Archives for category: War and News of War

What a week. Glad it’s behind me. Relieved to feel satisfied, pleased, and accomplished, instead of terrified, anxious and regretful. It could have gone differently. I am content with the outcome.

Stress is a weird thing, though, right? I mean… once I’m stressed about A, then it’s far more likely that unrelated experiences B, C, or D may also feel more stressful, or seem to be cause for concern. I crashed out last night feeling terribly blue, struggling in a sticky web of anxiety-lies and insecurities being launched at me from within, by an anxious, stressed, fatigued brain. I wept. For the world? It seemed so at moments. Other moments, I just felt “cracked open” and unable to hold anything back however small, however simple – even some lovely tender moments felt like pure heartbreak, and I cried, merely because there was too much emotion to hold back any longer. My executive function limitations hit me in my emotional life pretty hard. This week that was more obvious than most weeks in recent months. It’s been a peculiarly emotionally stable year.

I went to bed worried, even, about my relationship with my Traveling Partner. No reason for it, really. At least, nothing I could easily identify. I woke this morning without that insecurity or doubt, feeling rested, anxiety gone; I’m excited about the road trip ahead of me. 3 day weekend with my lover? Yes, please! Sign me up. 🙂 

Fuck, I am so glad my “default setting” is no longer despair. I feel fortunate to have survived the first 50 years of my lifetime. Emotions come and go. Like weather. “Who we are” is less volatile, less mutable, and sometimes feels rather… permanent. It isn’t. It’s more like climate; tends to be what it is, but still changeable over time. We become what we practice. No kidding. It’s a slow thing to change the climate – but it can be done. Choose wisely. 🙂

Are you unhappy? Make changes. There’s no map on this journey… it’s rather like setting off on a road trip to see someone you love, unclear of specifically where they are, but with a direction in mind… generally. lol This may help. 🙂 It’s a favorite of mine for reinforcing healthy basics; do the opposite of everything it suggests. lol (Here’s a follow-up on that…)

Maybe something simple this morning? One thing that could be easily improved by one little change in your decision-making, habits, or actions? Start small – committing to a marathon, while breathless from walking across the street may be a bit unmanageable. It’s so easy to become discouraged. I’ve been there…

After years of frustration, despair, and inactivity, I decided to go to the Farmer’s Market, one year. My feet hurt all the time, stupefying medication and unmanaged pain had pretty much nailed me to my couch between work shifts. Doing so would mean a two block walk uphill (barely) from the light rail station. I look back astonished (because I regularly go to the Farmer’s Market quite easily and comfortably, now, and often walk miles, not just blocks) – it seemed hard then. It required effort. Commitment. Patience with myself.

I don’t look at it the same way now, at all. My perspective has changed with my experience over time. Incremental change over time; it wasn’t easy the first time, the second or third times, the fourth time… but eventually, it sure didn’t seem hard, and then… at some point… almost unnoticed, it became quite the natural thing to easily and comfortably do. (For my less physically able readers out there, I’m using an example familiar to me, only, and part of my personal experience, no intention of falling short of being inclusive, but I see where my example could be. I regret any aggravation, or sense of being left out of my consideration that this may cause. Start small, is all I’m saying. 🙂 )

It’s a good reminder for me, too. There is further to go. There is more to do. I still struggle with my weight, health, and fitness. There are changes to make. There is future progress out there on the horizon to be experienced. Incremental change over time takes both time – and verbs. A lot of fucking verbs.

Oh hey, look at the time! It’s definitely time to begin again. This journey won’t make itself. 😉

I hadn’t read the news, yesterday, when I sat down to write in the morning. Of course, at this point, it isn’t new news that a shooter in Las Vegas killed a bunch of people. I don’t intend to minimize by saying so little, so briefly. Now news feeds are filled with noise. Repeats of the same talking points. Refutations of arguments for gun control. Reminders that we ought not overlook the atrocities perpetrated against our native forebearers. The push-pull of cries for attention by marginalized groups, all of us, of every sort, struggling to sort out what this heinous act of violence against strangers means for us, as individuals and groups. The resentment and fears of firearm owners who don’t want this to be about them. The anger, sorrow, and outrage, of folks who stand entirely against any form of gun ownership who just can’t believe that we’re all allowing this bullshit to happen yet again.

Change is a verb. Until we take actual action there will be no actual change.

Stop talking – well, stop just talking. Do something. Words pouring onto pages, whether paper or digital, is not enough. Blog posts. News articles. Social media posts. Research. Data analysis. Passionate oratory. Conversation. Argument. There’s really only one sort of words left that have legitimate value here; legislation. There is one group of people to whom we should be talking, loudly – and using firm clear demanding language, and not shutting up about it, ever; our elected representatives at all levels.

(Make a list. Start phoning them.)

It’s time the grown ups in the room sat down and drafted clear, reasonable, prohibitive legislation that secures the freedom of Americans to own firearms, while also securing the safety of Americans who do not own firearms. (If the representatives we currently have won’t enact change, vote them out.) It’s time we acknowledged that we don’t want “everyone” to be able to buy or own a firearm – and also decided who those folks very specifically are – without being afraid to say out loud that indeed we do think some people are a poor fit for gun ownership. It’s time we made it necessary to take safety and knowledge tests for gun ownership – just like we do with getting a driver’s license. It’s time we required gun owners to carry specific insurance to protect themselves and others from the cost of violence. It’s time we set clear boundaries that prevent people convicted of domestic violence crimes from owning fire arms in the future, ever. We have all the data we need. We know where the risks are. It’s time to grow the fuck up and do the verbs.

We’ve talked about this one long enough. Too many innocent lives have already been lost. It’s time we phoned our representatives – all of them, local, state, and federal, and demanded that they do their jobs, by legislating change.

Change is a verb.

My lovely chill Saturday morning was suddenly disrupted by the screaming next door. Not my duplex neighbors, other neighbors. A door slams. Slams. Slams. Slams. Hysterical rage. She’s out on the front stoop screaming to be let in, so clearly the target of the yelling has now locked her out. From her repeated enraged screaming, “if you would just HEAR ME!“, again and again, I’m pretty certain she already felt “locked out” for some time, this morning, if not for far longer.

I can see their front stoop from the window of my studio, where I am sitting. I’ve turned up the music on my headphones to try to drown out her anguished vocalizations, but at this point, I’m at risk of damaging my hearing to turn up the music more. My eyes are helplessly drawn to her misery and anger, and she’s begun throwing her body at the door, again and again, and isn’t making actual words now, just animal sounds, anguished, enraged, frustrated, demanding, pleading. She is lost to “now”, and exists in some moment of complex emotion, trapped in her narrative.

This isn’t where I want to exist this morning. The morning began quite differently. My tears, part sympathy, part PTSD, part lack of executive function, part pure animal stress at being exposed to pure animal stress, spill down as I write. I glance at the phone – should I call 911? Shoulders shaking now with sobs, helplessly overcome by my own memories of terror and rage, I watch her collapse, crying, on the front step of her home… what do I do? I mean, aside from sitting here crying, myself? I can’t bear to be that person who observed and did nothing, even recognizing that I don’t know who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are (it’s “other people’s drama” – in a very real sense, we are all both good guys and bad guys; they are human beings, having their own experience), and I don’t know what’s really going on there, or what the risk is.

…I’m triggered now, but I’m also aware of the other human being, over there, alone in her moment. Shit. I sigh as I rise from my chair, slipping my sandals on to walk next door and offer her a moment of calm, a cup of tea, someone to talk to. Hell, I’m already crying, and I know how terrible such experiences can feel in the moment. May as well… Can I conquer my fear with my compassion? Can I be a friend to someone suffering?

…. … …

It’s some time later. I got to the front walk, and started to walk down the driveway as the first police car pulled up. I find myself wondering who called, and when, although those details don’t matter at all. I go back inside, figuring this is likely a deeply embarassing moment for their household, and not wanting to compound it being an obvious witness. I’m trembling. Crying again. Leaning with my back to the inside of the front door, the unexpected knock startled me. It’s a “cop knock” – they have their own unique way of making a knock on a door sound terrifying (or is it just me?). The officer at the door “just has some questions”. He scanned my face, the tears were obvious. Was I involved, or…? “No, dude, I’m a survivor with PTSD. I’m stressed about that shit going down next door, is all…”

His questions aren’t hard, but I unexpectedly broke down trying to express myself clearly, sinking to my floor helplessly weeping uncontrollably, lost to a moment that doesn’t exist anymore, that can’t hurt me anymore, that isn’t my experience of life anymore… He asks to see my id, and I try to retrieve it from the wee card case in my pocket. Cards spilled everywhere. Credit cards, id, my insurance card, my medical cannabis card, assorted defining cards of an adult human – without any real worth or meaning, just then. I cry harder. He picked up my cards, because I clearly couldn’t. I looked up, feeling embarrassed and childlike. He looked at my id closely. “You’re a veteran?” I just nodded. He sat down with me on the stoop. He sees how my view frames the stoop next door. “Did you see anything?” “Heard her screaming at her door is all” I say, sniffling and wiping my eyes. Practical questions gave me something in the present to hang on to. She is not me. I’m here, now. I’m okay, now. “She was body slamming the door a couple times, then just sat down crying”. I wipe my eyes on my sleeve. “I was going to offer her a cup of tea and help her calm down” I observe, “…you guys got to her first.” My tone sounded vaguely accusatory in my ears, although that’s wasn’t my intention. He sounded sad when he replied “That’s all the questions I had” and “thank you for your service” as he stood and reached out his hand to help me up, before shaking hands with me and leaving.

It’s quiet now. Very quiet. I don’t even know if anyone was arrested, or who, or… I only know it’s quiet now. I’m okay right now. This wasn’t about me, or my life, and now the moment is about letting it go, and taking care of the woman in the mirror. Begin again, I remind myself…

…Please treat the people you say you love as if you do indeed love them. The damage done when you don’t lasts longer than you may understand. There are never enough tears to wash away the stain of cruelty, neglect, or violence.

So, training on a new tool ended yesterday, in the sense that the trainer has left the building to return to her regular day-to-day experience elsewhere. My work week ends in a handful of hours after one meeting. It would be so easy to give myself a moment of self-congratulatory joy, celebrate an achievement, and be done with that… but… that isn’t how new knowledge (or new practices) actually work. The learning is a beginning, only. Then come the verbs. The practice. The repetition. The iterations of improvement over time. The learning curve. Skill building. Improvements. Refinements. Enhancements. Efficiency building. It’s even a cycle. Each new thing learned, practiced, and “mastered” leads to yet another new thing learned, which must be practiced, and mastered, which leads… yeah. So.

Weekends are also a thing. I’ve got a lovely long one ahead of me. I’d planned to spend the Autumnal Equinox on the coast, but this training week was important (remains important, it is simply now in the past), enough to cut a couple hours out of my planned time, resulting in a change in plan. Truly, though, what canceled my trip to the coast was a splash of inspiration urging me into the studio, which… yeah. That comes first whenever I can make it so. 😀

Beginnings and endings, and an unfinished self-portrait waiting to be completed.

I sip my coffee content with this moment. Eager to return home to my weekend. Eager to linger at leisure at the edge of the rainy day deck garden with a coffee too late in the day, unconcerned because the day of leisure will be followed by another. I am even eager to throw routine out the window, to stay up late in defiance of healthy sleep practices, to sleep in on a “work day” (helloooo, Friday morning, I’m looking your way!), to play the stereo loud, to be – without looking at the clock. Just anticipating the delicious leisure moments ahead, I feel myself relax. I need this. 🙂

I’m pretty good at routines. I’m less skillful about breaking them. It’s not generally wise, but sometimes I do learn best from my challenges when I explore them, gently. Am I ready for some chaos? I’d better be…

…Anyway… I can always begin again. 😉

Not my alarm – I woke up ahead of that one, this morning. We had a fire alarm go off in the office yesterday and evacuated the building. Turned out to be a mistake by a construction worker, I heard. These things happen. What came next was hard; it had triggered me.

My anxiety and symptoms of my PTSD flared up. The noise of the alarm itself worked my nerves over as I calmly and efficiently left the building with haste. What got me, though, was “civilian behavior”. My anxiety continued to increase the longer I was exposed to the chaos and disorder of folks ambling down the stairs in distracted confusion, chatting about the day, and milling around outside very close to a building they had no reason to believe was still safe. I began scanning the crowd for an unseen enemy – we were all so exposed, to vulnerable, they seemed so unaware. The hyper-vigilance lasted the remainder of the day. My startle reflex was turned way up. My chest felt tight. My mood had become detached and mildly aggressive, “battle-ready”. By the time the all clear was given, I was no longer “safe for work” in some difficult to describe way, but had meetings left in the day, and workload to attend to.

I did my best. I went home as soon as I could. The commute was just more verbs and more practice. My startle reflex is dangerous in commuter traffic; cars or people approaching from my periphery reach my consciousness as an imminent threat. My hyper-vigilance combined with my agitation, anxiety, and aggression, result in a seething mess herding powerful machinery capable of killing, down crowded streets, too slow to feel satisfying, frustratingly slow, and being wholly made of human, I really just wanted to go home and cry quietly until the feelings passed.

My face still hurts this morning from gritting my teeth the whole way home.

I’m okay. I did get safely home. No one got hurt. No fender bender. No angry tirade – either on the road, or in the office. I managed to keep my shit together, and that’s something to pause for, to be aware of, to value – and this morning I sip my coffee focusing on the recollection of what worked, and how well, and less on the alarm itself, or the “civilian behavior” – people are people. My coworkers are not machines. They are not soldiers. This is not (no, seriously, it’s not) a war zone. My coworkers were the ones being rational; there was no cause for (the) alarm. 🙂 Admittedly, I still think they would do well to move with purpose in an emergency, to gather in an organized fashion and take a count of folks on their teams to be sure every is safely away from danger… but… they’ll probably need to actually experience danger to understand how important that actually is. So. There’s that.

This morning is so much more ordinary. I take a moment to be mildly irked with myself that my mental health situation last night threw off my timing getting ready for the weekend. I’m behind on my “to do” list. lol I’ll get over it. Yesterday was hard. I’ll get over that, too.

The sun is not yet up… I think I’ll get an early start on a new beginning. 🙂