Archives for category: Post Traumatic Stress

I’m relaxed and smiling this morning. I’m happy yesterday is behind me. Though I had gone into it expecting the day to be in some small way “celebratory”, the day had something very different in mind for me. I spent much of my morning in a state of frustration (because, reasons) and grief (over my Mother’s death last summer), bouncing between tears, and a roller-coaster of (mostly) negative emotions of various sorts. It was hard on me, and hard on my Traveling Partner, who was, let’s be honest, having his own experience, too.

…Turns out grieving colors our experience, and socks that are too tight can wreck a potentially delightful day. Who knew? (Well, probably most of us, but nonetheless, we can all be taken by surprise over such things, and that is what is so unexpected.)

Once my partner and I recognized that I was struggling with grieving (and feeling fairly foolish about it, some 9+ months after my Mom died), dealing with my bullshit was easier. Dealing with his? I shrug it off, now, as “humans gonna be human”, but yesterday was hard for both of us, for a variety of reasons. At some point after I went to bed last night, he realized that his physical discomfort (see “socks that are too tight”, above) was wrecking his mood. This morning he was merry and comfortable, his usual loving self. I was over whatever (grief) was biting my ass, yesterday, too. Very different experience of each other. 🙂

Building a life characterized by contentment and sufficiency does not, ever, guarantee a smooth easy ride to the end of a happy life. lol There are verbs involved. Results may vary. We’re each having our own experience. Bullshit and drama are a very human experience. So. Sipping my morning coffee this morning, feeling infused with perspective, and decently well-rested (although short on sleep). Will it be a good day? No idea – but it is a new one. I get to begin again. 🙂

Another working day spent in the time of pandemic, another opportunity to connect with my Traveling Partner more deeply, with more openness, and greater… something, something, and etc. I mean, love still takes some work, and being my best self still takes real commitment to self-awareness, and practice (which feels pretty hit/miss sometimes, for results). We are each individuals. We’re in this together. Shared experience. Individual experience. All the overlap between. If we share nothing, we lose our connection, over time. If we share everything, we lose our sense of individual self and agency. There is a balance. In these days of isolation and confinement, it sometimes feels like dancing – the awkward, often self-conscious dancing of youthful uncertainty, which is a bit uncomfortable at times; we’re not kids anymore.

I worked a fairly routine day yesterday. Each time I took a break, I left my studio (which is also my “office”) and discovered some new thing had been done around the house. My Traveling Partner keeps busy with various quality-of-life-focused projects. It passes the time in a healthy way.

…He moved the furniture around…

You know, it could have been drama and bullshit, but honestly, it’s just furniture. If we don’t like where it is – and I mean either of us, over time, could decide it is a poor fit – we can move it around differently. We have that freedom. We have that power. Each of us. Both of us. I managed to find peace and balance with all of it super quickly, which was nice. No one needs my drama and bullshit right now, right? I’m unsettled by the quantity of small changes as the aesthetic of our home inches further and further from what I most ideally enjoy, myself, but there really are two people living here, and it is our home, not exclusively mine. It matters to be open to new arrangements of things. There’s so much joy in it when we both feel a comfortable sense of place. When we both feel at home.

The street is nearly silent outside this morning. These days there is very little commuter traffic through this neighborhood. People who can, really are working from home. People who don’t need to work are generally really staying home. A quick trip out for supplies revealed a world in which suburban men commonly work in the garage, or in their yards, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, building and making things to improve their quality of life, and that of their families. I saw a dad-aged man teaching a little girl to ride a bicycle… on a Wednesday. It was beautiful. It got me wondering, decades from now, how will we view this time of pandemic, looking back? Our perspectives are not universal.

Some people will remember store shelves stripped bare, and being unable to buy stable food items, and basic household items.

Some people will remember the profiteering, the incompetence and mismanagement, the heinous disregard for employee health and safety shown by some companies.

Some people will remember having to work from home, after years of begging for the privilege of being able to do so.

Some people will remember being sick, or supporting sick family members.

Some people will remember the anxiety, the chaos, the fear-mongering, and the uncertainty.

Some people will remember losing their jobs – others will remember being forced to work.

…And some people, who were children in the time of pandemic, will remember long happy weeks at home, with their parents and siblings, connecting over fun projects, entertained, loving, and they will, perhaps, look back on this time with real fondness, as a time when they enjoyed all the love and attention from their parents that they could ever possibly need. I like to think about that as a tiny pin-prick of an upside to all this COVID-19 stuff; some children will get loved more, by attentive parents who perhaps don’t realize that their efforts to stave off boredom, and keep their youngsters developmentally on track, is making some amazing memories.

Then, I frown over a news article pointing out how terrifying this time must be for people in abusive relationships, or households that experience domestic violence. 😦 Let’s don’t be that. We can each do so much better than that.

Be considerate and gentle with your words. It can really wear even your nearest and dearest down quite a lot, over time, to be in such close contact for so long. Social distancing can complicate that – you’re probably not hanging out with anyone else. The lack of variety may serve to highlight small things, which can make them appear to be The Next Big Deal Breaker. Doesn’t have to be that way. 🙂 Choose kindness. Choose authenticity – and positive intent. Be your best self, even though that definitely takes practice.

I’m saying it to you, because I’m saying it to me. There are verbs involved. Work. Effort. Commitment. Self-reflection. A lot of do-overs and new beginnings. A lot of practice.

I’m ready for another work day in the time of pandemic. I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

This too shall pass. I sip my coffee and sigh, this morning. I’m groggy. I could go back to sleep, so easily. It’s a work day, though, and I will log on to my work laptop in a few minutes, and get started. The work day felt pretty short, yesterday (it wasn’t). Will today?

Yesterday’s moment of tension, between my Traveling Partner and I, is still on my mind. It wasn’t a big deal, and it wasn’t about him, or us. I had a moment of feeling “overwhelmed”…by circumstances, by demands on my time, by lack of cognitive bandwidth, by a sense that I somehow wasn’t doing enough to actually take care of myself, and I started weeping over the need to do one more thing in what had already felt like a very busy day. It didn’t last long, and once the moment passed I was more easily able to reflect on it (and take time to meditate, properly, for a few minutes). What was up with all that? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure it matters. If I were a younger woman, I likely would have called it “hormones”, just based on the way it swept in and swamped me, and then simply dissipated. I have a sip of coffee, and let it go. That moment has passed.

This coffee is good. My shoulders ache, an extension of the pain in my neck, and back. I breathe, exhale, relax… I go through all the physical therapy stuff, looking for relief. I go through my history, on YouTube, and remove all the COVID-19 stuff, all the Democratic campaign stuff, all the stuff clicked on absent-mindedly that I don’t need clogging my feed… maybe the content will improve? Small steps to improve the quality of my experience, generally. I glance at the time, reluctant to yield my consciousness or my soul to the work world, again, so soon. There is more to do, and to enjoy, with life’s precious few mortal years, and this morning I find myself more than usually resentful of having to maintain “gainful employment”. I’m yearning for “a proper rest”…

…Then it hits me; once source of background stress is simply the right-now reality of having to let, now, two little vacations go, over COVID-19. Restrictions on gatherings, closures of state parks, closures of many retailers not determined to be “essential”… I was really looking forward to a spring camping outing (and entire week out in the trees), but the reservation has already been canceled by the state park system, as a recent measure to limit the spread of the pandemic. I am “dealing with” the prolonged stay-at-home social distancing mandate pretty well, generally, but this morning? I also find myself seriously peeved about a vacation planned for May becoming… not a thing, after all. I could certainly still take the time off… but… how will it be any different than any day at home, right now? I sigh, and stare moodily into my now-cold coffee.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and let all that go (again). Another breath, another opportunity to let it go. Again.

And another breath. Another opportunity to let go. I make the effort to feel it effortlessly.

And another breath. Another letting go. Another effort. It amounts to practice.

We become what we practice; so I practice calm, and contentment. I practice non-attachment. I practice breathing. I practice letting go.

…I practice beginning again. 🙂

I’m home sick with a head cold while the media feeding frenzy is feasting on COVID-19 stories. Grim. It is what it is. My Traveling Partner and I seem reasonably well-set-up to endure long stays at home. The pantry is well-stocked. Bills are paid. I’m fortunate to be easily able to work-from-home.

I woke early this morning, head stuffy and having difficulty breathing comfortably. It’s a head cold. Just a head cold. I sat down at my desk, with my coffee, and reluctant to work “too early” (which, when working from home, often leads to working “too long” as well), I put on a video, headphones on. It was strangely muted, which I attributed to being Macbook “gremlins”, in my pre-coffee state. I turned it up. Turned it up again. Finally gave up and just listened with greater care. After a couple of false starts, changes of video, and just giving up altogether after awhile, I noticed that my headphones were plugged into my personal laptop, not my Macbook Pro from work… First thought? “Huh, I wonder how it did that?”, thinking somehow my laptop was picking up the digital signal from the Macbook… O.m.g… definitely pre-coffee on a “working while sick” day. It took me a minute, but I finally got to that “you couldn’t hear it well because you were listening to it play into the room, through the muffling of your noise canceling headphones!” Shit. Embarrassing.

I hope I didn’t disturb my Traveling Partner’s sleep… or wake the neighbors. 😦

Like a lot of things that go a little bit wrong, I let it go and move on, ideally with new knowledge and deeper wisdom… often not so much. lol

Just keep swimming.

Here’s hoping my experience of the day improves from that moment, to the next, in a daisy chain of contentment and calm. 🙂 Maybe it does… maybe it doesn’t… there will likely be verbs involved. Questions to ask – some even to answer. One step down the path, following another.

The house is quiet now. I’m reluctant to make a second cup of coffee, feeling a vague sense that I’ve “already made enough damned noise”, and not wishing to disturb the peaceful quiet that now envelopes the morning, I make an instant hot apple cider. I watch the fish swim, awhile, as the new lighting creates a “sunrise” progression in intensity. Beautiful.

Getting back to work feels natural enough. I’m sick and feel ineffective, and drained. I focus on the routine tasks that are least likely to go awry due to the cognitive effects of being sick. One at a time, I complete them. I move on to the next. Maybe I’ll get an entire shift out of this…?

Either way, or, perhaps, regardless… it’s time to begin again. 🙂

It’s been harder than usual to find (make) time to write… or… maybe I’ve been uninspired? There’s truth to the idea that we only grow in uncomfortable circumstances. My circumstances lately have been more than adequately comfortable. My day-to-day quality of life is generally very good, aside from the tedious constant that is dealing with physical pain. (Bah! How banal.) So, yielding the time I might have spent writing, to have a coffee with my Traveling Partner in the morning seems very much worth it. I enjoy those moments. Our short mortal lives are best truly lived, are they not? I don’t know how many hours, days, months, or years we may yet have together.

…Hopefully, you “get it”, and don’t feel that I’ve let you down somehow, with my lack of presence, here. 🙂

I’ve been spending happy hours watching a new school of fish settling into the aquarium. Shrimp, too. A newer, brighter, light shines down on the plants – some healthier than others, and in the bright light, new concerns are illuminated.

Watching fish swim.

…”In the bright light, new concerns are illuminated.” I repeat it silently, several times. Not as some kind of mantra. More that there is a sensation of renewed engagement with an idea that was once an epiphany. I sit with it awhile. I hear, in my head, my therapist’s voice calmly intoning familiar words, “let’s stay with that…”, before asking some question I’d not previously thought to ask, myself, putting me on another path of discovery, or opening my eyes to another perspective.

Some moments are… complicated. Days of pleasant hours in the company of this other human being I enjoy so much have passed gently. Today? We’re both a bit under the weather, feeling a bit off, dealing with head colds, and tempers flare to easily. I feel fragile and raw. Still seething a bit, and feeling entirely misunderstood, and resentful of the lack of patience. Doesn’t matter that I’m here, in the stillness of my studio, safe, and alone, and easily able to step back and reconsider the moment from another perspective. My heart is in that other room, held captive by affection being squeezed between my anger at him, and my anger at me. None of it is really about whatever I’m mad about it; it’s simply a reaction. Emotional weather. Like the weird March snow storm that blew in out of nowhere, today, on a day “too warm to snow”. It’ll pass. It will be no more relevant or significant than any other one moment torn from a lifetime and examined too closely, by the end of the weekend.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax – rather unsuccessfully. I shake my head for a brief instant, rather rapidly, as if to shake off my aggravation. My sigh is too loud. I hear him, softly, gently, through the closed door, from another room, “I love you.” It does seem that way… my reply seems too obvious, really, “I love you, too.”

Sometimes love is complicated. Not “complicated” as if to say “tragic” or “doomed” or anything of that sort. More… complicated in the way that an elegant watch has “complications”. Some of what makes life and love so rich, and so worthy of being “in the moment” – even an uncomfortable one – are these odd details, these “complications”, that are “features” in one moment, and… possibly… sort of a pain in the ass, in other moments. (I mean, for real? I could seriously do without having a brain injury that undermines my ability to manage strong emotion, and layering on top of that the added “bonus” of being sick, and further challenged with easily roused strong emotions… It’s just too much.) Buuuuut… I do love that human being sitting in the other room, and the joy we share is by far the majority of the time we spend together. That’s saying a lot. I could not truthfully say there’s never a cross word between us, or that my TBI “isn’t a big deal” for me, or him, or both of us. It is what it is. I see us both doing our best, and both being pretty human in our effort. There are, though, some moments I could frankly do without, now and then. Hell, I get pretty fed up with me, sometimes. I’m not surprised he does, too, once in awhile. lol Too often, my aggravation with myself is perceived as directed at him, or mis-perceived as an emotional attack. I understand how it could be. It’s not what I intend. I suppose I will get a lot of practice, sorting that out, over a lifetime.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I find myself annoyed that my aquarium isn’t in here – where I could see it right now… only… what is more true is that I don’t want to be here, as much as I want to be there – with him. Relaxing together.

Fuck I wish we weren’t sick. Adulting is already hard enough!

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I think about my plans for tomorrow… more time with the aquarium. Pruning plants. Moving rocks. Cleaning glass. Replanting plants in new places. Looking at the aquarium, under a bright light, from a new perspective.

Yes, of course; it’s a metaphor. It’s time to begin again.