brunch is the thing I think I miss most.

I gaze into my half empty coffee mug. I’m already thinking about a second cup. It’s already time to begin again. There’s an entire day ahead of me, and plenty to do. 🙂

New day. New cup of coffee.

I woke abruptly, way too early for a day off, although it’s likely I got enough rest. I woke from peculiar bad dreams that felt a bit as if I were “having someone else’s nightmares”. I woke with a nasty headache, but otherwise not in much pain. Stiff. Cranky. Feeling a bit inclined toward keeping to myself until the fog of recent bad dreams dissipates.

It is a new day. An entirely new, fresh, day, as yet uncommitted to anything in particular. I’ll probably do the housekeeping I’d planned to do yesterday, and ended up blowing off in favor of a joyful relaxed day with my Traveling Partner. Later though; right now is time for coffee (and waking up).

It’s lovely to have a three day weekend. Memorial Day, though, weird “holiday”. More an “observance”, for me, than properly a holiday. A day to be reminded of the high cost of war. I sip my coffee and think about fallen comrades. I’m 57 next month, more of my comrades have fallen since the war than fell during the war. I lost touch with most of the survivors of our war when I left Facebook. I mean, I have their email addresses, though. I sip my coffee and think about emailing them. Maybe on Veteran’s day?

One day closer to moving. Still too far out to begin packing things into boxes (I may find them useful between now and then…?), but we’ll likely begin doing that next weekend. Plenty of time yet for planning, talking, sharing, thinking out loud about this or that feature in the new place… I enjoy it.

So… here it is, another day. Another opportunity to be the woman I most want to be. Damn I wish I weren’t so grumpy in the morning. :-\ I stare at my coffee. First cup. Maybe the second will ease this pounding headache? There’s a new episode of Rick & Morty to watch… could be a useful distraction from my bad dreams. The lingering fog of my dreams dissipates slowly this morning. There’s very little left besides the unease left behind (and the recollection of a shadowy figure staring into my window), but that’s not an ideal emotional context with which to begin the day. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let that go.

…It’s time to begin a new day. It’s time to begin again. 😀

 

Was it me? Was it them? Is anyone at all “right”? Is anyone “the good guy”? It doesn’t feel like it. We’re each having our own experience. Really listening to each other – both of us, reliably – is not a thing right now. This shit went so wrong that even the neighbors are awake with it. It’s not okay. I can tell I’m not “the good guy”. It’s pretty much a given that I’m not the good guy, any time shit blows up; complex PTSD is nasty shit, and most of the time, in most circumstances, when things fall apart this badly, this fast, it’s on me. I’m not being hard on myself, or sarcastic, or fatalistic, or catastrophizing. It’s just statistics. If something goes this badly, this quickly, I can reliably assume with considerable likelihood of being correct that it’s me, because far more often than not, it is. My words. My actions. My reactions. My… something. My PTSD. It’s hard to take, as answers go, and at least right now I’m feeling mostly despair and that bleak sense of “this again?” I feel like I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. Metaphorically speaking.

…I’m so tired of it…

…I’m so tired of me.

Is this “who I am”, when it comes right down to it?

I’m tired of PTSD. So tired of it. The unexpected flash of unreasonable anger/frustration/rage/tears that sweeps in out of literally nowhere, and just lays waste to every fucking thing that could ever have been good about a moment is beyond comprehension, and seems defiant of management or control. It leaves an emotional film of unpleasantness and sorrow over everything that follows for some time.

…But… I have all these excellent practices… all this therapy behind me… all these good intentions… all this fucking work. My demons howl with laughter and general merriment. I can hear them like a Greek chorus, “Fuck your practices you stupid meat puppet! We fucking own you. We will own you until it kills you or destroys everything you love.”

Sure, there’s shit my Traveling Partner fucks up, too. He’s human. I think it’s easy enough to acknowledge his humanity. Sometimes he’s wrong. Sometimes he’s an asshole. Sometimes he’s not either of those things, and shit still goes sideways. I’ve got to acknowledge that he definitely loves me, too; how else could he have stayed through so much of my bullshit? How else could he continue to approach me, seeking to calm things down and soothe me when he is hurting, himself?  Is it enough? Is love actually enough? Can it really keep me trying? Can it really lift me up? Is love enough to get me to hang in there through another freak out? Another break down? Another fuck up? Another moment of missed communication, sabotaged joy, lost delight? Is love enough to endure more of this shit? Is it unreasonable to expect it to be?

What do I even do right now? (What do I even do right, now?)

I’ve lost my appetite. My coffee tastes sour. My head aches. My tears just keep slowly flowing down my face. This is an incredibly painful moment. We’re on the edge of doing something really wonderful together… and I continue to suck as a human being. God damn it. Fucking hell. This is miserable.

…Why am I choosing misery?

(Breathe. Exhale. Let it go. Breathe. Exhale. Let it go, some more. Breathe, exhale, let it go, be here – present in this moment. I remind myself that I am “okay right now”.)

So, now what? I don’t know. I know my partner is hurting in the other room. Emotional pain because this was a painful moment. Physical pain because he’s a human, and aging fucking sucks; old injuries hurt worse as we age than they did when we were recovering from them. Both of us are hurting. There’s no physical violence in this relationship, but we sometimes treat each poorly. Harsh. Unkind words are for sure “better than a punch in the mouth” – but they aren’t good. It’s not what I want from myself. It’s not want I want for myself.

…I just want my pleasant relaxed morning back. I want to roll back the clock and treat my partner well, and feel well-treated in return. We missed our moment. I can’t refuse to own my part in that. I can’t turn away from my critical failures. The way out is through. We learn best through our mistakes and failures. Growth is uncomfortable.

“Begin again.” It’s feeble, but I heard it. That’s something, I guess. I think I want to, too. I just don’t feel confident about the outcome, right now. 😦 That’s even okay. It’s enough to make the effort. It’s enough to begin again.

…and again…

…and again…

We become what we practice. It’s time to practice calm. It’s time to practice loving words. It’s time to practice listening deeply.

…It’s time to begin again.