Archives for posts with tag: ancient pain

It’s afternoon. Near the end of the work day. I decide to take my break here, writing and reflecting. It’s been a busy few days since my last bit of writing. Busy with winter weather, and winter power outages. Busy with a bit of leisure, a long weekend that most definitely turned out quite differently than planned (see “winter weather” and “power outages” in the previous sentence). It was still a very enjoyable weekend…

Winter view of an icy dawn through the kitchen window.

…There was this one thing, though…

“Are you breathing?” It’s not an unusual question for my Traveling Partner to ask me, with varying levels of aggravation, frustration, or concern. I get frustrated by it, myself – although most of my frustration has had to do with interrupted flow, interrupted reading, interrupted thoughts, interrupted concentration, all interrupted by what felt like a fairly silly question. “Am I breathing? Well… for fucks’ sake, how am I not??” I would think it to myself, before “checking in with myself” to determine whether, for some reason, I might actually be “holding my breath”. I mean, seriously though, why would I be holding my breath?? BUT… and it’s legit… my Traveling Partner cares about me, loves me, and wants me to thrive, so… why would he be making shit up and just randomly interrupting my every leisure moment with such a silly sounding question?

…Tl;dr? He wouldn’t.

…Frustrating for both of us…

Monday I found myself crying over this well-intended, concerned, loving question. “Are you breathing?” I’d fucking had it with that question. Why does it keep coming up?? I cried and cried, all of my frustration with this one question spilling over as tears, and – possibly for the first time – I let myself actually think about the question. I got angry with it. I fought it in my head. I denied it with reasonable arguments, alone in the twilight of a quiet dimly lit room (I was at that point on the edge of a stress-migraine), but I was actually fully considering the question, and what could be driving it.

…I caught myself “holding my breath” while I sat there thinking and crying, too, more than once… Well… shit… so… this is thing?

My partner checked on me a couple times, offering hugs and sympathy, and assurances of his love and abiding affection. He maintained a non-judgmental approach, and gave me room to have my experience without taking it personally. He “let me cry” – and I needed that. See… this “breathing thing” sources with some very old trauma. Very very old. Ancient pain. Unresolved heartache and chaos and damage, from a lifetime ago. Well, damn… I guess, as my partner pointed out to me encouragingly later on, I may just be, finally and at long last, in a place in life where I can actually tackle some things that were too big for me at any earlier point. Squelched and squashed down for so long… erupting unexpectedly in a fury of tears and sadness, like a timer going off.

Later he shares an interesting article with me that seems potentially relevant, about some people experiencing “email apnea“. Reading it gave me a framework to understand the physical behavior of “not breathing” and how that may be affecting my experience moment-to-moment if it is any sort of common concern. A way to understand the observed phenomenon without mistreating myself, and giving me a way to put it into the context of my TBI, or my PTSD, or both. Well… I like science, and I like empirical evidence much more than opinion… so… I took advantage of the technology at hand to begin taking a measurement of my blood oxygen if my partner expressed concern that I wasn’t breathing… I’ll admit, hoping very much to “prove this wrong”. It only took a few such measurements to have to acknowledge that he is noticing something that could be a legitimate concern. I can’t take “real” personally. Instead, I put practices in place to get better at noticing if I am holding my breath (without requiring someone else to point it out), and also to breath more fully without having to actually stop every-damned-thing and actually meditate.

I know to expect incremental change over time to be slow. I know my results may vary. I know I need practice. That’s okay, too; new need? New practice. Hilariously… kinda the same old practice in a fairly basic way. Breathe. Seriously? (I hear myself laugh out loud. Okay… at least I’m still laughing.)

…By the end of the day, we’d had a lovely day together, one of the most pleasant days I can recall in a while… just… really comfortable, connected, pleasant, romantic, tender, wholesome, and just… fun. Good bit of positive reinforcement there. I smile thinking about the day. Today I keep practicing, and find myself recalling scenes from Demon Slayer (season 1), in which the hero, Tanjiro, is learning “Total Concentration Breathing”. I smile and feel considerably less insecure, or sad, or diminished, or frustrated, or put out, or inconvenienced, or… yeah, I’m not feeling anything but love, and gratitude; I have a partner who cares – literally – that I am able to breathe. That’s pretty amazing.

I smile. I check my blood oxygen monitor. 99%. Nice. I pause for a moment to breathe mindfully… and begin again.

It’s been a week since my last post. It’s been a rather long, strange week since my last post. Sometimes simply terrifically serene, other times stressful and anxiety-filled on a level that became some sort of unpleasant emotional dessert. That’s ‘dessert’ with two of the letter ‘s’, not ‘desert’ with only one, meaning to say that at some points the stress and anxiety rose to a level of elaborate internal torment so subtle, well-crafted, and painful as to be extraordinary to the point of transcending what it was and becoming almost iconic and representational of something far more archetypical – ‘fancy’, as it were. (Not pleasant or tasty, however, not in the least. ) This has been a week of peculiarly personal time with myself, endlessly interrupted and repeatedly derailed by the incessant demands of real life.  I’ve felt on the edge of some sort of really important epiphany or understanding of …something… that I can’t quite ever achieve because the trash needs to go out, or the plants need water, or ‘please pick up milk on your way back…?’, or answering just one quick question, or to take a look at something (it’ll only take a second), or what was that thing I meant to do… I very much want to blame everything outside of myself for it… It wouldn’t be quite ‘fair’ to do that, though, it seems to me, since it is the predictable byproduct of wanting to please, wanting to meet the needs of loved ones, and not really much wanting to deal with the chaos and wreckage at all… so, the anger directed outward, unreasonable, directed inward, damaging.  I drift; lost, and frustrated, and feeling ‘unable to finish a thought’.

...finding time to finish a thought isn't always easy...

…finding time to finish a thought isn’t always easy…

I woke this morning … feeling disgruntled and discontent. Aggravated ahead of any aggravating stimulus, and wishing to be in a different place, time, and headspace.  I’m fortunate to have a real ‘force of nature’ in the department of emotional support and perspective, in the person of my dear partner…up with me at dawn more often than I expect, and equipped with the will to ensure his love for me is felt and not merely imagined, and the experience not to get sucked into my personal hell; with his help and affection the morning is not wasted, not a loss, not even bad, actually. I feel my challenges, but today they are not calling the shots.  🙂

I feel like I have ‘too much to do’ and that I am struggling to keep track of it all.  It is an illusion brought on by a desire to complete something else entirely – that unfinished thought I am trying so very hard to avoid thinking, I suppose. Hormones?  Could be. I feel angry in the background.

Words...failing me.

Words…failing me.

Today the thought of ‘mindfulness’, or at least the feel of the word in my consciousness, has me feeling testy and cross. The demons have taken up arms and the fight is now to the finish. Success for me may mean their doom…we all know it. Now, our uneasy truce is open warfare, and I am fighting for my life. I will use guerrilla warfare, if I must – and attack them with mindful actions, if blocking mindful meditation is their current strategy.  So, today: gardening, laundry, the small tasks of modern domesticity that build a chill experience for the week to come.

Still…I want so much to solve the current puzzle, learn the lesson, complete the thought… I am at a place where it is becoming necessary to have a conversation with myself.  That 20-something woman I once was, and the woman of 50 I am now don’t exactly see eye to eye on a number of issues. Somehow, she has taken the side of my demon forces, and she’s making it damned difficult to sift through the wreckage and heal, and build order from chaos. We clearly need to talk. She screams at me in my nightmares that there is no forgiveness possible, that there is no honor in healing, that I have no right to be happy, to become whole…to abandon her…and the pain.  She is trapped in another time, and has only her limited perspective, and her pain – she does not heal, or grow. She wants vengeance, she wants a voice… I can not give her vengeance, and I do not know how to give her a voice; we do not agree about a number of things.

My voice...if I choose to use it.

My voice…if I choose to use it.

Well. Sunday quietly beckons, offering respite from the chaos and warfare within through labor and service to life and love. Is it enough?