Archives for category: pain

I woke to the alarm. My coffee this morning is a tasty Americano. I am wrapped in modest comfort, and feel safe, cared-for, and content. It’s a nice start to a Wednesday.

I hadn’t been up long before I started feeling that weird nagging sensation that is my half-aware recognition that there’s something I meant to do… right. Chickens. I mean, I’d said I would send my chicken references to Her. (Damn, She really needs a better nickname here…) I was delighted to hear her say she’d like to have chickens (me too!!). It felt like a connection, as much as a shared interest.

I put aside my writing to fulfill this commitment, and email over the links to vendors, resources, references, catalogs, and feel warmed by participating in something we share. I remember her asking about pets… I find myself not recalling why, at first, then – her dogs. Of course. πŸ™‚ Chickens – any livestock, really – are pets enough for me. I like creatures. The small wild lizards everywhere there delight me. The inquisitive jays and wily crows make me smile. Her dogs are fun and friendly. What else could I want? Chickens. LOL It’s a small thing to share an interest with another human being. We are so many, and so many of us share interests. It feels good to connect with another person. Get their views. Hear their thoughts. Share my own. Practice listening more than talking, while I’m at it. lol (Still so human.)

I hit send. Finish my coffee. Contemplate the brief remainder of the work week. It was rainy yesterday. There is rain in the forecast for the rest of the week. I’m okay with that. My arthritis is less okay with it. I think about the climate “down there”… “at home”? (Can I say that? I want to. It is a vision of one possible future that I do find very enticing.) My arthritis didn’t bother me pain-wise the entire weekend I was down visiting my Traveling Partner and Her. (Fuck. I need a better name for Her. Something playful and fond.) I still dealt with the stiffness, some, but it wasn’t so bad. The weekend here is likely to be rainy. I’m likely to be in pain. Still… there is much to do and to enjoy.

It’s a good time to winterize the deck and the potted garden.

It’s a good time to give the place a thorough cleaning in preparation for the holidays to come.

It’s a good time to light the pilot light on the gas fireplace for the cool autumn nights and cold winter days ahead.

It’s a good time for a last visit to the Farmer’s Market – maybe the big one downtown?

It’s a good time for long autumn hikes through colorful fall forest along unexplored trails.

There’s nothing fancy on my calendar this week; this one’s for me. A simple enough quiet weekend at home. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, tidying up, reading a book with my feet up by the fire, sipping coffee in the afternoon…

“WhatΒ  are you doing this weekend?”

Everything. This precious mortal lifetime won’t just live itself. πŸ˜€

 

What a week. Glad it’s behind me. Relieved to feel satisfied, pleased, and accomplished, instead of terrified, anxious and regretful. It could have gone differently. I am content with the outcome.

Stress is a weird thing, though, right? I mean… once I’m stressed about A, then it’s far more likely that unrelated experiences B, C, or D may also feel more stressful, or seem to be cause for concern. I crashed out last night feeling terribly blue, struggling in a sticky web of anxiety-lies and insecurities being launched at me from within, by an anxious, stressed, fatigued brain. I wept. For the world? It seemed so at moments. Other moments, I just felt “cracked open” and unable to hold anything back however small, however simple – even some lovely tender moments felt like pure heartbreak, and I cried, merely because there was too much emotion to hold back any longer. My executive function limitations hit me in my emotional life pretty hard. This week that was more obvious than most weeks in recent months. It’s been a peculiarly emotionally stable year.

I went to bed worried, even, about my relationship with my Traveling Partner. No reason for it, really. At least, nothing I could easily identify. I woke this morning without that insecurity or doubt, feeling rested, anxiety gone; I’m excited about the road trip ahead of me. 3 day weekend with my lover? Yes, please! Sign me up. πŸ™‚Β 

Fuck, I am so glad my “default setting” is no longer despair. I feel fortunate to have survived the first 50 years of my lifetime. Emotions come and go. Like weather. “Who we are” is less volatile, less mutable, and sometimes feels rather… permanent. It isn’t. It’s more like climate; tends to be what it is, but still changeable over time. We become what we practice. No kidding. It’s a slow thing to change the climate – but it can be done. Choose wisely. πŸ™‚

Are you unhappy? Make changes. There’s no map on this journey… it’s rather like setting off on a road trip to see someone you love, unclear of specifically where they are, but with a direction in mind… generally. lol This may help. πŸ™‚ It’s a favorite of mine for reinforcing healthy basics; do the opposite of everything it suggests. lol (Here’s a follow-up on that…)

Maybe something simple this morning? One thing that could be easily improved by one little change in your decision-making, habits, or actions? Start small – committing to a marathon, while breathless from walking across the street may be a bit unmanageable. It’s so easy to become discouraged. I’ve been there…

After years of frustration, despair, and inactivity, I decided to go to the Farmer’s Market, one year. My feet hurt all the time, stupefying medication and unmanaged pain had pretty much nailed me to my couch between work shifts. Doing so would mean a two block walk uphill (barely) from the light rail station. I look back astonished (because I regularly go to the Farmer’s Market quite easily and comfortably, now, and often walk miles, not just blocks) – it seemed hard then. It required effort. Commitment. Patience with myself.

I don’t look at it the same way now, at all. My perspective has changed with my experience over time. Incremental change over time; it wasn’t easy the first time, the second or third times, the fourth time… but eventually, it sure didn’t seem hard, and then… at some point… almost unnoticed, it became quite the natural thing to easily and comfortably do. (For my less physically able readers out there, I’m using an example familiar to me, only, and part of my personal experience, no intention of falling short of being inclusive, but I see where my example could be. I regret any aggravation, or sense of being left out of my consideration that this may cause. Start small, is all I’m saying. πŸ™‚ )

It’s a good reminder for me, too. There is further to go. There is more to do. I still struggle with my weight, health, and fitness. There are changes to make. There is future progress out there on the horizon to be experienced. Incremental change over time takes both time – and verbs. A lot of fucking verbs.

Oh hey, look at the time! It’s definitely time to begin again. This journey won’t make itself. πŸ˜‰

I hadn’t read the news, yesterday, when I sat down to write in the morning. Of course, at this point, it isn’t new news that a shooter in Las Vegas killed a bunch of people. I don’t intend to minimize by saying so little, so briefly. Now news feeds are filled with noise. Repeats of the same talking points. Refutations of arguments for gun control. Reminders that we ought not overlook the atrocities perpetrated against our native forebearers. The push-pull of cries for attention by marginalized groups, all of us, of every sort, struggling to sort out what this heinous act of violence against strangers means for us, as individuals and groups. The resentment and fears of firearm owners who don’t want this to be about them. The anger, sorrow, and outrage, of folks who stand entirely against any form of gun ownership who just can’t believe that we’re all allowing this bullshit to happen yet again.

Change is a verb. Until we take actual action there will be no actual change.

Stop talking – well, stop just talking. Do something. Words pouring onto pages, whether paper or digital, is not enough. Blog posts. News articles. Social media posts. Research. Data analysis. Passionate oratory. Conversation. Argument. There’s really only one sort of words left that have legitimate value here; legislation. There is one group of people to whom we should be talking, loudly – and using firm clear demanding language, and not shutting up about it, ever; our elected representatives at all levels.

(Make a list. Start phoning them.)

It’s time the grown ups in the room sat down and drafted clear, reasonable, prohibitive legislation that secures the freedom of Americans to own firearms, while also securing the safety of Americans who do not own firearms. (If the representatives we currently have won’t enact change, vote them out.) It’s time we acknowledged that we don’t want “everyone” to be able to buy or own a firearm – and also decided who those folks very specifically are – without being afraid to say out loud that indeed we do think some people are a poor fit for gun ownership. It’s time we made it necessary to take safety and knowledge tests for gun ownership – just like we do with getting a driver’s license. It’s time we required gun owners to carry specific insurance to protect themselves and others from the cost of violence. It’s time we set clear boundaries that prevent people convicted of domestic violence crimes from owning fire arms in the future, ever. We have all the data we need. We know where the risks are. It’s time to grow the fuck up and do the verbs.

We’ve talked about this one long enough. Too many innocent lives have already been lost. It’s time we phoned our representatives – all of them, local, state, and federal, and demanded that they do their jobs, by legislating change.

Change is a verb.

My lovely chill Saturday morning was suddenly disrupted by the screaming next door. Not my duplex neighbors, other neighbors. A door slams. Slams. Slams. Slams. Hysterical rage. She’s out on the front stoop screaming to be let in, so clearly the target of the yelling has now locked her out. From her repeated enraged screaming, “if you would just HEAR ME!“, again and again, I’m pretty certain she already felt “locked out” for some time, this morning, if not for far longer.

I can see their front stoop from the window of my studio, where I am sitting. I’ve turned up the music on my headphones to try to drown out her anguished vocalizations, but at this point, I’m at risk of damaging my hearing to turn up the music more. My eyes are helplessly drawn to her misery and anger, and she’s begun throwing her body at the door, again and again, and isn’t making actual words now, just animal sounds, anguished, enraged, frustrated, demanding, pleading. She is lost to “now”, and exists in some moment of complex emotion, trapped in her narrative.

This isn’t where I want to exist this morning. The morning began quite differently. My tears, part sympathy, part PTSD, part lack of executive function, part pure animal stress at being exposed to pure animal stress, spill down as I write. I glance at the phone – should I call 911? Shoulders shaking now with sobs, helplessly overcome by my own memories of terror and rage, I watch her collapse, crying, on the front step of her home… what do I do? I mean, aside from sitting here crying, myself? I can’t bear to be that person who observed and did nothing, even recognizing that I don’t know who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are (it’s “other people’s drama” – in a very real sense, we are all both good guys and bad guys; they are human beings, having their own experience), and I don’t know what’s really going on there, or what the risk is.

…I’m triggered now, but I’m also aware of the other human being, over there, alone in her moment. Shit. I sigh as I rise from my chair, slipping my sandals on to walk next door and offer her a moment of calm, a cup of tea, someone to talk to. Hell, I’m already crying, and I know how terrible such experiences can feel in the moment. May as well… Can I conquer my fear with my compassion? Can I be a friend to someone suffering?

…. … …

It’s some time later. I got to the front walk, and started to walk down the driveway as the first police car pulled up. I find myself wondering who called, and when, although those details don’t matter at all. I go back inside, figuring this is likely a deeply embarassing moment for their household, and not wanting to compound it being an obvious witness. I’m trembling. Crying again. Leaning with my back to the inside of the front door, the unexpected knock startled me. It’s a “cop knock” – they have their own unique way of making a knock on a door sound terrifying (or is it just me?). The officer at the door “just has some questions”. He scanned my face, the tears were obvious. Was I involved, or…? “No, dude, I’m a survivor with PTSD. I’m stressed about that shit going down next door, is all…”

His questions aren’t hard, but I unexpectedly broke down trying to express myself clearly, sinking to my floor helplessly weeping uncontrollably, lost to a moment that doesn’t exist anymore, that can’t hurt me anymore, that isn’t my experience of life anymore… He asks to see my id, and I try to retrieve it from the wee card case in my pocket. Cards spilled everywhere. Credit cards, id, my insurance card, my medical cannabis card, assorted defining cards of an adult human – without any real worth or meaning, just then. I cry harder. He picked up my cards, because I clearly couldn’t. I looked up, feeling embarrassed and childlike. He looked at my id closely. “You’re a veteran?” I just nodded. He sat down with me on the stoop. He sees how my view frames the stoop next door. “Did you see anything?” “Heard her screaming at her door is all” I say, sniffling and wiping my eyes. Practical questions gave me something in the present to hang on to. She is not me. I’m here, now. I’m okay, now. “She was body slamming the door a couple times, then just sat down crying”. I wipe my eyes on my sleeve. “I was going to offer her a cup of tea and help her calm down” I observe, “…you guys got to her first.” My tone sounded vaguely accusatory in my ears, although that’s wasn’t my intention. He sounded sad when he replied “That’s all the questions I had” and “thank you for your service” as he stood and reached out his hand to help me up, before shaking hands with me and leaving.

It’s quiet now. Very quiet. I don’t even know if anyone was arrested, or who, or… I only know it’s quiet now. I’m okay right now. This wasn’t about me, or my life, and now the moment is about letting it go, and taking care of the woman in the mirror. Begin again, I remind myself…

…Please treat the people you say you love as if you do indeed love them. The damage done when you don’t lasts longer than you may understand. There are never enough tears to wash away the stain of cruelty, neglect, or violence.

The leg cramp that woke me during the night has left my right calf feeling bruised this morning. It sucked to be awakened in that fashion, while also stiff and partially immobilized by arthritis pain and stiffness in my spine. Once I was able to manage it, I got up and got a big drink of water, with some Calm in it (for the magnesium), took a calcium supplement, and a multi-mineral supplement, and went back to bed. It was hard to return to sleep; the pain and panic which woke me lingered enough to cause some reluctance to sleep. I definitely did not want to wake up to another leg cramp. The lingering ache in my calf reminds me I am aging.

Some commutes are more challenging than others.

The commute home last night was pretty awful. By the time I arrive home some evenings, I have very little compassion for my fellow humans on their own journeys left over to feel. That’s pretty hard to accept, because it isn’t who I want to be. The frustration of observed poor decision-making, the resentment over impeded forward momentum, suffering the terrible lack of consideration for other people evident in the driving of most commuters, it’s all just very… yeah; humanity doesn’t present its best self during rush hour. Put an adult human primate behind the wheel of a car at the end of a work day and send them on home – you will see the most egregious demonstrations of unjustified entitlement and discourtesy, and possibly understand how it is we’re all in the mess we’re in right now, if you’re open to that awareness. I have some of my own shittiest moments of poor character and decision-making behind the wheel of my car on my evening commute, too. “I just want to get home, okay?” translates as “fuck that guy, he’s in my way” far too often. For all of us. For any of us. For each of us. I am learning to make it a point to practice being my best human self during the commute. I am regularly tested. I often fail. I sometimes succeed. I keep practicing, because it matters. This is the sort of thing where each of us has the greatest potential to immediately change the world we live in.

There are gentler moments, too.

The evening passed pleasantly. I relaxed. It was a good choice of activity after my commute. lol I made a nice cup of tea, which amusingly I never drank, and put my feet up. I had every intention of doing some things; I have a list of things which want doing. I did exactly one thing last night; I relaxed. I did that so well that it was my only activity of the evening. πŸ˜€ I spent a pleasant little while contemplating how fortunate I am to live surrounded by art I love, to have (and to have read) so many books that have shared with me the thoughts of so many minds greater than my own. I relaxed in the good company of my small library, regretting only that I’ve not yet learned how to hold on to all the books I’ve ever read, ever owned; I persist in the silly notion that somehow, keeping the books to some “reasonable quantity” is a thing that matters more than keeping the books. lol I’m pretty sure I’m wrong about that, but I lack infinite space and infinite bookshelves. πŸ™‚

The books I have kept are my best and favorite and most meaningful and most loved. They easily fill the 6 bookshelves I’ve got, currently, and there are several (meaning 7) more boxes of books in the garage waiting for me to do something about that. More shelves? Fewer books? No idea. There’s no rush. For now they are conveniently still boxed up… some of them had been boxed up the entire time I lived at #59. My hardbound set of The Great Books of the Western World (more appropriately named “The Great Books of the Elders of Whitemanistan Because White Dudes Said So And Hey Who Else Really Writes Books Guys, Amiright?”) for example, has been in boxes for some years, now. I have weird mixed emotions about “The Great Books”, primarily because, um, some of them aren’t all that god damned “great” and the selections reflect a peculiarly patriarchal (and exceedingly white) perspective on greatness, generally. So, the entire set stays boxed up unless for some reason I urgently need a bygone white guy’s take on the world in some moment. Last time I cracked open those boxes I was looking for Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”. The time before that, Euclid.

My view on the evening included the deck. It is slowly being covered with leaves, and apparently the air out there is just fucking filled with invisible spiders. lol This weekend I’ll do something about both of those things. Spiders first. :-\

It’s a new day. I’ll have two great opportunities to work on being my best self while I also commute. I’ll observe details of life I may have previously overlooked, or forgotten. My musings will entertain me, and if I am fortunate, I’ll learn from them as well. One day in a human lifetime. I can make it significant, or let is simply pass by. I can choose to change the world, in some small way contributing to its betterment, or… not. I can begin again, or drift without effort, waiting for change to act on me. It’s a pretty vast menu of choices. The day ahead is a blank page.

Choose. Begin again.