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It’s a cold evening, but I was shaking all over before I even got onto the elevator. “Shitty timing for this kind of bullshit”, I point out to myself not quite silently. The almost inaudible snarl of frustration, anxiety, and impotent rage seemed to set off the shaking, although it is more likely they have a shared cause; degraded emotional resilience, too much work, too little time, too much emotional investment, too little boundary-setting, and (I’m know I’m not alone in this) eventually it’s “all too much”. Hell, even the good stuff. This is the middle of that Venn diagram of crazy that a great many of us with anxiety issues, head trauma, PTSD, and a host of other physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges definitely do deal with on a regular basis (with or without support).

I arrive home still shaking all over. I managed the commute without losing my shit – or losing my nerve – although I quickly exited the worst of the stop & go nastiness and shitty human behavior by taking a longish (and apparently unpopular) detour through rural roads a bit out of my way. I can’t properly tell whether – or if – I am “tired”. I feel disconnected and surreal, and on top of the shaking, I feel very much on the edge of tears. This has to be addressed – and living alone, generally, means I can tackle this challenge without allowing myself to be distracted or derailed by instigating drama, or over-reacting to some unrelated small thing that can conveniently be blamed for what may (or may not) be pure chemistry.

…I’ll take a moment to point out that I don’t harp on good self-care because I stroll around modeling the very best self-care, smug in my cared-for-ness of self. I spend a lot of time talking about it because I spend a lot of time considering (and practicing) it – because I need the practice badly, because I am fairly bad at good self-care. So. Moving on.

I feel emotionally safer once I get home. I know the shaking won’t stop until the needs are met. So… what needs? Does this have to degrade into a full-blown meltdown with a screaming tantrum…? Because… I hate those. Uncomfortable. Harder to bounce back from. I nearly always come down with some terrible ailment a day or two later. Fuck that shit. I can do better… can’t I? I like to think I can. I yearn for the truth of it to feel more obvious in some visceral way right now. Like anyone else, my anxiety whispers terrible things to me in the background, and it is hard to hold onto all of the things I have learned about self-care, and growth, and perspective, and balance, and…

…And I’m so human. Fucking hell.

In the meantime, I do things. Self-care can be broken down into a series of small tasks, and observations which lead to other small tasks, until the moment has passed and I am once again “okay right now” – because, for real, I am actually okay right now. I’m not injured. I’m not suffering any externally inflicted physical or emotional wound in this moment. I’m… just here. Shaking. Feeling emotionally overwhelmed and on the edge of a tantrum. I feel… over extended. I feel… un-cared for… by me. Well that sucks. I move around the house completing small tasks… First things first, I hang up my keys and my work badge, and differentiate the moment from the work day. I adjust the thermostat and lighting. I take off my boots. I medicate. I tidy up what little disorder there is, in the kitchen, and assemble a meal that I can just stuff into the oven and forget until it is ready, then make a small snack, aware that I missed lunch and have been surviving on my morning coffee all day.

…”surviving on my morning coffee all day”… Well, shit. Okay, that’s probably part of it, for sure. I pause for a quick moment to appreciate that I started dinner, and had that needed handful of calories, before I was fully aware that I’d missed a meal, and that my blood sugar could be very low. That’s progress, and worth celebrating. I let myself smile about that; it’s a choice, and it feels a little forced. “Thanks for trying”, I silent congratulate myself on the effort.

I know that through writing I often gain some perspective, and I know meditation helps. I allow myself to recognize some poor self-care decision-making of recent days… weeks? Months. Shit. Okay, so… I’ve hit a wall. I get it. I sigh and sit down at my desk to write a bit. Meditation is very difficult when I’m shaking like this, and because meditation can sometimes also be very emotional or cathartic, I put that aside for now (with a lot of uncomfortable awareness that I’ve been less dedicated that I know I need to for my best emotional wellness), promising I’ll do that after dinner. I open my email, and notice a shipped item for my Traveling Partner and forward it with a message. His appreciative reply is welcome right now. His reminder about other things I have promised to get done is less welcome, but possibly necessary. I try to balance the shaking with my gratitude, and hope to find myself more able than not, shortly.

My brain attacks with me an unexpected volley of bullshit; the realization that although I mentioned that I needed to take some time to take care of myself before moving on to other tasks, my partner didn’t ask me how I am, or if I am okay… It slams me (emotionally) in the chest, and I feel breathless, and further overwhelmed. My intellect (and a commitment to non-attachment, and perspective) hits back with a skillful (and timely) reminder that connectivity on his end is generally pretty shitty and he may also be busy, and quite possibly hasn’t even seen that message yet – we don’t make the mistake of treating messaging as “obviously real-time” communication, because it is not. There are far too many things that can interfere with the immediacy of seemingly real-time remote digital communications that assuming digital communication is truly reliably real-time is a great way to face a shitload of unnecessary anxiety and insecurity, most especially in moments of anxiety and insecurity. I breathe through that one, and move on to the next.

I haven’t had it like this in a long while. I know it will pass. I’ve got good steps to manage it with. For now, it is a very physical experience. I start dealing with all that first, because often that’s enough. (Thus changing up the thermostat, lighting, and getting dinner started, first thing.)

My brain flashes forward to a vision of tempting sweet relief in the form of the thought of just… “walking away from all of it”… throwing my gear into the car, taking whatever cash on hand I’ve got, filling the gas tank, and… driving far far away from all the fucking anxiety, and stress, and bullshit, and insecurity, and learned helplessness, and unexpected aggression, and sadness, and disappointment, and financial challenges, and uncertainty about the future in my elder years… Fuck that sounds so… tempting… Like… very tempting…miles of open highway in some remote place putting distance between me and… yeah… me. (note: it doesn’t work like that)

…except…

…I’d also be walking away from everything else – all the good stuff, and yeah, even right now, I can allow myself to be aware that there is also a lot of good stuff. (There are verbs involved, and it is a difficult choice.) More good than not, actually. I’d be walking away from a great partnership, a lovely little place I live right now, so many friends who cherish me, a relative lifetime of things and objects that I love, the playful squirrels on my desk, the gas fireplace… yeah. Everything. All of it. Thinking of that, the anxiety surges again, determined to best me on a cold autumn night, as the evening light fades.

Tears come to my eyes. The Evening Light will fade, eventually… we are mortal creatures….

I breathe. Another breath. Another. I feel the temperature of the house warming up. I feel the positive effect of the quick snack of a hard-boiled egg start to kick in. I feel less distracted by hunger, too, after the big glass of water I had. Less agitated because I finally actually noticed that I really had to pee…. like… seriously. I have a nasty headache – had I already noticed that before? I’m pretty sure I did not. I start to feel calmer. The shaking begins to subside.

This is a process. This journey is not over. There are steps (so many) and practices (omg, sooo many) and there are verbs involved (and tasks to complete). My results vary.

I’m not writing this out in real-time to cause you stress, or rouse your empathy, sympathy, or impulse to provide nurturing. It’s more about “being here”, myself, when life isn’t going smoothly – because if I’m only here when all is well, what real opportunity is there to grow – or share that growth? If my perspective comes across as eternally sunny, and you only ever read my words when I am well and whole and merry, what value is there for you if you are mired in struggle, frustrated, alone, and terrified that nothing will ever get better? So. Here I am, down in this shit, doing my best. Practicing practices – many of which were completely new for me such a short time ago – doing my best with the tools at hand. Maybe I succeed, maybe I fail? Maybe I’ll spend the night weeping, or fearful? Hyperventilating in the darkness? Screaming nightmares? I know one thing I can count on doing – I will begin again. πŸ™‚

Round 1 ends. It’s time to practice good self-care. It’s time to begin again.

…Again.

 

Nearly every morning, I curse the assholes driving urban streets with their high beams on. Seriously? Especially these modern high intensity headlights – those high beams are literally, not figuratively, blinding. If the oncoming traffic is blinded by headlights, has the additional visibility they offer drivers actually made the road more safe? I suggest they have not. lol Fucking hell.

Turn off your high beams when there is oncoming traffic.

Read that again. It’s an example of basic consideration. Good adult behavior. Considerate. Respectful. Cooperative. Illustrative of a shared journey on a small and fairly crowded planet.

Yes, even on the freeway, when the oncoming traffic is… “over there somewhere”; if you can see them, they can be blinded by your headlights. It’s really that simple.

Does this actually matter?

Doesn’t everything?

Is your response that you can’t see as much without your high beams? (Seriously?) How helpful will that be on a country road, as you both come around an unfamiliar curve in opposite directions, if all you see in that improved view is the other driver crossing into your lane, head on, blinded by your headlights – or careening off the road, unable to see quite where the road actually is? Great view, huh?

Turn off your high beams when there is oncoming traffic.

Seriously. If you’re driving in traffic with your high beams on, you are putting other drivers at risk of a collision, and just being a fucking nuisance. It’s both unpleasant and unnecessary.

Now. Having been explicitly told that your high beams are blinding other drivers, if you go forth in the darkness with your high beams on, without regard for, or consideration of, oncoming traffic? You’ll be choosing to do so willfully, aware that it is both unpleasant and unnecessary, explicitly choosing your convenience over the safety of others. I think, personally, that if you are going to be a jackass in that fashion, it’s best that you do so without any opportunity to pretend you are the fucking good guy here. πŸ˜‰

Do better.

Turn off your high beams when there is oncoming traffic. It’s not just good manners; it could save a life.

I know, I know; it’s not much of a change. It’s a small thing as new beginnings go. Still, although it may not change the world… it could change someone’s experience of driving. πŸ™‚

How have I not written in 4 days?? Distracted by love and holidays. I’m having a laugh over it, sipping a rare treat; afternoon coffee, and relaxing after a busy-feeling morning of errands and housekeeping. Tomorrow I’ll put up the Giftmas tree, and enjoy the lights and colors of the holiday season. Today is enough as it is. Tomorrow is plenty soon for a new beginning. πŸ™‚

…”Nontraditional” doesn’t really do this year’s joyous feast adequate description…

Today, I’m content to feel grateful for the lovely Thanksgiving feast day, and the long weekend. As nontraditional as this year’s Thanksgiving holiday was, it was a profound joy to share it in the company of dear friends, chosen family, and my Traveling Partner (whose last three attempts to join me for Thanksgiving were undermined by drama in another relationship). The holiday was in no way what I might have expected (and it was a wise choice to go into it without the baggage of expectations), and there’s not much about it I would have wished to be different, at all, aside from the excessive drunkenness of a guest (these things happen, now and then, even in the most genteel families, and we are not them) which disrupted a pleasant moment briefly, and required some clean up, and there was a wee bit of unexpected drama later on (that may very well have sourced with nothing more mysterious than a bit of low blood sugar household-wide, due to the lateness of dinner). I shrugged it off at the time, it was handled then, and it’s not really worth more attention now. Far more worthwhile to savor recollections of the lovely meal, the fun of it all, the shared experience, the connection with friends and dear ones, the jokes, the joy, the moments… the love.

We are generally most able to do our best when we know what is expected of us, and we receive positive reinforcement when we deliver on that expectation.

I am pretty generally pleased with my adulting this weekend. I didn’t lose my temper over the drunken shenanigans of one particular guest, even though it was very triggering; the sort of situation where someone who is generally well-regarded nearly ruins his reputation with an entire community of friends over booze, bullshit, and bad behavior. I admit it; I’m not a fan of the outcomes of drunkenness. That’s my own baggage, though. I grew up as the child of an alcoholic. I had a fairly ugly drinking problem as a young adult. I gave up drinking on that order of magnitude many many years ago, and I frankly find no value in it, now. Just enjoy having a drink right? No need to descendΒ  into bad behavior or careless destruction. Or, hey, here’s a thought; smoke a bowl and chill, damn. lol At a minimum – know your limit, and handle yourself as an adult.

I smile and sip my coffee.

I thought I had something more to go on about this afternoon, but there’s a bit of autumn sunshine in the last remaining leaves on the big leaf maples which has caught my eye, and I am lost in thoughts of holiday ornaments, Giftmases past, and the promises of the future, as I sip my coffee. It probably fits with the lack of writing generally, these past view days; I’ve been a tad busy living. lol

It’s unlikely that this moment (or this delicious cup of coffee) will change the world, but it’s quite lovely enough as it is, and… isn’t enough, enough? πŸ™‚

Notice how I did not say “here’s the thing, though”…? Yeah, I can’t be sure, generally, if some noteworthy notable notion, or thought, or moment is the totality of such things, which would warrant the use of a firm and defining “the”… but… still… here I sit, with words, moments, notions, things, and thoughts… some of which may be worth sharing.Β  πŸ˜€

I feel pretty good about finding that comfortable. It took a while to get here. I used to crave certainty, firmness, and a clear dichotomy to feel comfortable with my place in the world. It was not only limiting, it was bullshit. lol I’m glad I’m generally free of it.

There were verbs involved. This is a journey. I have made – and continue to make – choices. Some choices are less obvious than others. Some are less effort than others. Some are less profound than others, as changes go. Some are more of all of that, and then some.

Choose.

Don’t sit there being miserable, filled with frustrated rage, stalled, wounded, or oppressed. Choose something different… and yeah, maybe even if that means walking away from everything you have chosen before, to choose differently, with greater wisdom, with more self-reflection, with greater awareness, and more commitment to the person you most want to be.

I did not say any of this is easy… but…

…Maybe you need to hear this…? You did not “ruin everything”. You are not “a complete fuck up”. You are not “the reason all of this went wrong”. You are neither master of the universe nor the single cause of all the world’s ills. You just aren’t. You aren’t that significant, actually. Neither are you unimportant. You matter. You just aren’t to blame for every fucking thing. Ever. Let that shit go? If nothing else changes, today, in this moment, you can choose to letΒ  that shit go…

…and begin again. ❀

I am feeling weirdly restless today, and strangely discontented. I suspect it sources with the general feeling of not being respected that has come up (subjectively) more in these past couple of weeks. It’s not even personal, and it is highly doubtful that the handful of real people delivering that experience are even aware that I perceive it that way. In the case of the government, it is a willful sort of blindness, because we are surely all fucking shouting about it fairly loudly.

I take a breath. I seek perspective. I check in with a friend. It’s helpful to have a reality check on such things. I’ve learned to be explicit about my needs. “I’m feeling a bit disrespected, and under appreciated, today…” isn’t that hard to say out loud, as it turns out, and often generates replies that meet that need for visibility, appreciation, and regard. It helps.

I think about “running away from home”. I’m a grown up. I’ve got my own place. A vehicle. I manage my own time. I could make a plan to go somewhere, to do something, but it isn’t about that – it’s about walking on from what is uncomfortable. Sometimes we can (and I often do), and sometimes that is not the ideal choice, or the timing for such things is poor. It’s like that today.

Today, the job feels like a job….

…I grimace quietly, take another breath, and remind myself I am being paid. I exchanged, by agreement, a measure of my life force for a pay check. So… okay.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜‰