Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

Last night I dealt with my anxiety, and comfortably resolved that. Win! Progress. Practice. It wasn’t any sort of trophy-winning event, and my “victory lap” will be just this handful of words, a later reminder for another day, perhaps, that it does pass, and it can be eased. It wasn’t over anything consequential, but it was very real, very visceral, the sort of mind-binding gut-punch of stress and fearfulness that anxiety is so famed for. Meditation still works. It still wasn’t “easy” – and I’m honestly not even sure I would call it meditation, considering the challenge I had calming my monkey-mind even long enough to take a few breaths…but…I went easy on myself in the moment, emotionally, understanding that the anxiety itself promotes a certain restlessness. I patiently returned my consciousness to the moment, to my breath, to a timeless mental space in which anxiety cannot thrive. No tv. No music. Just practice. It was, after a time, highly effective. There were indeed verbs involved, and even moment by moment my results varied. There’s no fighting it, though; we become what we practice, and continued practicing of calm… I became calm.

I slept poorly last night, although I did sleep more or less sort of through the night (my sleep tracker notes periods of wakefulness, and very little deep sleep, but I have no clear recollection of waking so often). I woke with the alarm, head stuffy, eyes watery… back aching. It’ll be a good day for physical therapy. I hurt. I manage my pain in a similar way as with anxiety; practices that tend to offer relief, practiced routinely, and given still more attention when I hurt more than usual. In this case, appropriate medication, yoga, yes meditation for this too, and a little later, dancing (to sort of force those stiff joints into a state that accommodates movement). I also spend more time considering things that don’t hurt than things that do, and once my symptoms are properly treated, I move on to distraction; shifting my attention to something else quite engaging, and letting the awareness of my pain recede into the background.

It’s a pretty ordinary work morning. Nothing fancy. Nothing noteworthy, really. Ordinary stuff right here. If I let myself get all worked up over a moment of anxiety, or a painful morning, I have the power to amplify both. If I take care of the woman in the mirror in the best way I know how, I have a shot at easing both. So many choices, so many verbs, so many results vary; it’s a very human experience.

It’s time to begin again.

House-hunting is weird. I have generally stayed fairly detached, which seems wise and emotionally healthy. This last little house felt so right, it was harder to maintain emotional distance. Each time I acknowledged, internally, how much I wanted this one my inner voice only weakly replied “how does it feel to want?” in that safely bitter tone that is a steady, more affectionate than not, reminder that until the keys are in hand… it isn’t mine. Well. It isn’t mine. 🙂 I woke to the news from my Realtor this morning, immediately followed by the search result with new listings. So. Okay. The search continues.

Funny thing, I learned more from this experience, because I really wanted this little house that very much. My anxiety while making the offer lingered while I waited to hear back. I was equally anxious about either outcome… but I learned the most from my anxiety specific to success; if I my offer had been accepted, there would suddenly be so many new details to attend to, and I didn’t feel wholly ready to face them. This is something anxiety is good for; teachable moments built on what-if scenarios that really “come to life”. There are things I hadn’t previously thought to specifically plan for, like… this little house lacked most basic appliances, and the result would be that immediately upon moving in, I’d be needing to buy a refrigerator, a washer and dryer, and certainly wishing I’d prepared sufficiently to also afford a dishwasher! Wow… That’s quite a bit of money to spend immediately after closing on a house, and also paying for a move. So… yeah… maybe plan for that? I mean, plan for it anyway, for the undetermined and indefinite future of many possible outcomes that exist until one actual outcome unfolds ahead of me. The more prepared I am for all the many possible outcomes, the less anxiety there will be in the moment, and the more easily that anxiety that does develop can be soothed by the easy assurances of good preparation.

So, this time, I’m not sitting around feeling disappointed (that consumed about a day and a half last time), instead I am making a list of the obvious details that would have required funds in the immediate aftermath of moving (I don’t own a lawnmower, either, or some of the homeowner gear one might expect to need…. like a step-ladder). Many of them are things I can plan ahead for, and certainly… I would do well to live much more frugally leading up to a home purchase; I’ll need every cent available in those first few weeks to be most easily able to just get up and go get whatever small solution to whatever common problem develops. That level of readiness would feel very secure. 🙂 More cash in the bank then seems to have more value that some moment of frivolity now. I find myself resolved to be very strictly attentive to a very lean budget. It even feels comfortable to make the wiser choices.

This morning, yesterday evening’s anxiety isn’t leading my day, but the recollection refines my thinking and keeps me on track toward reaching my most important personal goals right now. It’s a nice change of pace from allowing anxiety to send me into a tailspin, wrecking my days, wrecking my sleep, tainting my thinking with doom-soaked scenarios that never teach me anything, or have any positive result. I smile and sip my coffee, and move on with the morning, having taken some notes.

A beautiful morning full of hope… that was yesterday. Today, too. Probably also tomorrow. 🙂

Today is a good day for perspective. Today is a good day for contentment. Today is a good day to be re-inspired by the ordinary – and even by my own anxiety. Today is a good day for beginnings… and a good day to begin again. 🙂

I lost my taste for gaslighting after I lived with it for years. I gave up on April Fool’s Day entirely as a result. I mean, think about this “celebration” with great care… Is it kind to willfully mislead people about the nature of their reality? Who does that? Even as a prank, it’s a dick move. So… I stopped doing that shit because it isn’t actually funny. Just as with humor based on Schadenfreude; it isn’t funny for the person having the experience. Our amusement over it? If it’s based on cruelty, it’s cruel. Tit for tat? Not funny. It’s a dick move. We’re very fancy primates… which means our animal nature is not above that sort of bullshit, and, sadly, some of us actually go for wallowing in our worst potential.  We are too easily entertained by the human equivalent of throwing poo.

Am I being curmudgeonly? Perhaps. I just don’t care for people treating people poorly, (I definitely don’t want to be the person doing it) and in an era of serious challenges with bullshit and lies being passed off as news and truth, we’re all fighting for our sanity as it is. Don’t be a dick today. Consider that other person and what it means to be treated poorly solely for the amusement of others, and this just because the calendar turned over by one day. April Fools are the people playing the pranks, not the pranks themselves. Can you not pass up the chance to be foolish? Really? Is this the best of who you are?

You do you, though. It’s not my call. I’ll be over here, enjoying a lovely Saturday on the first day of April, staying away from social media, and treating people as well as I am able to do. 🙂 I’m not saying I’m any better than you, or even different – I’m just walking my own path. There are verbs involved, and I live within the confines of my own perspective. I have to face this woman in the mirror, a woman who knows what being gaslighted feels like, who understand how cruel practical jokes are for the person on the receiving end, and for whom frustration is real kryptonite. Gnothi seauton… eventually. 🙂

Is it clear I didn’t start here?  …I did have to begin again. It has been a journey, with missteps, and choices, and things to consider further. I’ve fought and resisted a commonly enjoyed cultural practice. That’s okay. I’ve made progress over time, and that’s enough. I awoke to the understanding that this practice of pranking people is cruel, and my understanding changed my choices and my behavior. That’s sort of how the whole growth thing works, actually, and it’s a very singular personal journey for each of us.  🙂 Today is a good day to grow and to choose. It’s a good day to take another look at the day and ask myself “why this?” and “why today” and “who might this hurt?”. It’s a good day to change the world.

I woke abruptly, wide awake, with a sense that sleep never was and relieved that the contents of my sleeping mind, so recently left behind, were not also my living, waking, experience. I woke clear-headed. I woke aware of my dreams, and aware of my relief. I woke feeling that purposeful moment preceding urgent action, not-yet-panic, sufficiently present to stall any move to action; there was no cause for taking action, and nothing to react to. It was merely morning. I was simply awake.

My morning felt far more than necessarily purposeful, and lacking any clear purpose this seemed strange. My dreams were perhaps still chasing me… Coffee. Music. I listened to my favorite playlist over my morning coffee, catching up on Facebook, avoiding more personal writing as though the words might suddenly jump out from dark corners, presenting some alarming situation for which I was not adequately prepared. Fucking nightmares. Damn it. It’s an ordinary enough morning off, and already I no longer remember the contents of my dreams, only the massive saturating feeling of disappointment and “I told you so” feeling of inevitability and suffering that characterized them. I didn’t really notice I had been avoiding being alone in the stillness this morning until the sky had begun to lighten outside the windows, and realized I’d kept the music fairly loud in my ears for some hours, coffee cold, every bookmarked article read, all the other tabs besides the “add new post” tab on my blog finally closed… It was hard, at that point, to overlook that I was stalling. How odd.

Over my second coffee, the world slowly emerges from the mist, and looking like an ordinary enough morning in every respect. Whatever startled me from my sleep, leaving me feeling vigilant and over-prepared, and vaguely “combat ready”, is nothing more substantial than the morning mist, itself. I feel my breathing deepen and my shoulders relax.

Another misty morning

Another misty morning

The holiday weekend, and the end of the winter holiday season, is right there at the end of the week on my calendar. Another year at an end. I’m unlikely to see my Traveling Partner; his celebrations are planned in a quite social way, where I tend to celebrate New Year’s as a more solitary contemplative event, as with most years. (I don’t mind that we celebrate in our own way; we are equally welcome with each other, should we choose to break from our own traditions to get together.)

Today is the day facing me, though. What’s to be done with that? Here I sit, sipping my coffee, a lovely misty morning unfolding… for leisure? For labor? For love? Maybe the end of this cup of coffee will come with answers… Today seems a good one to take a moment, embrace it, enjoy it, savor it, and move on to the next. I’ll think I’ll start there. It’s enough to be here, awake and aware, taking my journey moment by moment.

My appointment with my therapist was a weird rollercoaster ride of shared moments that began well enough talking over recent weeks in a frank and vulnerable way; the break-in had happened only days after our last visit. We started there.

Over 3 years, I’ve come so far… I have a pleasant moment reflecting on how well I bounced back from the violation of a home invasion… then… well… He has this way of sifting through the tons of words and asking some innocuous question about some seemingly nothing bit of a something, and unraveling some long-standing self-deception, or startling me out of my complacent acceptance of some damaging bit of chaos or damage. There’s more work to do about all this chaos and damage, but this morning my head isn’t aching from hours of crying, and actually – I had a lovely quiet evening of reflection. At one point, I hopped online and took at look at computers – strangely, both my Traveling Partner and my therapist said things that pull my focus back to the missing laptop. My Traveling Partner more than once simply observing rather matter-of-factly that “we need to replace your computer”, in one context or another in which it becomes obvious that it is missed. I felt something I was calling “indifference” and would push back that I was “getting by” and “there’s really no rush”. My therapist looking into my face earnestly and attentively commenting instead how he could see the loss was very hard for me, and… the questions. I got home feeling the weight of my missing laptop more than usual, and understanding that however odd it may seem – its absence is related to the emotional void keeping me out of my studio (also my study, where my laptop lived). I rarely go in “there” at all since the break-in, even now.

I shopped with an open mind, finding myself pulled in the direction of my own best computer experiences. I sipped chamomile tea and compared holiday deals. I compared them by price. I compared them by features. I compared them to the list in my head of the things that I need most and didn’t have before, and the things that turned out not to matter – and the things that mattered greatly. I sent a link to my traveling partner of a laptop that was rather-the-same-a-bit-more-what-I-need-a-bit-less-what-I-have-previously-thought-I-like-but-appeals-to-me-now, and then immediately retracted it in a moment of anxious tension over money. I struggle to spend money on myself – it makes me uncomfortable to do so. Baggage.

I kept thinking about that laptop, and found myself “smiling back” at the idea of it, not quite yearning for it, not quite letting it go. I repeat a narrative I’ve been telling myself a lot; no new one, however perfect, actually replaces the old one. It’s not about the laptop; the content is lost. I finally let it go and pick up a book and read awhile before deciding to head to bed. In our exchanging of tender well-wishes for a restful night, my Traveling Partner comments on the good value in the laptop I’d linked, and said “you should go for it”. My heart thumped hard in my chest. I should go for it? His loving support and confident assurance that I am worth my own time, my own attention, my own affection and support, has endured all through the years we’ve enjoyed each other. Even my own money? For me? Why the hell do I still carry around so damned much pain about my own worthiness? I get up from having crawled into bed and put my glasses back on. I it is time to replace this tool that I use so much and rely on so heavily for many things in life. That’s practical. I recognize it (from a distance). My partner recognizes it. My therapist recognizes it. The IT manager at work recognized it. Why on earth would I hold myself at arm’s length when I reach out so readily to embrace the ones I love – and even those I simply hold in high regard?? That’s… madness. Madness built on a lifetime of practice. It’s time to practice something different.

It was exciting and frightening to click “add to cart”. Heart racing and breathless, I checked out. My new laptop is on her way, and I feel like the bestie of a dear friend who is lost to me is about to turn up on my doorstep seeking welcome… I’m excited… a little wary… mostly excited… but it’s a bit of an unknown. I love being my Traveling Partner’s Santa Claus. Really, it seems only proper that he would similarly be mine, even if the trip down the chimney is the nudge of a mouse hand. 🙂 I adult a bit more, sending the receipt over to the insurance company to document replacement of the lost laptop, and taking time to meditate and calm myself to that the excitement and anxiety don’t ruin my sleep. Will I really be able to sleep, I wonder, as I pull the covers over me…?

I woke with difficulty to an insistent beeping that seemed both familiar and peculiarly difficult to understand. Why the hell was there beeping at this hour? I sit up and frown, reaching for the alarm clock, puzzled. Right. It’s a Thursday. I have work. Actually, I have rather a lot of work. I get up. Yoga. Meditation. A shower. It’s in the shower that I recall ordering the laptop. I smile at the recollection with eagerness and a noteworthy lack of buyers remorse. The morning actually seems a fairly ordinary one, only… there’s a sense that something has been put right that feels quite comforting. My Traveling Partner was right. We needed to replace the laptop. I needed to replace my laptop. I needed to take care of the woman in the mirror. I feel a moment of gratitude to have so much help with that. 🙂

The point of this handful of words isn’t the laptop at all, of course, it’s the self-care. It’s the self-knowledge, and the self-acceptance. It’s the willingness to provide for myself as I would for others. It’s understanding that to practice something new also sometimes means to stop practicing something that doesn’t work so well. I’ll head to the office today and work my ass off supporting my employer’s agenda, and in return I will be paid. It’s reasonable and appropriate that a measure of that effort will provide for me, quite directly, and  it does: rent, groceries, utilities… I would buy a bed if I were sleeping on the floor (although I felt guilty about it when I did). I bought chairs when I needed someplace to sit (but I felt uncomfortable about the “luxury”), and a dining table when I needed someplace to serve meals (more for the comfort of others). The purchases make sense. The baggage doesn’t make so much sense. My smile this morning is for me. When I needed someplace to write, archive images of my art, my photos, my manuscripts, my memory, I bought a laptop (because I need this for me, and that’s totally okay). I feel another bit of baggage hit the floor with a thump.

Today is a good day for gratitude and appreciation that so many dear to me care so much. Today is a good day to be merry, and a good day to let go of some baggage.