Archives for category: pain

So… the news, right? Problematic, most certainly if you are a woman. Not solely because abortion services are a sometimes necessary piece of a woman’s reproductive healthcare, but also because of what the recent SCOTUS decision says about how those people devalue female human beings, generally. There will be plenty of folks throwing words about the issue(s) at our collective consciousness for days (weeks, months). Anything I might want to say is likely to be covered more skillfully by another voice. I’ll let this one go; know that I’m am hurting over it, myself. Shocked and appalled and angry, like a lot of other people. I’ll be writing letters to elected representatives (not because it is assured to be the most effective action to take, just that I can take it, repeat it, and do so as often as needed to feel heard). I’ve got plenty of stamps for snail mail, and great internet connectivity for emails.

…But… Or… And? Maybe “and” is right… please take care of yourself.

Take time for joy, too.

My Traveling Partner and I have been putting a lot of time into “the (new) family business”. It’s fun to work together on a task, and enjoy the shared experience of successful completion and a job well done. I think it also serves helpfully to give my partner better insights into what I realistically can and can’t actually do these days. When I’m just standing around, or hanging out watching videos, it’s probably pretty easy to overlook how much pain I may actually be in, or that I struggle to climb a ladder, or that standing on my ankle for long results in intense fatigue (pretty quickly), or that I often just “run out of energy” in the late afternoon.

…I started this several days ago. I put it aside, because it didn’t look like political events were going to improve (or change) much at all, and also, life is fucking busy right now, and I grab every chance I can to hang out with my Traveling Partner – even when that choice may not be ideal self-care. I fucking love that guy, and our mortal time together is precious and limited. Today? Today I hurt. I’m quite a lot of pain, and returned home from a long seeming work day in the local co-work space to my partner’s shitty day, bad mood, and surliness. I ran an errand. Came home. He’s frank and clear with me, not unkind just having his own experience. I don’t really want any part of that mess, right now, so… I head to the studio and sit down to write.

Sometimes we just need room to be. Better or bad, convenient or not, there are moments in a human life when handling it alone feels ideal. I mean… that’s one woman’s opinion. I happen to like some solo time (like, a lot of it), so perhaps I am biased. I enjoy my own company. πŸ™‚

When it’s just me, “everyone” in the room wants to do what I want to do, without regard to what that happens to be. lol Read? Sure. Write? Hell, yes. Paint? I’m ready for it. Watch some videos on YouTube? I’m down for that and I’ll definitely be okay with whatever I may choose to watch. lol. Cook a meal? It’ll definitely be whatever I may enjoy, myself, without holding space for other preferences. Just sit awhile, in a quiet room? No problem – and no interruptions (however long I may sit quietly). Go to bed ridiculously early? Sure. Go for it. Stay up foolishly late? Also fine. Listen to the music loud? I can do that any day, any time, but when I’m alone it’s often a different playlist.

…I’m just saying, sometimes I really enjoy hanging out with the woman in the mirror, just being.

Solo time is peculiarly rare these days. Life wedges in a lot of human interaction, in spite of the pandemic, in spite of working from home, in spite of making an effort to get the downtime I actually do need. My Traveling Partner is social (very), and we adore each other. Time together is time well-spent and these mortal lifetimes are limited and too brief. Friends? I don’t see them often enough these days, so it’s rare to turn down a chance to hang out – even if it might have been excellent solo time, with different choices. Work? Even working from home full-time, I “see” a lot of my colleagues on calls, and the conversation is almost continuous in the work channels on Slack. Running errands puts me out in the world interacting with more other people. They’re everywhere. lol Finding moments to be really alone actually takes real effort and planning. I’ve got a camping trip planned for the end of July. πŸ™‚

My partner checks in with me. We’re okay. He’s careful to confirm that he was gentle enough with me; he was having a pretty terrible day apparently, and his emotions were raw and on the surface. I appreciate the consideration, and we share appreciative grateful words of love. I make a point of ensuring he is aware of my physical discomfort, also making a point to be considerate, and gentle with my words. Sometimes we’re sufficiently emotionally “rugged” to roll with a moment of temper – helpful because we’re both fucking human – other times we need more tenderness and care from each other. Today feels good. Connected and intimate. Aware. Compassionate and empathetic. Nonjudgmental. Feeling heard without having to try so hard. It’s nice.

Late afternoon hints at becoming evening. It’s a warm day, and I hurt too much to cook anything that requires a lot of effort. Burgers? Maybe. I don’t mind making the run. A sit down dinner out would be lovely…but… Even now, neither of us feel really comfortable in public spaces that are occupied by people in close proximity. It’s pretty convenient not being sick every two or three weeks with some sniffle or stomach ache, and while it may not have stopped COVID in its tracks, the social distancing thing has been excellent for our health. LOL Sandwiches? Burgers? I don’t actually care much – I barely have any appetite, in spite of taking appropriate steps to manage my pain. The pain shouts into my consciousness louder than my empty stomach. It is what it is.

I take a sip from my glass of clean water, and pause for just a moment to really appreciate having access to a steady supply of potable, filtered, clean drinking water. Then – I begin again.

I’m having a moment. It has lasted most of the day, on and off. Maybe it’s me. I’m in more pain than usual, and I woke with a vicious headache and a bit of a “fuck this shit” sense of the world around me. I feel crowded “by everything”, and I seethe in the background without having anything to be properly angry over. Between the headache, and the tension in my partnership that may or may not be to do with the pain I’m in, or the pain he’s in, or whatever-the-fuck today is about, I’m pretty well “over” the whole today thing, generally. Fuck Wednesday. I mean… today. Now. This week. I’m cross and I hurt and I feel disrespected and unappreciated. Possibly a universal condition, in some circles. Some Wednesdays are lovely. This one has pretty much sucked fairly completely, more or less end to end. I’m not even sure why. It sort of just feels as if every time I relax for a minute, something is skidding sideways somewhere, or someone is snarling at me, or some shit that seems small to me is a fucking huge deal to someone else who is ready to just die on that fucking hill rather than cope gently with another human being. Over it. Over it. Done. Finished. While I’m on about it – fuck this headache, too.

I look for a picture to calm me. Fuck flowers. I look for music to soothe my savagery. I find this. This. This other thing, here. Not doing it for me. This feels better… it hits a nerve. Thanks, BeyoncΓ©.

Why the hell has today been so… hard? I mean, I know how much pain colors my experience. Impersonal. Encroaching on my consciousness. Shrinking my world. It probably doesn’t actually “show” to anyone just looking at me – too many years of “appearances” and “coping”. I’m not alone. Not saying that I am. Not saying there aren’t a lot of people who have it worse. It’s not a competition or a race. There are no “cool points” for enduring more pain, or being more obviously in a bad way. Pain simultaneously humbles me and drives me into myself. Resilience takes practice. “Sometimes ya gotta get knocked down to get up!” Isn’t that the truth!

I take a breath. Exhale. Relax. Take steps to move on. Change the music. Change the picture.

Change the picture. Change the thoughts. Change the perspective. Change is.

It’s time to begin again. There are verbs involved.

I queue up my favorite Portishead + Morphine playlist… reminders that “this too shall pass – or maybe not, but fuck, it’s life, right?” It’s enough to keep me engaged in the work in front of me, honey-smooth and mellow, low notes and minor chords, and the occasional poignant moment in the background. An Rx solution to “take the edge off” – not enough to put the pain to rest completely, but frankly, I wouldn’t be comfortable with coming so close to shutting down my ability to think and work and write in the middle of a work day.

Weird world. Chaos and pain and anger everywhere. Hate. Killings. More killings after that. Blood in the streets. What a strange and terrible time to be alive – but it’s not as if we get a choice; we’re born into the world as it is. Nothing more.

I take a breath, and exhale. I go looking for something more uplifting to listen to in the background. I don’t have anything in mind aside from being distracted from my personal experience of subjective pain, and the very ongoing need to manage that. It’s a good track for data entry, and I pull my shoulders up, straightening my spine. I don’t “feel any better”, but I know “good posture” results in “more up time”. I feel a certain subtle resentment over turns of phrase that conflate human beings with machinery… I am not a machine. Just this fleshy meat sack wrapped around a consciousness. Humbling. Limited.

It’s been an amazing (delightful) few days. I’m not sure what the “secret sauce” has been. My Traveling Partner has been in the shop (a lot) working on projects (several for me), and I’ve been enjoying sharing some of that time, and helping where I easily can. The quality of life lift that results his handiwork is more than pleasant or convenient; I feel very loved. Every time he finishes some project that is the result of some stray “I wish I had a…” or “it would be cool if this would…” kind of remark, I feel heard and understood. It’s special. I feel respected and cared for.

A new cutting board, made for me.

…Then, in some unexpected moment, he’ll snarl at me out of frustration or annoyance over something or another, and I am reminded how human we actually both are. lol Which is to say, “very”. Very human, indeed. Most of the time I let those moments go. Sometimes I laugh with him over it. Sometimes I cry. (Yeah, very human.) Those sorts of moments are more common when one of us is in pain. Pain shrinks our world, pulls our focus inward, and we lose perspective.

My Traveling Partner comes in to share with me his latest finished work; lovely earrings, laser cut from wood. They delight me. (Earrings are the only jewelry I commonly wear, and I do love a fun new pair of earrings!)

Partnership has highs and lows. Pain comes and goes. There’s this moment, now, and very little else has to grab my attention “right now”. It’s okay to take a breath, and begin again.

Thursday afternoon, I arrived home from work a bit early. I had some thoughts about what I would do with the extra bit of leisure heading into a long weekend. A hot shower. A long soak in the hot tub. Leisure. I arrived and my Traveling Partner greeted me eagerly (always nice), and welcomed me home – then asked for my help with a project in the shop. I agreed, perhaps just a bit reluctantly (I was really looking forward to that soak…)(and some “down time”). I didn’t fuss about it from there; we just headed to the shop to get things done.

(Quick side note, and this may matter although it is a small detail, once I’m quite fatigued I am not especially useful in the shop, nor reliably safe around power tools, and we are both aware of this. I’m only properly helpful when I’m pretty rested, and at peak available energy.)

We worked together pretty skillfully, and quite merrily. He did the difficult stuff, and the complex things, I was mostly along for the shared experience, and as a “general day laborer”, working alongside him to hold things in place, hand tools to him, fetch other tools or shims or parts. It was a fun afternoon that lasted well into evening. I ended up bone-tired, with sore feet, and too fatigued to cook an evening meal. lol I would not have traded the experience for some other. We enjoyed the work together, and had a good time.

We didn’t quite finish the project we were working on, and so yesterday morning we worked it out that I would help out finishing that project before running a couple errands that would be best handled on a Friday. Another pleasant day. We both crashed early. We both woke this morning, neither super well-rested, neither of us sleeping very well, both in a predictable amount of physical pain. It is what it is. We treat each other gently and considerately, and give ourselves room to wake up completely with our morning coffee – me in the studio with my writing, and he in the living room listening to lo-fi and likely reading the news. A pleasant start to a Saturday morning.

…None of this was “my plan”. I’m even okay with that. It has taken time to learn to embrace “now” – and to include in that all the many details that are not planned at all. I can recall a time when asking me to deviate from planned activities on a rare afternoon off or long weekend might have seriously frustrated me, to the point of being a jerk about it. I might have spent the time resentfully, bitching about what I was not getting to do, and overlooking all the doing going on nonetheless. I knew more about planning and executing a plan than I knew about just enjoying my experience. I sip my coffee and smile. I’ve come so far! πŸ˜€

I did spend time tidying up so I can work, though…

I definitely want to spend creative time in the studio this weekend. Although I’m certain that this is my desire, and I’ve got a loose plan to do so, there are other things that catch my attention as potentially “needing to be done”… I’ve still got to finish cleaning up the hydro equipment and get my peppers started – which also means researching the nutrient recipe those will likely thrive on. Probably already time to cut the front grass again…and I enjoy the well-made reel mower that my partner got for me (I asked him to). I do need to “run to the store real quick” for various food-stuffs and cooking ingredients. I’ve got some returns in the car that need to go to a retailer about an hour up the road, too… leaving that for a weekday would be poor planning…

…I feel myself at risk of “using up” all the precious leisure hours I think I’d like to spend in the studio, as my awareness expands to include the many other things I’d also ideally want to see completed…

I sip my coffee and reflect on “now”. Just sitting, being, and sipping coffee. No rush to action. No frustration or anxiety. No resentment. Just me, this coffee, and this moment. I have choices. One of those is to let go of any resentment over plans that don’t come to fruition. Sometimes plan don’t play out “according to plan” – it doesn’t reduce the value of the time spent planning and reflecting, and it doesn’t hold me back from doing those things differently, or at a different time. And here’s some honesty for the woman in the mirror; the creative drive I am feeling right now is not paired with an evolved or evolving idea for work to start, or an eagerness to complete existing work in progress – I just want to. (I imagaine a cynical chuckle as if an younger version of me is weighing in on matters in the background, “How does it feel to want?”)

Maybe I paint today. Maybe I don’t. Maybe today I garden instead? There is work to be done, and plants to care for. Needful tasks that have some time-sensitive elements. I watch a favorite YouTube gardener talk about May. There is much to be done – and although it isn’t a “competition”, I can see that my wee brand new garden is a bit “behind” (based on my expectations, and what I see of the wild weeds all around), with our slow Spring having held me back a bit. Maybe today is for gardening and errands, and painting is something for a lazy Sunday? There is time for this – for all of it – if I allow myself to slow down and stay mindful of my practical human limitations, and enjoy the journey. Isn’t it that last bit that matters most? To enjoy the journey, the steps, the day-to-day? To choose my path wisely, and accept variations in human experience? To act with love, and really, truly, embrace (and cultivate) joy? I mean… I could fuss and storm about not getting some small detail to work out “just so”, according to some plan, but… isn’t there so much more to enjoy about living?

Baby Love blooming.

I smile and sip my coffee. My Traveling Partner comes in, rubs my neck for a few minutes as I lean gently against his warmth. Love is worth putting aside a clear plan, pretty much any time, I think. πŸ™‚ He leaves the room. I call down the hallway through the open door, “I’ll probably work in the garden today, I’d like to get the hydro up and running for those peppers!”. He answers me “I’ll be around if you need help, or have any questions I can answer!” (What I heard was “I love you”.)

My coffee tastes so good this morning. (Yesterday’s was pretty dreadful somehow.) I think I’ll have another. Watch that garden video to the end, and then, begin again. πŸ˜€

My neck and back hurt. I did my physical therapy “magic moves”, with limited benefit. I catch myself “pulling on” my neck, even knowing that is not helpful. Background stress drives physical pain, much the same way physical pain makes me more vulnerable to background stress. Yep. It’s a cycle. How best to break that cycle? Choose the most appropriate practice(s) and do that(those) thing(s). “Simple!” (It isn’t.)

Trigger Warner for Snowflakes: discussion of gun control.

I’ll go home early today. I’m fortunate to have a job, a role, and a boss, with room for empathy and compassion. A lot of folks are suffering emotionally this week. Maybe everyone. Another school shooting. Another round of back and forth bullshit over gun ownership vs violence, and the regulations we may need to reduce the latter as a consequence of the former. I have my own thoughts on that. You’ve got yours. Honestly, I’m not opposed to civilian ownership of firearms generally…but… I also think that there are individuals that likely ought not fucking have firearms within easy reach! (Um…duh.) My thoughts? Maybe overly simple…

  1. To own a firearm, I think a person should be required to have specific training on the use and safety practices of each individual type of firearm they wish to own. No exemptions. Pass a fucking test. (There don’t seem to be many objections to the requirement to pass a test to drive a vehicle… just saying.)
  2. To own a firearm, I think a person should be required to be licensed for that firearm in their state – and I think the training requirement and knowledge test isn’t enough; get a mental health “physical”, and demonstrate that you are rationally and emotionally fit to have that weapon. (People routinely have to pass a physical exam to get a commercial driver’s license, or a psychological screening to work in some environments – how is this any different?)
  3. To own a firearm, I think a person should have to carry specific insurance against the chance that their firearm is misused, used in a crime, or accidentally injures someone. (Again, own a car? You’ve got insurance. Own a home? You’ve got insurance. Own a business? I bet you’ve also got insurance.)
  4. One last detail – I don’t think “open carry” is appropriate everywhere, and should be explicitly prohibited for civilians. I think “concealed carry” should be heavily restricted. If your firearm is a “home defense” weapon, keep it at home. If it is a hunting or sporting firearm, keep it secured until you go hunting, or lock it up at the gun club where you do your target shooting.

I’m just saying, I see a huge difference between responsible gun ownership and every ass clown with an agenda having “a right” to have a gun. I don’t understand why any potentially responsible gun owner would object to 1. getting training and passing a test, 2. passing a mental health screening to ensure emotional fitness and ability to assess risks, 3. having insurance to protect themselves financially against any potential bad outcome associated with their firearm, or 4. not carrying their firearm in places where firearms ought not be. What am I missing?

Oh. I know. I know what I’m missing; it’s a misleading question. What I am “missing” is that there are quite a few angry or emotionally wounded individuals who know they are, who want a gun knowing they are potentially at risk of using it inappropriately – or even explicitly intending to – who do not want their “rights” restricted. There are a lot of other folks who just don’t even want to have to deal with the question “should I really have a gun?”, because they have doubts. My next question is – why would we ever let those people make the decisions regarding access to firearms, for everyone?

Too often I read the news, and someone says “obtained the gun legally”, followed somewhere by “could not have predicted…”, when, actually, it’s often far too predictable, because that eventual killer started out as angry, violent at home (or known to have expressed violent ideations on some forum or another), and struggling with their overall emotional wellness. Yes, we fucking could have known – someone probably did know. Maybe someone even reported the individual to law enforcement because they did know, and were concerned, and tried to do the right thing? How horrific is that? To have the solution within such easy reach… and just let it happen all over again?

Maybe get the fuck up out of women’s reproductive decision-making for one fucking legislative season and work on something that really does need (and have) a solution?

Wow. It feels good to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading. Please write and phone your legislators. Ask them to stop being dishonest assholes about this issue and develop some realistic, responsible gun ownership laws. This is not a partisan issue; I promise you none of the slaughtered children were Republicans or Democrats.