Archives for posts with tag: be kinder

It’s hard to read the news. Even the business pages are filled with articles that highlight how monstrous human beings can be. Our mythical monsters are no real competition for the actual human beings who likely inspired them, and continue to plague our daily lives at work, at home, and out and about. Some of us marry monsters. Some of us go to work for monsters. Some of us elect monsters. Some of us create monsters – or even become monsters. Pretty ugly. Take a good look in your mirror. Are you a monster?

Monster or not – do better. Seriously. We’re headed into the winter holidays one more time. Who knows how long humanity really has to fulfill it’s potential? Do better. Look at who you were yesterday. Consider the way you interact with colleagues, friends, loved ones – do better than that. Even one improved interaction today compared to yesterday is that much better. Each effort makes the world just a bit better. Each success results in you becoming a somewhat less shitty human being than you were. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re not a monster? Maybe you’re just a garden-variety troll, asshole, jackass, jerkwad, tyrant, bully, bitch, or douche-nozzle? Maybe you’re a well-intentioned fuckwit prone to saying or doing just the wrong thing at the wrong time? Do better. Give a shit. Make the attempt to improve. Be a bit kinder. Be more considerate. Really listen to people when they talk to you. Apologize sincerely and make amends when you fuck up or when you hurt someone. Set clear boundaries. Don’t make people guess what you need. You’ll still “get it wrong” – maybe a lot – but each time you do better, the world is a better place for it. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself “well, none of this applies to me at all, really, I’m fine…”? You’re probably wrong. Do better. Do something better today than you did yesterday. Care – because it matters. We all have room to improve.

Who do you most want to be? What do you want to be remembered for?

I’m not going on and on about this because I’m a perfect human being looking outward on a world of chaos, trauma, and nastiness. I’m on and on about this because I am committing myself to doing better today than I did yesterday. Every day. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes – even in the context of a loving partnership – I sometimes feel like I’m alone in the attempt. (That’s an illusion; most of the time, most of us are at least thinking that we’re “doing our best”, even when we are able to acknowledge that “our best” in that moment is a very dim light in a very dark place.) What we’re able to do isn’t always “enough”. It’s part of the human struggle, isn’t it? I still see caring about the attempt and the outcome as something important. I still have shitty days. There are still times when I am callous or clueless, inconsiderate or terse, impatient or frustrated – I don’t even expect that to change. I just want to do my best, and have part of that be to succeed in doing just a bit better today than I did yesterday. Every day. It’s not easy. There are verbs involved. I fail a lot. In failure there is growth. When I falter, I begin again. It’s a process.

…We could choose to build a better world. Some of the choices are very difficult. Seems like one of the easier choices is simply to seek opportunities every day to do just a bit better than we did yesterday. Every day.

Each day I have a chance to begin again.

I spent the weekend relaxing quietly, and taking care of me. I considered writing more, once or twice, and even had the occasional worthy notion to reflect upon. I chose differently. Instead, I took care of myself gently, and spent the weekend relaxing, recovering from the long week, and building emotional resilience for the week to come.

In the middle of autumn, a rose blooms.

In the middle of autumn, a rose blooms.

This morning I scroll through my feed noting the pendulum swing of opinion in action; French flag overlays disappearing quietly in favor of newly outraged articles about terrorism elsewhere in the world, other deaths, other wounds, other pain, accompanied by reminders that all these lives matter as well and… where was everyone then? I see articles wisely counseling the use of language that refrains from honoring terror groups with dignified titles, and asking that we not culturally dignify terrorists with honorifics or titles crafted to convey legitimacy. That makes sense to me, language has power. The reactive articles from pundits on the opposite end of the political spectrum reflexively spit back resentment that any change is asked of ‘the righteous and justified’, seemingly unaware that being one of ‘the good guys’ requires acts of goodness, not just a naming convention. What a mess we’ve made. Certainly, it is at times like these that it is most apparent we are very fancy monkeys; we do not easily agree on what is ‘good’ or most suited to our kind.

It’s strange how little part politics has to play in the life of any one individual human being. It’s a choice. One choice among so many, and we make tons of small choices every day. Treating each other well, truly, and without regard to our origins, our politics, our lifestyle, our beliefs, or our circumstances, is something to aspire to. People who successfully treat everyone quite well are a joy to be near, to stay connected to – to love. Behavior is chosen. What choices must I make differently to be that person – someone who treats everyone quite well, and is a joy to be near? How do I change the world when I make choices based on whether or not the outcome fits into ‘treating others well’? I reflect on these things most days.  It isn’t enough to consider, to think, or to wonder; there are verbs involved. There is a need for balance; among all the people I wish to treat well is one person I am often most likely to overlook – myself.

A busy work week begins soon. How will I choose my actions to ensure I treat myself, and those around me, truly well? What choices will I make to secure a comfortable experience, pleasant, fulfilling, and content? What choices will I make to provide that experience to others? How can I do better by the woman in the mirror today, than I did yesterday?

Blue sky between rain showers.

Blue sky between rain showers.

I turn the thoughts over in my head somewhat fretfully. I notice I am picking at the edges of my cuticle, left hand, index finger. I smile, and recognize that as small as it is, I could start with not tearing my hands to shreds with fussing and worrying. It’s a start. However small, as starting points go, each moment I choose to stop something damaging, and continue with something helpful, I begin again. Each new beginning holds the power to change the world.  Perhaps it isn’t ‘everything’ – but it is more than nothing, and it is enough to choose, and to choose again. It is through our choices that we change the world.

Disclaimer: This post is about emotions. I sometimes work through them more easily with words, in text, that I can see reflecting the experience back at me. It is a way of getting perspective. This post, though, may be a downer – I say that before I even write it, because I am having my own experience, and I feel what I feel in this moment. I am so very human. So…do yourself a huge favor, take a moment for ‘informed consent’; if you are in a place emotionally where someone else’s pain and struggling may wound you, throw off a good vibe you are enjoying, or change your experience for the worse, I recommend skipping this one. Hey, if nothing else, the writing is likely to be of poor quality, and angst-y, and rife with spelling errors and weird grammar fails – who needs that on a Friday morning? I’ll understand, I promise.

Still here? Okay…

Some other morning, a coffee.

Some other morning, a coffee.

I woke crying this morning. I fell asleep crying last night. In between, I found myself ambushed by Demons in The Nightmare City. This is not an emotional space I want to occupy. I am frustrated by my lack of resilience, my lack of emotional regulation, and my lack of perspective. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel resentful and let down. I feel. Yeah. I definitely feel. I feel mistreated, and mislead. I feel set up and I feel sabotaged. I feel hurt.

“That’s a whole lot of feelings there, lady, what gives?” I’m a human primate. I am an emotional being more than a rational one – it’s a balance. Today it isn’t balancing as well as I’d like. Stress kicks my ass, being hurt kicks my ass, abrupt change kicks my ass – and it takes me a little time to recover, even with some support. Emotions are not criminal actions. Assaulting people with them is, I hear, avoidable. That sounds like fine thing to me, and I turned the little sign on my door this morning to ‘do not disturb’, meditated a while, had a shower, meditated some more… I still don’t want to be as disturbed as I feel, right now. The sign didn’t do much to help with the feelings, but by design it may prevent anyone else from walking through the mess I woke to, within, this morning.

Meditation, mindfulness practices, good basic self-care are all going a long way to improve my experience of me, very nicely. I feel a momentary hurt, recalling with sadness how quickly encouragement turned to criticism, a few months after I began this journey. I was taking a moment to feel proud of my progress, and I was feeling pretty impressed with new tools and practices being effective at helping me on a level nothing else ever had… I got called ‘smug’. I was incredibly hurt. Admittedly, I had been foolishly trying to explain or share the experience with someone else… maybe they hadn’t asked? (I suck at that – put a person in front of me and I will probably just start talking. Are you aware that your executive function manages that for you?) It hurt, nonetheless, and since then I am self-conscious about feeling encouraged by progress, and reluctant to share positive feelings about it in conversations. (Sticks and stones? Fuck right off; words matter.)

I feel confused. “Emptied out”. I feel overburdened by unmet emotional needs piling up over time. I feel like I am not making the progress I could be, right now. It’ll be okay, I think – I hold on to that tightly. I’ve got the hotline number in my pocket, just in case it gets too hard.  I lost a beautiful niece to suicide this year, and I see how it hurts my cousin every day she is without her daughter; I won’t put my traveling partner through that, and I can take the steps to avoid it. Despair is a motherfucker – it is part of our human experience.

...and another...

…and another…

I can’t be certain that the intensity of my emotions this morning reflects something ‘real’ or necessary; they are only emotions. For all I know, this is a 100% bio-chemical experience with no grounding in events or experience. Does that matter in the moment? Well, sure. It matters the way anything true ‘matters’. One true thing is that my emotions are this intense, and unpredictably so. Another true thing is that my emotions, and lack of top-down control, are incredibly uncomfortable for some people to live with. (I don’t get a choice, myself; this is my experience and I live it.) Unfortunately, in a live and unscripted real-life environment, I also don’t get much compassion specific to the ‘invisible’ issues associated with my TBI or PTSD. I rarely fight for it; if it isn’t there to be offered, begging for it, pleading for it or wishing it were there will not make it appear. Compassion can be taught – but that phenomenon also requires an active learner. Change is, but forcing it on someone isn’t appropriate – and generally isn’t effective.

My traveling partner encourages and supports me – he frankly provides a level of emotional support that I can only describe as ‘super human’ – but the environment in the household, generally, is unhealthy for me. I feel aggravated and moody about looking for a place of my own, because I’d honestly prefer to continue living with my traveling partner – he’s wonderful to live with [for me]. I am painfully aware, though, that living with me can be hard on him. Right now so much of what I am working through touches on sexuality, gender, individual identity, boundary setting/management, and relationships with others that it’s harder to treat each other gently in moments when we need it most from each other. So…yeah. I need to be on my own a while – not a break up, not even a separation, just a different living arrangement. It still sucks to hurt over it. I hope by day’s end I am embracing it in good spirits.

I leave other household members out of this, generally; I am writing about my own experience and the other people in it are entitled to be free of public scrutiny of their values and choices filtered through my chaos and damage. But…I am not willing to continue to over-compromise my needs, or undercut my values to keep peace, and the time I spend in the arms of my loves is too precious to taint it with OPD, or games. As a population of individuals, we don’t want or need the same things, and at 52 I have no time to waste on fighting to get the most basic emotional needs met; we are not all equally committed to that endeavor. I don’t yet have the emotional resilience to hold enough in reserve to continue to take care of me when common place bullshit goes sideways, and often find myself without any emotional reserves left to care for me, myself, by the time I have a moment to do so. I feel positive about the choice to get my own place…and for the moment, sad that it is necessary at all.

You know what I don’t feel? I don’t feel guilt or shame over the choice to move out, it needs to happen; I don’t thrive in an environment in which my emotional quality of life is poor. Hell, right now in this moment… I’m okay. (Thanks, Dearheart!) My tears have dried. I’m not feeling social, but I’m not enthralled by Demons in The Nightmare City.  (If I knew that I would have the kind of nightmares that I had last night, in nights to come, I’d never sleep again.) I don’t have the headache that followed me around all day yesterday, which is a huge improvement.  My coffee tastes good – I feel a pang of sadness sweep over me when I realize I won’t have an espresso machine in my kitchen for some time to come after I move; it will be a frugal lifestyle, focused on painting, meditation, and love. Wow. Suddenly that sounds fucking amazing – and all over again I wonder why this hurts at all. I enjoy solitude. I dislike drama. I have musical and culinary tastes that are not shared in the household at large… and I miss a good French press in the morning; it’s a lovely ritual to prepare coffee that way, time it carefully, enjoy the outcome at leisure… I miss living a gentle life. (The most humorous thing about that is how little time I have ever spent living that kind of exceptional quality of life – across years and relationships, I can’t really pin down more than a total of about 18 months that qualify as ‘gentle living’ in 52 years!

I’ve already found my way to a better place. It’s nice. No rushing, either; I’ve made changes to my schedule, effective this week, intended to dial down some of the fatigue-related stress, and don’t have to rush off so soon on Friday mornings. Have you actually read this far? Are you okay? Thank you for being interested, curious, or concerned enough to come all this way with me – whether just this morning, or over these past couple years. I appreciate it. You help me feel heard.

Yeah. Some days, the nightmares win. Today they didn’t. 🙂

Because love matters more. "Emotion and Reason" 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

Because love matters more.
“Emotion and Reason” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

Today is a good day to put down some baggage. Today is a good day to practice good self-care. Today is a good day for self-compassion – first, not last. Today is a good day to enjoy this amazing woman I am becoming without competition, dread, or games. Today is a good day to treat others well, and understand that they are walking their own path; their story, and experience, are not mine to endure, to manage, or to criticize – and participation is a choice.