Archives for category: Relationships

I’m mostly moved out of my old apartment. ย Hell, for that matter, I’m mostly moved in to the new house, thanks to the coordinated help of friends, and professional movers, and the bonus that is being able to afford to take time off to manage it. Nothing precious to me got broken, and the only box that got dropped was in my own hands when it fell, hit the sidewalk in front of the new house, and spilled its contents from the split-wide-open box into the driveway. It was a macht nichts moment; just this-n-that from the bathroom cupboards. No harm done. I did manage to startled the professional movers, though. lol I’m tired. Still tired. There’s more to do, of course, mostly of the moving in and getting settled variety. Exciting and fun and… I’m still tired. LOL My ankle gave me far more grief than my back ever did, and by Friday I was back on my cane, and had worn out my ankle brace beyond repair. More than once, I made a point to pause, rest, and give myself a moment to recover some little amount, before continuing. There is still more to do.

I’m eager to see my Traveling Partner again, and welcome him to this new, different, lovely space. My deck is big – huge in comparison to small apartment patios – and there is water right there, making caring for my garden easier than it has been for me since… 1995. There is so much excitement in this process now! I feel that release of tension as sleepiness, more often than I’d like. I smile and remind myself that fatigue is a shout out for rest and ease. I gotta remember to do that, too.

The view from my bed, feet up, taking it easy for a few minutes between tasks on moving day.

I double-check my list of things to do and tenderly add “take care of me”. Soon enough the work day will end, and I will head to the apartment to tidy up, and remove anything left behind from 4 days of moving. There are definitely more verbs involved…

 

I woke from a deep sleep to some kind of noise…a persistent sound of some sort…a beeping, or chiming, or… and it wasn’t stopping… Oh. My phone was ringing. Only one number rings through my “Do Not Disturb” settings; my Traveling Partner. I quickly lurch from bed and careen through the apartment, stumbling on shit that doesn’t match my mental map of my apartment; there are stacks of boxes everywhere. I reach the phone and answer it, delighted to hear his voice. No emergency, he’s just back in town and wanted to hear my voice. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a short call, and a quick return to sleep…

…only…

Nope. Not sleeping.

…I couldn’t so easily return to sleep. ย Just as I was about to drift off my brain decided to attack with a barrage of insecure doubt and anxiety and dread, and oh, just all the things available to keep me laying wakefully for some time. I did eventually return to a restless unsatisfying sleep. Nightmares of loss and loneliness occupied my sleeping mind until the alarm went off.

I woke feeling okay. Feeling thoughtful. Feeling… thought-filled. lol This too will pass. I make a point of reminding myself how pointless rumination is, and that anything of substance that truly needs to be considered will still need to be considered later… after I wake up, after meditation, after my morning coffee, and perhaps even just quite a lot later today – after work. Perspective is helpful. Context matters. Oh, and also – brains make shit up all the damned time. lol My imagination is just as likely to work against me as to delight me. So, I shrug off as much of the weird lingering insecurity, anxiety, and doubt as I am able to, and I push on with the morning.

I have a practice for this one, and although it works, it’s not to be undertaken lightly first thing in the morning by a sleep-addled brain. (I learned that the hard way!) My practice for dealing firmly with insecurity and anxiety is to look my fears in the face without flinching. Seriously – I consider as frankly as I can whatever bundle of fears and bullshit that is freaking me out, and I consider it as if it were simply a given and life is no kidding going to deliver on all of it as if it were a promise. Feeling insecure about my relationship? I consider life without it, no bullshit, no drama – what does that look like? Could I still be okay? What advantages might that bring? Is there a future from that point that may still be quite nice? Does it change who I am? What am I truly afraid of? Is there an opportunity for growth, here? This works for any sort of insecurity, doubt, and anxiety, really. Emotions are powerful. It’s a good idea to choose some moment when it feels truly safe to fully consider my deepest fears. Results vary. Scary, tense, anxious, insecure, doubtful emotions can go sideways so easily, plunging me into real despair… but, all the more reason to learn to face them unafraid of the emotions themselves, and there is so much to learn.ย They’re still only emotions; getting to know them well, becoming comfortable with emotion, generally, and working to develop a measure of emotional intelligence that supports good quality of life is not only completely achievable, I have found that improving my emotional intelligence improves my interactions with others, too, and sort of “tidies up my thinking”. ๐Ÿ™‚

So much of what goes on in our heads is actually completely made up bullshit going on in our heads. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am as likely to find my anxiety provoked by things that are delightful, or changes that suit me better than whatever had changed ever could, as I am by things that are legitimately worth being anxious about. Silly primates – given both emotion and reason (which work so nicely together), and yet time and again we keep trying to choose one over the other. lol

I sip my coffee and watch the dawn slowly becoming day. I consider my imminent move. Just two more work shifts before that actually becomes a thing happening in the moment…and one of those work shifts is today. This is happening!! ๐Ÿ˜€ My conversation with my partner last night opened some opportunities in the context of moving that I hadn’t considered, and although I spent some time wracked with anxiety (because changing plans sometimes causes me anxiety), the opportunities themselves are worth considering fully. Later.

The calm of the morning develops like a Polaroid. I feel settled and secure, and focused on changes that meet my needs over time. I feel content. I feel loved. Fears and doubts fade away as the sky lightens, and anything that lingers to day’s end can be fully considered at some later point, in a comfortable, practical way.

It’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Living alone sometimes also means feeling lonely. I’m fortunate that it doesn’t come up that often for me; I enjoy living alone. In the words of my Traveling Partner, I “thrive on it”. It’s true. I’m content, I’m happier, I rarely struggle with my symptoms (aside from noise sensitivity and shitty sleep), and it’s been ages since I had a bad meltdown. My symptoms and bad flare ups are mostly triggered by… people. So yeah, living alone works better. But.

Life is a funny thing, is it not? It seems, often, to force me to deal with the shit that is the most difficult when I feel least prepared to do so. Living alone works for me. But. And it’s what comes after the but that is a heavy burden to bear this morning – and I’m “not alone” on this one – but, I am lonely. This morning I ache with it. I woke with it. I went to bed with it. I felt it as a sharp pain late last evening, cuddling the wee stuffed puppy my Traveling Partner gave me as a gift on a whim. (I already love this little stuffed dog, fully house-broken, and very quiet. lol) Loneliness is a real thing, and I really feel it now and again, and it is painful. Anxiety may be a liar, but loneliness? Loneliness is a bully who follows me home, relentlessly mocking me where I am most vulnerable.

Loneliness is actually painful. When you feel it, and you notice, and you wonder that you actually physically hurt – no need to keep wondering, that shit is real. It is uncomfortable. Biology probably intends to drive us to seek out companionship, which makes good sense; we are social creatures, who thrive in company, who succeed together, who celebrate in groups and tribes and families… alone we are… vulnerable to attack. Less well-defended. Small. Singular. Loneliness sucks, and chronic unaddressed loneliness can become mental illness or physical ill health, and even be fatal.

The little stuffed dog surprised me; gift wrapped and left on the front seat of the car, which I’d come to pick up for the week of moving, a couple days early since he wouldn’t be using it, himself. There it was. Soft. So soft. Cute button eyes that sparkle a bit. So soft. I turned to my partner has he came around the corner smiling and tears came to my eyes. His embrace wrapped me in warmth and love and we stood wrapped in each other’s arms a long moment. I miss specific things about cohabitation, mostly to do with intimacy and touch. Like it or not, I’ve made a specific willful exchange in life; I have exchanged hugs, kisses, everyday interactions, contact, intimacy, and frequent sex in favor of improved mental and emotional health (it is generally an unmistakably positive choice that benefits me).

An alternate spelling of “I love you”.

Today, I am lonely. I ache with it. I miss being greeted at the door when I get home in the evening. I miss shared meals. I miss hugs – I miss hugs maybe most of all, even to the point of hugging occasional strangers (in contextually appropriate moments) (if you know me in life, you get how hilarious this actually is). I miss being an everyday part of my partner’s life. I miss having sex, pretty much any day I don’t get to. This morning all of these things make me feel sad. I’m also feeling fairly practical and realistic about it, and understand myself well enough to “get” that it isn’t about inviting random strangers into my bed (didn’t work in my 20s, isn’t the solution now), but I am unquestionably still searching for a really comfortable balance between living alone, and finding/creating the quantity of emotional intimacy and touch that I need to be emotionally well over the long haul.

This morning is hard. My hand reaches without thinking to the little stuffed dog. I scratch its ears as though it were real. I stroke its soft “fur”. A real dog? A real cat? Other pets? I’ve got both baggage and boundaries in this area. Pets are not a good solution to the loneliness issue for me. ย I used to have cats. They absolutely destroyed some precious things I could not replace…and… they walk in their poop, then all over everything else. Just no. Dogs? I grew up with dogs. I even like dogs. But… being responsible for another living creature’s entire livelihood and well-being isn’t something I’m super well-qualified for, frankly, otherwise I might have done the motherhood thing… and… dogs smell bad (to me), and caring for a dog well is a huge time commitment…and… okay, okay, I just have baggage and it wouldn’t be a great fit, can we leave it there? lol Chinchillas? More chaos and damage, and… they seem to me to be every bit as sentient as any primate, so that just feels too much like keeping a prisoner. I can’t. Guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, reptiles… I’ve had pets. Lots. (I’ve got an aquarium now, and that’s about my speed, really.) They don’t fully “solve for X” in this equation.

Filling the hole in my experience labeled “I miss being touched” with animal companionship would be, realistically, a second best (for me). Instead, I’ll attempt to be more aware of my needs, learn to communicate them more clearly, learn new/more/other ways to take care of me that may meet those specific needs – bitch about it, undoubtedly – and walk on, wiping my tears away and getting back to other things.

But. I do get lonely. Yes, it hurts. Finding some sanity, contentment, and balance are actually worth the hurting right now, even in this shitty lonely moment. I just have to begin again, and do my best to take care of the woman in the mirror. We’ve always got each other. It’s generally enough.

I woke this morning to a cooler apartment than usual after such a hot day; I’d fallen asleep with all the windows and the patio door wide open, without meaning to. I’m sort of glad I didn’t notice. It’s lovely to feel the cool morning breeze and the apartment refreshingly comfortable instead of stifling and oppressively still and warm. I’m even more glad that no passing stranger noticed the opportunity to quietly slip into my utterly unsecured dwelling and take all of my (conveniently packed) belongings while I slept (rather more soundly than usual). I wake feeling comfortable, grateful, appreciative, and relieved all at once. I sip my coffee wondering if this particular mix of emotions has a name of its own.

Another good day to begin again.

The dawn sky is shades of peach and a watery pale blue. Another hot day ahead. Peculiarly, I have my headphones on… no music. I must have meant to put some on… I didn’t actually do it. Even noticing this, I don’t actually pause to remove the headphones, or to put on music. I sip coffee. I write. I am content in this moment and the headphones are simply not relevant, nor are they uncomfortable. So… there they sit. On my head. Without purpose. lol Funny human primate.

I’ve still got a week to go before I have keys in hand, a new address, and a busy long weekend of getting moved out of here. So many boxes, in stacks and groups and piles and pillars and arrangements in spaces… and still a week of waiting remaining to be waited out. I still have more stuff to go into more boxes. A few more evenings and a weekend will take care of that.

I chuckle to consider a faraway friend making the journey to help me move; we’ll be basically “camping” in this space by the time he arrives, and then in the new house after the movers do their thing. I’m pretty blown away by the affection of friends who will help with moving. Friends who not only help with moving but will also travel more than 700 miles to do so, and do that with the expectation that there will be no comfortable convenient hospitality of the sort I usually provide is absolutely a treat, a wonder, a rare delight – and appreciated on a whole different level, that involves more than a little awe, and perhaps a tiny bit of bewilderment, and a sense that I need to step up my own friend game… because… I am not sure I’m that person, myself, and just… wow. I could be, though, right? Choices. I am fortunate indeed to have such friends.

What next? I have so much of the next few days tightly planned, centered on this move… I make a point to also take care of this fragile vessel. The hot days are difficult. I make a point to slow down a little bit, to drink a lot more water, to attempt to get adequate rest – even if that means laying down while evening is still daylight, windows and doors wide open to breezes, and at risk of falling deeply asleep without securing the premises. lol I finally got a really good night’s sleep, in spite of the heat. ๐Ÿ˜€ I really needed the rest.

The “hard part” of the packing comes next. It is time to box up all the books, and take down all the paintings. This also means having to work a little more to manage my anxiety as it comes and goes; bare walls reliably fill me with anxiety and a subtle continuous stress – “you don’t belong here” is the message of bare white walls, to me. It’s fairly important to my mental and emotional wellness that I not subject myself to unadorned walls any longer than necessary. ย Still, it is time, and it must be done. The weekend will be a good one for it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once the keys are in my hands, and that first car load is unpacked, there will be at least one small painting along for that trip, and it will go up before I even head back for another carload of household goods. No kidding. If it fits in the car, I may very well simply take the big painting that is most likely to be hanging above the fireplace. It’s a touch that makes me feel very at home, and the message it sends becomes “I live here”. Comforting. Safe. Real.

Gnothi seauton. “Figuring out my shit” turns out to be less about changing it, sometimes, than understanding it, and working with it instead of fighting it all the damned time. ๐Ÿ™‚

I woke to the alarm after a restless night. 4th of July, of course, is a noisy holiday. I’d enjoy it more if more other Americans enjoyed it more often at public fireworks events, rather than in their driveways, streets, and the park beyond my patio. It was well past 11 pm before the bangs, crackles, and booms died away. I let it go, and got what sleep I could.

There is a peculiar low-hanging mist on the meadow this morning. The day is forecasted for a high of 88 degrees. I’m dressed for the hot weather, and appreciative how little time I will have to spend in the heat (it’s a work day, the office is well air-conditioned). I try to avoid fussing and fretting about how hot this apartment will be when I return to it, and instead work on cooling it down now. To be relatively comfortable at day’s end, on a such a hot day, ย it needs to be below 70 degrees in here when I leave the house for work. I miss the tree that used to shade this place, keeping it comfortable even on very hot days. I feel my anger about the loss of the trees here surge, and begin to combine with other small irritants that have eroded my contentment here over time. I take a deep breath, and let that go, too.

I got to hang out with my Traveling Partner last night, and it was beautiful and connected and joyful…and…real. We really talked about a couple of things we’d been very careful about for some time. It was…needed. It was even tender. It was… worth having the conversation. I was able to say “I miss living with you…” and feel the tears start as my heart filled with the recollection of us two, living together, in our own place, for that one precious perfectly lovely year of deeply connected new relationship joy… and he didn’t resist, or become tense, or angry, or any of those things. He looked at me tenderly, with concern, and affection, and said something sane and wise… “You thrive living alone…” I don’t recall what else he said, or what came first, or what came after, just those words, and the somewhat puzzled look on his face, and the clear desire to “be there” for me, and to understand. I do thrive living alone, this is a true thing. He’s so right about that. ย I do miss living with him… but… I don’t miss cohabitation generally. I actually do thrive – really thrive – living alone. I am disinclined to easily recognize that, when I think about living with my Traveling Partner, no fault of his; I’d never lived so well with another person, ever, than with him. It was… the very next best thing to living alone (which I hadn’t really done previously for any length of time)! I’d probably feel uncomfortable saying it so boldly and firmly this morning, if we hadn’t had the conversation we had last night.

For him, it is a beautiful thing to see me thrive. For me, living alone is the first time I truly have (thrived, I mean). The conversation at least got to the real point; I would enjoy spending more time with him. ๐Ÿ™‚ We agree contentedly it has been a busy year for us both. He’s eager to see me in a more comfortable space, feeling safe again (I just haven’t since the burglary back in November). He steers my excitement about getting moved in such that I stay focused on what works for me, and don’t invest heavily in what might work for him in some abstract circumstance in which he lands on my doorstep for a long stay. He trusts my ability to create a beautiful home. I trust that he wants to spend time there with me. I let go of a little more baggage.

I got to reconnect briefly with another friend over the weekend. We exchanged birthday gifts. It was a fun moment. I smile and think of him every time I see the lovely pin he crafted, pinned on my hiking cap. My cap goes everywhere with me during the spring and summer, and often in autumn, and even sometimes in winter… a good all-purpose cap. It had been rather dull and unadorned. Now it seems to shout “you are loved” or “life has purpose” or… “damn I look good!” or something else positive and lovely, without undermining the practical nature of a good cap. I miss hanging out with him, too. A poignant moment of recognition of how much joy busy lives can rob us of… and I let that go, too. Busy, indeed, and legitimately so; there is no point grieving the positives in life. Are we each thriving? Is that not enough? ๐Ÿ™‚

A simple cap, a fancy pin, a life now built on contentment and sufficiency.

It is a lovely summer morning for consideration; this morning that consideration is from me, for me, to me. I consider my feelings. I consider the context. I provide myself perspective. I embrace change and consider the needful things. I consider the planning. I consider the future. This morning I allow myself to be aware that indeed I do thrive living alone. I consider the chaos and damage that brought me here in life, without anger, without frustration, and without judgement. I am here. This is who I am. Thriving. Wow. Thriving… that’s a big deal. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s also very much “enough”.

One day in a life worth living…

The sun peeks over the horizon, tangerine and sparkling, turning the needle tips of the awkwardly place pine just beyond the window quite gold and glittery. There is a female duck at the edge of the meadow keeping a careful eye out for cats while having a look for tasty morsels in the grass. Day is beginning. Where will it take me?