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In December, 2015, shortly after I moved out from a shared living arrangement with my partners at the time (one of those being my “forever Love”, my Traveling Partner), I wrote the post below, which somehow I never published. No idea why now, seems a perfectly adequate bit of writing. Considering I would have likely been reluctant to cause drama for him with careless words, it may have been the concern that she might still be reading my blog had caused me a moment of doubt, some second thoughts, and into the Draft heap it went. Looking for a shortcut, or a way to jump start my thoughts, this morning, I found it, and read it with “new eyes”. 🙂

It Ain’t Me, Babe (December, 20th, 2015)

I spent much of the day in the company of my traveling partner. We had a great time, generally speaking, although he arrived burdened by hurt, and the OPD [Other People’s Drama] of his other, rather difficult, relationship. My place is a drama-free zone, and I welcomed him in with open arms when I opened the door on his unexpected knock. We watched cartoons – appropriate for a Sunday morning, I think – drank coffee, shared laughs, and lingered long in the warmth of cherished company. Lunch came and went. Eventually, when the gloom of evening suggested it might make an appearance some time soon, my partner went on ‘home’ – that physical space where he is currently sleeping at night.

I spent time contemplating things he said, the emotional content of his experience, and his distress. I thought back on moving here to Number 27 in May, and the heavy burden weighing me down thinking so much of what we were all going through was some how ‘my fault’ – that my chaos and damage ‘is too much’ for any relationship to endure. I put myself through a lot over it. Perspective being what it is, so much of that, then, didn’t actually have that much to do with me at all. It’s more obvious now. It’s a lot more obvious right now.

I continue practicing good practices, learning to love well, and incrementally over time I am becoming the woman I most want to be. It turns out, as things so often do, that I wasn’t ‘the bad guy’ in the complicated tangle of … yeah… all of that. And then some. I wasn’t ‘the guilty party’, or some sinister figure, I wasn’t even the charming antagonist of the tale, the one that you know is entirely wholly in the wrong but just so damned charming. I was – and am – just a person. A human being, subject to emotional volatility and misjudgment, prone to taking things personally and hurt feelings, and able to leap to tall conclusions with no data at all – all very true. Looking back on that living arrangement then, from the perspective of ‘right now’ – yeah. That? That wasn’t about me at all, not even a little bit. We were each having our own experience. We continue to do so, now.

It’s hard to watch human beings struggle, even from a distance, and especially when it’s someone dear. Like a commuter stuck in traffic worsened by an accident up ahead, I am torn between compassionate concern for the injured and my own experience of being inconvenienced along my way; in this case, the drama seems precisely timed to interfere with a lovely joyful holiday in the company of my dear love. It’s pretty hard to avoid taking it personally – but I am stopped in my tracks immediately, being far more concerned about my partner’s safety and well-being; caring for the hearts of real people and treating each other well on life’s journey is more important than any perceived destination, or any planned outcome.

I take a moment to also observe that my partner’s stress today and the particulars of his difficult circumstances didn’t set off my PTSD – that’s a small handful of words to describe something of great personal importance. It’s actually a pretty big deal to sit here, concerned about my partner and a bit worried, but also able to have that experience without being torn apart by my emotions, or so overwhelmed I can’t function or make use of reason. Neither agitated nor immobilized, I am simply aware. Incremental change over time is a thing. 🙂

I take some deep breaths, and make some time to let it all go for a while to meditate. I am okay right now. That matters. I am so much more able to provide a partner with the emotional support needed, when I am taking good care of myself… And there’s one thing I don’t know right now; I don’t know what comes next on this complicated journey, or how much of my strength will be needed on a moment’s notice. I’m ready with what I’ve got. It’s no small thing; it’s enough.

I’m feeling pretty fortunate this morning, and definitely wrapped in enduring love. It isn’t always the easy choice to walk away from a bad situation – for anyone. We cling to what we know. We cling to our illusion of Love, fearful that it may be all there really is. We cling to a promise in the face of our awareness of how human we are, ourselves. We cling to the thinnest hope – because the unknown, the real, and the unscripted outcomes of our own free will can be terrifyingly uncertain, and omg we do love certainty so very much. lol

I have 3 “X’s” – relationships so wrong for me, that there was actual danger to my life, health, safety, and emotional well-being. I am grateful that I walked away from each one, with as little damage as I did choose to endure. I phrase it that way because I did indeed make choices. Each subsequent poor relationship appeared promising at some point… each one also boasted huge red flags and “warning signs” that were more like full sized air raid sirens placed as ear muffs. I chose to look at the promises and ignore the klaxons, which is sort of odd, considering our minds are generally wired to avoid threats and danger, when recognized. It took me awhile to realize I needed to walk away.

“It wasn’t all bad…” my memory attempts to reflect on the best times in those relationships. Of course it wasn’t “all bad” – that’s why it was difficult. Nonetheless, 5 minutes of good times don’t balance the scales when what is on the other side are broken bones, a broken mind, or a broken heart. Just saying. One apology after another doesn’t change the behavior that created the need to make the apology.

I sip my coffee, considering all of it; a river of life and choices, a walking path, a journey that stretches behind me – I have come so far! The path leads ahead, too, and I don’t know what is beyond the next bend. Another challenge, surely. I hear my Traveling Partner’s soft breathing in the other room. We share space easily, and speak of contentment and joy together. It’s a nice life. It’s very early, now. I am awake, writing, drinking coffee, and he sleeps. We have our own ways, and don’t mind that about each other; where our hours and presence overlap, we exist in shared time and space. Where we wander from each other, we do what we do, and return home to share a traveler’s tales, and make merry. I silently wish him well in our safe haven, our wee corner of the world, and I wish him pleasant dreams of being ever wrapped in Love. I smile, sip my coffee feeling safe, and content.

Another day begins, and with it, I also begin again. 🙂

Even on the days I feel strongest, most well, most balanced, healthiest, most prepared to adult on all cylinders, even if I feel like a super hero – I’ve got my Kryptonite. We all do. When I am mindful of my limitations, my boundaries, and skillfully setting and managing expectations with others, I can plan around all that. Kryptonite is different; it’s that emotional weakness, trigger, or character flaw that trips one up most often, sometimes quite unexpectedly.

What’s your Kryptonite? Mine happens to be frustration. :-\ Life would seem much “easier” without it. lol

My day started easily. Gently. Rather routinely. The commute was effortless, and efficient. I already had my weekend plans sorted out. My day is locked into a plan pretty comfortably, too. I got into the office feeling relaxed, and ready.

Fat fucking lump of Kryptonite sitting right in my inbox. LOL

Breathe. Take a step back from that shit. Remind myself none of this is personal, really, almost never. At all. Another deep, relaxing breath. This? Not about me. If I make it about me, then it becomes toxic – and I “lose my super powers”. lol Metaphors work for me.

I get a fresh cup of coffee, return to my desk, and get on with things. Re-set. Restart. Reboot. Do-over.

Begin again.

I spent some minutes marveling as my brain lied to me about the lovely dawn beyond the window, hinted at through closed blinds. Looks like it’s going to be a warm, late spring day… but… it’s the Winter Solstice, so… no. I sit, drink coffee, and contemplate how easily I am fooled by a trick of light – and lighting. I recently changed the bulb out there on the stoop, and the light is a different color. I even know this. I am aware of it… and yet… it definitely looks like a pearly dawn, of the sort that precedes, perhaps, a slightly humid, warm-ish sort of clear day… maybe on the coast somewhere, or in the desert. I can see that. I can know it is not a real thing, and only a trick my brain and senses are playing on me.

I open the blinds, after a time, to see what is really beyond the window, in the way of morning light. Only the chill steely blue-gray of winter dawn, well before sunrise. Through open blinds, the porch light is just a porch light, perhaps a somewhat peculiar choice of bulb, but certainly nothing any stranger than that. What special tools these brain things are. lol 😀

A lot of our experience is like that; built on assumptions, sensations, perceptions, corrected through fact-checking, “double-checking” experiences, verifying what isn’t clear, and allowing ourselves to adapt to what we have learned, to hold a more accurate picture of the world in our mind’s eye. Not everyone is good at it. Yep, one more thing that takes some practice. 😀

When was the last time you over-reacted to something? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to just… not? To see things accurately, hear what is being shared with you with a clear understanding, to respond to the world – and your relationships – always in a wholly appropriate way? It’s definitely a goal, for me. I work at it every day. Every day, I see some tiny improvements. Every day I see room for more improvements. Every day I practice. That first reaction to an experience is nearly always driven by “unseen forces”; implicit values, assumptions, disappointed expectations, misunderstandings, miscommunications, unexpressed needs, unstated boundaries, physical comfort (or lack of it), emotional state of being in the moment, the fucking weather… the list is pretty long. I continue to practice being accepting of my first reaction to things, but not allowing that reaction to lead my decision-making, or ideally even also preventing it from coloring whatever the fuck is going to come pouring forth from my face holes as a stream-of-consciousness rant of some sort. I definitely also really have to work at this; however much I’d like it to feel (and become) quite natural, I very much have to practice… very much. lol So human.

That fancy brain is just trying to help; it’s so much faster to put reactions on our internal “automation” – that’s what makes them “reactions” rather than responses (measured, well-considered, thoughtful, appropriate). It’s sort of a bother that our reactions are not all that helpful, and are often just entirely incorrect – they are definitely faster than our ability to reason clearly.  Emotions generally get to the party ahead of our ability to reason clearly. It would be more efficient to fall back on our reactions in the moment, but honestly, they are often only useful in emergency situations – the rest of the time it is definitely worth slowing the fuck down and giving every-damned-thing a second thought.

…On second thought…

(You knew that was coming, right?)

…We’re also not actually very astute about what, specifically, in this modern century of humanity, actually amounts to an “emergency”. We get seriously jacked up about the dumbest shit. TV shows. Petty resentments. Who ate the last treat. Territorial disputes. Money. In a world literally covered in resources, more than adequate for everyone, we’re all very busy fighting over crumbs while a handful of dragons sit on hoarded wealth… and we distract ourselves from all manner of things that really matter a great deal – by reacting to shit that does not. (So human) We seem, often, largely incapable of honest collaboration and community, prone to viewing all of life’s challenges as tiny zero sum adventures in greed, “being right”, or “winning”.

What matters most? (The question does not go away, simply because answering it is uncomfortable.)

Today is the Solstice. The longest night. A celebration (for me) of contemplation, of wonder, of silence in our own personal darkness – and of waking up to the light.

A wintry sunrise is imminent. The dawn is a bleak pale gray with a hint of blue. The traffic on the road outside reminds me that I am not having to join them on the race to beat the clock to the office this morning. I take my time with my coffee, considering my experience and my plan for the day, thinking ahead to sharing the holiday with my Traveling Partner.

It’s been a peculiar year, and much has changed. I’ve made some interesting new friends. Broadened my social network both geographically, and in the variety of new human beings in my experience. I’ve ended some relationships – including one that reasonably ought not have been given another chance at all – and moved on with my life. There’s been some turmoil, some drama, and some major headaches (both literal and figurative). The world has strained with the pain of watching civilization heave, and perhaps fall… no way to know, quite yet. This moment? Right now? I’m okay. There aren’t a lot of extras. It won’t be a lavish holiday. I have what I need, though, and that’s enough. 🙂

I welcome the Solstice this year, as a season of change, and of reflection, and a time of vision. It’s definitely time to begin again.

 

Weird night. I woke repeatedly to answer a question someone asked me – in my dreams. Different dreams. Different questions? No idea, I was confounded each time my attempt to answer (out loud) woke me, because I could not actually recall the question I had tried to answer. My sleep cycled through this strange sequence some 5 times, to my puzzlement when I finally woke, to enjoy the day ahead. No nightmares, although my urgent desire to answer this single question was really frustrating to wake from feeling so incredibly unsatisfied.

I make my coffee. Answer a couple messages. Still feeling sort of weirdly out of step with the day, the time, my experience, I rather randomly (it felt) threw open the patio door and took my coffee with me to my meditation cushion, and restarted my day. Bare feet extending over the door sill, sipping my coffee, feeling the hints of mist-not-quite-rain tickling my skin and dampening the edges of my pajama pants, I sat a while, smiling to myself, enjoying the chill of the autumn morning with the warmth of the house at my back. One of the squirrels began to approach, but realizing the peanuts were really quite near me, without any door between us, he retreated to the deck rail to flip his tail at me rather aggressively, and chitter his annoyance in whatever passes for language among squirrels. I presume it must be a similar experience as arriving to a breakfast destination only to realize there’s a wait. lol Not meaning to be a buzz kill, I move back a bit and close the patio door, so my squirrel neighbor can enjoy breakfast in comfort.

A rainy day, a squirrel.

I sit quietly a while longer, thinking about spring camping. (You may recall, I’ve said I’m “a planner” by tendency? It’s a true thing; I’m planning my spring camping weekends as “now” as I can; it’s less than 6 months away! I frankly feel a bit rushed. LOL) This past year, my camping plans were almost entirely derailed by the regular weekend trips down to see my Traveling Partner; gas money, and time, that in other years would have been camping trips, and the usual recovery weekends between such things were spent recovering from commuting back and forth to be in my lovers arms for just a day or a few hours. My nail-biting as I review maps and details is less about nights out in forests, and more about days out on trails; I need the exercise, and trail hiking is my favorite way to get it.

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

I figure, maybe if I put more planning under my hopes and dreams for 2019, I can enjoy more of all the things. 🙂 Other things sort of got in the way this year. Break ups, moves, career changes, lifestyle changes, resource changes, business organization changes… all these sorts of things are incredibly disruptive for people, when they come up. For us (together), we handled at least one of each of those in 2018. It was an expensive, and emotionally taxing, year. In some ways inconvenient, unpleasant, and painful. Disappointing. Hard. In other ways, though, it has been a healing journey, a bit of progress, finding some better ways, forging stronger healthier connections as we end relationships and associations that were toxic or overly costly in human or social currency (or, yeah, financially). We’ve all had our own hard mile to walk this year. You, too? Probably, right? 🙂 We’re all in this together, so it’s a fairly safe assumption we’ve each had our challenges.

The year is quickly winding down. There will be no elaborate “punch line” or “finish” to the end of 2018, I suspect, just a fatigued sigh and a moment of relief that it is over, that love wins, that I made it through from one crazy blow out rager of a New Year’s party at one end, to… what? What will New Year’s Eve be this year? Will I be home alone quietly, spending the holiday as is generally my practice, in meditation, contemplation of the year past, and the year ahead? Will I find myself surrounded by friends (or strangers) at some massively loud banger this year, celebrating full on with a crowd of other people, also celebrating, and all the over-stimulation that provides? Fuck – I’m still blown away by the house party I attended last New Year’s. It was… intense. lol The delicious illusion of inclusion and hopefulness that night really set the tone for what it seemed the year would become… of course, it didn’t. Because that’s how illusions work; all show, no substance. The hopes we fostered that night became the disappointments in the year ahead, but of course, we did not see or acknowledge that, then. lol Why would we? It was as if casting a spell, shared by all of us, over all of us, hoping for something much better than we’d previously had. Or… maybe it was just a party? 😉

Mt McLoughlin, Oregon

This year I expect to be a tad more studious about my New Year, whatever I do with it. It’s always a great time to begin again. 🙂 We can’t really know where our journey leads, but we’ve still got to make the journey. Sometimes what looks like a destination, turns out to be nothing more than scenery along the way. It doesn’t change the worthiness of the journey itself, to discover that our path leads past something beautiful in the distance, rather than directly to it; what we see from our own limited perspective in one singular moment may not be as real (or attainable, or desirable, or as near at hand) as we’d like to make it. 🙂 There are so many more options on life’s menu than we can see from the perspective of one moment.

The map is not the world. The fantasy is not the reality.

I look over maps of trails and camps nearer to where my Traveling Partner currently resides… there are some choice locations that are wilderness, in spite of their nearness. There are choices that are very near, indeed, and so manicured, maintained, and resourced, they would be more glamping than camping. Some cool opportunities to be “near enough” that he could pop over to my campsite, or I could pop over for a few hours of partying and music, and we could still generally be doing our own thing… this is a solution that appeals to me greatly. 😀

I sip my coffee and daydream, as the gray sky shifts in tone and hue from “why are you even up already?” to “why are you still lounging around in jammies?”. Looks like it is time for another coffee…

 

I am sitting here with my coffee, grateful to be out of the office today. My coffee is still untouched, though I’ve been sitting here with it for half an hour. I have a cold and feel fairly listless and awful. It could be worse, of course, it’s really just a cold.

Having a head cold was not in my plan for today. I am volunteering some of my time… and I am so glad that’s a little later. I take a sip of my insipid, possibly terrible, coffee (is this head cold why it tasted “off” yesterday morning, too?). It was my plan to spend the remainder of my weekend shopping for a car. It’s time. I don’t much feel at all interested in that, at the moment, and I suspect it would be a colossal dick move to go car shopping while contagious. I’m definitely certain it would be grossly inconsiderate to spread this shit around knowing I am ill.

It’s weird to me that many businesses strike a pose of actively discouraging employees from calling out when they are sick, in some cases even penalizing actual sick people for not getting over being sick fast enough. Many do, though, and the effort is leveraged primarily at entry-level workers, and lower paying middle management jobs; humans involved in the day-to-day work of keeping business going. You know, “the working class” folks. I’ve not ever seen anyone in the executive class actively discouraged from being out of the office… at all. Ever. I have reached an understanding that the amount of energy put into “attendance policies” (again, those are rarely applied to senior managers or executives at all) and convincing sick people to show up for work (in spite of potential risk of contagion, or delaying a person’s recovery) says a lot about the high value of their labor – and if those employees cave to that pressure, and work while sick or develop a tolerant acceptance of their exploitation, it says a lot about how poorly they value themselves. There’s definitely profit to be made in human beings undervaluing themselves – they cost so much less! It’s an understanding that, over time, moved me further and further left on the political spectrum as a human being, as a worker, and as a manager. “Who actually benefits from this policy?” became a question I learned to ask – a lot. It is heartbreaking how rarely, in most places, the answer is ever “everyone who works here benefits equally”.

Enough about things to do with working. Bleh. Actually, “bleh” is a good descriptor of where I am with my whole experience, just at the moment. I’m not quite sick enough to give up on everything and just go back to bed (although my coffee is really not the experience I’ve grown to love, and I feel fairly crappy, generally)… and I’m definitely not well enough to pull on my hiking boots and get a couple of miles in before I head to the VA.

…Just thinking about going back to bed, and looking at the clock… I don’t know… bed sounds okay… even if I didn’t sleep… I could just lay there being miserable so gently…

…I can begin again… later…