Archives for posts with tag: be the change

I’m sipping my Sunday morning coffee in solitude. Best that I do so. I’m in a lot of pain after a long walk on a windy winter beach, yesterday, which, while it provided wonderful time to reflect and listen to my own thoughts, was also physically taxing. I’m definitely glad I wore base layers, too; it was chilly!!

Windy, rainy, cold, and the tide coming in. There’s no stopping the tide.

Things went seriously sideways Friday night, and Saturday’s walk on the beach was moody and bleak. It felt wholly necessary, but there was little joy in the moment. This saddens me, even now. It is, at this point, just something I’m adding to the recollection. I breathe, exhale, and let that go.

…I got some great pictures…

Friday might not have turned into the emotional shitstorm it did if I had been paying more attention… or… if I were altogether someone else, I suppose. My Traveling Partner woke in pain Friday morning, and was in an absolutely foul mood as a result (not unlike where I find myself this morning). He made a point of saying so, and was very kind and careful in our interactions all day, although he was cross and irritable. I finally ended my work day and … the whole delicate considerate assembled-with-care framework crumbled. I’m still sipping my first coffee, right now, this morning, and my brain is not yet entirely “on line”; I struggle to recall specifically what went wrong. Something I said, or my reaction to something he said, and suddenly we were lobbing raw emotions at each other in the form of angry words. I wept. We took turns shouting. We both ended up triggered – and triggering each other – and just fucking mired in our individual pain and heartache. To call it “unpleasant” seems insufficient. To make more of it than that seems simultaneously disrespectful of any underlying legitimate concerns that ought be addressed with love and consideration – but also seems likely to elevate those painful hours to something more important than what they were. Chaos fueled by emotions. Emotions that had less to do with the moments we found ourselves in than other moments, in other relationships, that left us scarred. Both unpleasant and unfair. How is it “unfair”? Isn’t it always unfair to ask love to sweep up the mess left behind by circumstances that had little, if any, actual love in them?

Friday morning became a painting, instead of an argument. 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas, untitled.

Yesterday was strained and awkward. This morning I woke up in pain, and found myself saying so, much in the same manner that he had on Friday morning. A cold chill rolls up my spine, and my mouth goes dry, and my anxiety spikes over fear that today will be another Friday, and end poorly. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I do it again. Then another breath. Followed by another. I keep at the breathing until the hinted-at-future-but-not-now feelings of anxiety recede. I definitely don’t need to invite or cultivate that shit.

I sit with my coffee this morning, thinking about my walk, my work, my relationships… I consider how my TBI affects the way I communicate, not just the part where I talk (a lot), or interrupt (too much), but also the part that is the step beyond listening; my ability to make sense of what I am hearing, and to correctly reply to what has actually been said. I do pretty well, generally, but… when I am tired, or in pain, or distracted, I’m not just “less good at that”, I’m pretty horrible – and when I look at that, and also consider the “performance pressure” I tend to feel that pushes me to answer any question very quickly, I see how easily this can go very wrong, leaving someone trying to have a conversation with me feeling perhaps I am not listening at all. It’s rough. It can go a bit like this:

“Did you hear from your friend about that painting?” someone asks.

“No.” I say, “Well, they texted me. I didn’t feel up to talking right then, so I said I would call back today after work,” I add, followed by “They did say they really like the painting, in their message to me.”

(no shit, a real conversation I had)

So… yeah. What the hell?? When I see it written down, I totally get why that would be not just incredibly frustrating to wade through to get a simple “Yes, they liked it.” It also tends to seem potentially … dishonest? Misleading? Manipulative? Crafty? Vague? Withholding? Dissembling? A whole bunch of adjectives could apply. It’s not actually about any of that, though. I started answering the question I was asked before I actually understood the question at all. Along the way, my brain mixed up “hear from” with “speak to” – similar but quite different – and entirely missed the point of the fucking question until I’d provided a bunch of utterly unsolicited other information. So… slow down? Fuck yes. Easy, right? Well… maybe? It’ll take practice. I’ll say very bluntly that I’ve had “reply immediately” literally beaten into me (first marriage was a domestic violence nightmare I’m lucky to have survived). It’s hard to change behaviors that were heavily reinforced with violence or trauma. It takes more work and practice and commitment and awareness and encouragement and kindness and support than I can describe. It can be done. My results vary, though, and every failure is heart-breaking for at least a moment of pure distilled disappointment with myself.

…This isn’t “all about me” though. This particular challenge is very specifically the sort that commonly affects the people interacting with me, most. I’m kind, honest, open, and well-intentioned, but I’ve also got PTSD… and I’ve got brain damage. That’s going to present a combinations of characteristics some people just aren’t going to be willing to deal with long-term. So far my Traveling Partner still chooses to share this complicated journey with me. I’m very fortunate, and very grateful. I know it isn’t easy.

Caution.

So, yesterday, I walked on the beach alone, reflecting on my challenges, my abilities, love, and life, and work, and gave some thought to life’s curriculum on the topics of boundaries, and of communication. I was missing my partner long before I noticed my knees were aching, and headed home when the rain began to fall heavily.

I find myself, now, bringing my thinking “back to basics”: breathing, listening deeply, my “Big 5” relationship values (Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, Openness), and the book my own beloved recommended to me, early in our relationship…

It’s hard to go wrong with good basics…

Yep. I am re-reading The Four Agreements, again. Sometimes beginning again is simply a step forward, with new thinking. Sometimes beginning again means a new commitment to something that is proven to work well, when applied consistently. Now there is a day ahead of me… I see sunshine through the window shade. The aquarium needs maintenance. There is housework to be done. In spite of aching knees, I’d enjoy a walk in the forest, now that the storm damage from the recent ice storm is cleared away. All of that, and Love to nurture besides… looks like a busy day ahead.

…I guess it’s time to begin again…

I gave my notice yesterday, and set expectations about my departure from my current job. I sought to do so with care, consideration, and professionalism; no bridges burned. It’s a high bar to set, but worth it in the long run, generally. Has been for me, at least. Now come the moments of lightness and contentment and calm – and a hint of resignation, actually – that are a counterpoint to the forward-looking eagerness and excitement about the new job. I try to balance these, and find a comfortable middle place emotionally where I can work, undisturbed, and un-disturbing.

My Traveling Partner asks me if I will go for a walk today, sometime. A snack cake bakes while I work. A soft rain falls, and I watch through the window, wondering where the sunshine he had referred to has gone so quickly. I may walk anyway. I’ve got rain gear, and thoughts to think that would be well-suited for being wrapped in forest. I’m also in pain. Arthritis. Cold wet weather. Just being real… parts of me have no interest in walking. Those same parts would likely benefit from a long walk, regardless of my reluctance. Fuck pain.

I listen for the oven timer to alert me that the snack cake is finished… and think about beginnings. And endings. Aren’t they nearly always, quite commonly at least, all tangled up with each other? What beginning – besides our very birth – is not preceded by some other thing ending? What ending, besides our death (and then, perhaps, only from our own perspective – although I don’t know), is not following quite quickly by the beginning of something else entirely? The persistent entanglement of beginnings and endings exists alongside our persistent refusal to see them both as, mostly, the same thing. lol

I notice my coffee is not finished… and it’s past noon. I quickly swallow the last cold coffee, as though “getting away with” something. The end of this coffee… the beginning of another moment.

…Always time to begin again.

A rainy Monday. A work day. Coffee long gone and finished in the morning. I notice it is afternoon. I sit a bit more upright, when I catch myself slumping over my key board. I breathe a bit more deeply and evenly, each time I catch myself not doing so. I glance at my email, at my calendar, and back at the spreadsheet in front of me. Task by task, process by process, one deadline met, then another, all very routine.

I glanced up and through the window, seeing the naked branches of the pear trees on the other side of the fence between my yard, and the neighbor’s. There are quite a lot of small birds hopping about. Landing, taking off, pecking at this or that, or sipping drops of water clinging to branches since the last downpour. I enjoy watching them. They are as busy as I am, myself, although I suspect the work of their day is somehow more important to their experience than this spreadsheet is to mine. lol

Where does this path lead?

I smile and think about the future. Imminent change is filled with promise, but a lot like a forest path with a curve in it, I can’t really see beyond that change to what really lies ahead. I’m curious. Eager. Filled with wonder. I’m seeking to face the new day able to make use of the full measure of my experience gained so far… my results vary. I’m having my own experience. It’s still a journey without a map…

…and it’s already time to begin again.

I’m inclined to consider “breathing” one of the things I do most naturally… and more or less continuously, while I do all the other sorts of things I am wont to do. I am incorrect in my assumption that “breathing” comes wholly naturally to me; I’m getting better at noticing when I am holding my breath. LOL

It’s not like it’s super obvious. I’m not taking a stance like a defiant child, cheeks inflated, eyes squeezed shut, forcibly holding my breath as long as I can… it’s a more subtle thing, and so I have missed it, for… how long? It’s more like a “long pause”… without air. It’s as if I stop paying attention and forget to breathe for a moment… or… several. This can’t be healthy. So… I keep practicing. I’m sure I’ll need a ton more practice…

…Last night I was focusing on my breathing and sort of… forgot to sleep. I mean… yeah. I noticed around 1:00 am that I had somehow simply overlooked actually falling asleep. Just… laying there awake, breathing. I mean… I guess that’s better than not breathing… and that’s sort of the point. I didn’t get 100% of the rest I really needed, but the day has gone okay, and being real? Some part of that may be due to actually breathing more. I think maybe? Could be. It’s worthwhile enough to keep practicing. 🙂

Every time I’ve had a break from work today, I’ve made a point to breath. Between meetings. Between tasks. As if I specifically must undertake it as a task to complete. Weird, but… I’m not hurting anyone with this, and maybe, just maybe, I’m helping myself move on past some old pain. That’s definitely worth some practice. 🙂

…Time to begin again? One sec, I need to take a couple breaths. 😀

This morning is a quiet one. My first coffee came and went, while my Traveling Partner slept. I got some exercise in VR, he slept on. I managed to be a quiet human, on a quiet morning, and he manages to sleep. It’s a comfortable experience. I enjoy quiet mornings. I considered making a second coffee, but I also enjoy sharing some coffee time with my partner, so… I wait on that, and refill my water bottle.

…So quiet…

The hum and woosh of the heat on in the background mixes with the “sound” of my tinnitus. The steady clicking of fingers on keys seems unnecessarily audible (“clicky” keys on this keyboard). The morning continues steadily, quietly. My calendar tells me the quiet will last some time longer; my first call is later on this morning, and my work day starts quite early. I feel relaxed. Contentment characterizes the morning, so far. It’s quite pleasant.

Why am I making such a fuss over such a mundane thing as one quiet morning? Pretty simple; my brain and nervous system are very much wired to “make a fuss” over uncomfortable, painful, scary, awkward, and stressful situations – regardless whether those emotions are really warranted, or necessary – and that “fuss”, over time, becomes implicit expectations of life, generally, setting a tone for how I experience it. To provide some balance, to counter the “negative bias”, I make a point of being present for, and savoring, these simple unremarkable pleasures – making them, in fact, “remarkable” by doing so tends to make them feel more important, and increases the potential that my implicit experience of life will tend more toward being aware of what feels good, what is working, and what is just fine, and less toward chaos, baggage, and bullshit. 🙂 Do I know “for sure” that this “works”? Nope. I’m practicing. We become what we practice, though, and that I am very sure of. 😀

…I’m looking forward to that second coffee, though… 🙂