Archives for category: The Big 5

Fuck, being a human primate can be ridiculously complicated and fraught with misunderstanding, conflict, distraction, and absolutely pointless emotional garbage, sometimes. Just saying, I am not enjoying my Sunday experience, today. I seem to be endlessly at odds with my Traveling Partner, which completely sucks (and not in any of the good ways). I am in pain, which is more suckage layered on top of other suckage, and the end result? Unusual. (Maybe that’s progress?)

I am sitting in the “food court” seating of my local grocery store, thinking thoughts, drinking an electrolyte beverage, and… writing. Using my cell phone instead of my computer at home. My Traveling Partner is trying to get some rest after our unpleasant moment(s) (which were peculiarly interspersed with a couple very nice meals, and some fun hang out time). I can’t seem to find a really good way to create (or maintain) a reliably quiet environment for him to nap, typically. So, yeah, I got the fuck out of the house, without really having a plan… but I did have a couple errands and a short grocery list.

I ran out of errands and shopping in about an hour. That’s shit for nap-worthy time, so I figured I’d just sit down somewhere and write. I don’t have to be at home to put words to page, so… yeah. Tick a self-care box, however awkwardly.

That’s sort of where shit went wrong this morning… My Traveling Partner was feeling restless and wanting to go for a drive – we’d had so much fun doing that yesterday! He invited me to go for another drive. I get it. It did sound fun, and we did have a great time yesterday… only… there were (and are) other things I very much wanted to do today, and I said so. Somehow it managed to become an unpleasant interaction; the more I tried to “explain” with some sort of reason not to go, the more annoyed he got. I felt like I was being criticized for wanting to do things other than “whatever he wants to do”. I don’t think that’s how he intended it (or how it actually was), any more than I was intending to reject him as a person (though it sure seemed at some points that he was taking it that way).

Most troubling for me is that I came away from the discussion feeling perhaps I am “too much to handle”, or that I have no legitimate potential to be a better partner (than I am)… or a partner at all…

He went for a drive, by himself. I had a couple hours to myself. When he returned home things were strained and frosty for a while. I made lunch. We ate. Things seemed to be improving… It’s rarely that easy, eh? So… here I am. Writing a blog post at the grocery store. lol New experience. I wonder what I can learn from this?

Yesterday, though? Amazing. Entirely different experience. What an incredibly lovely day together. We went for a drive out towards one of the interesting camping destinations we had discussed (but which my partner couldn’t reach due to snow just a few days ago). We figured most of the snow would be gone after a few days of heat. (Foreshadowing; we were wrong!)

It was a gorgeous day to go for a drive. A great day to share an adventure with this human being I love so deeply! As we headed further into the forest, we saw a couple unexpected camouflage-wearing guys, just walking down the road… no gear. My partner slowed down and we stopped to ask if they were okay? Nope. They were stuck in a snow bank up the road, and had been walking down the mountain hoping to catch a cell signal. (Good luck with that, there!) My partner offered to give them a ride back to their truck and pull them out, if we could. We could. We did. It was amazing to feel so prepared! Being able to give fellow travelers a hand feels great. It was even fun.

I am impressed and proud of my Traveling Partner and his skill and general readiness. I am super excited to get out there with him again, more, and further. Nothing about today’s stress changes yesterday’s joy, delight, and wonder. I make time to reflect on that and cherish him from afar.

It’s hard to get “everything” “right all the time”, and however much I may feel like this is what is required or expected of me, it’s not a reasonable expectation. What is reasonable is that I will make room to listen, make a point of hearing my partner, communicating that he is heard, continuing to do my best, and keep practicing.

I know my results will vary. I know frustration and disappointment suck. Still, my best effort has to be enough (for me), even when it also “isn’t enough” (for someone else). Intent matters. Will matters. Sometimes I am going to fail. That’s just real. When I do? I will begin again.

Take steps. Wherever you are in life, just keeping taking steps. Maintain momentum. Walk on. Begin again. 🙂

I am sipping my morning coffee, contemplating the weekend that is now behind me. What a lovely anniversary weekend. I enjoyed the time we spent together. I am grateful to have the partnership we do.

This morning I’m also thinking about change and uncertainty and managing chaos. All the practicing of practices doesn’t get me out from under the challenges of being a human primate. So… there’s that, too. lol

I breathe, exhale, relax, and repeat. I sit quietly with my coffee, reflecting, and simply being. Steps? A good first step, in a lot of circumstances, is this simple exercise. Breathing. Sitting quietly and just breathing. Start there. 🙂

A lot of what works is pretty simple stuff – it just needs doing. Verbs. Results vary. Practice? Yep. Both noun and verb, that one. lol I keep practicing. It paid off this weekend, more than once. It was a good weekend.

I smile when I think of my Traveling Partner, then begin again.

It’s our anniversary today. 12 years. Lovely day for it. Not a sunny day, but the weather isn’t bad. The stormy looking clouds scooting past overhead create some beautiful views. No rain so far.

My Traveling Partner was still sleeping when I left the house early-ish this morning. I got a pleasant walk in, and ran a couple errands. I headed home when I got his ping letting me know he was awake. Efficient. One of those errands was picking up a new “spa frog” for the hot tub, and by lunch time, my partner had the chemistry adjusted and ready for soaking. Damn that felt soooo good, too. My aching back was enormously grateful.

Gratitude is definitely something filling my heart today. Gratitude and love. This relationship is pretty mind-blowing and characterized by love, loving, and mutual regard. I adore this particular human being rather a lot. Perhaps, I sometimes think, too much…? Love is the good stuff, though, isn’t it? 🙂 Hard to argue that it isn’t. I smile and think of his arms around me. Our experience of love isn’t “perfect”; we’re both human beings, and we’ve both reached where we are in life by wading through rather a lot of pointless crap, bad decision-making, and individual trauma, so… yeah… we’ve each got our baggage and our “issues”. Still… I never lose sight of how very much this human being loves me, and what a delightful return-on-investment (because I love him) this love is. We’re happy – for most values of “happy”.

…12 years…

Today we’re also, in addition to celebrating our anniversary, waiting on packages. This is a less successful or satisfying endeavor than simply loving each other, unfortunately (seems like it should require quite a lot less work all around). Packages that should have been delivered, based on expectation-setting by shippers, Friday. Weather? Nope. It’s a pretty mild spring most places. Civil disorder? Not on that level (yet) in this country (generally). With regard to at least one package, it actually looks like just maybe it’s in the process of being stolen. This is seriously aggravating. The tracking tools available these days certainly make easier to spot sketchy weird bullshit, though.

My partner finally gets a support call through to an actual human being, who agrees the particulars look exceedingly questionable. They start doing whatever is to be done to track down it’s location in the physical world. What a bunch of bullshit. Of course, the stress of dealing with it harshes the mellow of a lovely day. I step away (here, now) long enough to get enough distance from the blast of frustration and ire to (hopefully) avoid being triggered by it. So far, so good.

I think about this love of ours, and the future camping fun we’re already planning to enjoy together. That’s part of today’s frustration; the items we’re waiting on are a handful of basic essentials that we need for safe (enjoyable) off-roading, and efficient management/storage of our gear. I know my Traveling Partner is eager to take the truck out and get it off-road for a few days, looking for some great camping spots to enjoy together on my birthday (and beyond). I understand the maddening frustration of packages that don’t come when promised, or arrive damaged, or… just don’t arrive. (Just gonna say it; Amazon’s services have less and less actual value as time passes, and I no longer use them as my “go to” when I am shopping online. Between the shipping disappointments – which are numerous – and the knock-offs or scam products mixed in with legit listings, it’s just not worth the hassles, or the price.)

I smile, thinking of my partner. Thinking of spending time together in the truck, on the road, out in the woods, out on a trail… fuck I love this guy. It’s the kind of love that makes it so worthwhile to do my best to be the woman I most want to be.

It’s an okay morning. Saturday. Good cup of coffee. Had a pleasant frosty-morning walk through bare wintry vineyards as the sun rose, this morning. Returned home once my Traveling Partner pinged me that he was awake and starting his day. Could be that was a mistake (in timing)… I rushed home rather eagerly, to enjoy the day with my partner, and I may have been working from expectations and assumptions that were a poor fit to the reality of the morning.

I got home and he was just making his first cup of coffee, immersed in the emotional experience of being angry about the condition in which parts had arrived, and the likelihood that the parts he had ordered are not in any way actually usable for the order he is working on. His anger over the situation seems reasonable. He shares his feelings. He shows me the parts. His anger is evident, and he is actively working through it. (The way out is through…and…we become what we practice. Hold that thought.)

…I have difficulties with anger, particularly the expressed anger of male human beings with whom I am in a relationship (it feels uniquely terrifying and threatening even when only expressed verbally), and it makes it sometimes very difficult to endure the experience of being in proximity to that visceral emotional experience in the moment… It could be that this alone makes me potentially unsuitable for long-term partnership. I find myself thinking about that today. Today, my partner explicitly challenged my overall value as his partner due to my “lack of ability to be emotionally supportive”.

My sense of things is that I listened with consideration, compassion, and care for some length of time while he vented his feelings (my watch suggests about 40 minutes, but I don’t think that matters as much as that he didn’t feel supported). Maybe I don’t really understand what my partner needs from me when he’s angry about something? Listening doesn’t seem to be it. Even listening deeply and offering support, or asking how I can be helpful (if I can at all), doesn’t seem to meet the need. Commiserating with his position doesn’t seem to meet the need, and often seems to prolong the intensity of the emotional storm. Attempting to “be helpful” or offer any “troubleshooting” perspective is usually unwelcome (and most of the time I don’t have the specific expertise to offer that in the first place). It’s often been my experience that eventually, however supportive I am seeking to be, one common outcome is that at some point, the anger that is “not about me”… becomes about me. Terrifying, even in a relationship where there has never been any violence. The anger feels threatening. This is a byproduct of violence-related trauma in prior relationships. Decades later, I’m still struggling with this. It seems unfair to my current (or future) partner(s).

When a person with PTSD embarks on making a relationship with another human being who also has PTSD (or similar concerns), there are some additional complications that sometimes make living well and harmoniously together more than a little difficult to do successfully – and it’s less than ideally easy, no matter how much we may love each other. Sometimes love is not enough. Maybe that seems obvious? It probably should be obvious. I sit with that thought for a few minutes, uncertain what it is really telling me. Maybe nothing new. I mean… I know, right? It’s hard sometimes. (“This too will pass.”)

…Resilience is a measure of our ability to “bounce back” from stress…

Using meditation and mindfulness practices is one means of building improved resilience. Resilience lets me “bounce back” from stress more easily, and allows for greater “ease” in dealing with stress in the moment. Resilience supports improved intimacy. Resilience along with non-attachment is a good means of learning not to take things personally. Resilience makes some practices produce better results – “listening deeply” can be incredibly difficult and emotionally draining without resilience, for example. Resilience is like a glass of water, though; once the glass is emptied, no amounting of drinking from it will result in slaking thirst. I’ve got to refill the glass. (It’s a wise practice to keep it “topped off”, too; that’s where self-care comes in.)

G’damn, I really need some time away to invest in my own wellness and resilience. Quiet time taking care of the woman in the mirror for a few days, without any other agenda or competing workload. My resilience is depleted. Even “doing my best” is not enough right now – I feel comfortable acknowledging that. Can’t efficiently move forward from one place to another if I don’t recognize where I am right now – and start there. In this particular instance, it is less about physical fatigue than emotional and cognitive fatigue. I’m “brain tired”. I’ve been lax about my meditation practice, and it’s clear how much that does matter. I’ve taken on too much, and can’t seem to dig out in order to get to the practices and experiences that support my wellness; I’m scrambling just to get “all the other shit” done, that seems to have been given a higher priority than my emotional wellness or mental health. I can’t blame anyone else; it’s called “self-care” for a reason. I’ve been giving 100% of what I have to offer to work, to the household, to my partner, and not leaving much “left over” to take care of myself.

I find myself wondering if I would do well to leave for the coast a day earlier. It would probably be good for me. Probably not good for my partner who has been missing me, and potentially feeling un-cared for and lacking an adequate portion of my undivided attention and emotional support. I’ve only got the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else has – and figuring out how to parcel that out is sometimes difficult. I could do better. Seems like everyone needs a piece of me… and the only person who seems ready to yield what they feel is their “due” is… me. Fuck. That’s how I get into this quagmire of cognitive fatigue and emotional fragility in the first place, though. Taking care of myself really needs to be a non-negotiable – at work, at home, and in life, generally. I could do better.

…When I take better care of myself, not only is there “more in my glass” to share with others, the glass even gets bigger and holds still more… and I know this

We become what we practice. When I practice calm, I become calmer. When I practice good self-care, I become cared-for, resilient, and confident in my worth. When I practice deep listening, I become a better listener more able to “be there” for others. Understanding this is important. It is true of unpleasant emotions, too. If I “practice” losing my shit in a time of stress, I become more prone to being volatile. If I “practice” anger by way of confrontation, venting, or tantrums, I become an angrier person less able to manage that intense emotion appropriately. True for all of us; we become what we practice. How do I become the woman – the person – I most want to be? Sounds like I need to practice being her …and when I fall short? I need to begin again.

I finish my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin planning the packing and tasks needed to prepare for my trip to the coast. I remind myself to take time to meditate, to check my blood pressure, to stay on time with my medications. It’s a lot to keep track of some days, but the pay off is worth it; I feel better, enjoy my life more, and I am more able to be there for my partner when he needs me. I’ve just got to do the verbs.

Time to begin again. Again. It’s slow going, sometimes, but I do become what I practice.

I’m sipping a can of iced coffee from the office fridge, preparing to start the work day. Today feels ordinary, aside from the lingering warm glow of being in love. Steady love. Years of enduring affection. Comfortable intimacy. I do adore my Traveling Partner. We enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s Day evening together. Nothing much more to say about it. It “ticked all the boxes” I personally hold dear for a healthy relationship… thinking back to my blog post a couple days ago, I’m referring to these:

  1. Mutual respect
  2. Mutual consideration
  3. Mutual encouragement
  4. Mutual support
  5. Shared values
  6. Compassion
  7. Clear expectation-setting
  8. Clear communication without mockery, contempt, or condescension
  9. Skillful listening
  10. Equitable distribution of labor

Yesterday felt like all of that. It was refreshing and delightful, and clear “proof of concept”. 😀 Feels like a win.

I slept well and deeply – second night in a row. So nice. The commute into the city was a bit icy, and a bit foggy, but there was very little traffic, and the drive was pleasant and uncomplicated. A good start to a new day. I think I’ll just go ahead and begin again. 😀