Archives for posts with tag: emotional intimacy

So… okay, we’re all human beings. This “social distancing” in a climate of anxiety about wellness, disease, economic downfall, shortages, and human mortality is draining, and tests my patience. (Yours, too, I bet!) Yesterday was punctuated with a bit of snarling, a handful of cross tears, some frustrated moments… Yes, it’s hard sometimes. I sip my coffee feeling fortunate, in spite of that; it could be much worse.

I take some time to watch fish swim.

Gratitude, perspective, sufficiency, and basic mindfulness are all great tools for getting me through stressful times. They do each require that I take that step… sometimes it’s “a step back” to gain perspective, or a pause for gratitude. Sometimes it is a step forward, and a considered reflective reminder that “sufficiency” is enough. (Omg, I can’t help giggling, it’s one of my favorite little aphorisms that is also a tautology.) Sometimes, it’s just a matter of moving from one moment to another, to sit down and seek yet another moment, of stillness, of breath, and then beginning again.

You know what it isn’t, though? It isn’t “easy”. These are not easy times, and I often feel “tested”. I have some coping practices that seem effective day-to-day, but I persist in being quite human, nonetheless, and sometimes that is complicated by sharing space with another human being. We are in this very much together, and somehow still also very much having our own experience, even in these close quarters.

He games… I watch fish swim. We help each other out with projects. We tackle projects on our own. We take turns choosing video content. We both interface with the world using our phones. We connect. We interact. We take a moment for ourselves alone. No surprises here; we’re enduring the challenges with the rest of the world. Similar frustrations. Shared difficulties. Common experiences among friends and neighbors and communities and nations afar… we’re all in this together. It’s gotten very “real”, though, hasn’t it?

I have another sip of my coffee, I pause for a moment of conversation with my partner. I look at the fish, swimming in the new tank next to my desk. I check the time; the moment feels timeless, unlimited, and not anchored to any calendar events. How will I know when to begin again? lol

…I guess when I finish this coffee. ūüôā

I start feeling complacent, every now and then, after things seem easy for a while, after very little drama over a longer time, after a few days or weeks or even – no kidding – months without a significant reminder of the chaos and damage. Things “in here” are generally fairly tidied up these days, in the sense that I am more resilient, more balanced, less prone to storms and outbursts, less easily rocked from a place of calm. Day-to-day, things are… just days. Moments. Experiences of a life well-lived.

Not what I expected to see.

Tuesday night I came home while daylight lingered. Needing a moment of emotional rest and calm after a somewhat difficult day in the office, I went to the patio door. My cushion was waiting for me, left right there from the morning. I opened the blinds expecting my tidy patio and potted garden, and beyond that, lawn, meadow, marsh… and between the patio and the view, my bird feeders on their pole. Which is mostly sort of what I saw, only… the pole was bent low, laid flat to the ground, which… is not at all the expected functioning position of poles, generally, nor this one specifically, ever, at all. It’s not a bit peculiar that I was taken by surprise, or angry – but I was unprepared for the shit storm of emotions that hit me almost instantly. Rage. Real fury. Resentment. As the anger built to an unmanageable level, the frustration, the learned helplessness, the disappointment, all capitalized on the suddenly volatile moment to pile on. Breaking shit is not an option. Lashing out physically is not an option. I took a photograph of the wrecked pole, mostly because I didn’t really know what else to do. Then I cried. I cried and cried like a child who realizes they’ve misplaced their very most favorite toy. I cried like a grieving lover. It was all quite excessive and somehow inappropriate to the moment. I didn’t care about that, and wouldn’t recognize it for some time, much later in the evening.

All of the tears that I haven’t cried over all of the shitty things going on in the world lately finally found their way out of my eye holes. I wept. I let myself have the moment. I indulged the momentary falsehood that it was truly only about a pole. Tears I can handle. I’ve cried a river of them. I’ve wiped them dry with a million miles of tissues. Tears fall. Tears dry. Moments pass.

The rage was harder to handle. Anger terrifies me, even my own. ¬†Even to allow it for a moment, felt like it teetered on the edge of criminal to feel it at all. Anger is such a human emotion. We teach ourselves so little about it. Isn’t that strange? I was unprepared, in spite of putting in so much practice and work, generally, on emotion, and emotional intelligence. Experiencing rage still feels terrifying, and part of what is frightening about it (for me), is how powerful it feels. In that moment, I really wanted to lash out, I really wanted to take action – action has power. I wanted to destroy everything within reach, to “make a mark” on the world, to punish whoever had wronged me, to assign blame, and force “rightness” on my circumstances. I live a life in which I have surrounded myself with precious things, delicate breakables, art, porcelain, glass – and because these things are precious to me, I have learned to stop when I am raging. Just stop. No action. Self-inflicted, self-enforced inaction. Inaction that gives me a moment to recognize that beneath the rage is… the hurt. The sadness. The disappointment. The loss. The tears. I can cope fairly easily with tears. I have so little sense of having tools to deal with rage… but I know this about me; I will not break my beautiful precious trinkets of material life. They hold my memories. The preciousness of breakable things stalls my rage. It has been tool, system, and practice enough to be adequate for a long time…

It’s time to learn and grow. Is life’s next lesson about anger? Is it time? I admit to having avoided it so far, by creating circumstances in which it can rarely surface – some seriously masterful avoidance. I live in my own place, alone, so my relationships rarely cause me anger; there is no opportunity. I live fairly simply in a space carefully managed to limit “incidental anger” from stubbed toes, or wacked shins. I limit my exposure to sensationalized media reporting. I end social relationships with people who seem inclined to provoke me deliberately. I avoid being out in the world if my PTSD is flaring up. I refrain from becoming emotionally invested in the workplace to the point that passion could erupt over points of disagreement. When anger, or issues to do with it, come up in therapy, I carefully back away and don’t bring it up next time. Avoidance, however, is a short-term coping skill, not a long-term growth strategy.

I’ve set this one aside twice now, when I got to the chapter on anger. I haven’t been ready.

I guess it’s time to take another step down an unlit path. It’s been an extraordinary journey, these last 4 years or so. There’s more to learn. More opportunity to grow. More work to be done to become the woman I most want to be. I dislike the experience of being surrounded by precious irreplaceable breakable objects, trembling with barely restrained rage, until fury finally finds its release as tears because no action is “safe”. There’s probably a better way. ūüôā It’s time to face the woman in the mirror, anger and all, and give her a hand with this one.

The commute is usually standing room only. Plenty of seats on the morning of a Day Without Women.

Apropos of anger, yesterday was “Day Without a Woman” on International Woman’s Day. A lot of women stepped away from their roles in the workplace, at home, just generally. Allies and supporters and feminists of all sorts, too. It was a powerful demonstration, probably more meaningful to those of us demonstrating, than those who obstruct us, or who fail to recognize the fundamental humanity of women. Still powerful. That’s an anger thing, I guess, that feeling of power. How can I best harness the power of my anger – without truly understanding it? I don’t think I can. So. It is, perhaps, long overdue to deal with the rage.

At this point, the anger is academic,¬†it is a quiet calm morning and it’s time to consider the here, the now, and the day ahead of me. It’s time to begin again. ūüôā

Putting the week on pause for a health challenge (in this case a transient ischemic attack), however briefly, can be a powerful reminder of mortality, and the preciousness of my brief mortal life time. There’s a small hole in my Wednesday, from sometime after 1 pm until sometime around 4 pm, but I remember the head ache, and I’ve had them before, although this one was possibly the worst one.

There's a lot of ground to cover on this journey.

There’s a lot of ground to cover on this journey.

In the past I’d have spent many of the upcoming days pissed off, freaked out, and struggling with additional stress over ‘where will new damage be?’, more than ‘is there any damage?’, or just taking care of me quietly, gently, and without much fuss. I have grown, perhaps. There may or may not be ‘new damage’; it’s not relevant to taking care of me in this¬†moment, and that is the priority for now. For now, I am making a point of stepping back from stressors, taking exceptional care of my health, gently re-committing myself to my fitness goals (particularly those around losing some weight – it’s not helping me right now to carry ‘extra pounds’), staying the course on healthy calories and managing my blood sugar on fewer of those. It is critically important that I get adequate rest, manage medication carefully, and watch my blood pressure. It is equally important that I allow myself awareness that I am okay right now, and give myself a chance to feel the relief (still here! still conscious!), and gratitude that go along with ‘thank goodness I didn’t have an actual stroke’.

My traveling partner is ‘there for me’ in so many small ways. He provides comfort and nurturing care when my health is an issue, going beyond any expectation to do simple things that he knows will be of value – like seeing me suddenly struggle to find a word I commonly use with fair frequency, noticing the panic and embarrassment on my face, and imminent tears (frustration being my kryptonite), he takes the science-based steps of providing some hints (without being mocking or discourteous), and gives me time to find the word, and once found reminds me to restate the sentence with the now-found word in it. He ensures it doesn’t become a big deal, and doesn’t tease me, or belittle me; he knows the value of words, and how tender a human heart can really be. He is patient with me. Sometimes more patient than seems reasonable. It’s a small thing, and it matters. Bigger things too, he reminds me to take these things seriously, to get medical care, to document new issues – I forget without help sometimes; it is the remnant of other damage, and he is skilled at slipping reminders into the context of conversations so that it does not feel like ‘parenting’ or in any way diminishing.

When it feels like it's all stairs, it's nice to have someone sharing the journey.

When it feels like it’s all stairs, it’s nice to have someone sharing the journey.

I feel very fortunate to have a partner on life’s journey who is so well-prepared a traveler. We’ve figured out a number of these practices together on the way – a good practice in itself since¬†we’re each having our own experience. Love¬†benefits from explicit boundary setting, explicit statement of limitations, frank discussion of fears, needs, doubts – and what makes it all feel better. Leaving love to guess at who I am and what I might need or benefit from has destroyed a number of potentially promising past relationships – I don’t do that now. (Well, not by intent, but sometimes by oversight – here, too, mindful awareness of self matters a great deal.)

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

I am okay. The week ends on a comfortable note, and the weekend ahead has some fun planned, and a bit of work – I get to brunch with a dear friend, and move the A/C into storage. I will window shop in a neighborhood I enjoy. I will take care of me. It’s a good weekend for it, and it will be enough.

The work day slipped by after a good night’s sleep, wedged carelessly between two lovely walks through the park, and followed quickly by an intimate evening spent in the company of my traveling partner. My experience of the day, summarized in a single sentence. The day was so much more than words can easily describe. I generally reach for more words to try to achieve the thing… Tonight isn’t about that.

Now is a good time for love.

Now is a good time for love.

I am listening to jazz, boiling water for tea, and smiling. I don’t need more than this moment, here, feeling connected, and buoyed by the shared experience of loving and being loved in return. I can’t say this is ‘enough’ – it’s ever so much more than that. “Enough” I can generally manage on my own – love is this whole other thing entirely, and shared it has a depth and sweetness I don’t have words for at all. Relaxing in the warm glow of evening light, and love, I’ll just enjoy some jazz, and some memories…brand new, as yet unsavored… and yeah, that’s enough. (More than enough.)

It’s a good¬†evening to be love. The words aren’t what matter most.

I’m human. Have you met me? Maybe not…but you’re probably human, too, if you are reading this (or I am seriously behind the times on animal science, or the arrival of alien neighbors from the stars). Doubt is part of this human experience. Uncertainty, too, probably more so than certainty. Too often I find my fears or insecurity are calling my shots, instead of making careful, thoughtful choices. It’s very human, and I am pretty sure that when emotion and reason step out for an evening together, emotion is leading the way most of the time…that’s my own experience, anyway. Reason whispers, emotion shouts.

Tonight I am relaxing, having a cup of chamomile tea, and considering things as evening becomes night. I spent a couple lovely hours with my traveling partner. An evening of connected time, hanging out, and enjoying conversation would generally find me feeling something more like… euphoric. Tonight…something different. No reason I can specifically point to…I find I am exploring mixed feelings.

What does the expression ‘mixed feelings’ really mean, anyway? I take it to mean that I have an assortment of emotions going on at once that may not seem a pleasant mix, or easily understood. I most often use an expression like ‘mixed feelings’ specifically when some portion of the feelings are very much enjoyed, desired, or found to be pleasurable, but some other portion contrasts those, rending the experience more complicated by having to sort pleasant from less pleasant, or figure out quite what it is I do feel…and maybe ‘in response to what?’ becomes a question worth answering. For now, I am simply sipping tea, considering things, and exploring mixed feelings.



A phone call interrupts my reverie; my traveling partner letting me know he arrived home safely. I am still smiling, although the phone call was a short one. It matters to me that the time we share is of good quality, meaningful, valued…well…obviously, right? (Or is that so obvious?) I see, too, the text he sent shortly before, thanking me for the lovely evening. My fingers linger on the lovely locket I wear every day since he gave it to me. Mixed feelings? Well, sure – it’s a very human thing, but making assumptions about what feelings exist in that mix without asking would be both rude, and rather foolish. I’ve lived a number of decades rich in experiences and although I have some¬†challenges, I am experienced and may even have some small measure of insight, now and then. However childlike I may sometimes seem I’m no child, and I experience an extraordinary and subtle range and variety of powerful emotions. Worthy, beautiful, amazing emotions. Sometimes…they get mixed up. Sometimes the mix up is complicated by¬†my¬†disinhibiting brain injury; my emotions are generally just right out there, obvious and sometimes rather unfortunately seemingly unstoppable. “Mixed feelings” are damned awkward sometimes…I continue to practice a variety of practices that build emotional resilience; the hope is that I will learn to ‘bounce back’ with sufficient speed to counter the lack of inhibition more significantly. I’m making progress. Incremental change over time is a thing.

So, sure, mixed emotions tonight, but I don’t run from my feelings these days. I am polite and considerate about something as powerful as emotion; I save what I can to consider later (since I’m not sure what’s up with me), and simply enjoy my evening with my partner. Totally worth it. We had a great time, and feelings are no more real than we make them; investing too heavily in emotions at the expense of reason is generally a poor choice. I try to keep my ‘observer’ in the driver’s seat, let reason ride shotgun and do the navigating – but the map is not the journey, and my¬†heart sometimes insists on¬†the scenic route, or some crazy detour. Emotions are worthy of my consideration, and they’re part of the experience. I wouldn’t cut off my hands because I can’t play piano without learning how – why would I seek to cut off my emotions simply because I have not learned all I can about their worth, how to make best use of them, what they do or don’t mean…? That doesn’t make sense. What makes sense, to me, for now, is to explore my mixed feelings and understand them in context, maybe look at them from some other perspective, and to simply breathe and be and let them sort themselves out their own way. It’s okay to feel – it’s part of the experience. Isn’t that enough?

…And I’m still smiling. That’s definitely enough.