Archives for category: Post Traumatic Stress

I’m thinking about patterns and routines as I sip my morning coffee. Specifically, about a pattern I’m noticing rather a lot lately, one where I have something clear and complete to write in the evening, and such an evening seems regularly followed by a morning on which I’ve either entirely forgotten those thoughts, or can no longer hold the relevant circumstances also in my memory; either way, I’m not writing that post. It’s gone. lol

…But writing first thing feels so… natural…

I am having to consider that this particular timing of this particular practice is not suiting me well, at the moment. Changing the timing is something I’ve approached before. I used to write in the evening, very reliably. There was a time when writing at lunch time was the way I handled “when to write”. I’m considering returning to that one, for a while, at least. Maybe. Probably.

…Maybe…

…First things first? This post, and this cup of coffee. This moment. “Now”. I’m definitely into it. Lovely quiet morning. Delicious cup of coffee. I feel good in my clothes. I feel comfortable in my skin. It’s enough to start the day well.

…And it’s already time to begin again…

I woke with a silent groan, about half an hour before my alarm would have gone off. Stiff neck. Headache. Aching back. Well… shit. I do some yoga. Shower. More yoga. Some stretches I learned in physical therapy. Coffee. Now I’m sitting here feeling completely fantastic managing to pull myself together sufficiently to go to work. This morning life feels very much the journey through the darkness without a map that it is; and this path is not paved. lol

…Well… It could be worse, right? I’ve got heat, power, and indoor plumbing. Potable drinking water (as far as I know). A secure home. This cup of coffee. A partner who loves me. It’s a good life, in spite of the aches and pains. I sit sipping my coffee, focused on my generally good quality of life, and take it in. I savor the feeling of being loved. I savor the feeling of warmth when the heat comes on. I savor the sense of safety. I take time to appreciate that I’m not out in the rain on a cold night. I consider the merry little Giftmas tree in the living room. I feel the sensation of the smile on my face. As practices go, I can’t beat gratitude, and presence, for an early morning boost. Maybe I even hurt less, although it’s tough to say for sure; it definitely is of less consequence that I am in pain. 🙂

Being 100% real, it’s not “effortless” to lift myself up. It’s not automatic to feel grateful or appreciative in some difficult moment. It’s not “easy” to take a step back from conflict or frustration, to be a better version of this woman I most want to be. It’s not “my nature” to be reliably gentle, tender, kind, and considerate. I work at all of it. I practice. I make changes. I reflect on the outcomes of my actions, and my words. I give a lot of wholehearted apologies; I make a lot of mistakes. No map. This journey through the darkness across an uneven, unpaved, metaphor, offers some major opportunities for growth. Nothing about that is comfortable, or easy.

Every morning, and a lot of other moments, too, I begin again. I start all over – new day, new opportunities. Failure isn’t terrifying, it’s merely part of a growth process. (Saying that doesn’t make it less difficult in the moment.)

I keep sipping my coffee, trying to wake up fully. Another short night. I woke up around 3:00 a.m., and went back to sleep for an hour (sort of). I haven’t managed even 6 hours in any given night, once again, in days. (It would no doubt be helpful to get to bed at an hour early enough for that to be possible, in the first place.) I set a reminder on my wearable, and hope to get to bed “on time” tonight. I rub the sleep out of my eyes, still trying to wake up.

…And already it’s time to begin again.

You know that experience where disappointment, frustration, and anger, collide, and the result is a bit of a tantrum, a lashing out, maybe saying “too much”, with too much ferocity? You know the one; the burning of bridges, the severing of connections? That moment when disappointment hits so hard it feels necessary to hit back (metaphorically, I mean)? Yeah… don’t do that. (Also, don’t do violence. Just… yeah, don’t. Not okay.)

I know, it sound super easy to say. Emotions get to the party ahead of our rational minds, generally. Once we’ve lashed out, said a thing, made a messy bit of drama that will need clean up later, it can seem to have been necessary, “reasonable” (it’s definitely not that) – even “paybacks” may sound satisfying. “Fuck them!”

Here’s the thing, though. We’re all human. Most of us perceive ourselves to be “the good guy” in our own narrative, at least. If asked, people seem generally willing to stake a claim to being in a state of “doing their best”, moment-to-moment. It’s very subjective. If, though, everyone around us is as well-intentioned as we believe ourselves to be, is lashing out when disappointed actually an appropriate reaction to that person or circumstance? (If you are not “well-intentioned”, that’s a very different concern, for another day.)

I recognize that life “isn’t fair”, and that most of the time there’s no “save” at the last minute, no “we brought you back as our wild card performer!” moment to salvage our experience if we’ve been disappointed. (Sometimes there is, though, so… maybe don’t talk yourself out of that potential with a lot of cranky bullshit.) I’m thinking about it this morning, not because it’s properly relevant to this moment, but it may be to some other, in the future, so… sipping coffee, thinking thoughts. Certainly, after the fact, it’s usually pretty clear that throwing a fucking fit over some small disappointment is less than ideal for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that the most obvious result is that we look like a reactive, emotionally immature, jackass (at least until we’ve finished whatever rationalization we’re prone to working so hard at, at that point we’re likely to be blinded by our own fiction). lol Not a great look.

Giftmas is coming. Gifts under trees… dinners out with friends or family… holiday events… it’s easy to forget to cherish these rare moments, to make them the best moments of our lives (and yes, even in spite of conflict, and stress). It’s super easy to lose our shit in a moment of holiday stress. We’re making memories every moment, though; what do we want to remember of our life? To be remembered for? The stress? The conflict? We become what we practice. Being a petty jerk about an imperfect gift creates a memory, becomes a practice. How much better to give generously, and receive graciously? To be kind? To show compassion? To laugh with a joyous heart? There are verbs involved, and choices, and yes – your actual will. It is actually possible to choose – and build – joy. I recommend it as a practice. 😀

Let go of the stress. Lead with gratitude. Be merry by choice when you can. Appreciate each moment; the joyous ones are as lovely as butterflies, the ones that are less joyous are extraordinary opportunities to grow, to learn, and to become that person you most want to be. Sure, walk away from drama, definitely do that, and also connect with others more deeply, more authentically. It is a powerful season for change. It’s a real shot at life-changing forward momentum. Your call. Your choice. Your practices.

Give yourself an amazing gift this year; better practices. 🙂 It’s not always “easy”, and “practice” certainly implies effort, and likely an occasional actual failure. The journey is so worth all that. Are you the person you most want to be, standing where you are, right now? What will you do about that, today, right now?

It’s already time to begin again. I finish my coffee, and smile. No headache this morning; it’s a good beginning. 😀

 

I woke early. Headache? Sure, fine, why not…? Coffee? It’s good. Brain? Foggy.

I put on headphones and queue up some music. I breathe. Exhale. Relax, letting my shoulders drop. I hadn’t noticed they were stiff, tense, and up around my ears. I feel my jaw unclench. Wicked little headache. New one? I’m not certain. I breathe. Listen to the music. Exhale. Relax. I hold my attention on my breath, observing my physical experience. Toes gripping the pedestal of this office chair. I place my feet on the floor, and allow them to relax. Still breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breathing. In. Out. Feeling the music fill my consciousness. Track changes allow me, momentarily, to hear other sounds of morning: cars passing outside, the heat coming on, the muffled sound of my own breath from the other side of the headphones. Breathing in. Exhaling. Relaxing, again. My breathing is relaxed and even, and in spite of feeling pretty foggy (I woke way too early), and this headache (which I could frankly do without), I feel pretty okay this morning. A good Monday so far, even if I did wake up at 3:20 a.m.

I sip my coffee, and think about holiday cards, old friends, and the double-edged razor-blade of social media; so easy to stay in touch, so much general ill-effect to take advantage of that technology. Another breath. Another exhalation. Another moment to let go of assumptions, and expectations, and the outrage machinery of modern media. I’m content with this cup of coffee, and this Opiuo track.

Weird weekend. It was full of peculiar little ups and downs, and although there were some moments I easily could have done without, I nonetheless recall the weekend as a good one. I got much done, and my studio is sufficiently tidy to be suitable guest space in a pinch, which feels almost strange after a year of clutter. I smile, appreciating my Traveling Partner’s hints and suggestions, falling short of nagging, but persistent as reminders that I, myself, wanted to create order from the chaos that developed over the year, and during the prior year when I traveled so much, myself. I look around feeling content and satisfied. I eye the next couple of tasks. There are several. Easier to do them, now, though – more room to work. 🙂

I smile recalling my Traveling Partner enjoying the squirrels and chipmunks with me, this weekend. Beautiful memories. Will I always recall these moments? I savor it for some minutes, recalling in detail our shared delight in the antics of the wee chipmunks, and the plumpness of some of the squirrel “regulars”.

With my Traveling Partner’s help, and largely due to his weekday efforts, the house looks lovely. Tidy, comfortable, well-organized; it’s easy to feel good here. I sit for a minute, sipping my coffee and feeling wholly grateful that I am not having to handle all the housekeeping and chores alone. I smile quietly, similarly grateful for a partnership that supports my overall wellness, and even to the point of gently insisting I don’t just sit around, however much I really really really just want to rest, quietly, in a favorite comfortable spot, watching squirrels, or videos. lol It’s sometimes super annoying to hear the hint to get up and move around some – doesn’t matter whether it comes from my phone or my partner, really, but taking the hint and fighting the desire to just sit is likely to be a huge positive for my longevity and health later in life. So… I fuss a bit, then get up anyway. By the end of an evening, I’m just so tired, and often in so much pain… but each opportunity to get up, move around, and do some small thing before sitting down again, is an action toward a longer, healthier life. 🙂 I get up, get a glass of water, or pick out my work clothes, or carry something from where it is to where it more appropriately should be. I get up, do the dishes, or take out the trash, or pick something up, or tidy something else. I get up, go to the garage for a case of fizzy water, or a roll of paper towels. I get up, make a cup of tea, “just stretch my legs”, or use the restroom. Fighting the desire to “really relax” can be hard; a lifetime of stress whispers in my ear that this is the “one path” to finally getting past all that to some imaginary experience in which there is no stress, no pain, no fatigue…

…I sigh aloud in the quiet room. There’s no such thing as the perfect utopian experience of ease; even that takes verbs. Action. Effort. I sip my coffee. I notice the time. Meditation, yoga, a shower… waking up too early makes for a leisurely morning of good self-care. Trade-offs. Regardless, there are nearly always verbs involved, effort, will, action, getting down the path to find that life was well-lived, and characterized by contentment, and an experience of ease and joy. Slow things down, sure – life can definitely be way to busy – but stopping altogether? Maybe not the best idea, however fatigued I may feel. lol

I’m still groggy this morning. My coffee helped little. I find myself looking forward to the cold morning air wrapping me in refreshment as I head to the office. Random thoughts on a Monday crowd my consciousness. I smile. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

My sleep was restless and interrupted, and I had very few dreams. The dreams I had were hard on me, mostly nightmares filled with mocking laughter, and a feeling of being emptied, gutted, and vacated, and left at the curb for trash pick up day. I woke as if to a strange noise, but the house was dark and quiet. I tried, unenthusiastically, to return to sleep without success. I got up and started making coffee. My Traveling Partner got up, and I made coffee for him, too, then retreated to my studio to write and to weep. No idea where the tears are coming from. My nightmares? Anyway – I’m not fit company just yet, so I am considerately avoiding humanity and taking care of myself until this bullshit passes.

Yes, “bullshit”. It’s okay to refuse to yield ground to my demons. It’s okay to refuse to be overcome by my personal baggage. I’m not mistreating my heart, hear, I’m just not going to allow a visit to The Nightmare City to wreck my day, but getting there is a journey of its own, and one that I find easier to make alone, generally. I’m less likely to take myself too seriously.  😉

So, I’m sipping my coffee and trying to write without allowing a syntax error, missing word, over-looked opposite, or spelling mistake to slip past unnoticed. It requires my whole attention this morning. My mind is still shattered and distracted by the content of my dreams. It’ll pass, and in the meantime? I won’t be taking my nightmares personally.

I sip my coffee frustrated that I’m closing in on 57 and still chasing lasting relief from the chaos and damage. I’ll just point it out; when we hurt people the damage done can really last a literal life time. Do people “let it go” and “get over it”? Sure – for some values of letting go, for some values of getting over it. The damage is done. If we break a leg, and have it properly cared for, and it heals nicely, and we have full use of it restored… did that do anything at all to remove the experience of having broken it? Of going through that healing process? Of dealing with the pain? Nope. All that is still a real thing. So it also is with emotional hurts, and really any sort of trauma at all. From simple inconsiderate rudeness or petty cruelty, to massive trauma resulting in hospitalization and everything that is traumatic or hurtful, however large or small. Once we do the damage, the damage is done. Fix what you can, for sure. Be accountable for your words and your actions, most definitely. Don’t be under the impression that accountability, contrition, or making amends does anything at all to change the fact that the damage was done. :-\

…Hang on though… I’m not saying, either, that it is a necessary (or good) thing to destroy oneself with guilt or regret, either. Be your own best friend. Be open to failures, and accepting that you’ve done damage, do what you can do to make amends, to offer a sincere apologize (no excuses, no reservations, wholly authentic) – then let it go and hopefully move on in life without being so careless, or inconsiderate, or hurtful, or callous, or foolish, or whatever it was that caused the damage you’ve done to another person! …Because, yeah, sooner or later you are going to cause some damage. 😦 For real, though; no one is immune to hurting another person. It’s actually pretty hard not to, sometimes. We’re fairly fragile creatures, particularly from an emotional perspective. Complicated. We learn most from our mistakes, but there are some mistakes we really don’t want (or need) to make…

…Well, shit. I guess I’m learning stuff? Damn, I fucking hope so. :-\ In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just begin again. It’s a lovely morning for meditation, and a great day to spend restoring order to chaos. 🙂