Archives for posts with tag: frustration is my kryptonite

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor, if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… 😉

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. 🙂 It’s already time to begin again. 🙂

Have you ever chased something? Run hard, run fast, kept running after whatever – or whoever – pushing yourself beyond expectations because you’re just that close to catching up… only… “chasing” and “catching” are not specifically connected in any particularly firm way. I’ve chased things I never ever caught up with – or achieved. At some point, perhaps I reconsidered the worthiness of the goal, or just… couldn’t quite get there.

I woke feeling groggy. The apartment was stifling and still, in that “it’s going to be a hot one today” sort of way. I’d feel foolish to bitch about a “hot” day forecasted at 87 degrees Fahrenheit; my Fresno friends have it much worse. They’re expecting 107 degrees or so – real heat. I take a moment to enjoy sipping hot coffee in the cool of morning as the sun rises. Perspective. Gratitude. Nice ways to begin the day.

I’m thinking about how easily I am tempted into pursuing something desirable without really being mindful of the journey, itself… Chasing something, instead of… well… what else? It’s worth thinking this over.

I have friends chasing Love. I wonder if they’ll catch up with that? Seems an odd way to go about it…

I have friends chasing Success. That’s a tough one – and so subjective. I never could catch up with that one, until I understood that I could only achieve satisfaction through understanding Success on my own terms. I’m likely an abysmal failure seen through the lens of another person’s definition of Success. I’m undisturbed by that.

I have friends chasing Money. Fuck, it would be so lovely if that weren’t a thing. I even wish I could help; I’ve had to find my way to being content with “enough”, just generally in life, to clear that hurdle and let go of a chase that only ever seemed to wear me down, fairly pointlessly, without ever ending or achieving anything of note.

I used to chase a good night’s sleep, pursuing Rest as though it were a mugger who’d taken my handbag; I wasn’t going to let it go, and I wasn’t going to stop, and… I wasn’t going to catch up to it by chasing it, either. lol

Sex, too – Personally, I’ve probably chased Sex more often than most other things. The yearning tempts me into it and off I go with the wanting and the needing and the pursuit… Easily won at 20, 25, 27, 30… less so at 54. Perhaps what I think I want hasn’t caught up with where I am in life? Perhaps chasing shit just isn’t the most effective approach to living life? (Or getting sex!) (Or finding an intimate emotional connection!) (Or knowing myself!)

For me, the word itself is telling, “chase” suggests pursuit without end, a frustrating journey without a satisfying conclusion. The very notion of being encouraged to “chase” one’s dreams seriously irks me, because, for example, for me it implies that they are always just out of reach – so have fun with that. lol Built in frustration – no, thank you.

I’ve stopped chasing my dreams. I’ve stopped chasing Sex. I’ve stopped chasing Love. I’ve stopped chasing Money. I’ve stopped chasing Success. For now, I’ve even stopped “chasing” homeownership – because once I realized I was chasing it, I knew I wasn’t going to catch it. “Chasing” a goal doesn’t end that way for me, because what I understand about “chasing” means something quite different from that.

This morning, this moment, my experience of life is a little like that breathless pause, mid-chase, bent to catch my breath, heart pounding, chest heaving with the struggle just to breathe… having given up pursuit to rest, to reconsider… to be. Aware that I’ve been chasing shit again, and can go ahead and stop that. 🙂 It’s a nice morning to sort things out. To think. To pause. To appreciate what already is, and re-examine what my resources are, and what I really need, and where I am heading in life. There are, of course, verbs involved – my results will vary – I’ll probably need to begin again. 😉

…Like… a bunch of times. LOL

Yesterday was hard. Small things frustrating me here, there, and oh right – over there, too. Work. Life. Health. Ping. Ping. Ping. I find myself struggling against tears more than once. Not sorrow. Not anger. My own personal kryptonite: frustration. It’s hard these days to anger me, and by far most of my anger has its roots in frustration. It’s hard to break me down – the most powerful lever remains my own reaction to my own frustration. I bounce back pretty easily these days – except for moments of frustration, those sometimes color an entire day, or experience.

Mornings sometimes promise me the world is made of opportunity.

Yesterday was filled with moments of frustration. The recollection raises my stress level in the here and now, not quite unexpectedly. I feel grateful to know myself better than I once did. My most powerful personal demon is, at least, at long last, named. I have given her a face and a voice and a name, and I am tired of her shit. Frustration can knock me down, but I’m still getting back up, again and again. Frustration may move me to tears more quickly than any moment of grief ever seems to, but I know I can cry a million tears and survive the moment. Frustration may end an event, and evening, a long day, but I can begin again.

By afternoon, I’m sometimes looking at things very differently.

Ideally, I would have gone to bed before 9 pm. I couldn’t rest or relax. Stress had severely pwnd me. I found myself sitting in a silent room, ruminating over frustrations. Worrying about this fragile mortal vessel. Sleep was not likely. My Traveling Partner being out of town also put him out of reach, although we’d spoken earlier, and I was still hanging on to his loving words for comfort. I was still to wound up for sleep. I reached out to a friend, a fellow veteran, living next door. “Hey, dude, you wanna hang out for a few minutes? I’m stuck. Hanging out with someone over a moment of conversation or… anyway. If you’re up for it, I’d feel better with some company, maybe.” “Oh, hey, I was thinking about you. I wasn’t sure… I didn’t want to break in on your quiet time… Yeah, I’ll be right there.” We set an alarm, to be sure he’d head back to his place in a timely way. He’d been in the kitchen, doing kitchen things. We hung out. Talked. My heart rate slowed, my stress eased. Sleep became a possibility. I wake up this morning grateful for good friends, grateful for love, grateful that generally however frustrating or crappy things feel… I can begin again.

Things look different from another perspective. Sometimes that helps.

So here’s me; beginning again. It’s all very human. Health? Well… yeah… the “nothing really” might be something, and that’s worrisome. Work? It’s just a lot, that’s all, and it’s a process, and there’s plenty of traction and forward momentum and meetings and buzzwords… and I’m valued, and appreciated, and it’s just adulting in an adult world. Sometimes frustrating. Life? You know… I’m going to embrace the good, give the side-eye to the shit that aggravates me, and be present, awake, and aware, for as much of this peculiar adventure as I possibly can. What if it ends tomorrow? Well… what if it does? I’m here now. Enjoying this moment, quietly sipping my coffee, and planning my house-hunting for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s uncertainties aren’t even real, yet… not really.

Be present. Begin again.

It has to be enough.

 

No witty words today. No observations of particular note. No emotional salve. No imagery. Today, I practice. I haven’t yet found my social security card, which I didn’t realize I’d misplaced until I happened on it some weeks ago. It was conveniently already in a place “that makes sense”, where I “couldn’t possibly lose it”, and which I had already forgotten, previously. It wasn’t my best decision-making to leave it in that location trusting that I wouldn’t forget it, yet again.

It's just a bit of paper.

Well, damn… Where did I put that?

This morning I am made entirely of human, and the practicing with be all of those that help me ‘keep myself together’ in the face of potentially an entire day of small frustrations while I hunt down this worthless 2″ x 3″ piece of paper no one gives two shits about until it’s time to fill out an I-9 for employment. I’m somewhat amused to live in a state without reciprocity between the DMV and Social Security Administration, because I’d have been able to order a replacement online to be mailed to me if they did, and I’m mostly pretty done with being angry about it; amusement is what’s left over.  Suffice it to say my in-person visit with the SSA was not ideally successful; I feel victorious over my issues to struggle with public tears on the phone with my traveling partner and nothing worse.

It's just a piece of paper. It is not "who I am".

It’s just a piece of paper. It is not “who I am”.

So. The practicing. Today I’ll both look for the card (again), and maintain positive self-soothing practices hoping to keep my experience of frustration very minimal. That sounds so… easy…

I can't help think there's got to be a better way... it's the number that matters.

I think there’s got to be a better way… it’s the number that matters. (Hello? 21st century? Can we get an upgrade here, please?)

“Easy” doesn’t describe my experience of frustration very often. Frustration is my kryptonite. My results may vary. There are a quantity of verbs involved. Taking care of the woman in the mirror such that she is efficient, focused, committed – but not a frantic madwoman tearing the house apart enraged or hysterical – is one of the more major challenges I deal with when faced with frustration. That’d be quite the tight-rope act 3-4 years ago, or more. Today it feels like an exam. A test. Well… sure, okay. I’m being tested. Good test results may rely on good general self-care… it’s at least somewhere to start. So. Coffee. Yoga. Meditation. A nutritious balanced breakfast between 200-350 calories. Exercise. And the cherry on top; time spent considering how very often I do find things, lost things, misplaced things, things that have been moved in a thoughtless moment. I find things. It’s here somewhere. 🙂

Helpfully, it's quite unique in appearance.

Helpfully, it’s quite unique in appearance.

Sometimes the practices I need most turn out to have benefits I didn’t consider before. For me, the opposite of frustration is not “gratification”, it is “emotional ease”. The last time I misplaced something dear to me, that remained lost, unfound, perhaps “gone forever”, I lost myself in hysterics for hours and felt low and rather lost, myself, for many days. I grieved. It seems excessive, generally, for lost stuff. Today is a good day to treat myself better than that. 🙂

It's just a bit of paper.

It’s just a bit of paper.

Somewhere in my mind’s eye, I imagine an orderly school room of children, a teach or test proctor at the front… “Pencils up! And begin.” Today is a good day to begin again. It’s enough.

This morning I am fighting off unexpected nausea. I am in more than usual pain. I am still in a pretty good mood, and mostly enjoying the morning in spite of the discomfort. It helps, this morning, that I am feeling encouraged by how yesterday evening unfolded.

Moments of encouragement or unexpected joy are some of life's most beautiful ornaments.

Moments of encouragement or unexpected joy are some of life’s most beautiful ornaments.

I left work at a good time, realizing as I walked home in more pain than usual that I had forgotten to take my mid-day Rx pain relief. By the end of the day, no surprise that I was in pain. I thought no more of it, I felt good otherwise, and it had been a productive work day. I knew I could also count on my vape pen, and medical cannabis, and I wasn’t stressed about the small miss on my medication. The battery on my vape pen flashed at me right about then, to let me know it was also done for the day. No big deal; I would just recharge it at home…

…A bit more than an hour later, and sometime after arriving home, I had determined with certainty that my vape pen’s battery had actually just up and quit. Well. In the meantime I had experienced some serious frustration troubleshooting it, and frustration being my kryptonite, here’s the part where I generally continue to talk about some serious challenge, a wrecked evening, and the efforts involved in getting a better outcome as quickly as possible… only… last night wasn’t like that. Sure, I got wrapped up in the troubleshooting of a small replaceable device that I would not be able to repair, regardless, when I could have been enjoying hanging the new wreath on the front door, enjoying a good cup of coffee or tea, having a bite of dinner, or a long hot shower… in general, I could have been taking care of me, and enjoying my evening, instead of immersing myself in some minutes of frustration. Here’s the thing, though – I didn’t wreck my evening, and neither did the frustration, and I identified the start of that damaging pattern of behavior, and put myself on pause long enough to become engaged and present in the moment I was in, and to give myself an opportunity to re-evaluate what actions would really meet my needs best, both short and long-term. No tears.

I set aside the frantic and frustrated troubleshooting. I have a back up vape pen of another brand, no problem. I ordered a replacement battery for my preferred one. I started some dinner, put on the kettle for a cup of tea, and hung the wreath on my door. I sat down to enjoy an email from a dear friend, and to enjoy a cute selfie my partner sent me earlier in the day. I took care of me, and did so with my full attention. The evening ended well. I didn’t lose my mind over some small thing, or panic because I’d missed on my medication, or frustrate myself into becoming enraged. Pretty cool.

"Welcome home" I think to myself for no obvious reason.

“Welcome home” I think to myself for no obvious reason.

This morning I am getting a slow start, and that’s okay; it’s a good morning to linger over progress, and to savor the small practices that have, over time, changed my experience so very much. Today is a good day to be the change, and to become the woman I most want to be. 🙂