Archives for posts with tag: don’t forget to practice

I’m feeling frustration and despair, this morning (yep, still morning, and not even 4 hours into my day). I’m struggling to pull myself out of the emotional muck, and find perspective. I’m working through the tedious effort involved “letting shit go” and “moving on”. I’m forcing myself through practices that both my intellect and my experience tell me definitely work, but I’m also having to fight a frustrating, pervasive feeling of resistance to the effort, and futility about the likely outcome. This moment right here is hard. Not what I had planned or expected for this first day of the new year. :-\ Fuck 2020. I mean, so far…

PTSD is an absolute motherfucker of a mental health condition. No need to exaggerate, or attempt to persuade; if you’ve been there, you know. If you love someone who has PTSD, you know. Flare ups, episodes, freak outs, flash backs, cognitive distortions, and the frustration, despair, depression, guilt, sorrow, grief, or anger that follow any of those, aren’t as predictable as they might seem they would be, and come at us unexpectedly – in spite of the fairly lasting certainty that we’ll experience them again. Trust me, it’s not a pleasant sort of “surprise”.

I’m having a rough New Year’s Day. Well. Sort of. Right now, I mean. Actually, only about an hour of it was unpleasant. Confusing, surreal, and scary – also good descriptions. Now I’m just… sorting myself out and trying to find my way.

Are you having a rough New Year’s Day, too? Have you handled your self-care skillfully? Are you in a (physically) safe place? Have you taken time to breathe, maybe even meditate? Can you convince yourself to take a step back from the problematic moment? Can you take that a step further and reflect on impermanence (“this too shall pass”), and non-attachment (letting it go)? Can you put your spun up consciousness on pause long enough to reflect on the small things for which you can feel grateful (yes, even right now)? (Anger and gratitude don’t easily exist side-by-side in the same moment.) Do you have a useful distraction at hand (a healthy one), like completing a task that requires some focus, or simply reading a book? (Or writing… see? Here I am, and it does work pretty well, for me, generally; your results may vary.)

…When “things blow over” (assuming you didn’t wreck someone’s property, or injure someone, or do or say something with lasting serious consequences), at a minimum, you’re probably going to have to deliver real apologies to people affected by your PTSD (yeah, I know, it fucking blows, because you already know you most likely won’t receive the same in return, however hurt you feel by the circumstances; it’s not a fully equitable, reciprocal world, and human primates can be dicks – you’ve got to let that go, too, in favor of simply being the person you, yourself, most want to be, because there is real healing in that). An apology is a relatively small thing, isn’t it? Just deal with it, graciously, compassionately, and accept that your “issues” really do affect other people, in some ways every bit as much as your PTSD affects you directly, only… their experience is the only one they can actually feel. Your experience of being disordered, broken, wounded…? They only understand any of that in the abstract, and yes, even if they also have their own PTSD issues to deal with. We have a limited capacity to truly understand each other, however commonplace our experiences may be. We are each having our own experience. For people hurt by a loved one’s PTSD, those sincerely intended, genuine, unreserved and unconditional apologies for the damage done really do matter. Say you’re sorry so you can move the fuck on.

“Stop catastrophizing” may be some of the least useful “advice” ever offered from one human being to another. Just saying – it’s a lot like suggesting that someone should calm down, when they are upset. Well-intended, often potentially correct, inasmuch as it would be helpful (and wise) to do so, but… who can hear the words and then act on them with fond appreciation for the concern? Like… no one, ever. LOL Not how that works. Still… if you can, it’s worth taking the steps needed to shift gears from catastrophe and despair to something, anything at all, less bleak. Small steps are fine. Incremental change over time may be all we can rely on in such moments. While you’re at it… breathe.

One of the nuisances of PTSD is how long it can take to “bounce back”, emotionally (the chemistry of emotion is tricky shit). I’ve been less than consistent with my meditation practice over the past year, and it shows; my resilience is less reliable, less deep, less durable, and I feel it today – it may take me hours (instead of minutes) to recover a positive sense of self, and move on with my day open to any outcome other than this bullshit right here, now. I feel sapped, and vulnerable. I take another drink of this water (self-care 101; if you’ve been crying, you need to drink more water), and remind myself that my “episodes” were once much more severe, lasted a great deal longer, did real damage, and the recovery period was measured in days and weeks, not hours, or minutes.

Progress made is not lost just because one moment goes sideways – it just feels that way. Expect that to be a thing, and be willing to give yourself a fucking break. This shit is hard.

Every word of this today is for me, now. I write, and read it back, paragraph by paragraph, as I go. I am reminding myself, practice by practice, of what it takes to maintain emotional wellness, and attempting to make good on that promise to myself. The feeling of internal resistance has dissipated, which is progress.

In the background, I hear my Traveling Partner slaying monsters of one variety or another; video games are another excellent “escape strategy” when a peaceful morning explodes in emotional chaos. He’s got his own hard mile to walk, and I don’t doubt being my partner makes that all much more complicated. I listen to the measured cadence of his game-play, and find it calming. I pause my writing long enough for a self-inventory of where I’m at right now. I still feel sort of muted and a bit blue, and may be prone to being easily hurt (emotionally) for some hours to come. I put that aside, reminding myself not to take shit personally. My head aches. The ringing in my ears almost deafens me if I turn my attention to it. I feel wrung out. Fatigued. Emotionally bruised. Having a bite of lunch helped. Drinking some water helped, too. The lingering feeling of personal failure and disappointment is a bummer, but, and this is true; it’ll pass.

Hell of a start to a brand new year. I expected better of the day – and of myself. It’s not “too late”, though. I can hit the reset button, any time I choose… right? I consider how best to make use of the moment; there is growth and momentum in mastering the chaos and healing the damage (more than any pleasant easy moment can offer). It’s definitely time to begin again… again.

What a delightful homecoming! I enjoyed my Traveling Partner’s return, and we spent a delightful, and most peculiar, weekend together. Peculiar in the sense that it often felt like a time warp – back to that first year together. Exciting to spend time together, exciting to get to know each other more deeply, and occasionally challenging as expectations collide with reality, or miscommunication confounds a moment. It was very… real. 🙂

I spent a lot of time talking about potential futures, with my partner. Longer-range planning, and very long-range planning, a future that includes a comfortable retirement, and a home of our own. We shopped together – wow I have missed that so much! He takes suggestions, inspires new thinking, and accepts gifts with humble & practical delight. I overcome my surprise at his suggestions, and accept moments of change both large and small, with eyes open to the value of his perspective, and a heart full of love. The result? I definitely feel more future-focused, more aligned on key details of our shared planning, more certain of our mutual commitment, and so well-loved. 😀

It was, in brief, a lovely weekend spent in the company of someone who loves me, and who I love.

I’m sitting here sipping my morning coffee before dawn, nothing new there. Another work day ahead, also pretty routine. New boots on my feet, a new sweater wraps me in warmth – and love. I’m smiling. Hell, I don’t even hurt much, as I sort out my thinking to begin a new day. Even hearing him breath or sigh as he turns over in the other room is enough to deepen my smile. I’m definitely entirely in love with this particular human being. I’m okay with that. I’m even okay with how very much love asks of me, as a human being – all the growth is worth the time, consideration, and numerous additional verbs. We are both, each, better human beings for loving each other. 😀

…I could be more skillful at love, I know. Plenty to learn. Plenty of opportunity to practice. It’s a lovely morning for beginning again. 😀

A seed, planted in soil, isn’t much to look at. It takes a while to show itself as a seedling, longer still to amount to more. That’s the nature of growth, generally.

Given adequate growth, eventually, a flower.

I have my first sip of coffee. Still can’t drink it hot, but now that’s largely a matter of how cups work, because I’d prefer not to risk slopping hot coffee down the front of my shirt, and I’m still drinking with care, mouth partially open, avoiding the still-painful sensation any sort of suction causes. No longer forced to drink everything room temperature, I am enjoying it quite cold, and the coolness of the cold coffee feels nice against my wounded gum, at the edge of the hole where that molar used to be. I let my tongue very gently touch the edge of my gum… it’s not swollen, now, and doesn’t feel “hot” to the touch. Progress. Still quite tender, and I’m so over the constant eye on the clock, alert to the next interval at which to take still more Ibuprofen, to avoid more throbbing pain in my jaw. Any small miss on the self-care, and I pay for it in momentary misery. I’m grateful that I’ve already healed this much, so quickly, and so far it seems as if the perforation is going to heal, at least as far as I can tell, right now.

Healing processes take time. I have another soothing sip of ice cold coffee, grateful for the reminder that healing processes are also… not comfortable. Even painful. A timely reminder, coming so soon after my mother’s death. There, too, I have… “moments”. It comes and goes. I forget all about it, then, unexpectedly, I remember – and like this hole in my jaw that is not yet healed, I feel a vacancy that is tender, even painful, when I poke at it with my thoughts. Healing takes time, and it is not likely that I can “force the process”. It’s not even necessary. I smile at some fond recollection, taking comfort in that – like a sip of ice cold coffee coursing over my aching empty tooth socket.

“Why is it always about coffee with you? Damn.” I grin at myself. It isn’t, you know… sometimes I drink tea. Water. Occasionally some juice. More rare to have a small glass of something carbonated. Every now and then, a small glass of sherry or port. Mostly water. Mostly coffee. lol It’s not “about” any of that. Just a reliably handy metaphor suitable for this or that. 😉

I was pretty cross by the end of the day, yesterday. I’m feeling better this morning. Each morning, this painful bit of dental work seems to feel some better. 🙂 Reliably, at the end of the days, I am no longer at my best. It would be so easy to lose sight of real progress, just due to the experience of being fatigued at the end of the day, spoons all used up. So far, I’ve avoided any sort of major displays of ire. Having a supportive partnership, and a fairly satisfying life, generally, these days, helps a lot. I only mention that because there, too, there are choices involved. Choosing to remain in a shitty “partnership” with someone who is not in any authentic way a partner, would put me in a very different place in life. Struggling day-to-day just to meet basic survival and quality of life needs would likely jeopardize any sort of good recovery from illness or injury – if I could still afford to have such things taken care of at all. I sip my coffee and explore some moments of gratitude and appreciation for the life I have now. (There were choices, and good fortune and happenstance surely played a huge part in getting from “over there”, to “here, now”, too; it’s all worth appreciating.) So, I let being cross about discomfort fade, and sip my cold coffee, watching the sky lighten through the window of my recently-tidied-up studio, feeling grateful instead.

I notice the time, and stretch, and have another deep, long, drink of icy cold black coffee. Another day. More beginnings. A life to live. These small encouraging moments aren’t “world changing” in any notable way, I know. They have, however, changed my own experience of the world – and of life. That’s been worth it to me, and likely worth it to friends and loved ones who interact with me regularly (my deep enduring misery, bitterness, cynicism, anger, and pain, could be a massive buzzkill). Every time we lift ourselves out of our private hell, we make the whole world just that tiniest bit less mired in misery, overall. One less wounded soul, right? 😉 I finish my coffee, and get ready to begin again.

No point. Just flowers. 🙂