Archives for category: Post Traumatic Stress

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! 😀

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. 🙂 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. 😀

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.

I write the word. You read the word. “Tantrums.” We probably both think of children, first. Adults having tantrums are… embarrassingly human. I’ll bet you’ve done it. “Thrown a fit.” Maybe, “lost your shit”? Did you “blow up” over something small? Tired? Not feeling well? Headache? Suddenly you found yourself in the middle of an emotional firestorm, losing both self-control and resilience? I don’t know anyone who can be entirely honest and say they’ve never, ever, lost their composure inappropriately over some moment or another. It’s unpleasant to experience. It’s unpleasant to witness. It’s unpleasant to be around. Each and every one of us who has found ourselves succumbing to the worst of who we are in some moment, who has blasted some innocent bystander, colleague, – or worst – someone we care about deeply over our bullshit, knew right then and there that we were fucking wrong as hell. We probably didn’t say as much. Maybe we never even apologized. Maybe we think because the “facts were on our side” it excuses our shitty behavior? Is it you, this time? Was it them? Do you think you were “right”? Do you think they were? (Do you actually think that matters more than the unpleasant moment you’ve created?)

“Am I the asshole?” Good question to ask oneself in a moment of tension or conflict. Just saying.

I’ve been there, for sure. It’s definitely not “always me”, though; I am but one human among many. Even narrowing the view to just the company I work for. Just my community. Just my family. Just my partnership. Even with my “issues” – it’s not always me. Just saying. Any one of us can, and likely will, succumb to emotional weather, however pleasant the emotional climate may be. Storms come and go.

I sat down to write, over the weekend, but my thoughts had not yet become a thing I could express in words. It was fatiguing weekend of relaxing effort. lol My body was tired. My mind was seeking a moment of quiet to really process things. Maybe I get that moment when I seek it, maybe I don’t. It sometimes ends up being the sort of thing that keeps me restless and wakeful into the wee hours, quiet, and reflecting, filtering, sifting, sorting, all the thoughts and questions, and moments. In the meantime, I’m struggle to put my thoughts into some coherent share-worthy whole. Interruptions. Distractions. Endless seeming “high priority” distractions, and demands on my time and attention.

My Traveling Partner is having his own experience.

Our A/C seemed to be malfunctioning. I mean… it demonstrably was “malfunctioning”, keeping in mind the intention, and settings, should have it cooling the house, and it is doing quite the opposite. Time spent troubleshooting (and snarling at each other), eventually pays off; blown fuse replaced. I struggle to “keep up” with his shifting emotional weather, some days. That was one of those. I imagine my own notion of resilience as a deep, calm, still pool. I perceive his (substantial) resilience more as a wave pool; big swings that reliably settle into calm fairly quickly. We’re each having our own experience. It’s not “personal” – not even truly “adversarial” in any clear way. Just quite different from each other, and sometimes not complementary. We are so similar…and so different. I don’t think I’d change that… I’d just like to be a bit better at it than I am… preferably without having to gain those skills through experience. lol

I continued to write, but ultimately set it aside over distractions. The pain I was in had increased, even though our stressful moment was quite brief, and it colored my thinking. I finally gave up on it. Today it’s days later, and reaching for words in a different moment of stress and conflict, and I find this, half-finished, waiting for me. A reminder that emotional weather comes and goes. That we are each having our own experience. Each seeking to understand the world through the lens and filter of our own experience – and often completely limited to that context, because it is all we truly know. Empathy is hard sometimes. Compassion requires more verbs. Kindness, too. Finding my way to a fully accepting and loving place is hard right now. I’m angry.

I remind myself that my Traveling Partner and I both have only good intentions. That we both love each other. That we are each doing our best with shared goals in mind. That we are individuals seeking to thrive – and help each other to do so – on a shared journey. It’s hard to be the best version of myself when I am feeling angry, or misunderstood, or unappreciated. I know that’s true for him, too. I look at my calendar – another meeting. I take a breath, and begin again.

It’s evening, and I never get tired of being awash in evening light. The perspective from this 17th floor hotel room is vast and lovely. A distant highway adds sparkle as traffic follows the road in the deepening twilight. I look out toward the horizon picking out various landmarks I had spotted in daylight hours. There is a far off ferris wheel that lights at night. Tonight it is blue. The sky is clear tonight. At least over here. Out on that horizon, more thunderheads, but no lightning (yet).

Florida from the 17th floor.

I wore myself out at the conference today. That wasn’t my plan. Reality has its own, and consequences of physical limitations are for sure part of that experience. The convention center is quite huge. The distances from one end of the conference to the other are… vast. LOL In the late afternoon, I laid down “for 10 minutes”, planning to join other attendees at dinner a bit later. I woke a bit more than 3 hours later, a little groggy, very thirsty, and feeling somewhat rested and in quite a lot less pain. I’m okay with all of those things. Although I am quite outgoing based on my “personal presentation” in the workplace, or out and about in the world, the truth is I’m often cringing at the “unwanted contact” with other beings and other minds. Baggage? Oh, surely, and I’m even okay with that. I live decently well these days, and there is no shame in being content with a great many solitary experiences. I have grown quite fond of the woman in the mirror, and she’s excellent “company” given a few moments to myself to enjoy the experience of self.

My last trade conference before this one was some years ago. My experience was intense, unpleasant in spots, overly busy, distracting, unsettled, and my return home was… problematic. I over-reacted to the excitement and relief of being home, and my emotionality brought me in conflict with my partners-at-the-time. The meltdown was… significant, and terribly unpleasant. I feel hopeful that I’m past all that, and that this trip will end with the sort of comfortably familiar return home that I have whenever I return from routine business travel.

…The only things I find unpleasant about this particular adventure are the stifling humidity (Florida, need I say more?) and the astonishing size of the convention space, so vast that just getting registered yesterday resulted in 16k total steps walked from when I reached the airport, until I dropped into bed, exhausted. LOL It’s probably excellent for my overall fitness… but damn it’s hard on my ankle, and by the end of each day, my feet hurt like crazy. That’s how I ended up napping; I really just wanted to put my feet up awhile so they wouldn’t hurt, and I could go/do just a bit more. lol My body knew better; I needed that rest.

I am missing my Traveling Partner. Missing “home”. Missing my garden, and the plump gray cat that stalks blue jays from the fence-top outside my studio window while I am working. I miss being wrapped in contentment and love. I miss my own cooking. I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel a bit; it provides useful perspective on home life, and gives me a chance to fully appreciate my life. I’m not yearning and feeling lost, just missing things about my life that I truly love. I’m eager to get back.

I write a paragraph reflecting on practical/personal details of travel, generally. I delete it. I’m rambling. I’m connecting with my home experience by writing while I think about it. Inefficient. I think I’ll shift gears and message my partner, and chat awhile. 🙂 No phone call? Nah. Being on the phone is physically uncomfortable – it makes my tinnitus worse, and also tends to find me holding my left arm in a position that makes the pain of my neck injury worse. I smile to myself just thinking about my partner.

Soon enough, more sleep. Soon enough, I’ll begin again.

Good flight, so far. Lots of storms. Lightening. Beautiful. I entertain myself shooting video clips of lightening in the distance as it illuminates the clouds. The sky is “already ” beginning to show signs of the coming dawn. My brain feels confused by that; the clock says 01:14. Soon we’ll land, and upon reconnecting, it’ll be 3 hours “into the future”.

I haven’t slept. Although I often doze on long flights, it’s rare that I actually sleep deeply or restfully. I didn’t expect to. I dozed a couple times. 20-30 minute catnaps, nothing more. I will nap in the hotel, after check-in.

… time passes…

It’s evening, now. Almost 18:00. Florida “has thick air” – dense, still, humid. There has been a hint of coming storms in the air here, all day. The storms over the midwest seem to have followed me here. lol I turn off the A/C in the room. Shut off the lights as night falls. I shoot a few videos. Reliably the most “dramatic” and eye-catching lightening immediately precedes turning on the video, or quickly follows turning it off. LOL Timing matters.

I sit quietly, entertained by “nature’s lightshow”. The heaviest of the drenching rain has moved on, but the lightening persists. There was a balcony light on for a while. It’s off now. Timers? My footage would have been much better without that fucking balcony light. I stop writing for a few minutes and just watch, listen, and breathe. My cell phone is on the charger; no video right now. LOL Timing matters.

City lights in the distance seem to sparkle. Cars move along roadways. It all seems so… “fancy”. I feel lucky to see it; there are very few thunderstorms where I live.

I was so wiped out from traveling that once I checked into the hotel, and got sorted out for where things are located (like the convention I’m actually here for), I crashed hard and napped for a couple hours. Got up. Showered. Went and checked-in to the conference itself. Had another nap. Roused myself and attended the evening conference “mixer” – just a meet-n-greet of various professionals attending, and the folks who are hosting the whole thing. It was pleasant enough, I supposed. Not so much my thing, personally, but I was tickled to run into a couple folks I know from elsewhere: a former colleague, folks I’ve met previously through vendor partnerships when I was employed other places. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Once it was clear the socializing was beginning to turn into “partying”, I made a gracious exit and returned to my room, delicious but unfinished Mai Tai still in my hand. Those are fucking strong. I have one last sip as I enter my room, and put the rest in the mini fridge. (I probably won’t finish it; that’s a lot of alcohol for me, and I rarely drink.) Tasty. Too much. Like travel and conferences. LOL

The thunder rolls on. An hour ago I was unbelievably sleepy again… now, less so. I’m captivated by the lightening, and spellbound by the thunder. I’m missing my Traveling Partner. We chatted awhile, a bit ago, before the thunderstorm started. Soon, sleep, but for now, I’m just sitting here with a glass of water, enjoying this thunderstorm. 😀 …This too shall pass. Storms do. Impermanence demonstrated. I sit with that metaphor, sipping my water.

Soon enough, it’ll be a new day, and time to begin again.