Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

Today is off to a rough start. I’m writing early, with tears on my face. This morning begins with a challenge. I’m not always ready to measure my words, to smile accommodatingly at the world, or to be prepared for things to skid sideways unexpectedly over some random thing and handle it with grace and diplomacy. I’m not that skilled or resilient, yet. I’m taking my coffee in the studio, this morning, as far from other human beings as this house permits. Fuck humans. This morning I have already had enough of people.

…That didn’t take long…

An innocent seeming remark, taken personally, wrecks what had some small shot at being a good morning. It sucks. Weekday morning. I’ve got work in a little while. I’m wreckage. God damn it this sucks all kinds of completely.  We’ve got a house guest too, on top of just sucking generally, so on top of the general sucking – we’re having an argument at 5 o’clock in the morning while a guest tries to sleep through our bullshit. Fucking hell. Not okay. On top of the stress of this, generally, I’m also deeply embarrassed by our basic rudeness.

Fuck people. Fuck relationships. Fuck having to deal with any of it, ever, at all. I am feeling bitter, and I am feeling blue. I am angry that a small well-intentioned observation that was emotionally neutral at the moment it was spoken, turned into this shitstorm of emotional sewage so early in the morning. I feel robbed of a pleasant morning. He does too, enough to make a point of expressing unhappiness that I would choose to be in my studio, writing, instead of hanging out with him, even as things are right now. (I admit, I don’t get that – I don’t even want to be around me right now.)

…I slept like shit…

…I woke up feeling cross and headache-y…

…I was already “not in a good place”…

…I’m in pain…

Realistically, I can’t put this morning on my partner. My emotions? Mine to deal with. I apologized to him. He didn’t hear me. He apologized to me. I didn’t hear him. We repeat the cycle. Eventually apologies are audible. We hear each other. We acknowledge those words. He wants to talk. To engage. To restore emotional intimacy. I want to withdraw to the safety of solitude. He feels hurt by my rejection. I feel hurt by his lack of understanding that I want to provide myself with some basic self-care right now. We repeat the cycles we’re most familiar with. Doing differently is serious work.

…I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee…

Making predictions about the day may tend to “lock in” the assumptions I’d have to make to do so. It’s a poor choice. I breathe. Exhale. Let it go. I keep at it. Breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breath. Letting my shoulders relax. Pulling my posture upright. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. I hear my typing cadence begin to become even. Regular. A steady beat. Less chaotic and tempestuous. There are choices here. Verbs. Effort. Will. The journey is not always an easy one. The road ahead is not always smooth under my feet when I walk it. There is no growth or forward momentum in what is easiest, only joy and contentment. My results vary. I need more practice.

…I’ve gotta admit, I do like the joy and contentment, though…

I sip my coffee. Contentment can be built. More verbs. A lot of practice. We become what we practice. What am I practicing? (I can’t do a fucking thing about anyone else’s practices, only my own, that’s just real.) Am I, as I sit here, the woman I most want to be? (I could do better.) Still human. So human.

It’s a fairly shitty morning so far. I could definitely do better. I guess I have to begin again.

…Time to get on with that…

First there was the sound of a loud bump or bang. I heard that through the wall of my studio, where I was working. Then, I heard the sound of… running water? Like… loud. Splashing. From a room with no source of water… Shit. The aquarium… I pushed my chair back abruptly and went quickly to the room next door. There was water pooling on the carpet and soaking in, everywhere. Shards and chunks of glass. I could hear the water still flowing and see my Traveling Partner trapped on the other side of a tall bookcase, standing off-kilter, askew, leaning against the wall, above and into the shattered side of the 10 gallon aquarium in the room I call “my library”. Fucking hell. I helped push the bookcase into a standing position, to allow my partner to get around it, and out. He was doing the “calm-but-freaked-out” thing that happens to people when they are mired in an unexpected disaster. “I don’t know what to do, here…” he admitted. A different section of my brain than is the typical day-to-day was still engaged; I’d been working on a complex problem against a deadline. I hear my calm firm voice reply “move the bookcase out of the room so we can get started on clean up; I’ll get towels”.

I handed my partner the entire towel-content of the linen closet, and while he began mopping up water, I began picking up the biggest pieces of glass with great care, avoiding areas that appeared covered in small shards. Task by task we got the worst things handled straight away. Fish, snails, and shrimp, the living creatures were recovered and put into suitable water as quickly as we spotted them. Our tiny portable shop vac, advertised as “wet or dry” definitely wasn’t up for this challenge. Creatures retrieved and placed into water, I headed purposefully to the nearest hardware store for a proper shop-vac worthy of a garage that is planned to become, over time, my partner’s workshop/maker space. While I did that, my partner stayed behind, cleaning up more water and throwing the used, soaking wet towels into the wash. He placed the shattered aquarium, improbably still held together by a cheap plastic bottom frame and silicon-sealed joints at the corners, into a plastic tote big enough to hold it, and then supported one side a bit higher, allowing a pool of water to remain – a haven for any shrimp or fish we hadn’t netted successfully earlier. He moved the almost-new wooden aquarium stand (a cabinet type) off the soaked carpet beneath it, and into a dry place in the garage, with a breeze on it, so it would, perhaps, dry out.

…Sometimes a project goes very wrong, without any provocation or obvious cause…

I decided to re-home the now-homeless creatures (surviving in a small pitcher) by putting them into my big aquarium (and because there was little opportunity to acclimate them well or quarantine them, I was explicitly also choosing to “hope for the best” on their survival – and that of the community they joined so quickly). The big Mystery Snail was unfolding from her shell and beginning to explore almost immediately. The wee delicate Otocinclus, which were spotted and carefully netted by my Traveling Partner during the chaos and clean-up, surprised me with their resilience when I encouraged them out of the small pitcher they were in, and into the large community tank; they quickly joined the three Otocinclus there and began to settle in. The Blue Velvet Shrimp… well, they’re hard to spot against the dark substrate of the broken aquarium, honestly. Did we get them all? Really? I’m not certain, but I think we did. Later this morning, I’ll check for dead, dying, or injured creatures, and salvage the substrate, and decor, from the shattered tank (the plants have already been moved to the big tank). I don’t yet know if I will set up a second tank, again… for now that’s only a thought. More a question.

She doesn’t even have a name. I’m nonetheless surprisingly attached to her.

Funny thing… during the first days moving in, I carelessly spilled 2-3 gallons of water on our beautiful living room floor. I wailed in disappointment and self-inflicted emotional pain, in that moment. I cried – for nearly an hour, almost in hysterics over the mess, and throughout the time it took to clean it all up. I felt I had “ruined everything” in some catastrophic way. (I hadn’t. Clean water, vinyl floor… it was mostly just a pain in the ass, and very annoying after working with such care to bring the aquariums home to the new house.) This time? 8 gallons or so of actual “fish water”? Spilled into carpet? With living creatures tossed out into open air? A small hole gouged into the wall by the falling bookcase? Broken glass everywhere? This was a much bigger deal…  and I was beyond calm about it. Stressed, sure, but also measured, reasonable, practical, and purposeful. No tears. Still, even now, no tears. No one bleeding. No one died. House still standing.

As of now, this morning, I don’t think even one creature actually died during the mishap… and the new shop-vac did a great job of pulling the water out of the carpet. My Traveling Partner was skillful, effective, and cooperative; we worked together to deal with the worst of things, allowing me to return to work (first day back!); he finished the clean-up.  We began again. We hung out. We watched videos. We ate salads.

I sip my coffee this morning, preparing for the day ahead, reflecting for a moment on yesterday’s successes – and challenges. Wondering at the differences in the way I handled two somewhat similar small disasters, and learning just a bit more about what makes the woman in the mirror tick. I consider the day ahead and hope for an easy, uneventful, day – relaxed and productive, would be ideal, I think. I’ll be quite appreciative and grateful for a day approaching routine and ordinary. I give thought to my sleeping partner in the other room, hoping that he wakes well-rested, and feeling good.

I glance at the time. I’m unsurprised to find that it’s already time to begin again. I could use another cup of coffee…  🙂

My dreams chased me through war zones and down dark hallways last night. I’m sipping my coffee grateful to escape The Nightmare City without much else to say about it. Definitely nightmares. Not such a big deal now that I am awake.

…I have a dim recollection of being awake during the night…

…This coffee is good. This moment, right here, is just fine. I sit with my coffee, present in my moment. It’s a better way, than older, other ways. It’s enough.

Bleary-eyed, content, and more or less awake, it’s time to begin again. 🙂

I didn’t get as much sleep last night as I’d have liked, but the sleep I got was restful. No nightmares. I’ve wrestled a bit with anxiety, this morning, which prevented me sleeping longer, or more deeply. I finally just got up.

I spent some time meditating, before I made coffee. Feels good to be restoring a reliable meditation practice, and letting go of the vague feelings of shame or guilt that had occasionally been surfacing as a result of letting a valuable effective practice fall behind. I know how effective it is; just a couple days into a “New Year’s” commitment to meditate more reliably, my Traveling Partner commented, last night, that I “seem so much less stressed”. 🙂

I think about the “you’re not lazy, bored, or unmotivated…” video. I sip my coffee and consider my fears. What holds me back? I leaf through an old day planner. Remember those?

I relied on this planner to hold my life together for a few years, but it wasn’t the solution to everything.

New Year’s resolutions come and go. Dreams become goals, become plans, become actions, and eventually become outcomes of one sort or another… or disappointments through lack of action. I know I am not the only human being who struggles with the fears that hold me back. I watch the video again. There are things I’d like to do with my life… there is limited time to do them in.

I breathe, exhale, relax, and feel the anxiety that surged when I thought about the many things I also “need” to do, begin to recede. It’s an interesting exercise. I think about the thing I could undertake to start, do, or finish, my anxiety goes crazy; I breathe deeply, acknowledging the part I play in my own decision-making, and what I do with my time. I exhale, relaxing again, with a measure of self-directed kindness, and understanding that “things can feel so difficult, sometimes”, and the anxiety falls away. Back and forth. (Am I seriously playing with my anxiety?? Wtf?) Like wiggling a loose tooth; it is uncomfortable, but hard to resist doing.

Life can feel so overwhelming at times; the dreams, the goals, the chores, the errands, the tasks, the resolutions, the commitments, the projects, the responsibilities… they all pile up and compete for attention, and for limited bandwidth. Some are my own, others are imposed upon me externally. Some have some urgency. Others are deceptively lacking in apparent urgency, but more important things rely on them, in the future. Some I earnestly want for myself, but lacking encouragement, I give up on them. Others meet needs expressed by other people, and I vacillate wildly whether to do them at all. I guess I’m not surprised how often I find myself stalled, and at a standstill, just… not doing things. Realistically, I also don’t feel physically able to “do things” continuously throughout the entirety of the portion of the day during which I am awake; fatigue and pain are limiting factors that require some care…which becomes a handy excuse all its own.

About that… pain does not make getting shit done any easier. No surprise there. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a whole new year, or not. Pain sucks. I have another sip of my coffee and really think that over. Pain is pain, for sure, but… I’m not the only human being fighting to live a good life in spite of the pain I live with. Hell, I’m fairly fortunate that physical pain is my greatest day-to-day challenge, actually – things could be much more complicated than that. I let that go, and consider what I can do with my day, today, to support the quality of life I most want, in the most skillful way, with the time and resources I’ve got, while still feeling as well as I am able to, and enjoying the best possible self-care I can offer myself. It seems a worthy goal. (This approach is often where my “to do lists” begin, honestly. Very “tactical”. Not especially strategic.)

I push myself to “think farther out”, beyond this one day. What can I do with my day, today, that builds that quality of life farther out in the future, not just here, and now? Building blocks. Getting to those is fairly easy, and it is quickly apparent that most of those also have “building blocks” of their own; tasks that need to be completed in order to complete another more complex task, in order to further a project along its way, in order to get something done that may, at some point, result in a goal being achieved, or quality of life being improved. Fuuuuuuck. It all seems so messy, and chaotic, and human, and… omg, so many verbs!! Merely lobbing verbs at tasks isn’t ideally suited to bringing dreams to life, or achieving goals. Organizing my thoughts is worthwhile, having a plan is helpful… neither reduce the number of verbs or the amount of effort involved in making a great life, or reaching those far off goals, I guess, but the clarity of mind is useful, and often, within the planning and consideration, there are new observations to be made regarding how various goals and plans dovetail with each other. Small changes in timing or resources or “order of operations” can result in amazing things… Every journey feels easier with a map. (This is driving my thoughts towards day planners and project management applications. lol)

…”Every journey feels easier with a map”…

…I start thinking things over differently… How will I draw this map? I am my own cartographer… and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

I slept decently well, and more or less through the night. My coffee is delicious, mild, and the mug comfortingly warm in my hands. I make a point to let go of a small, fairly petty, moment of resentment that attempts to develop; I changed the grinder settings for the coffee grinder at my partner’s suggestion, and my coffee this morning is better. I wasn’t resenting his suggestion, only the lack of understanding that I hadn’t set the grinder as it was with any deliberate intention; it had gotten jostled, and since then I haven’t gotten the settings quite as I like them. I’m pleased with the current settings. The resentment is irrelevant, and lingers only because there was no moment of explicit understanding to satisfy them, when I spoke up. It’s silly to hold on to that, and not at all helpful. 🙂

It was a good weekend. Short. Well, the same length as usual, but feels short. It was a weekend well-spent. I got good rest. I enjoyed a couple great trail walks. I enjoyed the company of my Traveling Partner. It was pleasant.

I woke in a weird place. Maybe it was my dreams? I just feel vaguely… out of step, or as if there is “something going on” that I’m not actually noticing. I know from experience that it doesn’t do to invest time and emotion into such things; they are often illusions, and where they are not wholly imagined, they will be revealed or sort themselves out, in due time. So… I let that go too.

I think about the honeysuckle blooming along the trail I walked this weekend; it reminded me of childhood and “back home”.

I take a breath, exhale slowly, relax, and sip my coffee. I repeat this a handful of times, until I find myself feeling strangely silly; the inclusion of the coffee makes me giggle, although, for me, it is quite common on a Monday morning. The weather report forecasts a very hot day. I’m grateful for air conditioning – although, and this is true, I’m also grateful for blue skies, and sunny days. 😀 Gratitude to spare.

The vague unsettled feeling I woke with begins to dissipate.

It’s another work week, and already time to begin again. 🙂