Archives for category: The Big 5

Weird few days. Headaches. Neuralgia. Vertigo. Not my best experience, honestly, but I’m fortunate to have it in the context of being loved and supported, so… there’s that. It could be so much worse. I hold on to that and sip my coffee. Sunday morning. Low key day to chill and get some housekeeping done, gently, patiently, and with self-compassion and respect for my present limitations. I can do this. 🙂

“Doing my best” is a slippery construct, sometimes, and I’m often hard on myself when I fail to live up to my own expectations – which are sometimes higher, sometimes lower, that the expectations other have of me may be. Very human. I don’t “look unwell”, generally. I’m going about my business, often smiling, probably seeming relatively relaxed. It’s an appearance. I put almost as much effort into “being okay” as I do into getting shit done when I’m not entirely okay. I don’t guess that’s a requirement, it’s just something I’ve tended to do. Admittedly, it doesn’t always serve me well, but it does tend to improve shared experiences, mostly. It has the major drawback, though, of routinely putting people in the position of expecting more of me than I may be up for. I think about that as I sip my coffee… how to balance “transparency” and openness with staying positive, and enjoying life every minute I can… it’s tricky.

I listen to the rain fall. It’s not “my” rain. It’s not actually raining this morning. It’s a video of rain, soothing and beautiful.

My Traveling Partner has been kind and helpful, and maintained considerate awareness of my current health concerns. It’s hard to keep those things in mind, I know. We had a great day out and about yesterday, a rarity in the pandemic to go out at all and together has been rarer still. Yesterday was fun, and also exhausting. We napped after dinner for awhile, and enjoyed a relaxed quiet evening of videos later. I smile every time I think of some detail of yesterday. Good time together.

I’m trying to stay out of the news feeds. I’m frustrated by that. I enjoy reading. I value being “current” on important affairs. The news industry has become so tainted by social media practices chasing likes, clicks, views, engagement, and ad revenue that I don’t get much positive value from reading the news. Repeats of repeats of shares of Twitter quotes masquerade as “news”, with click-bait headlines and thumbnails that often have no relationship at all to the material in the article is not a useful way to stay in touch with the world; it just drops of fuck ton of emotional baggage on me in my own living room. I’m very much over it. It’s not good for my emotional wellness, and life is too short to waste it in that way.

I am already thinking about the holidays. How best to spend limited holiday funds is on my mind. What does my partner truly want, really need – what would delight him on a Giftmas morning? (Yes, dammit, I’m thinking about Giftmas already. I blame big-box home improvement chains, but also? I plan ahead and with the postal service being slowed down intentionally, I don’t think I should wait until December to order anything that would need to be delivered.) Something big? Something small? Blow all the funds on a single item? Several somethings? Something practical? Some luxury doo-dad he might not buy for himself but would enjoy? (I mean, “luxury” is relative, obviously – there is no sports car on this list, no diamond cuff-links, no Saw-Stop table saws; all of that it entirely out of reach, for now, but there is no shortage of smaller luxuries left to consider.)

…And “what about me”? What do I want for the holiday? What I’ve got, really. A bit more of that, a bit easier, a bit more relaxed, more laughter, more smiles, more hugs, more loving… I’m at a weird unsettling place in my life where more good exists than bad, more comfortable moments than uncomfortable ones, trauma being healed rather than inflicted, and generally, day to day, enough of all that I need to thrive. I often feel a bit of a jerk when I’m having a rough go of things (emotionally or physically) because of that; it seems unreasonable to struggle when things are so generally good, you know? That’s what got me thinking about “taking it easier on myself” and being kinder to the woman in the mirror. Treating myself badly because it “doesn’t seem right” to have a rough time with something in the context of a good life only leads me down the path toward treating others similarly poorly. Not helpful. This year? I want a kind, loving, genial, tasty, joyful holiday characterized by appreciation of the small details and shared experiences that make is so warm and wonderful. It’s the sort of gift that requires my own effort and consideration as much as anyone else’s. That’s okay with me, too.

Seems a good day to tidy up, and maybe to bake something. It’s certainly a lovely moment to begin again.

“E” is also for effort. Sometimes “easy” isn’t within reach. This morning is one of those times. The weekend, so far, has its ups and downs. My head aches today. My arthritis joined the party before I even woke up this morning. My sleep was restless, disturbed, and filled with strange nightmares of failure and inadequacy, and being tangled in dense sticky spiders’ webs. It was not a restful night.

I remind myself to begin again. To stay open to success. To choose. To choose again. To practice good self-care, to practice self-compassion. To treat myself and my partner well in spite of where I find myself this morning. I breathe. Exhale. Let my shoulders relax (again). I acknowledge my pounding headache, and sip my coffee as if the headache doesn’t matter. Later, I’ll pull myself together into some form similar to an adult human being equipped to handle the needs of the day, and go do those things I’m up to doing. For now, I’m here. Thinking my thoughts. Sipping my coffee. Hoping to one day be a much better version of myself than I was yesterday. (Right now, the bar seem relatively low there, so perhaps I do have a shot at that, in spite of how I feel right now?)

…All too human. The anhedonia and ennui are dragging on me a bit. It’s not as bad as despair would be. I make myself fully consider those words as I type them; this truly could be much worse. Another breath, it becomes a sigh. I exhale slowly, deliberately. I let the feelings come and go, observed but not interfered with. Acceptance and awareness are important steps for change.

My coffee grows cold. My thoughts begin an unproductive spiral. I shake it off. It’s time to begin again.

Always with the taking, eh? 😉

I’ve got a couple days off ahead of me, and a long weekend to enjoy with my Traveling Partner. I hope we do. We’ve had a couple heartfelt, heavy conversations about intimacy (in general, and specifically) recently, and it’s on my mind. I don’t question that we love each other, or even that we’re “right” for each other. Love simply requires some work and attention and there are verbs involved, even in matters of love and loving. It’s not a romantic crisis, so much as a reminder to put in the time, the attention, and the work that love requires to thrive. Coasting on the magic is unfair to a partnership, and it’s a poor way to treat love. The pandemic has been hard on the two of us. We are each having our own experience, walking our own path, and sharing a complex journey. It takes some balancing, some yielding, some compromises, encouragement, connection, and willingness to repeat what works, and also to face what doesn’t. 🙂

I may not write much this weekend. I don’t know. I guess I’ll see where the days take me. I have this interesting intimacy-building exercise tumbling about in my thoughts… maybe “cocktails and questions” would be a fun pandemic date night? There is a whole universe of classic and modern cocktails I’ve never tried (I don’t drink much)… could be fun.

My vertigo seems to have cleared up. I just have this headache, now, and it is familiar. My arthritis pain is also as comfortable as an old friend in comparison to the frightful chaos of the vertigo. I’m almost happy to “just be in pain”.

Anyway. The days ahead are likely to be introspective, intimate, and deeply personal. Maybe romantic. I’d rather enjoy those wholly that attempt to juggling reflecting on them with the real-life experience of enjoying them, so I may be quiet for a few days. That’s a good thing. 🙂 Another way to begin again.

Damn. Rollercoaster ride of a few days. Crazy. Some lovely on-again-off-again rainy days, which I find generally quite pleasant. Less pleasant is the ebb and flow my anxiety. I had a lovely relaxed weekend with my Traveling Partner – it seems ridiculously far away, now. I’m not certain either of us actually recall it.

My last surviving grandparent died over the weekend. It hit me harder than I expected. I keep making that observation, in various conversations. I’m not sure why I feel I need to explain or excuse my feelings. Grief and grieving are very personal processes. My partner is loving and considerate of my grief. He’s good like that.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

My partner is less loving and considerate of my anxiety; it tends to provoke his, which then causes mine to worsen (seeing him anxious), which, of course, aggravates his (seeing my anxiety increasing) and around we go. He does his best – and his best is pretty good. I’ve been – often right here – “working on” my anxiety for years now. Study. Practice. Consult. More practice. Repeat. It’s hardest on us when we’re both having an experience that is characterized by feelings of anxiety. “Background anxiety” is particularly insidious. I too often feel that I’m managing things skillfully, feeling good…but miss some detail that could predictably be a thing that might trigger his anxiety… and we’re off. My fairly chronic picking at my cuticles, for example, although it is a sort of a “tic”, and hard to shut down or “break the habit”, it functions as a trigger for his anxiety (likely by sending subtle “anxiety signals” to him that suggest I am anxious, myself) – I’ve fought this “habit” for years. It’s nowhere near as terrible as it once was (I can not now imagine what observing that horror show must have been like for onlookers), but I still bite my nails sometimes and pick at jagged cuticles something awful, and often without being aware of it. Yeesh. I could do better. It’s hard, and there are verbs involved, and it is a major bummer to see so little obvious progress over time. I keep at it.

Anxiety and grief. My week, this week. That’s already a lot to take, but on top of that – I woke yesterday from a late afternoon post-crying-over-death nap with a serious case of vertigo. Did I sleep on my neck wrong? Do a poor selection of dumb bell exercises? Was it because I was working with the 3D printer on my hands and knees, instead of sitting comfortably and being aware of my posture? Is it viral? Was it doing all the show-and-tell stuff my physician asked for during yesterday’s video appointment? I rose from bed with care, severely dizzy, and fighting the anxiety that comes with the vertigo (hard not to panic, it’s very scary). It soon made me physically ill, and I gotta say, I did not enjoy the experience of cleaning up puke while also still fighting the spinning of the room. I did impress myself, though (less by the quantity and distance I achieved, more the unexpected success with the clean up.) I went back to bed – not much else I could do (literally). I just didn’t have the balance to be doing things. I woke a couple times during the night, still spinning. Managed to make it to the bathroom without an incident. This morning? Not quite as bad, and I worked, more or less as is typical.

Well.. I worked, and I juggled the anxiety. Mine and his. I don’t really know what caused his – maybe mine. For sure a portion of mine is caused by his. It’s a pretty problematic feedback loop that seems solved only by literal distance from each other, at least lately. His tense request is that I do a better job of managing my anxiety. I can’t even argue with that; it’s a reasonable request. “Already on it!” is what I’d like to reply, but don’t want to sound flippant, or dismissive, or in any way take away from his message – which is that he is struggling to feel comfortable and manage his own anxiety, when he is with me. Especially hard when he wants to be with me so very much. I want that too.

My arthritis pain competes with my anxiety for my attention, and with the vertigo continuing to flirt with my awareness from the periphery. Adulting is hard. I sigh and email my therapist to request an appointment time. There are steps to take. There are things I can practice – or practice more. There are things within my power, right now, to do better/differently to care for myself with greater skill. It’s not about “easy” – there are no promises that it will be, and I don’t expect it to be. More failure than success? Comes with the issues being tackled here. Incremental change over time is slow. Anxiety fights back. S’ok. It’s a process. Failure doesn’t truly characterize the journey unless I stop moving forward entirely. 🙂 One step at a time, walking this hard mile. I’m having my own experience – and I feel fortunate that I am also sharing the journey with someone who truly cares about my wellness, and to see me thrive as an individual. More practice? Sign me up. It’s really that simple. I don’t have time for blame-laying, I just want to heal and be well. I’m willing to work pretty hard for that, and willing to do so in the face of literal years of failure and frustration, just to manage some small improvements. I’ve had to be. Is it “worth it”? That’s not really a question I can answer for anyone else.

It’s time to begin again. Again.

Keepin’ it real on a Sunday. Later I’ll just get to work on housekeeping chores and try to get past being a fucking human being, with all the flaws and limitations and confusion that seems to include. This morning sucks. Shit-tastic moment right here. Crap-tacular.

I’ve managed to up-end what might have been an ordinary lovely Sunday morning over-reacting to something my Traveling Partner said. I could have “let it go” or allowed myself to understand his perspective without sharing mine, but in attempting to speak up about my own perspective and experience, the whole entire morning just came crashing down around me. I don’t communicate skillfully in that moment, he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m trying to communicate. I manage to hurt his feelings, frustrate, and anger him. Now we’re separate people with separate lives in separate rooms having separate moments quite removed from each other, still, I’m sure, entangled emotionally with this shared shitty experience. It sucks on a lot of levels. We’re each having our own experience. We each understand our lives in a context we may not be able to actually share with each other in an understandable way. We’ve got our own perspective, our own baggage. Our own PTSD.

I’m trying to avoid creeping despair with limited success, as it attempts to weave its way into my emotional landscape.

I feel isolated and lonely. I lack a feeling of being understood, or even accepted. My fingers pause on the keyboard while my brain grinds through all the ways this is “my fault” and all the many things I have sought to do differently in one partnership or another to be other than I am, with varying degrees of skill – or success. The more my thoughts swirl around all this shit, the more it blurs together, like bad finger painting at that point at which the colors are just becoming a muddy homogenous gray. I’m already not even making sense, to myself. The tears keep coming.

I know, I know. It’s clearly time to begin again. The weight of the ennui and learned helpless is tremendous and if I were standing in an inch of water, I’d likely drown. My attempts to communicate are falling so short that each new attempt is at risk of being an escalation, and I was told I’m “being dramatic” several times this morning, before I finally withdrew into my carefully crafted one-room private hell. (I know, I see it. It does read like I’m “being” “dramatic”; I’m having trouble making myself heard over the din in my own head.)

New beginnings do tend to require that something else end. I don’t really know what needs to be ended, right now, in this moment. I feel sad and worn down. Tired. Frustrated. I assure myself “this too shall pass”, and although I know that to be pretty reliably true, I don’t have much confidence in whatever may come after it. A literal lifetime of struggling with my mental health, and specifically in the context of intimate partnerships and familial relationships, has worn me down past the point of being sure I can make constructive, practical, healthy, useful changes that result in being whole and well and emotionally self-sufficient. I’m frustrated by that. Most of the “obvious” choices, in this particularly difficult moment, seem rich in potential for self-sabotage or self-spite, wildly contrary, and the sorts of things that follow someone shouting “Well, fine, then I’ll just never…” (or, you know, “just always…”) before going immediately to gross hyperbole and refining the discussion to some ludicrous probably irrelevant extreme.

I read those words once or twice more. It’s true I’m definitely not feeling heard. It’s also true that when my experience hits that wall, I do tend to become more prone to drama (in both word choice and tone). I become more ferocious in my delivery, seeking any breach in the wall of misunderstanding, trying to force the person I’m talking with to hear me, to acknowledge my humanity, to “get it” – when they clearly don’t get it. It’s not helpful. It’s not helpful for them or for me; it’s not possible to force people to understand something they don’t understand. Just letting it go… like… forever? Not helpful for me. Might save the relationship, though. Is every point of contention a “hill worth fighting for”? I mean, obviously not; I used the word “every”. Along with “always”, and “never”, “every” is pretty much the customs stamp of a logical fallacy; if the argument is taken to that extreme, I can be pretty certain, generally, that whatever is claimed to be “always”, “never”, or some portion of “every”… it’s incorrect. Fallacious. Not accurate.

I start on better self-care.

I breathe. Relax. Try to let this one go, again. What matters most? Maybe I can let myself focus on this list of chores. Do those, as mindfully as I am able, let this other shit go… deal with it when I feel stronger. More emotionally safe. Clearer of mind. Choose a better moment, from a more rational perspective – sounds super smart. I’d like to be that person. It doesn’t make sense to keep expecting other people – any other people, including my partner(s) – to really understand my experience from my side of it. Pretty silly, actually, in the context of “we’re each having our own experience” – which we are. Another breath. Another sip of cold coffee. I’m fortunate to enjoy this loving partnership with this human being I cherish so much. Expecting that it will also be characterized by a universally aligned, wholly informed and accepting shared understanding of self, of each other, and of the world around us is, at best, wildly unlikely. I don’t think it’s very reasonable, at all, actually.

I think I’ll shoot for “reasonable” and “contented” today. Pretty lofty goal from the vantage point of this desk, and these tears drying on my cheeks. It’s something to work towards. I’ll focus on practical matters like good self-care, and perspective, and this list of chores. I’ll keep the achievements small and achievable. I’ll let the emotional weather pass like clouds. I’ll work on keeping my expectations of myself, and of the day, quite manageable, and reality check my assumptions regularly. It’s not “everything” (what is?), but it’s a starting point, and it’s within reach, and looking over the commitments with care, it looks both reasonable and emotionally healthy. That’ll have to be enough today.

My Traveling Partner looks in on me. He says kind words. He has a kind face and a concerned look. We connect gently, carefully, seeking to ease the emotional hurts, reduce the stress. He tells me that spiders have invaded the house during the night. I say I’ll make a point to vacuum with care and do my best to make our space unwelcoming for them. The interaction approaches normalcy. It’s something to hold on to. A stepping off point from which to begin again.