Archives for posts with tag: a student of love

This morning it takes me awhile to get where I’m going with this. Please forgive. Short night, early morning, sluggish thinking.

Sometimes patterns of light distract from illumination

Is it really notably different whether you are being obviously aggressive to someone, or acting out passive-aggressively? I personally don’t think there is, aside from the lack of forthrightness, and personal accountability. Micro-aggression fits in there, too; it’s in the intention, it’s in what the underlying feeling is, it’s how the person attacked feels the harm. I think most of us dislike feeling attacked, whether or not it is provoked by obvious ill-intention, or subtly camouflaged.

With overt aggression, I am at least certain I’ve been attacked. There’s an honesty to it. A certain… certainty. It’s not pleasant, but it’s clear. I may be taken aback, or wounded, but I also have unmistakable means to deal with it. Passive aggression is sneaky, sly, and dishonest. The attacker masquerades as well-intentioned, in some cases convincingly (to outside observers). The attack is no less damaging. The attacker no less intentional.

I try to avoid passive-aggressive attacks, and micro-aggressions (sometimes complicated by a lack of self-awareness), as well. I’m not a perfect human being, but a willful, considered, attempt, and a good-heart, go a long way. There’s less I understand to do about my own potential for overt aggression, beside stifle it, keep it in check by force if necessary, and continue to work on not having to deal with it, by making it less a part of my implicit thinking, and “natural” behavior – by practicing other ways with a firm commitment, and apologizing swiftly and without reservations when I recognize I’ve hurt someone.

…I’m my own human being. I find living with other human beings incredibly difficult. I’ve been badly damaged by violence, aggression, passive-aggression (and her evil twin, gaslighting), and the scars are, in some cases, still very raw, the wounds still easily re-opened. Healing from this kind of damage can take… a lifetime. I’m sitting here at 56, feeling rather as if I’ve used up most of the time available, without much improvement. Oh, I take the improvements I do get. I value those (they are the thing that makes life livable). I keep at it. There’s plenty to work on. It’s true, too, that the only thing I can truly effect change on – talking about human beings, human feelings, human experience, here – is this one. Mine. Me. What I do, what I think, how I behave, how I feel – all mine to work on, and perhaps improve. There is literally no realistic potential to change anyone else’s behavior, or how they interact with me. It’s hard, if I hold onto a perception that “they” are the cause of my experience.

Stare at something long enough it may appear to be more significant than it is

Sleep matters too much – even to love. I don’t get enough good sleep. It affects my cognition. It affects my emotional balance. It affects my ability to reason. I take some pretty profound steps to maintain good sleep hygiene – because it’s necessary to ensure I get the minimum amount of rest necessary to sustain human life. It’s been two weeks since I last got more than an hour of deep sleep, according to my sleep tracker, and that was interrupted and in smaller increments. Before that? Back in September, same thing; interrupted, 5 and 10 minute chunks of deep sleep, interspersed with light sleep and wakefulness. I have to go all the way back to July to find a night when I got more than an hour and a half of continuous deep sleep. I’m often short on REM sleep, too, mostly just getting “light sleep” that is neither deep or REM sleep. It’s no wonder I’m tired so much, and I guess no surprise that my resilience has been reduced, and my temperament more irritable, over time.

…During my first (very violent) marriage, I went nearly a decade without actually sleeping more than an hour or two a night, mostly just resting motionlessly, and sleep-walking through my “waking” life… My sleep issues are not about my current relationship, they have been with me a long long time, even into childhood.

I don’t have any idea, just now, what to do about it. “Stop being annoying” and “stop being irritable” are bullet points on a long list of things to change that don’t work that way. I know to start with improving my self-care. Meditation matters that much. I know to harness the power of gratitude when I am feeling resentful and hurt, and to let go of small things, understanding that we are each human, each having our own experience, and that taking things personally is what allows them to hurt so much in the first place – as well as giving others power over my experience. Even the most direct actual-no-bullshit-fully-intended-to-specifically-hurt-me attack isn’t all that personal; it’s usually an expression of that other person’s own pain, frustration, challenges, hurts, and baggage. Often, people don’t know another way to behave. They do what has worked for them in the past. Taking that shit personally just piles my baggage onto their baggage, and it all gets very heavy – for everyone.

It’s not as if people who favor aggression or passive-aggression are actually enjoying all that stress and agitation. (The sorts of human beings who enjoy that kind of thing are a wholly other sort of monster, and I do my very best to stay far far away from those.)

is there really a pattern, or is it a trick of the light?

Then, too, there are so many circumstances in which my own understanding of “what’s going on” is colored by my baggage, my perception altered by my own pain, and I see an attack – or an attacker – where there is really only another human being, being human, and it just happens to conflict with me, also so human, being human, myself. My own feelings of being hurt, or my own petty resentments, build up a foe in my thinking – an opponent, a challenger – against whom I struggle…

…I’m nearly always, in truth, struggling with myself. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go. There are a lot of great reasons to let go of my own bullshit. (No good reasons to hold on to it.)

I sit here this morning sipping my coffee, past feeling sorry for myself, around the corner from feeling aggrieved by the brief restless night. I am listening to my Traveling Partner working out his feelings his own way, tidying things, handling chores that nag at him visually, checking things off his “to-do list”. It was a brutally early morning for both of us. Neither of us slept well, I’m fairly certain. It wasn’t personal, or chosen, or intentional, or deliberately inflicted in any way. No bad guys. No real “good guys”, either. Just people. Human beings who choose love, but struggling in the moment to live that intention, gently. Too real? Too common, for sure. I listen with care, identifying the tasks by the sounds, mentally refreshing my own to-do list as I hear him move through the house.

I used to think love wasn’t a “real thing”, because it isn’t easy, and requires actual effort. lol I’m grateful for love, even when I am frustrated or confounded by what love asks of me, as a human being committed to love and loving – and doing so well.  That’s really where it gets complicated. Every-fucking-body is so damned human. I can love haplessly, without real skill, and it doesn’t take too much work… aaand.. doesn’t last too long, flaring up and flaming out, leaving chaos and sorrow in the aftermath… that’s the “easy” way (and most common outcome). Harder is working together, listening deeply, fostering a long-term sanctuary in our hearts, keeping a welcoming embrace always at the ready, and seeking to build, approach, support, and persist in our tenderness and gentleness, day after human day. Life is a long journey – I’m fortunate to have the Traveling Partner I do; we chose each other. Some days we have to reach across a very human moment, to choose each other all over again. (So worth it, rarely effortless.)

sometimes it is enough that there is sunshine streaming through a window; it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that

He puts his head in my studio, makes eye contact, asks a question, starts a conversation – builds a bridge. Love is worth a little bridge building, when our very human stormy weather floods our path. He gets it. (Usually before I do.)

I finish my coffee and begin again. 🙂

 

This morning, my coffee “leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth” in a fairly literal way. I’m not sure what I did to ruin a perfectly adequate cup of coffee this morning… good coffee beans, the usual process… Regardless; this is one dreadful cup of coffee. I sip on it anyway, reluctant to wake my Traveling Partner, asleep in the other room. It was noisy enough making just one cup of coffee. Honestly, it’s not that bad – call it “drink-ably terrible”. lol

I woke from what seemed a sound sleep, smack in the middle of dreams of reality, sufficiently plausible that I was surprised to discover myself awaking to the alarm clock. (oh, blech, this coffee!! LOL) The morning has been thoroughly routine, and soon I’ll leave the house, begin the work day, work through that, return home in commuter traffic, relax with my partner for the evening, crash out seemingly too early (it always seems “too early”), sleep more or less through the night, then repeat that for what unexpectedly seems like … a lifetime. There have been years when I’ve felt the experience to be a brutal grind, and my life filled up with petty resentments, other years (like this one) in all practical respects, it simple feels necessary, entirely practical, and if a bit tedious at times, there’s nonetheless no resentment to it. It works – for me, for us, for living life, just generally.

Yesterday I added some work tools to my personal device in preparation for my trip to “the home office”, which will be next week. A plane flight away, to “a far away city”, and I admit I face it more eagerly than not. I enjoy this job, and feel appreciated, purposeful, and prepared. My Traveling Partner doesn’t do things to hold me back or discourage me; it is a healthy partnership. I feel supported. I sip my coffee, and ask myself an important question: am I providing adequate reciprocity with regard to work, to life, and to ensuring I encourage my partner, and nurture my partnership? It would be a poor choice to nurture my career, while leaving love to whither. I’m not that woman, as I understand myself… So, I take time to consider my words, my actions, and how I prepare for this couple of days away. It matters so much to ensure Love itself is treated with consideration and high regard. What could matter more? 🙂

Staying on the path is a choice, and there are verbs involved; the journey is the destination.

My brain attacks me briefly over a perceived “funny vibe” I thought perhaps I may have picked up on, briefly, last night. It’s not a very effective attack, and I grin at myself over my coffee. Questions work. 🙂 Like a beam of light shining into a shadowy corner, a non-confrontational question seeking clarification on an assumption, a subjective experience, something vague and unconfirmed becomes… just an answered question. lol Most of the uncomfortable weirdness in life and in love are “shit we made up” that only exists in our heads – until our own anxiety and stress causes us to make it real. 🙂

I continue to sip my dreadful coffee – really let myself down on this one – and allow myself to briefly consider uncomfortable moments and “funny vibes” that have occurred in various interactions with an assortment of other human beings, and then let each one go. I breathe, exhale, and relax. No need to make up imagined stressors – real life will make sure I get a fair share of real stress, no problem. LOL

Life is not about perfection – and imperfect things are often quite lovely.

I sip my coffee thinking about sky reflected in water. No reason, it just seems something lovely to contemplate. I consider small lovely moments, and recent achievements, and brief unexpectedly deep connections, and enduring love. Love matters so much, on this whole other level. It still feels unsettling and a bit strange that it had to begin with me – with the woman in the mirror. I struggled to find real security in relationships while I struggled to “love myself”, and once I sorted that bit out reasonably well, it seemed to strengthen other relationships, most particularly my relationship with my Traveling Partner.

…Funny… I’m the one traveling in the world, this time…

…Omg, this coffee is just the fucking worst. LOL

I finish off my coffee, grateful to have it, grateful to finish it, and still thinking about how to deepen and nurture love. Love matters most. 🙂

It’s time to begin again, right here, with the love I know. 😀

Yesterday turned out to be a strangely difficult day, and the difficulty of it confused me; I had all the ingredients of a very good day, and yet, the day unfolded so poorly. Amusingly, the title for yesterday’s post remained relevant throughout; it was all very subjective, and it was clearly a matter of my own unique perspective on matters. The color of the day wasn’t a factual matter at all, it was pure emotion. One very awesome thing about yesterday? It’s yesterday. It is not ‘now’. 🙂 I am okay right now.  That’s enough.

Growth can't be forced; I unfold like a flower, opening my heart on my own timeline.

Growth can’t be forced; I am a flower, opening my heart on my own timeline. My journey and my seasons are my own.

My traveling partner takes being supportive and makes it his own, showing me the depth of his love by giving me space when I need it; that’s got to be hard for him sometimes, knowing how he adores me, and enjoys being with me. He misses me even when what separates us is not a matter of miles in distance, but more about my chaos and damage piling up between his heart and mine. This morning I take time to smile gently, grateful, appreciative, and content to have the strength of his love, even when I haven’t got strength enough of my own to be easy to share it with.

Love is always 'there' for me, when I recognize it sources from within.

Love is always ‘there’ for me, when I recognize that it sources from within.

Love sounded like it would be ‘easy’ when I was young. Easier still because I really wasn’t sold on it as a notion; it didn’t seem likely, or real to me, and I had had no experience of it to show me otherwise. Love, then, was a fairy tale. When I did eventually meet love, I was as a child bringing home some wounded animal and attempting to keep it as a pet; I didn’t know what I needed to know to treat love well, to nurture it, to grow with it. It quickly diminished, and eventually died, leaving me wondering how real it ever was. I probably had other chances at love, and didn’t even recognize them, after filtering every experience through my chaos and damage, and taking life coaching advice from my demons. I spent some portion of my life snarling ‘fuck love’ and striding purposefully through my experience without regard to my heart, on a campaign to stamp out emotion entirely.

Love being what it is, I did not succeed in stamping out my emotional fire. We are creatures of both emotion and reason; crippling one, mocks the other. Love, being what it is, gave me another chance to open my eyes – and my heart. I’ve managed to muck it up now and then, pretty badly, nonetheless. I’ve been frustrated more than once to make such an important journey without a map…or a rule book. Love does have rules, it needs to be built, to be nurtured, to be invested in, to be taken seriously – and not taken seriously at all – in order to thrive. Where romantic love must be reciprocal to thrive, love itself – the fundament of love, the foundation of love, the essence of love – all that must come from within, and it’s hard to get to the best that romantic love has to offer without doing the important work of loving myself, preferably first…but certainly at some point. ‘Now’ serves nicely.

If we don’t know how to nourish our love, it withers. When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love.”

How to Love, by Thich Nhat Hahn

The journey ahead winds through the chaos and damage, and no mystery there; love touches everything within me, every hurt, every sorrow, every shard of broken dreams. Like a rope thrown into a well, it’s up to me to pull myself out of the darkness and it looks dreadfully difficult sometimes, but the opportunity is there, the choice is mine, and with patient practice, and the will to do the verbs…well… I can see the light, just ahead…

Love is a living, breathing thing. There is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction. If we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find it is just there inside of us, solid and healing.”

How to Love, by Thich Nhat Hahn

Easy? Gentle with myself? Why does that sound difficult? Is it only because my skill is limited, and I need more practice? Is it because I am still fighting off demons, and wading through chaos and damage? Is it because old programming and negative self-talk get in the way? Is it because I sometimes overlook that will, choice, and action are required, moment to moment? Is it because when I am hurting I still punish me first?

Why, yes. All of those things. There’s good news, though; I have choices. 🙂

My path takes a turn I don't expect; the way ahead holds so much promise.

My path takes a turn I don’t expect; the way ahead holds so much promise.

Today is a good day for love. Today is a good day to change the world.