Archives for category: Sleepless Nights

My dreams chased me through war zones and down dark hallways last night. I’m sipping my coffee grateful to escape The Nightmare City without much else to say about it. Definitely nightmares. Not such a big deal now that I am awake.

…I have a dim recollection of being awake during the night…

…This coffee is good. This moment, right here, is just fine. I sit with my coffee, present in my moment. It’s a better way, than older, other ways. It’s enough.

Bleary-eyed, content, and more or less awake, it’s time to begin again. 🙂

…And… Last night was nothing like a good night’s sleep, at all. No kidding. I “woke up” groggy, too, to the infernal ceaseless beeping of my alarm clock. I snarled a silent “good morning” at that thing, and with a single swat to silence it, I got up, and got started on a new day.

…So tired. So groggy. At least it is a Friday. That’s something. 🙂

My coffee tastes good this morning, luxurious with a splash of half-n-half in it. That’s also something. 🙂

One thing at a time, I begin to assemble a morning, that can become a day. I am starting with the things that are enough. Sufficiency is a more comfortable place that striving, grasping, and reaching ever farther for something more. Having, being, or doing “enough” is, quite literally, enough. lol

I continue to sip my coffee, half-amusing myself (and half quite seriously) by considering whether program management software (like Jira) would be a good choice to manage projects at home… lol It’s just that there is so much to do in life, and I’m constantly forgetting in one moment a project or consideration that seems “more important” long-term… and wouldn’t it be easier for two people to plan together when the planning is right there, where it can be easily reviewed? I don’t know… this coffee, right here, seems far more practical in this moment.

I glance at the time. How is it already time to head to work? I yawn. Finish my coffee… and begin again. 🙂

I’ll start here. 🙂 It’s not a bad starting point for restoring perspective, a reminder that we’re all human, all having our own experience – and that we’ve all got “problems”. The path we walk really isn’t paved. Life’s journey doesn’t have a map. We’re each having our own experience – literally so individual that it is pretty easy to wander around thinking “no one gets me” and feeling we are not being heard, or feeling attacked, while the person on the other side of that interaction feels exactly, precisely, very much the same way.

…That gets awkward when we’re sharing labels (but maybe not definitions, or experiences, in any practical way).

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to living with PTSD, lately. Not just mine. Yours, too. Ours. Theirs. Someone else’s. It’s not an easy thing to love someone who has PTSD. It’s not easy to live around it. It’s hard on our loved ones. Hard on our communities. Hard on familial relationships, friendships, and colleagues. None of that should derail any one of us from a committed effort to being our best selves in every moment in which we are able. Live around PTSD long enough, we may even begin to accumulate some damage of our own, related only to that experience.

I’ve been looking at this complicated puzzle for a few days, after a contentious moment with someone dear to me, whose PTSD may be as bad as mine (although as yet undiagnosed, it’s nonetheless very real, and a difficult complication in a relationship very precious to me). They were having an off day, and I missed the signs of symptoms flaring up. I overlooked a known trigger for this dear one. They “came at me” (verbally) reactive and confrontational, irritable over what looked like “nothing” to me, from my perspective on the outside looking in. I have PTSD, myself, and even after some years of managing my symptoms fairly well, I have my challenges, some almost daily. My dear friend’s flare up became confrontation, hostility, and words thrown at me that seemed absent the context of what was “really” going on. I could not recognize myself in their reflected perception of me. (I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that. That’s now “how it went down”!) I reacted. I became, myself, triggered by their anger and frustration. My own symptoms flared up. I had forgotten about the PTSD on both sides of our human equation. Fucking hell.

Aside from feeling like an insensitive asshole, I also managed to make things worse, simply by being myself in a difficult moment. It was hard. We got past it, but even now, I see that moment in my friend’s eyes, when we interact, and it’s been days. My feeling of emotional safety in the relationship feels shaken. (I’m not sure there’s any reason to feel that way, realistically, but PTSD isn’t about what’s real right now, and any tendency to treat it that way is likely to make matters worse, unfortunately.) I don’t know how to help my friend heal; we’re each having our own experience, and I too need healing. 😦

I know I have more to say about this, but I also know I have more thoughts to think, more to turn over in my head, more questions to ask and to answer. This? It’s advanced coursework in life’s curriculum. I do my best.

I’ll just say this one thing and move on for now; PTSD isn’t the same from one person to the next. It’s more like a fingerprint carved into who we are by the trauma we have survived. We can label a group of symptoms as “PTSD”, but it’s a long damned list, and each person suffering with lasting PTSD has lived their own experience. What triggers one, doesn’t trigger another. How we react, as individuals, to our very individual triggers, is a further complication; there are a lot of differences.

It did get me thinking about one thing that helps, generally; be the best version of ourselves we each can be. Be kind. Be willing to listen without jumping in with a correction. Be compassionate about just how fucking hard this is. Don’t try to make it a competition; our own pain nearly always hurts worse than anything we can really understand anyone else to be going through. Maybe avoid diminishing or diluting someone else’s message if they trust enough to share that they are in pain, or triggered, or overwhelmed; let it be about them, about their experience, and empathize through deep listening (instead of, for example, commiserating through “common experience”, which often misses the point of someone sharing in the first place).

Trust that these are things I consider myself; it’s a lot of work to look through, and beyond, my own symptoms, to “be there” for someone else who seems seriously unconvinced that anyone else could possibly have it as bad as they do. Let them have that moment. What they’re saying is more about the fact that they are in pain or struggling than about whether, or how much, you are. It’s not a fucking contest. I “get it wrong” every bit as often as I “get it right”, I think. I definitely need more practice.

…Having said that… Maybe also don’t overlook what is being communicated if someone is trying to connect and empathize by suggesting they understand through their own experiences. Maybe they really do. How much does that suck??

I’m just saying… be there for each other. Understand that the enormous variety in human experiences and perspectives really does mean that there’s a lot of shit going on in the world, that people endure every day, survive and move on from, that just really really sucks.

Did I mention being kind? It’s a good starting point… And it’s time to begin again.

…It’s not gonna matter if I’m naughty or nice…

Seriously. Sometimes plans don’t work out. It’s not about the plan, sometimes, just the circumstances, or the people. This is a great reason not to become overly invested in the outcomes of planned events or activities. 🙂 I mention this because I had planned to write each morning this weekend. I did not. Hell, I even took notes, Saturday, about the topic I thought I might write about yesterday, and then… I did not.

Well… I could just write this morning, though…

…Yeah… I slept super super badly, and I don’t have much insight on the subject I thought I might write about, yesterday. Not this morning. So. I have my coffee, and I have this moment. I’ve got these words. They’ll have to be enough. 🙂

It’s already time to begin again. lol

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.