Archives for posts with tag: Frustration

Time to get back to the office. I’m okay with that. My Traveling Partner is pre-occupied with work right now, and when I am at home working, focused on work, the day-to-day communication challenges associated with my brain injury can be a little more obvious, and, I guess, a little more frustrating. Neither of us need that headache right now.

…Having a TBI that affects how I communicate is more than annoying, sometimes, for everyone dealing with it (not just me). It’s doubly hard when so much about “me” makes it super easy to forget, most of the time, that I have some of these issues…then… fuck. There they are. “Issues”. Damn it. I’m not sure which thing is more frustrating… is it that I often ask for clarification because context is not enough to narrow down the meanings of words to just the one thing intended? (So many words have multiple, or nuanced, meanings, and I “hear them all” when people are talking.) Maybe it is that I sometimes “answer the wrong question” (Okay, I do this a lot, and it is super comical until it becomes super aggravating.) – meaning, that, if you ask me a “when” question, I may give you the “why” – and yes, if you humorously reply by asking me the “why” question, indeed, without skipping a beat, you’re likely to get the “when” of it, without me immediately noticing what I’ve done. :-\ I wish it always just stayed funny, though. It’s not like I’m “doing it on purpose”.

…Then there is the seeming “evasion” when asked a question, and I literally just… go blank. Overloaded trying to both understand and answer, usually in circumstances where there is a clear expectation that I will “get it right” because it is “easy” and “should be right there”. I catch up, sure, but by then I’ve somehow communicated a lack of trustworthiness that can seep into even those interactions with people familiar with me for a long time, and aware of my injury. Aggravating for all concerned. Super painful for me to deal with. Way too many opportunities for hurt feelings, all around.

…And how about those opposites? Omg, yeah. I work with numbers – and this particular challenge is painful, and common; I sometimes say the literal opposite of what I am actually thinking (positive vs. negative, yes vs no, even “opposite colors”, and concepts). Like a cruel prank on myself. Fuck that shit. At least this is one I commonly catch, in the moment, myself. It’s just so hard, sometimes. I want to be heard, valued, and accepted, and I want my words to do credit to my thinking. Realistically, I’m not going to get that any more often, or any more easily, than anyone else. Sometimes, it’s just not there for me. Real talk. Sometimes I sound like a complete dumb ass.

My head aches with trying to manage my headaches, on top of staying on top of all the cognitive disarray, get complicated, and although I do okay sitting here at a keyboard… if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ve probably seen it, too. :-\ It’s not getting better as I age, I assure you. In fact, in spite of continued rehabilitative work, specific to improving these sorts of things, I recognize that there are some indications some of this is getting worse, very slowly, over time. Certainly, that last transient ischemic attack (July? 2013? 2014?) was notable, and obvious, in my writing, and I still see it in “wrong endings” of words – a type of “spelling mistake” that isn’t about spelling at all, and cropped up immediately after that TIA, and persists, to a lesser degree, even now. Brain damage? Yeah. Brain damage. It is what it is.

…How long before the frustration of friends and loved ones isolates me completely, relegated to fond memories, and deliberately patient, tolerant, excuses for putting up with me… or… just… not. Just quiet sorrow, and regrets…

I sigh heavily in the quite room, listening to David Bowie, “I’m Afraid of Americans” (but only because it was next on this playlist, although… yeah). Glum thoughts over good coffee. Feeling a bit anxious about life, generally, and about aging, specifically, and what it may mean for my relationships. My brain attacks me immediately, and with real force, “he’s not going to love you forever, not like this, not if you can’t communicate; you’ve already lost your looks, what’s even left now…?” My brain whispers my worst fears and insecurities to me.

“Fuck. For real? Right now? I’ve got work you know.” I silently chastise my personal demons, and have another sip of coffee as the tears slide down my face. “I’m not having it, you vile bitch, just go ahead and head on back to The Nightmare City, I just don’t have time this morning.” I frown into my coffee, annoyed with myself, my insecurities, my vulnerabilities… my humanity.

I switch up my playlist to something lighter, and hope for the best as my tears dry. It’s a place to start…and it’s time to begin again. This morning, that’s got real meaning; it’s an opportunity to acknowledge my fears and insecurities, accept that these are experiences and feelings I need to address in an authentic, honest, and gentle way with myself. I take a couple of deep cleansing breaths, exhaling slowly and evenly after each, until it feels comfortable. I feel myself relax a bit. I make a point to fill my thoughts with recent positive interactions with my Traveling Partner, and the delight of a recent long email from a dear friend, and the recent triumphs and achievements at work… there’s a lot to be grateful for, to be satisfied with, and to enjoy.

I finish my coffee. I start my day.

The possible (likely) impeachment of the US President? I don’t care right now, at all. Local weather? I’m indifferent; it’s meaningless. Work? Connectivity? Housekeeping? The appointment I have scheduled later? Nothing matters beyond one small (huge) thing; I’m sitting alone, heart aching, while my partner is elsewhere, also alone (an assumption), and probably having a less than ideal experience, too.

…I’m not even sure what went wrong, exactly. We started down the path of a conversation… we converse daily, often, and manage both deep conversations, and light-hearted banter (and lots of things in between) quite effortlessly, most of the time. Was I pre-disposed towards frustration, after spending a morning frustrated by technical difficulties, on a rare day working from home? Was he having his experience from within a context that had him potentially predisposed toward difficulties, himself? Is this even “about” either of us, at all? We are each having our own experience – this much is reliably true. I feel, at the moment, sort of bitter, rather heartsick, fighting off tears I don’t want to deal with, and feeling that I am a failure as a partner because – how can I not manage something so fucking basic as a conversation??

In all respects it was a lovely morning to start with. I sit staring disinterestedly into this 3rd cup of coffee, trying to hold onto the morning’s delights. Elusive. Those moments feel as if they were only a dream, now. I am acutely aware I have a “routine” check up with my therapist coming in a couple weeks, and I find myself struggling with a feeling of shame over maybe really needing that time, even after so long, and so much progress. It flares up as resentment and anger, then recedes as a sort of sad gray shadow over my experience, and a hint of despair and futility. “Doesn’t it ever stop…?” My demons attack where I am weakest, that’s a given, and I’m unsurprised by the bleak feeling of doubt, the sense of loss, of abandonment, the feeling of hurt and unworthiness. Damn, this is shitty.

…I hope he’s okay (he’s probably feeling shitty, too).

I look into my coffee mug again, as if I were even going to drink it. I put the cup back down. I also don’t care about this cup of coffee – not compared to how much I care that I am enduring this moment, or that he is enduring his… or that we ended up in this place, in the first place. This coffee doesn’t even smell good. I made it the same as always. No interest in drinking it now. It just sits. Same as me. Just sitting here, mired in this mess. I tried the “walk away and calm down” approach to handling miscommunication and frustration… it does not seem to have provided any useful benefit. I mean… I suppose it’s better than waiting around poking a hornets’ nest until one or the other of us seriously lose our temper. I can’t stand raised voices. Instead… oh sure, it’s fucking quiet, but… I am isolated with my despair… my most dangerous personal foe. “Misery loves company”? Nah. I don’t buy that. Misery doesn’t love a fucking thing, it’s grim, stoic – a loiterer who takes everything pleasant and destroys it without hesitation.

…I even know the steps to take to not be here… and can’t raise the motivation to do a thing about it… like giving up. The futility becomes a quiet waterfall of hot tears. A lifetime of frustration and learned helplessness clench my jaws. My back aches with the weight of it. This? This right here is another very human experience. (“It’s just a moment”, I hear my internal reminder on autopilot, “this will pass. It’s just weather, not climate.” I can’t hear it; it feels very distant and irrelevant.)

Too fucking human. So… what’s to be done about it, then? Yeah, um… I don’t know right now. I’m too busy feeling hurt and filled with chaos and damage. Let me get done with all that, then I’ll move on to doing something else… probably sort myself out at some point… maybe even begin again.

Even on the days I feel strongest, most well, most balanced, healthiest, most prepared to adult on all cylinders, even if I feel like a super hero – I’ve got my Kryptonite. We all do. When I am mindful of my limitations, my boundaries, and skillfully setting and managing expectations with others, I can plan around all that. Kryptonite is different; it’s that emotional weakness, trigger, or character flaw that trips one up most often, sometimes quite unexpectedly.

What’s your Kryptonite? Mine happens to be frustration. :-\ Life would seem much “easier” without it. lol

My day started easily. Gently. Rather routinely. The commute was effortless, and efficient. I already had my weekend plans sorted out. My day is locked into a plan pretty comfortably, too. I got into the office feeling relaxed, and ready.

Fat fucking lump of Kryptonite sitting right in my inbox. LOL

Breathe. Take a step back from that shit. Remind myself none of this is personal, really, almost never. At all. Another deep, relaxing breath. This? Not about me. If I make it about me, then it becomes toxic – and I “lose my super powers”. lol Metaphors work for me.

I get a fresh cup of coffee, return to my desk, and get on with things. Re-set. Restart. Reboot. Do-over.

Begin again.

I woke early, comfortably, and well-rested, with very little pain. I smiled, rose for the day, content with the early hour. The dawn begins to unfold beyond the window, and the day looks to be lovely.

The spider in the kitchen, that ran out of the coffee cup I pulled from the cabinet was not a welcome sight, nor a pleasant moment. One broken coffee cup… morning in progress. I start water for coffee.

The much larger spider in the bathroom, that began crossing the room while I was in no position to do anything about it, was also an unwelcome sight – and I enduring its presence uncomfortably only as long as I had to. I realize I’ve gotten distracted from making coffee…

The smoke detector chirped at me. (What the hell is up with all the detectors going mad after the annual maintenance inspections and tests of detectors?? That was less than two weeks ago!) I find myself glad my traveling partner is not being abruptly wakened from a sound sleep in the other room this morning; two mornings in a row would just be so completely annoying for anyone! I’m already quite annoyed myself, and I was awake when it started. I change the battery. Reset the detector. Shit – I’ve forgotten my coffee again! I get back to the kitchen just in time to hear 3 chirps from the detector. It┬ácontinues periodically (frequently) while I look the fucking thing up on the internet to see what the owner’s manual says. I carefully re-do the process of replacing the battery and resetting the detector according to make/model quite precisely. That’ll do it.

45 seconds later – 3 chirps. ­čśŽ These are fairly loud. My neighbors are awakened. How do I know? They’re outside frowning and smoking their first cigarettes.

45 seconds later – 3 chirps. I’m frustrated, and the sound itself, and specific frequency (both timing, and sound wave) are really working on my vulnerabilities. My noise sensitivity surges, and there are tears waiting to fall… my ┬áhead begins to ache, and I feel angry. I’m also confused. Frustrated. Escalating. I call the ’emergency only’ maintenance hotline for the community – the landlady picks up right away, sounding as anyone does at 6:08 am, out-of-town on vacation, getting a call from work. She patiently advises there is a ’15 minute hush cycle’ (calling it something like that is just… inaccurate; there is nothing hushed about this experience). She is aware of my injury, and some of my issues. She softens her tone and directs me to ‘unplug it and take it down’ if the chirping doesn’t stop (something may be wrong with the detector, and this one is ‘old enough’ to replace). So… yeah. I’ll be worried about fire safety this weekend instead of dealing with the chirping, and I’m managing to feel angry about both and/or either just at the moment. I don’t lash out at the landlady – this isn’t in any way about or to do with her; it’s just a very irritating noise on what started as a lovely quiet morning, and the sound itself has got me crying at this point. I could also do without the ‘strange frightened-seeming trembling’ that so often goes with particular sort of overload. What the ever-loving-fuck?

Coffee. I got distracted from making it – again. It’s well past 15 minutes of this now, and I contemplate taking down the smoke detector, and wonder why I have this weird embedded feeling of certainty that if I do, the alarm will actually ‘go off’ and not be silenced – or silence-able – at all? Probably television. Fuck television, too. Damn, I really need some coffee… and I need this noise to stop.

I take down the alarm. I go back to the kitchen to make coffee. Again.

The alarm keeps chirping. Every 45 seconds. I’ve timed it. Alarm is taken down, unplugged… and it seems pretty pointless to have bothered. I go back to the owner’s manual. I try yet another new battery. I step through the troubleshooting steps again. This is not working. I still don’t have coffee, either. My morning is now entirely centered on this fucking chirping alarm, and I’m struggling with agitation, frustration, and impatient anger. I feel ‘trampled on’ by businesses that have no fucking clue that once the product is outside the ‘this is how we save your life’ emergency scenario window that some consumers have other very different needs. I just let the tears fall. I make coffee. The alarm continues to chirp. I can get 8 minutes of silence any time – by hitting the hush button. I can’t exactly enjoy my day easily if I am returning to the alarm every 8 minutes to hush it.

The chirping is working on my mind. I feel responsible and obligated to ‘fix it’ somehow – so that no one else is similarly effected, making it harder to just walk away – or move out. Or hit it with an axe. (I’m rather glad I don’t have an axe…)┬áI don’t even know if it is audible beyond the apartment next door. People would like to sleep. It’s Saturday. Weeping overcomes me. At least I have a cup of coffee… grim laughter at the relief I feel just for that small pleasure shakes my shoulders, tears become sobs as I spill the precious (hot) black liquid down my top, into my lap, and onto the carpet, soaking into everything, turning everything… dark. Memorial Day Weekend!! Oh yay! I will be listening to this cursed chirping for the next three days until the landlady’s return… what a┬áholiday! And I get to clean the carpet and do laundry! ┬á(note: I rarely use sarcasm, it’s not easily read by all readers, and I apologize if my reactive unhappy use of it now makes it hard to be sure what I am saying.)

I really don’t know what to do from here… I want to be here, enjoying my space, my time, my life… and there’s this fucking chirping, and it isn’t stopping, and there’s just nothing more I know to do myself from here. As if to mock me, the detector manufacturer has a customer support help line – open 8a-5p EST, Monday through Thursday, except holidays. So. Yeah. Now what?

My head hurts now. My eyes are read and puffy from crying – and the tears aren’t stopping; the chirping continues. I made another cup of coffee, hands shaking, trembling, and crying. I drink it quite carefully feeling disorganized, confused, and overwhelmed. I hadn’t even had time to wake up before all this; my day got a firm reset almost immediately on waking. It completely sucks and feels brutally unfair. For the moment I am stuck here; each gentle attempt to sooth myself is interrupted – every. 45.┬áseconds. – with three piercing chirps. Will the awareness of it eventually fade into the background as sometimes happens with irritating noises? It doesn’t seem so, yet.

I’m in no good shape to manage my issues out in the world so soon after waking… but I can’t comfortably endure this indefinitely, and need some real relief from it… somewhere. I resign myself to having to face the world… ‘what I want’ no longer counts, I am faced with what I need. I need to escape this noise… I try not to think about what becomes of me when I must return home, later. No… I do think about it. I cry. I push the awareness into the darkness, dry my tears, sip my coffee, check my spelling, think about my clothes… I keep trying. The chirping continues. I want very badly to scream into the void “How will you make this right with me??!!”… but there is no point, no ‘right’, no one to answer, and nothing much, for the moment, to be done. I wonder how often a partner or lover has ‘taken the blame’ in some such moment in the past, becoming the entity to whom I direct my fear, my anger, my frustration – over some circumstance in life that just isn’t something they control? Fuck. I feel myself swamped by regrets, sorrow, sadness, too. I don’t know what I’ll do later… for now, I put in earplugs, wrap myself in blankets, pull pillows over my head, and cry. I’ll figure something else out later.

This one deserves some follow up sooner than later, just to be courteous. I’m okay right now. The apartment is quiet now. ┬áSomeone dear to me pointed out that perhaps the fire department non-emergency number would be helpful… it was frustrating to discover that this service is mostly unavailable outside ‘normal business hours’ these days, but it got me thinking in a more productive direction, and I walked up to the nearby fire station, hoping to get some more helpful advance than I was getting from the owner’s guide, the entirely unavailable advertised customer support for the product, or my vacationing landlady. I not only got some better instruction, I was provided a back up smoke detector to use, and got my vitals checked (I was apparently sufficiently stressed out, however polite and careful my words, to cause concern when I mentioned the noise was hard on my PTSD), and a few minutes of conversation over coffee with a very pleasant EMT, who had been washing his car in the sunshine when I walked up.

I got home, followed the provided┬átroubleshooting instructions (the order in which things are done really matters for some things, and confirmably fresh batteries matter). Huh. The chirping┬ácontinued… I unplugged it as directed. While I installed the back up… the disconnected detector chirped. ­čśŽ No. Wait… that’s the carbon monoxide detector that went off yesterday – and in which I put new batteries, yesterday. Shit. I take that down, too, and remove the batteries. Both detectors are quite old and likely due for replacement, and that can┬ábe handled Tuesday. In the meantime, it’s a lovely weekend to have windows open to breezes – and there is no longer any beeping, chirping, repetitive, unavoidably, strident, aggravating nuisance alarms going off and undermining my emotional and mental wellness. I’ll even be able to sleep through the night (I really wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to do that with the chirping going on).

Now… troubleshooting my experience behind me… I take care of me. My results may vary…but I’ve rarely been so grateful for silence. ­čÖé

This is an easy restful weekend so far. I slept in again this morning, and although I woke stiff and in a lot of pain, aside from that – which is annoyingly commonplace at this point in life – it’s a lovely weekend, relaxed, and still somewhat productive. I’m not ‘trying’ to get here. I didn’t head into the weekend with a firm plan to relax, or to rest, or to tackle a big list of stuff to do. The weekend began. I’ve continued to practice the practices that work best for me – I’ve meditated more than I often to (which already tends to be often), and probably done less yoga than I could have (and might be in less pain if I had chosen differently).

Yes, of course, coffee. :-)

Yes, of course, coffee. ­čÖé

I tend to associate the verb ‘trying’ with focused effort and a very specific outcome in mind. I also associate ‘trying’ with frustration; trying puts me on a more direct path to failing, by setting specific expectations of which actions must lead to what outcome. I’ve got challenges with frustration – it is my worst emotion, inasmuch as I just don’t deal with the experience of feeling frustrated well; it quickly becomes unreasoning anger, with risk of tantrums, tears, and actual quite dreadful headaches. As emotions go, I am least skilled with frustration. I find that when I let go of ‘trying’ to do something, or get somewhere, and simply get started on the task, or headed for the destination, building on good basic practices without becoming attached to a specific outcome, I not only enjoy my experience more, I definitely achieve my goals more easily – and more often – with less frustration. ┬áIt’s an experience to explore further.

Fancy

Sometimes the luxury self-care package includes a moment of self-indulgence – my salted caramel cafe au lait, Friday evening.

Friday night’s prolonged periods of reflection and meditation are still ‘seeping into my consciousness’. Yesterday was filled with “Oh!” moments of awakening, generally followed by abruptly stopping what I was doing at the time to pause, sit for a moment with the realization or new thinking, before moving on with the day. I ‘didn’t get anything done’ in the sense of practical matters being checked off a list of tasks, but I spent the day treating myself well, relaxing without guilt, and practicing practices that build emotional resilience for the work week to come, and ones that build the emotional self-sufficiency I will rely on for a lifetime ahead of me. With modern medicine in mind, there is every possibility that I will live beyond 100 years… making me more or less at the literal half way point in life, with a great deal more awareness than a newborn child has. These can be fantastic years ahead of me – handled appropriately. Certainly, there are more paintings to paint, more words to write, and more moments ahead of me.

...and more books to read. It's a good day for that, too.

…and more books to read, more poetry to write. It’s a good day for┬áit.

I find myself asking a strange new question as I move through the hours of my days this weekend. “Is this the life you are choosing for yourself, for the next 50 years?” It’s not actually a yes/no limited question. The question is more intended to provoke reflection on who I am, how I live, and what my choices are – not only how I treat the world, and what I do with my time, generally – but also how I feel in the context of my own experience. Each time I ask myself the question, I take the opportunity to make some small change to improve on how I care for myself, how I treat others, and even how I think about my experience, and the world I live in. I am learning to value and appreciate my emotions without letting them take the driver’s seat; they communicate things about the nature of my experience that reason doesn’t notice right away [or at all, let’s face it; reason has a different mission].

…Now, if I can just figure out how to wring every last drop of delight, education, and value out of experiences that frustrate me, that would be quite spectacularly lovely!┬á­čÖé

It’s a good day┬áfor being, and for becoming. It’s a good day to try new things. It’s a good day to become more skilled at the things that work well. It’s a good day to honor progress, and appreciate all the small moments and interactions that delight me, educate me, and nourish my heart. Changing the world is a long process, relying on the incremental changes over time of a great many individuals – there are verbs involved. Changing the world within can happen over night; it’s a┬áchoice. [There are still verbs involved, and your results may vary. Practice. Begin again.]