Archives for posts with tag: disinhibition

I am up early enough on a Saturday to get to the Farmer’s Market before it’s mobbed. I don’t enjoy crowds. I move easily enough through them, but doing so tends to push me into a very focused, navigation-oriented manner of thinking that pushes aesthetic to the side in favor of things that feel more about survival. I like to move more gently through my experience. I enjoy being aware, and at leisure. I like to take my time. Those are thing I enjoy. Chances are if you know me, or if you speak to someone who does, on the matter of how I move through my experience moment to moment, it is quite likely that ‘slowly’, ‘gently’, and ‘aware’ are not going to be the first words to come to mind. I practice. A lot.

I am thinking about my imminent departure for the Farmer’s Market, this morning. Camera in hand, I am entertaining myself with a wee scavenger hunt; I am looking at it as an exercise in improving my awareness, too. I giggle when I think of a favorite cartoon hero, Sterling Archer, and his ‘total situational awareness’; it is his stated sense of self, but from the viewer perspective, he haplessly bumbles through quite a lot of his experience, demonstrating extraordinary good fortune every bit as often as any detailed explicit awareness. His experience is very much his own; it differs greatly from the perspective on his experience held by others. I, too, often feel quite aware of my surroundings, my experience, the presence, behavior, and demeanor of others…I have substantial empirical evidence that I am far less so than I tend to feel. ‘Why?’ is not the relevant piece of the puzzle, generally. ‘Why’ only becomes relevant in any way if something about the why is problematic for achieving goals, making desired changes, or negatively impacts my quality of life, overall. So… let’s not worry so much about ‘why’ today? 🙂

Some moments only reveal their beauty when I slow down to notice it.

Some moments only reveal their beauty when I slow down to notice it.

One reason I began carrying my camera everywhere (some weeks or months after starting this blog, actually) is that my camera has become a tool for bringing me back to a mindful moment, and reconnecting with ‘now’ – by raising my awareness of some detail, in order to get a picture of it. I move through my experience so quickly, in spite of my joy in slowing things down; taking a picture requires a willful pause, and careful consideration of what I see. The pictures themselves have the additional wonder of holding the power to bring me back to that specific mindful moment, at a later point. In time of greatest stress, doubt, or despair, flipping through my photographs one by one puts other moments in front of me for consideration. They become keys to the locks in my chaos  and damage that sometimes cause so much suffering; when I am very distressed, agitated, or blue, I have trouble connecting with better moments and returning to a place of emotional equilibrium. The pictures tend to help me leverage the power of a disinhibiting injury – to be liberated by the very qualities that sometimes limit me. The pictures help me, over time, tweak my implicit bias in a more positive direction; I don’t photograph things that cause me pain, or further suffering, generally speaking. (There are artists whose creative strength takes them down those dark paths, and I am awed by their power to reveal, and to heal.)

I don’t assume that because I have the injury I do, that these practices are exclusively beneficial to me; your results may vary, and there are verbs involved, but actions do have consequences – surely you would experience results of your own. 🙂

I used to fight stress and panic by shutting myself off, by withdrawing into myself and cutting off the world.  It didn’t actually work out that way, and I suffered in spite of my withdrawal, sometimes more so by building a solitary emotional prison, invisible and alone. I tend to feel more angry and encroached upon than comforted, or safe, by trying so hard to be less open, less available, less outspoken. I end up resenting the lack of consideration, the lack of reciprocity from others, and the constant pinging on my consciousness of the world. On the other hand, it is not a better deal to launch emotional weapons of mass distraction into a crowd, or to impose my very intense emotional life on others, over their explicit objections or boundary setting. Quite a puzzle.

I am still a student. There are questions, and more to learn. For now, I am walking my own path, and today it leads to the Farmer’s Market, camera in hand, to see the world.

I may as well have ordered from a menu…”I’ll have the Random Emotional Overload, please – does that come with Feelings of Not Being Heard? I’d also like extra Not Well Understood, please. Can I have that with a side of Fail Sauce? There’s no Diary in that, is there? …Oh, Honey – you should try the Accusations and Dismissiveness, I hear that’s really exceptional here…”

Yesterday, I went, in mere seconds, from feeling content, comfortable, and enjoying quite a lovely day, to… something very different. The tiniest of difficulties with communicating a very simple idea (“yes and I am uncomfortable”, versus “No, because I am uncomfortable” – quite different concepts, truly) quickly became an embarrassing loss of emotional regulation on a level that is difficult to accept, explain, or excuse without some understanding of how a disinhibiting brain injury might complicate PTSD. It is what it is. I continue to do my best and work to grow and improve on what I can’t rely on without exerting will and continuous practice… It is what it is, and what it is just happens to be my experience, which sometimes sucks rather a lot.

I moved on, the evening unfolded, eventually I slept. The damage is done, of course. There are no ‘take backsies’, once I’ve hurt someone – they hurt. It’s the crumpled paper model of regret; the apology is necessary, and making amends is important, but the damage is done.

My head hurts today. I didn’t sleep well. Hormone Hell sucks like crazy, but it’s still 100% on me to do my best to be the best person I can be, moment to moment. It sucks that a few painful moments on a single day out of many can have the potential drive pain and stress into so many other potentially entirely unrelated moments even on entirely different days, but there it is. It’s one major reason why mindfulness matters so much, why I keep harping on being in this moment, and reminding myself that we are each having our own experience; there’s just no sharing some of it, and becoming mired in what sucks is so much easier than becoming wrapped in what is warm and lovely and good. Be. Here. Now.

This moment was lovely...

This moment was lovely…

Today is a good day for practicing practices. Today is a good day to be this amazing woman I am – challenges and all – and to continue to do my best, and to grow, and heal, and walk on, until I reach a new perspective. Today is a good day to embrace all the vast character and wonder of this creature I hold so tenderly in this broken vessel. Today is a good day to stand between myself, and the world, and be the person I can count on right now to care for me, reliably well, every day.  Today is a good day to make choices that meet my needs over time.

And sadly, the fun of it may die right there…because this morning, rather than being some sly joke, or foreshadowing of words to come, today’s title sort of stands there mocking me. Yep. I woke feeling good. I slept pretty well. I’m in pain, but also in a pleasant mood. We have additional house guests, and the ‘vibe’ in the background feels different – and I know I bring much of that experience with me, simply because I am, if nothing else, the one making the observation, and therefore most likely it is simply my own experience. My espresso is tasty and hot this morning, a purist’s dream; one double shot, pulled well, good crema, just the right temperature, without adornment, flavor additives, or sweeteners. Lovely. Coffee.

I woke ahead of the alarm, which doesn’t quite go without saying, but is the likely experience each morning. There was an instant when an idea of what might be ‘worthy’ to write about slipped by my consciousness ever-so-briefly, and then dissipated with the morning realization that pain starts now. Here I sit, now, fingers poised over the keyboard chuckling in the background about the humor in transposing nouns after reading a comic early in the morning shared from xkcd.com… And… I’ve got nothing. This morning, I have nothing to say. Apparently. This is rare and extraordinary. Now what?

Googling ‘how does inspiration work’ for my own amusement returns 166,000,000 results in .48 seconds. Huh. Not one article on the first page of the search holds much promise in the moment, and suddenly the fire of my moment of curiosity is quenched – because I also don’t much feeling like investing in this particular inquiry at this particular moment. My restless mind is largely a byproduct of my level of pain this morning; my helpful brain is studiously working to take my mind off of my pain, while also continuing to contemplate it. lol This is not an efficient use of mental bandwidth. I feel a bit frustrated with myself; this time in the morning isn’t about pushing information into the eye holes of the world. It isn’t a test of endurance in office chairs, either. This is quiet time to reflect and be content and… and I feel like I’m dealing with a fussy toddler, while also being the fussy toddler.

Just thoughts over coffee - less filling than tiramisu.

Just thoughts over coffee – less filling than tiramisu.

A few minutes of meditation later, and I am contemplating assumptions and whether our (my) response to other people is based on what we (I) know, or what we (I) assume. I occasionally find myself feeling argumentative with a person more because of who they are (seem to be) than what they are saying, even behaving contentiously in response to information I actually agree with. I am on the verge of saying ‘it makes no sense’ when I realize how utterly irrelevant that observation would be – because the phenomenon itself is not about ‘making sense’ in the first place. I had an experience last night that seems relevant. We have additional house guests overnight, visiting friends passing through who are dear to my traveling partner. I’ve only recently met them, myself, and getting to know people beyond the superficial moments is something I like to do, but have some challenges with doing it gently. Disinhibition has been a challenge for me for the entirety of my recollection of living. The excitement of meeting new people, mixed in with the specifics of my life experiences, and the disinhibition, results in a generalized sense that I am ever-teetering on the edge of saying something completely inappropriate at just the wrong time – and not finding out about it until later, from some astonished and dismayed third-party.  I have to wonder if, for my loved ones, watching me getting to know someone has something in common with watching a toddler handle a small kitten for the first time – mostly just kind of nerve-wracking. Last night I found myself feeling inclined to argue with one of our guests, and each time I felt it surge in my tone I was surprised to observe that I wasn’t disagreeing with the content of what he was saying. So… what the hell?

I’m generally a decent sort. (Hey, that feels nice – have you said something nice to you lately? Maybe take a moment now? Try it – it’s lovely.) I’m not particularly contrary or prone to being confrontational at this point in my life… so what’s up with ‘feeling argumentative’? Why is that even a feeling to choose from? It’s not a very pleasant one, and it doesn’t make a good impression. I can’t say I approve at all of ‘disagreeing with the person’ rather than disagreeing with a point they are making, and if it weren’t so annoying it would be hilarious to find myself, again and again, feeling provoked to disagree with stuff I actually agree with… for no obvious reason. I gave myself a moment of compassion over being so utterly human, and some patience with myself in the moment. This morning as I contemplate it I realize what I was actually disagreeing with – neither the man nor the content of his statements – it was the form in which they were presented: flat assertions, unsupported except anecdotally, delivered with conviction and a challenging tone – in anticipation of disagreement. Well. That’s likely to get a rise out of me, however carefully I police myself… I’m the sort who will actually ask my own friends to cite their references in a conversation, or point out a logical fallacy (with sketches).

It’s not a bad morning to consider being considerate. It’s even a pretty good one. Good, too, for considering a better approach to communication (maybe “I agree with what you are saying. I’m interested in where you are getting information that you feel so confident about it, though; I’d love to read more.”?) It’s nice that not all of life’s lesson have me weeping in a corner. It’s okay to smile and say “that’s a great perspective!” 🙂

...One possible perspective of many.

…One possible perspective of many.