Archives for posts with tag: developing emotional intelligence

I sit awhile, coffee untasted, headphones on without music, listening to the sound of the computer fan, staring into the blank white abyss of an empty page. My fingers are frozen, poised ever-so-lightly on the keyboard. Mind temporarily paralyzed by the remnants of a powerful fight-or-flight reaction to unexpected harsh words first thing upon waking. Humans being human. Things, generally, are so improved over years past (distant past, at this point, really), that I forget about the PTSD, until I stumble over it. In a flash of circumstance or temper, I’m mired in it, again. Reeling from a flood of powerful emotions, followed by a flood of tears, I’m still shaken, more than an hour later. Vulnerable, and a bit fragile, I retreat to the solitude of my studio, until I can get myself past this moment, and sort out the chaos and damage from what is steadfast and true, reliably real, and less about some damaged moment that is not now.

…This is hard. I’m “out of practice”, I guess, and for that, I am grateful.

The tears erupt again, and spill over, making the text on the page distorted and surreal. Am I okay? Sure. For most values of “okay”, I’m okay. Certainly, I am okay right now, and I am safe, and there is nothing to fear here in this place – or in this relationship. I remind myself, and look around, here, now. Leftover baggage that I may carry for a lifetime weighs me down a bit, that’s all. I deal with it privately, as often as I can. Very few people are actually qualified to “help with this”. I already have the tools, and the practices, and the experience (of an entire lifetime of chaos and damage), to handle the self-care and emotional recovery on my own. With those things in mind, it’s beyond unreasonable to attempt to get help from my Traveling Partner right now.

Reaction? Over-reaction. I recognize that, and begin the tender work of caring for this fragile vessel. Taking care of the physical details will build the strongest foundation for the emotional needs yet to be met. I make myself sip my coffee. It tastes quite fucking awful this morning. It’s a matter of perspective. There is no comfort in it; I’m just making sure I don’t set myself up for failure, later, with a caffeine headache. That’d just be dumb. I take an Rx pain reliever for my physical pain. It’s a rainy spring day and my arthritis is what woke me early this morning, before I was really ready, or fully rested. No point letting that become a thing of greater significance later on. I blow my nose and dry my eyes. I take an antihistamine to combat seasonal allergy symptoms. I correct my posture. I do some yoga. I meditate. All of these individual self-care details help re-stabilize me. Give me distance from that one difficult moment. Build reserves for the moments to come; no way to know what those hold. My subconscious is still shrieking alarms bells at me, as if there is a legitimate concern, where none actually exists.

Fuck PTSD.

I breathe, exhale, relax. I let all of that go. Again.Β More slow tears. Another breath.

More practice.

I know I’ll take that next step of seeking a positive distraction to occupy my waking consciousness, and move on from this, fairly soon. I’m far more well-equipped for these experiences than I was 7 years ago. Yeah. 7 Years. More. It’s a long journey, not gonna lie. There are verbs involved. I’ve had to begin again ever so many times. In the past, I’ve been hard on myself sometimes to the point of inflicting additional damage. I think I’m past that, now. There are still hard moments. Being human doesn’t come with any sort of manual, life doesn’t have a clear map to follow. Sometimes shit is hard. Ridiculously difficult, and over what seem the most trifling of details. It is what it is. We are what we are. It’s a journey, and in most practical regards, it’s a solo journey; we’re each having our own experience.

I breathe, exhale, relax. I let all of that go. Again. No tears this time. Another breath. I feel calm. Practical. Resolved. Understanding. Compassionate. Still a little fragile, but I’m ready to begin again.

Again.

I have spent “too much” of my lifetime feeling “irritated” about one thing or another. lol This morning I woke from a restless-but-deep sleep filled with bad dreams from which I could not wake. They were not specifically “nightmares” and I was not frightened, just… irritated. Bad dreams. I woke still feeling rather unspecifically irked, just generally, at no specific thing, or moment. I feel… annoyed. No idea why. I feel aggravated in advance of any obvious cause. Fussy. Irritable. Cross. Cranky. Rather disinclined to be at all social, and facing a day ahead of me filled with people. Shit. That’s annoying. (To be fair, emotions require no defense, no justification, and take no argument; they are simply feelings. Responses. Reactions. They are what they are.)

How do I figure it’s “too much” over the course of a lifetime? lol Totally subjective; as it turns out, I really dislike these emotional experiences of being aggravated, irritated, fussy, or annoyed. Any particular amount of time spent feeling this way just feels like “too much”, however little it is. πŸ™‚ My life. My experience. My definitions. πŸ˜‰

I sip my coffee and reflect on irritation… and on pearls. Pearls are lovely. Vaguely luminous in appearance, iridescent, sleek, precious… and they begin their existence as an irritant. Literally, in some cases, a grain of sand in an oyster starts the whole process. The pearl itself? A coping mechanism. The cause? Irritation. It gets me thinking about transformations, generally. How best to turn this morning’s irritation into one of life’s pearls? No idea, just now, but I do find it a lovely promising thought. (So many are!)

This whole TBI-PTSD journey from chaos and damage to manageable wellness is very much about transforming disadvantages to advantages, chaos to order, madness to reason, and hell yes – irritants into pearls. Metaphorical pearls, in this instance, but pearls of great value nonetheless. It’s not something that happens “automatically”. As with many things, there are verbs involved, an effort of will required, and an intention that must be formed before that process even begins – and so much practice!! Omg. So much practice. Incremental change over time is a given, we become what we practice, but it is a notoriously slow process and it often feels as though nothing is changing at all. It’s easy to become frustrated with that, to give up on myself, to give up on change, to give up on eventual actual manageable sustainable emotional wellness… but… change is legitimately a thing that is going to happen, and it will be wrapped in my choices, and my practices. Over time, my irritants may become pearls. (Or, they may not. My results vary.)

It’s a nice thought over my coffee. I pause on another thought, “this too will pass”. Also totally true. This morning’s irritability is what it is – but only that, and nothing more. It’s not sustainable. Emotional weather comes and goes. The climate in this life is pretty mild, much of the time. Contentment is fairly practical, as emotional goals go, sustainable, and something that can be “crafted” from components available in a great many lives, lifetimes, and experiences. Have you had a go at contentment, yet? It’s rather lovely. It lacks many of the dizzying highs of “happiness” – there is no euphoria – it also lacks the deep lows that go with chasing happiness, too. It is more a walk through a pleasant urban green space than a through hike on an unmarked wilderness trail; it is predictably level and comfortable. I find myself smiling past my irritability as my day-to-day contentment becomes a wellspring for more of the same, and slowly my heart fills up on that softer, sweeter, more satisfying emotional content.

My dreams were pretty shitty. They begin to fade from my recollection as my irritation recedes.

It feels, generally, fairly effortless to “begin again” when I feel pretty good. Harder when I feel irritable, angry, or strange. It’s still a choice, and even still a choice entirely available to me – it’s just a bit harder to choose it. Still an option, though. Needing a cognitive reset just to get to that place presents its own challenge. This morning, I find it useful to focus on a metaphor (those pearls) and gratitude (that I’ve come so far, already). It’s super hard to remain irritated (or angry) while feeling grateful or appreciative of something. πŸ˜€ (Nice trick, Brain, thanks!) Gratitude is an extraordinary way to hit the reset button on a moment, and find a new beginning – I definitely recommend it.

…And this morning, having begun again, I feel more than usually motivated to get a couple things done before I leave for work. Useful. I finish my coffee, and check my list. πŸ™‚