Archives for posts with tag: bright lights dark corners

It’s been harder than usual to find (make) time to write… or… maybe I’ve been uninspired? There’s truth to the idea that we only grow in uncomfortable circumstances. My circumstances lately have been more than adequately comfortable. My day-to-day quality of life is generally very good, aside from the tedious constant that is dealing with physical pain. (Bah! How banal.) So, yielding the time I might have spent writing, to have a coffee with my Traveling Partner in the morning seems very much worth it. I enjoy those moments. Our short mortal lives are best truly lived, are they not? I don’t know how many hours, days, months, or years we may yet have together.

…Hopefully, you “get it”, and don’t feel that I’ve let you down somehow, with my lack of presence, here. 🙂

I’ve been spending happy hours watching a new school of fish settling into the aquarium. Shrimp, too. A newer, brighter, light shines down on the plants – some healthier than others, and in the bright light, new concerns are illuminated.

Watching fish swim.

…”In the bright light, new concerns are illuminated.” I repeat it silently, several times. Not as some kind of mantra. More that there is a sensation of renewed engagement with an idea that was once an epiphany. I sit with it awhile. I hear, in my head, my therapist’s voice calmly intoning familiar words, “let’s stay with that…”, before asking some question I’d not previously thought to ask, myself, putting me on another path of discovery, or opening my eyes to another perspective.

Some moments are… complicated. Days of pleasant hours in the company of this other human being I enjoy so much have passed gently. Today? We’re both a bit under the weather, feeling a bit off, dealing with head colds, and tempers flare to easily. I feel fragile and raw. Still seething a bit, and feeling entirely misunderstood, and resentful of the lack of patience. Doesn’t matter that I’m here, in the stillness of my studio, safe, and alone, and easily able to step back and reconsider the moment from another perspective. My heart is in that other room, held captive by affection being squeezed between my anger at him, and my anger at me. None of it is really about whatever I’m mad about it; it’s simply a reaction. Emotional weather. Like the weird March snow storm that blew in out of nowhere, today, on a day “too warm to snow”. It’ll pass. It will be no more relevant or significant than any other one moment torn from a lifetime and examined too closely, by the end of the weekend.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax – rather unsuccessfully. I shake my head for a brief instant, rather rapidly, as if to shake off my aggravation. My sigh is too loud. I hear him, softly, gently, through the closed door, from another room, “I love you.” It does seem that way… my reply seems too obvious, really, “I love you, too.”

Sometimes love is complicated. Not “complicated” as if to say “tragic” or “doomed” or anything of that sort. More… complicated in the way that an elegant watch has “complications”. Some of what makes life and love so rich, and so worthy of being “in the moment” – even an uncomfortable one – are these odd details, these “complications”, that are “features” in one moment, and… possibly… sort of a pain in the ass, in other moments. (I mean, for real? I could seriously do without having a brain injury that undermines my ability to manage strong emotion, and layering on top of that the added “bonus” of being sick, and further challenged with easily roused strong emotions… It’s just too much.) Buuuuut… I do love that human being sitting in the other room, and the joy we share is by far the majority of the time we spend together. That’s saying a lot. I could not truthfully say there’s never a cross word between us, or that my TBI “isn’t a big deal” for me, or him, or both of us. It is what it is. I see us both doing our best, and both being pretty human in our effort. There are, though, some moments I could frankly do without, now and then. Hell, I get pretty fed up with me, sometimes. I’m not surprised he does, too, once in awhile. lol Too often, my aggravation with myself is perceived as directed at him, or mis-perceived as an emotional attack. I understand how it could be. It’s not what I intend. I suppose I will get a lot of practice, sorting that out, over a lifetime.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I find myself annoyed that my aquarium isn’t in here – where I could see it right now… only… what is more true is that I don’t want to be here, as much as I want to be there – with him. Relaxing together.

Fuck I wish we weren’t sick. Adulting is already hard enough!

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I think about my plans for tomorrow… more time with the aquarium. Pruning plants. Moving rocks. Cleaning glass. Replanting plants in new places. Looking at the aquarium, under a bright light, from a new perspective.

Yes, of course; it’s a metaphor. It’s time to begin again.

I was sipping my morning coffee in the dim of dawn, sun not yet peaking over the horizon. I was thinking about a friend who often seems to default to negative self-talk, and assumptions about others that are built on suspicion, fear, and mistrust. I know enough about my friend’s personal history to have some limited understanding why they would hold such a bleak perspective on life, relationships, and yes, even on the person in the mirror. I hold my friend in very high regard, and our mutual affection and appreciation has lasted many years…but even I am not immune to being the recipient of my friend’s mistrust, suspicion, and doubt.

My thoughts this morning, after recently having coffee together, were less about how uncomfortable it can feel to be viewed as an adversary, unexpectedly, and absent any input on my part to justify or support that view, and more about how unpleasant it must be to go through life that way, living in the context of some implicit certainty that everyone, eventually, is an enemy. It saddens me, and I struggle to balance my understanding and compassion with my feelings of helplessness and frustration – and lack of being understood clearly. My own communication challenges don’t make it easier. My own emotional baggage and personal history with relationships with other human primates don’t make it easier, either. I sipped my coffee, breathing, exhaling, relaxing, and consider my perspective, and where I can, also the perspective my friend expressed, with as much depth, and understanding, as I am able to do.

Perspective changes what we understand of the world.

I think back to articles I’ve read about mindfulness, and the handful of those that point out that undertaking a mindfulness practice can throw emotional health and balance into chaos for some people. I even accept that this is one of the potential experiences people may have; when we have adapted to darkness, the brightness of being flooded with light is not necessarily and immediately helpful, comfortable, or pleasant experience. Some of the things we keep to ourselves over a lifetime, dismissing our concerns, diminishing our sense of self, or building our narrative on a ton of self-serving made-up shit to compensate, perhaps, for the bleakness of our sense of doubt and futility, end up being powerful (and possibly successful) coping mechanisms for the hardest shit we don’t want to face – and having coped with, we don’t have to. Then along comes some “healthy” mindfulness practice that sounds awesome, that our friends are into, and we hop right into it, eager and enthusiastic… then, we find ourselves face to face with the darkness being dissipated by a light so bright we can’t see what it hides from us, and… we run, terrified and damaged, fearful of change, resisting what so bright a moment of illumination might really show us. After all, we’d coped with all that bullshit. We’d found a way. Now, here we are, facing our self, unexpectedly. Not always a pretty picture, and we’re not all ready for that.

Changing our own perspective doesn’t always feel comfortable. Whether or not “mindfulness” can be said to “work” is more than a little bit dependent on what we expect it to do, and whether that is what we actually want – or are ready for.

My friend and I talked about my journey, and theirs. We spoke of expectations, and of “reality”. My friend had, at one time, been a huge advocate for me finding my way to a more positive perspective on life. At that time, they seemed so unbelievably positive to me that it was hard to understand the thinking behind those words – wasn’t it a matter of “character” or personality? Wasn’t my personal history “real”, and sufficient to justify my chaos and damage… and negativity? Wasn’t my cynicism perfectly “reasonable”? Here I was sitting over coffee, after far too long out of touch, and I was the positive one, the contented one, the one bouncing back. My friend seemed overly negative, and out of touch with their own emotional experience, lacking in a certain authenticity and “presence”, that felt strangely dishonest and uncomfortable to me. The conversation came around to meditation, and mindfulness practices, generally. “All that’s bullshit,” my friend said firmly. “I tried that stuff back in the day, and it only made me cry a lot, and made me doubt my relationships.” I sat quietly listening (which can be difficult for me), then replied “What did your therapist say about that experience?” My friend answered abruptly, “I quit therapy. It was expensive, and kept making me doubt my place in the world, and my relationship with my partner.” She gestured vaguely, something like waving off that topic with her hand. “I didn’t need all that, I’m unhappy enough without help. Self-reflection bullshit just made me rethink everything. Who needs it?”

I keep turning the conversation over in my head, in the time since. So much of what she had shared seemed unhappy, and infused with a sense of having failed herself in some mysterious way, punctuated by occasionally accusations of some other person setting her up for failure. If she is so deeply unhappy in life, in her relationships, wouldn’t she expect self-reflection to hold up that mirror, and show her precisely that? Doesn’t that open the door to the potential that change could be made – chosen – and offer the chance to walk a different path?

No answers, this morning, really. Just questions, and self-reflection, and the illumination offered by shining a bright light into my own dark corners. There’s always an opportunity to begin again. 🙂 I am my own cartographer; I choose my path.