Archives for category: The Big 5

The morning is off to a difficult start. I woke in pain after a restless night. My Traveling Partner also woke in pain, and considering every time I was awake, he was also awake, I’m reasonably certain both of us have had less than ideal sleep. I make coffee. We don’t manage to enjoy it together – we aren’t enjoying each other very much this morning. While this does suck, it’s a temporary thing, and it will pass. I focus on other things.

I seek to be kind with my words, and to speak gently.

I already suspect today is one of those days on which whatever my best effort happens to be, it may fall short of ideal. I’m tired. I’m dealing with unmanaged pain. I’m aggravated. Is it me? Is it “us”? Is it just one of those very impermanent situations that will pass when it passes and simply be forgotten? Is it more important than that? I fuss quietly to myself, sip my coffee, and work on breathing through it, and letting it go. I work on not taking it personally. These are “practices” for me because they do indeed require practice. Steady. Regular. Repeated.

Kinda feels like I’m almost always standing in hot water. It’s frustrating, and this morning it is holding me back from enjoying this moment.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I focus on “now”, bringing my mind back to my breath, again and again. It’s something. Is it enough? I find myself wondering what conversations my Traveling Partner has with himself on mornings such as this. I wonder what he does to get past the difficult moments of life with a brain injured partner with PTSD. Doubtless it is not always an easy experience… How does he avoid fusing with my experience? How does he nurture and soothe himself?

Tomorrow, I am taking a break for myself, and driving out to the coast to walk on the beach, and listen to the wind and the waves, and be still and solitary for a little while before returning home. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I contemplate the drive without much eagerness in this particular moment right here. The morning is a difficult one, and I’m struggling to distract myself.

Human primates seem always to be trippin’ over something or another. Emotions are part of the human condition.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I turn to respond to my partner when he opens the door to ask me to empty the little trash can in my studio; it’s trash day. He’s preparing to take the bins to the curb for pick-up. Life is… so ordinary. Difficult moments are only that, moments. They pass. They are finite. Sure, they recur. My results definitely vary. I often find myself wanting or needing to begin again. I keep practicing, and instead of “looking for signs” that things are somehow worse than a moment gone wrong on a difficult morning, I let it go (again).

We put caution signs everywhere… but we create the hazards, too.

I am reminded that we make most of our own drama, and routinely blow small shit way out of proportion. Human primates are messy, complicated, and emotional. We aren’t as smart as we think we are. We’re prone to reasoning poorly, and reacting emotionally to circumstances in which our emotional reaction lacks value or utility – and expecting our emotions to have all that going for them is asking a lot of feelings. “Do not touch the edges of this sign.” No kidding.

Also? Stay on the path. Breathe. Keep practicing.

Begin again.

An emotional storm of unexpected magnitude blew in from deep within the darkest recesses of lingering chaos and damage. Maybe it’s my “fault” – it nearly always feels like it must be. I am, after all, the broken one in many interactions. It is, at least, how I often see myself. It feels, in such moments, as if “it” (meaning my experience of self in the context of my own life) is inescapable. An ugly tantrum. Hurt feelings all around. Yelling. My explosion of emotion. My tears. My apologies.

…This shit again??…

I can’t seem to hold on to the slippery recollection of how rare this really is these days, post-menopause. I’m reluctant to point to “hormones” as a root cause (can’t I do better than be a slave to biology?), but in acknowledging a recent rare use of HRT, I find myself wondering.

It’s frustrating. Small issues blow up and become seemingly larger than life. A moment of frustration develops into a cesspool of futility and despair. I end up weighed down by baggage I thought I’d set down a long time ago. Fucking hell.

Breathe

Another coffee. Another moment. A break to stand in what remains of the morning’s sunshine, watching the storm on the horizon approach as if to mock me. Nah… It’s not that bad. I’m okay right now. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership with someone who loves me even beyond moments of tears or madness. It’s fucking hard, though. Having to apologize, again, while sweeping up shards of emotion, and mopping up tears… it’s not on my list of favorite experiences. I could do without it. I don’t mean the act of apology or experience of remorse and contrition – I mean having put myself in a position that earnestly requires it. That sucks. It’s very human. I still don’t like it.

My Traveling Partner doesn’t bullshit me when he’s angry, or hurt, or cross. We’re pretty real with each other. We find our way to a more comfortable place, emotionally, pretty quickly. He understands the trauma history, and the lasting damage. He has his own. We’re in this together, more than many people understand to be. It’s enough, generally, and fairly often it’s far more than enough. Doesn’t make a difficult moment less difficult in the moment, sometimes, although we do both try.

My tears dry. The ringing in my ears left over from my … whatever that shit was… will likely last the day. I mean, the tinnitus is always there, it’s just a bit worse right now. That’ll pass. So will this gray fog of ennui and anhedonia. I remind myself not to confuse these states as having any sort of permanence, and to allow them to pass as if clouds on the horizon. I remind myself they are only the chemical aftermath of strong emotions, and not to be taken personally.

…We begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee, looking over some completed work, and taking this firm break to refresh my thinking. The window shade is open, and I can see the wintry gray sky above the neighbor’s house, beyond the fence, and the naked branches of the pear tree. Human and filled with soft turmoil, hints of changes coming… or that could be, if I choose them. I sit quietly with my thoughts, not attached to an outcome, non-judgmentally, just… thoughts, and coffee, and a gray winter sky.

I listen to a jazzy rainy day station in the background; it suits the work, today.

I find myself reflexively seeking to return to work. My hands and eyes drift to more obviously purposeful things… but this break has a timer, and it is not yet time to return to work. 🙂 It may be time to begin again… for other values of beginning. There are bigger questions that need time to unfold comfortably, and, having been well-considered with patient thoroughness and calm, perhaps an action. Thoughts and coffee, first. 🙂

…It’s not as if I really know where my path leads, anyway, is it…?

I smile at my break timer. There are enough measured minutes remaining for another cup of coffee… and that’s enough. 🙂

Snow is falling. I don’t mind that; it’s pretty, and I’m comfortable at home. What I do mind are these tears. Oh, and the headache. The tinnitus. The crossness and fatigue that come of sleeping poorly. I mind all those things. “I’m doing my best.” It’s not “enough”.

I’ve lost my sense of enthusiasm even for something as innocent and delightful as a snowy winter afternoon.

I’ve lost my balance, and my way, and I’m as a hapless motorist in a blinding snow storm – drifting, then… stuck.

I’ve lost my perspective.

I’ve lost my sense of humor about all the maddening bullshit that has to do with caring for this meat suit until it finally rots around me.

…I’m just tired…

My Traveling Partner is annoyed with me. I’m not communicating well. I’m terse without realizing it. Apparently. I’m making a completely fucked up mess of the day in all but one respect; work. I’ve got this work in front of me. For now it keeps me anchored and aware that in some future moment maybe things won’t feel so utterly completely shit… I mean… “this too shall pass”… ? Right? I just need to stay focused on this spreadsheet for another couple hours…

…It’s surprisingly difficult to hold on to non-attachment when I need it most…

I’m angry with myself and disappointed. I don’t tell myself I’ve set the bar too high; I’ll myself that I’m fraud and a failure and a clown because I am not right now 100% of every inch of the woman I most want to be… in spite of this headache, and this fatigue, and this absolutely entirely fallible mortal and very human experience. It’s a moment. It’s not a great moment. It’s not a delightful moment. It’s not a moment I’m going to want to carry with me for a life time of recollection… but it’s part of my experience of being this particular human being. It has to be enough – and it has to be just another moment, one more step, one mile on a much longer journey. If I let it swamp me and become “everything”… yeah, then I definitely lose my way. 😦 Been there, too.

I take a breath. I let the tears fall. I watch the snow flakes coming down. I let the minutes pass without requiring anything more of them – or me.

The snow continues to fall. It’s beautiful. It’s cold out there. I stare past my monitor to the window and into the sky. That sky isn’t so blue right now. Weather versus climate. The pain in my neck is distracting in an unpleasant way…but it reminds me to turn my attention back to the work in front of me. Whatever. It’s something.

…Sometimes “something” has to be enough to hold onto. That’s okay. There will be a chance to begin again.

Today is already more than a little “off”. I’m sitting in my studio with tears in my eyes, feeling super aggravated, and faced with a clear loss of perspective and sense of humor. I feel ragged, and angry, and potentially exceedingly easy to piss off. I did not sleep well.

…Yesterday, early in the afternoon, I allowed myself the luxury of a 3rd cup of coffee – a half a cup, really, but I did so knowing afternoon coffees have the potential to disrupt my sleep. That coffee did get me through the rest of the work day, which was helpful. I commented to my Traveling Partner with a laugh that if it disrupted my sleep he could say “I told you so”, because we both know it is a concern for me. This morning… he did, and I struggled to accept that probably good-natured teasing graciously… partly because I’m tired and stupid and cross this morning, and partly because, subjectively, I don’t think that’s what disrupted my sleep, actually, because the experience felt very much like a specific other thing (that is also a known concern) was responsible for my lack of restful sleep. I wasn’t ready for the humor in things, at all. Now I’m cross with myself, fatigued and frustrated by it, and also having the experience of managing to have “set my partner up for failure” by encouraging him to approach me in a way that was frankly amusing in the moment I said it, but the timing resulting in doing so when I am not so easily able to appreciate the moment. Fucking hell.

Today? Already sucking. My partner is definitely trying his best to get things back to a positive and merry place. I try to cooperate with that heartfelt intention. Yesterday was hard. Hard on both of us. This morning, my subjective experience of self is fraught with the funhouse mirror effects of being very tired. It makes the work day a fucking pestilence on my consciousness, and I’d honestly just like to go back to bed, and maybe not see or interact with any human beings at all for … a few days. I’m feeling sort of “over” people in this present moment. It’s an experience fraught with misleading illusions and distortions of reality, and I don’t trust myself to manage my emotions skillfully, or maintain a comfortable, rational, balanced perspective moment-to-moment. Why would I just straight up admit that? Because that’s how I get from here to somewhere better. 🙂

…This too shall pass. Generally, change is a constant I can count on, and this is just one moment. I mean… as moments go, it’s a fairly shit moment, for many values of “shit” and “moment”, but… considered through another lens… I’m employed, my wages cover our expenses, we’ve got indoor plumbing, potable drinking water, and a hot tub on the deck. My kitchen appliances match. The floors are comfortable under my feet. The house is a comfortable temperature, and the gas fireplace is a pleasant way to take off the chill on a cold morning. Small things matter. My desk is comfortable to work at. I’ve got a solid day of good work time ahead of me. Noodles for lunch are easy, tasty, and available. I’ve got another cup of coffee to look forward to. So… my “shit” day? Luxury for someone who doesn’t have such fortunate circumstances. It’s humbling.

I sip the cold last sips of my (fairly dreadful) cup of coffee feeling very aware of the juxtaposition of privilege and being in a crappy mood. I make a point to be real with myself. I remind myself (again) to be patient with the woman in the mirror – it may be that no one else will. I remind myself (again) to speak gently, to be kind, to be patient, and to “make room” for other experiences, and other people (well, at least one other person). My Traveling Partner steps into the room to share something with me. We converse pleasantly. He makes a cheerful joke that completely goes over my head. I am too fatigued for smart jokes or quick wit. lol It’s fine, though, and we both seem “calibrated” to the needs of the day, now…

…Still… this day is more than ideally challenging…

Do I need more coffee? Or do I just need to begin again?