Archives for posts with tag: 4 years later

Some mornings, particularly on weekends, I sip my coffee and catch up on the news of the world and my Facebook feed before I settle down to write. On those mornings, I also fight “taking the bait” and I do battle with invisible forces hoping to leverage the power of outrage to get my attention, and others hoping to get their hands on whatever loose change may be laying about. I’m getting better at maintaining some balance in the face of emotional triggers of all sorts as I scroll through images and words.

The need to build more resistance to emotional manipulation, for me, is pretty serious. My injury and my PTSD tend to result in a level of emotionality generally (the TBI) and volatility (the PTSD) that can make me very susceptible to emotional manipulation, emotionally evocative language and images, and it has been difficult to manage over the years. If I’m being honest, I can’t say that I “managed” it all all, with any skill or noticeable success until I started practicing mindfulness – and omg, do I ever need practice, like, all the time, every day. So human. I learned a lot about how far I’ve come, during this past election year, and I also learned a lot about how far I’ve yet to go. So… I keep practicing. I keep finding my way along life’s journey, one step at a time. The news thing is tricky; I love to read, I consume content at a high rate, I love language… and I’m a highly emotional reasoning being. I needed something helpful to rely on…

I ask myself questions that seem to help sort it all out (for me).

  1. Does this matter more to me than it did when I read the last article about this? If so, am I merely having an expected reaction to repetition?
  2. Can I verify it is 100% utterly legit, fact-checked, references cited, real no bullshit data or information?
  3. Who profits from this? (…and what does that say about the content?)
  4. Is the content original? (If it’s creator content reshared/reposted, is the creator credited?)
  5. What is my purpose in sharing this? Is it necessary?
  6. What am I going to do about it? (If this is action-worthy at all, why not just take action and share that in my own words?)

I think, generally, most of my friends also read the news – no need for me to share it to ensure they hear the latest from the same mainstream sources most of us are reading. It’s redundant – which means it is repetitive, which results in higher believability whether it has a shred of truth or not. Not helpful. If I’m angry about it – do I actually want to share that experience?  If I feel moved to share content solely on the basis of seeking “solidarity”, sharing the experience of being outraged or angry, or looking for community… wouldn’t it make so much more sense to reach out to friends directly, human being to human being, get together over a coffee, or hang out together, and really talk, really share? Sure, we’re all in this together… but using Facebook to reprogram our culture seems to be taking us all to some very strange and fairly ugly places.

I’ve gotten sucked into Facebook time and again, and wasted hours of precious limited lifetime – not connecting with friends and deepening those relationships, either, just reading the news, reading memes, scrolling through duplications and repeats, and generally filling my consciousness with the cognitive equivalent of junk food. I’ve added to the noise, reposting articles that evoke an emotional reaction without closely examining why, or even whether the content is highly accurate, and unbiased. You know what it got me? What it got all of us? The 2016 election outcome. That event has really changed my thinking about what purpose Facebook serves in my experience – and what it can do, and how it affects my quality of life, generally, as an application – because that’s all it is. It’s an app. It’s up to me to use it well, and use it wisely, and be mindful of the results I see, and the consequences of my actions.

Facebook – another opportunity to be mindful. Who knew? 🙂

I’ll hop down off my soapbox. It’s a gray, cold, wintry Saturday morning. WordPress notes that it’s been 4 years here, sharing, practicing, walking my own mile. My coffee is done. The morning has begun. Thanks for being here.

Today is a good day to live life in real-time, with real people, in physical space. I think I’ll go do that. 🙂

Learned helplessness sucks. It’s a common enough byproduct of surviving certain sorts of trauma. The frustration that can surge to the forefront of my experience due to complications of struggling with learned helplessness is akin to the nuclear blast of emotional weaponry; sudden, unreasonably forceful, and laying waste to the pleasant now that might have been. When I am simply doing my best to manage, day-to-day, and doing so with some measure of success, other things that need to be attended to may fall by the wayside; I can only do so much, moment to moment. My will falls short in the struggling, you see. I give up. Learned helplessness is a very real thing.

I wrote some days ago about my environment degrading, and that being a sign of ongoing stress, and a need to take care of me, more skillfully. I spent yesterday restoring order to the chaos of my environment. It feels very nice to handle that bit of business, and my surroundings are orderly, clean, tidy, and quite to my taste, generally. What I need is at hand. What I don’t need, has been put away. The effort to restore order in my environment results in renewed enthusiasm to keep it so, as well as ‘clearing my head’ for a whole host of other things that would benefit from being handled sooner than later.

I woke later than usual this morning, and took my medication later as a result. I am now taking care of me – and my loved ones – by taking sufficient time solo for my medication to kick in, and to wake up, and find my voice before I impose myself on their experience. Yes, that level of consideration matters to me; some women don’t leave the house before they ‘put their face on’, I avoid interacting with people before my brain has entirely come back online, and my level of pain is as addressed by medication as it will be, for the day. Taking the time I need really matters to me, and failing to do so changes my experience in a reliably unpleasant way.

The only snowflake I'm likely to see this holiday season.

Let it snow…

I recently got an email from an ex. A large measure of my PTSD is related to relationship trauma, and domestic violence, and I don’t have a comfortable experience of exes reaching out from the past, generally. I felt very anxious reading the email, and feel anxious considering it after the fact, too. This ex, this time, reached out to inquire – 4 years after the break up – whether I have any of her antique holiday ornaments. I was filled with complicated emotions that began with irritation and anger; when we divided our property I had specifically asked what holiday ornaments she wanted and was firmly and specifically told that the holidays would no longer have any meaning, and that she wanted no part of them. The anger became mixed with some measure of humor, and bewilderment; we’d never owned any antique ornaments together, at all. She had a few small handmade figurines, made by her Mother, and those were so clearly hers that taking them with me wasn’t even something I considered. I had a small number of handcrafted ornaments my own Mother made, and had given to me. The rest of our ornaments were common enough glass ornaments, some traditional sorts that I purchased my first holiday alone after I left my first husband, few of which actually remain, and some interestingly non-traditional sorts that continue to delight and amuse me with their whimsy. Still, I carefully checked the tree, decked out for the holidays, to see if ornaments dear to her had remained with me. I didn’t find any, and my journal entries of the time indicate that I had taken pains to carefully box the ornaments that were peculiarly ‘hers’ and left them behind for her when I moved out. I replied kindly that I didn’t have the ornaments she was looking for, and reminded her that we hadn’t had any antiques that I could recall. I made an effort not to read subtext into her reply, and have since tried to let it go. You can see the effort to do so has been only marginally successful; I feel angry that she even asked, and helpless to act on that in a way that is appropriate, effective, and needful. My logical brain tells me that I already have – so let it go, already. My heart says ‘this was so not cool!!’ and wants to do/say more. That was probably the point in the first place, making it even more wise to just let it drop without another word.

My level of physical pain the past couple of days has been very high. I hurt enough to affect my experience moment to moment, and although the effort to be compassionate and kind to others nonetheless is entirely worth it, I also find myself struggling not to resent how clueless people around me seem to be about the fact that I am indeed in that much pain. Sometimes I just want to lay down and weep, I hurt that much. It doesn’t help, though. I sometimes want to plead with people around me “please just be patient with me, please be kind to me – I just hurt, is all!”, but it hasn’t been my experience that it makes much difference; they are having their own experience.

Time to get the day started…laundry, putting away things that were relocated out of my personal space during yesterday’s cleaning, writing holiday letters…all the makings of a fulfilling quiet day. Today is a good day to take care of me, on my own terms. Today is a good day to change how I feel in the world.