Archives for category: Sleepless Nights

First night home alone in a new place. The moving in process, itself, is one I associate more with excitement than dread, and it comes with a nervous energy that isn’t quite enthusiasm, and falls short of panic. It’s already hard to choose to go to bed, already hard to find sleep; there is more to do. This the part where I get to create order from chaos, so… more a fun project than a chore in most regards. Then there is the part where I am getting used to new noises.

The refrigerator here is quieter than the old one, generally, but sounds completely different, and the sound turns up in some unexpected corners. Each time I trace some odd noise back to the fridge it surprises me, because each experience is “about” a slightly different quality of the noises it makes. It isn’t “bothering me” so far, just new.

The house itself is rather “wide open to all the noises”, or seems so; the noise of the busy street I’m on is easily audible during peak traffic. The nearness to the airport is now quite evident, but limited mostly to fly overs that are on an approach directly overhead. I don’t hear the neighbors (so far), except when they use the shower; the fans in the bathrooms are loud enough to hear through the walls. (Why do we not stop building things in this slipshod fashion? We can do better.) I know that once the paintings are hung, it will be quieter. I contemplate backing the largest ones with some sort of foam for additional quiet…

Last night I heard sirens, a fire truck passed by quickly, then an aggressive knock at the security door – loud voices? I was in bed, dozing off… my feet hit the floor immediately to get to the door. In the darkness, it became a real problem that I was in a new place; the security door was locked, I knew I’d need my keys – I could not find either a light switch, nor my hand bag, and omg – this place may be noisy, but in the dark of night? It’s really really dark. In my half-waking panic, I walked directly into a wall, turned and banged my shins, stubbed my toe, and tripped over something. I finally got to the door – without putting on my glasses. Without finding my keys. Just wanting to reach the door to speak to the stranger with the aggressive knock that followed sirens…

…No one there. Quiet peaceful night, aside from… fireworks? Fireworks. There was no knock. Just firecrackers, which is probably what the fire trucks were called for. Damn it. I stood there a minute, then patiently worked my way back to the bedroom one light switch at a time, to put on my glasses and “check for monsters”. My heart was still racing, and I was shaking all over. I took time to meditate and calm myself before returning to bed, fairly confident my potential for sleep was just destroyed for the night.

I woke from a sound sleep 4 minutes before the alarm went off. So…okay. I can sleep well and deeply here, even right after I am freaked right the fuck out by sirens. Nice. ๐Ÿ™‚

My morning here feels different…the leisureliness of it feels longer… more relaxed… it’s all made up in my head, of course. It’s a new place. I choose a lot of how I will feel about it. I watch the sky lighten beyond the window of my studio. It’s a very different view. I look through the window, to look through the security door, to look into and across a tall ย healthy hedge to trees beyond, and just a sliver of sky. I see the edge of the step into the entry, and a small patch of ground. No expanse of meadow, no horizon. I’m not disappointed with the view. It’s just different. It’s a very emotionally comfortable view; no one can approach me by surprise, and from outside the window, on the other side of that security door, no one can see in. It feels very safe here. (It needs a hummingbird feeder in the small bit of view, perhaps.)

It is a work day. There is one more just like it, then another long weekend to spend getting all moved in (for some values of “all moved in”), a luxury I don’t fail to appreciate, carefully planned because it supports me to do so.

I hear a bird singing in the hedge and smile a broad happy smile at the idea of morning. I feel good. I feel safe. I feel content. This is enough.

…It’s a hell of a beginning, this particular beginning again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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™‚

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™‚

[Oh hey, I’m talking about emotion and domestic violence in this one. No surprises. Please take care of you. <3]

Think about this carefully; anger doesn’t solve very many relationship problems. It’s not that anger is “powerless” – it isn’t. It’s a dangerous force for change, particularly in the context of lost self-control, lost perspective, and a righteous sense of entitlement, possession, or justification. Tragedies happen by way of uncontrolled rage. Clearly, anger can be quite powerful. “Violence never solved anything” is both true and false – and very much dependent on what we mean by “solved”. If we end an argument with violence, we’ve ended the argument certainly, but whether that counts as a solution depends on whether everyone walks away undamaged.

There was a time I didn’t understand emotional violence as violence – primarily because I lived in a messy tangle of both physical and emotional violence, served up with a hearty helping of military life, as well as gas-lighting. Emotional violence was the least of my worries. I didn’t understand my experience. I lacked the emotional intelligence to understand that I had options – and choices. It’s hard to look back comfortably on the choices I did make. Like a barefooted journey across hot asphalt and broken glass, every step did more damage. I lived with continuous fear and anxiety. I rarely slept. The emotional violence in my relationship was the least of my worries; I just wanted to survive the physical violence. I eventually got out of there, safely away, and sadly still unaware of the worst of the damage that had been done, because that wasn’t physical at all.

Physical injuries heal in a physical way. Bones mend. Scars fade. My arthritis follows me everywhere, but as a consequence of earning my freedom from fear it is a reminder that I live…still…it fucking hurts. I never forget how I got here. Tomorrow is 22 years since a nightmare ended. I ended it. I walked on.

…I took the chaos and damage with me…

The worst of the damage was emotional. I didn’t understand that for a long time. I understood “symptoms” – complex PTSD has many – diagnosis in hand, I recognized that I seemed to have no ability to manage my emotional volatility, as a symptom – as something that happened to me. I didn’t understand how accountable I actually was for my actions, though. I didn’t really “get” that like it or not, when my feelings become choices that become actions that affect other people, I am responsible for my actions. There’s no argument there, so just don’t. “Hormones”, “PTSD”, “a terrible headache” “a tough day” – none of these things actually make it okay to be emotionally violent with someone (most especially and particularly someone I say I love). I didn’t understand that I could – no, seriously, I totally mean this – I could choose to behave differently. My experience is my own. My emotions are entirely mine to feel. My choices are mine to make. I am responsible for my actions. Not one moment of personal misery really excuses treating someone else badly. ย I was slow to learn this lesson. I carried the violence forward into my future with me, woven into the damage I’d survived, and expressed it as uncontrollable impotent rage, meltdowns, tantrums and frequent loss of rationality. I’m done making excuses for emotional violence – few people die in a literal way from emotional violence, but the life they are left with is changed. It’s really not okay to behave that way. (Nope, PMS, PMDD, they don’t excuse it either. Get help. Make amends. Say you’re sorry, for fucks sake. Do better over time.)

I’m glad to be moving. Escalating domestic violence next door is uncomfortable to live around. It fucks with my head when I hear the yelling through the walls, the slams and bangs, vague and undefined. There are no good guys. Only human beings unwilling to choose differently and calling it “love” (it isn’t).

Look around. There’s a lot of that going on. We can choose differently. All of us can do better. I can. You can. That person pulling out a gun on the highway to shoot a teenager can choose differently, too; they chose their actions. Think about what that means. Feel your feelings. Behave well. Treat others well. Recognize the subjective nature of your emotional life, and don’t inflict weaponized emotions on other human beings. Fuck your hormones. Fuck your PTSD. Fuck your anger. Care. Care enough to choose better behavior. Care enough to be the person you most want to be. Care enough to seek help if you need help. Care enough to take care of you – well. Care enough to take a step back from a difficult situation. Care enough to understand that each of us is having our own experience – and it’s ours, not to be taken from us. None of us belongs to another.

I say that, then sadly spend minutes contemplating the very real continued existence of slavery and violence around the world. I don’t really know what to say. I am saddened by the constant awareness that there is so much violence loosed on the world. That we wear the face of our own destruction, as a species.

We can all do so much better to treat people well than we actually do. What will you do today to become the person you most want to be? We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

It’s been crazy hot this week, so far, and I’m relieved that there are cooler temperatures in the forecast now. The lack of shade on this apartment, now, results in being unable to cool it enough during the night, or in the early morning, to achieve any sort of comfortable indoor temperature the next day. It reached 100 degrees (F) yesterday, maybe a tad more, outside, and inside it reached almost 90. I still managed to smile, and most of that is due to the knowledge that the new place has A/C, and the recollection of hotter places I have lived (the desert… Fresno…). Besides, it was too hot to do more than lay around quietly breathing, sweating, and drinking water. LOL

I managed sleep, which was nice. I feel okay this morning. Somewhat… sticky… even after my shower.

Weird day, and I ride the emotional currents without concern, without fighting it. I’m okay. Today I’m out of the office providing logistical and emotional support to my Traveling Partner, who is having a procedure done. I’m sipping my coffee, alert for that moment when it is time to leave the house to catch the train to catch the bus to be at the place at the time. All very routine, somehow.

Over time, more of the things that once wracked me with anxiety or provoked tears or anger just… don’t. I’m fine – and I’m fine to my very core, without any particular noteworthy effort beyond routine good self-care practices, and meditation. It’s nice. It would have been wonderfully encouraging to have been able to foresee improvements over time, or rely on them utterly with the kind of certainty that comes of knowing things. Clearly that’s not really a thing for me; I’m pretty sure friends and loved ones may even have suggested, helpfully, that I “try meditation”. I’m pretty sure I’ve done so for others, and gotten the very same result my own friends got with me; “I’ve tried that, doesn’t work for me”, “I’ve tried that, I don’t think I’m doing it right”, “I don’t know how to do that”, “if it doesn’t come in a pill at great price, it can’t possibly work”, “if it requires my personal accountability or effort I’m not interested”, “not if I have to change who I am”, “I can’t.” Well, shit. That about covers, doesn’t it? Do you. 0_o

We become what we practice. Over time, in increments, in moments, by way of our choices, by way of our repeated thoughts, repeated actions, repeated words – we become what we practice. We build ourselves and rebuild ourselves, we tear ourselves down, we allow the world to tear us down, too. In spite of that, it seems far to simple – impossibly simple – that this very same notion of incremental change over time could be applied quite willfully. Sometimes the easy answers are the hardest ones just because we aren’t convince-able. We won’t, more than we can’t.

Where is your will this morning? Maybe just some really small thing that would be just the tiniest bit better… that could be doable, right? For me it may have begun, if I follow the thread all the way back, with a gentle suggestion that I try getting up earlier in the morning, and slowing down my routine to give myself time to really be awake before starting my day. No kidding. Sure, I still went through some major changes, bullshit, drama, upheaval, hurting – even hitting the bedrock of rock bottom, emotionally, came after that…but that moment, choosing to change my routine, exploring that one tiny seemingly insignificant change, was a domino, and the rest started falling into place over time.

What are you practicing?

It’s already time to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

If not this moment, when?