Archives for posts with tag: good self-care matters

It’s an okay morning. Saturday. Good cup of coffee. Had a pleasant frosty-morning walk through bare wintry vineyards as the sun rose, this morning. Returned home once my Traveling Partner pinged me that he was awake and starting his day. Could be that was a mistake (in timing)… I rushed home rather eagerly, to enjoy the day with my partner, and I may have been working from expectations and assumptions that were a poor fit to the reality of the morning.

I got home and he was just making his first cup of coffee, immersed in the emotional experience of being angry about the condition in which parts had arrived, and the likelihood that the parts he had ordered are not in any way actually usable for the order he is working on. His anger over the situation seems reasonable. He shares his feelings. He shows me the parts. His anger is evident, and he is actively working through it. (The way out is through…and…we become what we practice. Hold that thought.)

…I have difficulties with anger, particularly the expressed anger of male human beings with whom I am in a relationship (it feels uniquely terrifying and threatening even when only expressed verbally), and it makes it sometimes very difficult to endure the experience of being in proximity to that visceral emotional experience in the moment… It could be that this alone makes me potentially unsuitable for long-term partnership. I find myself thinking about that today. Today, my partner explicitly challenged my overall value as his partner due to my “lack of ability to be emotionally supportive”.

My sense of things is that I listened with consideration, compassion, and care for some length of time while he vented his feelings (my watch suggests about 40 minutes, but I don’t think that matters as much as that he didn’t feel supported). Maybe I don’t really understand what my partner needs from me when he’s angry about something? Listening doesn’t seem to be it. Even listening deeply and offering support, or asking how I can be helpful (if I can at all), doesn’t seem to meet the need. Commiserating with his position doesn’t seem to meet the need, and often seems to prolong the intensity of the emotional storm. Attempting to “be helpful” or offer any “troubleshooting” perspective is usually unwelcome (and most of the time I don’t have the specific expertise to offer that in the first place). It’s often been my experience that eventually, however supportive I am seeking to be, one common outcome is that at some point, the anger that is “not about me”… becomes about me. Terrifying, even in a relationship where there has never been any violence. The anger feels threatening. This is a byproduct of violence-related trauma in prior relationships. Decades later, I’m still struggling with this. It seems unfair to my current (or future) partner(s).

When a person with PTSD embarks on making a relationship with another human being who also has PTSD (or similar concerns), there are some additional complications that sometimes make living well and harmoniously together more than a little difficult to do successfully – and it’s less than ideally easy, no matter how much we may love each other. Sometimes love is not enough. Maybe that seems obvious? It probably should be obvious. I sit with that thought for a few minutes, uncertain what it is really telling me. Maybe nothing new. I mean… I know, right? It’s hard sometimes. (“This too will pass.”)

…Resilience is a measure of our ability to “bounce back” from stress…

Using meditation and mindfulness practices is one means of building improved resilience. Resilience lets me “bounce back” from stress more easily, and allows for greater “ease” in dealing with stress in the moment. Resilience supports improved intimacy. Resilience along with non-attachment is a good means of learning not to take things personally. Resilience makes some practices produce better results – “listening deeply” can be incredibly difficult and emotionally draining without resilience, for example. Resilience is like a glass of water, though; once the glass is emptied, no amounting of drinking from it will result in slaking thirst. I’ve got to refill the glass. (It’s a wise practice to keep it “topped off”, too; that’s where self-care comes in.)

G’damn, I really need some time away to invest in my own wellness and resilience. Quiet time taking care of the woman in the mirror for a few days, without any other agenda or competing workload. My resilience is depleted. Even “doing my best” is not enough right now – I feel comfortable acknowledging that. Can’t efficiently move forward from one place to another if I don’t recognize where I am right now – and start there. In this particular instance, it is less about physical fatigue than emotional and cognitive fatigue. I’m “brain tired”. I’ve been lax about my meditation practice, and it’s clear how much that does matter. I’ve taken on too much, and can’t seem to dig out in order to get to the practices and experiences that support my wellness; I’m scrambling just to get “all the other shit” done, that seems to have been given a higher priority than my emotional wellness or mental health. I can’t blame anyone else; it’s called “self-care” for a reason. I’ve been giving 100% of what I have to offer to work, to the household, to my partner, and not leaving much “left over” to take care of myself.

I find myself wondering if I would do well to leave for the coast a day earlier. It would probably be good for me. Probably not good for my partner who has been missing me, and potentially feeling un-cared for and lacking an adequate portion of my undivided attention and emotional support. I’ve only got the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else has – and figuring out how to parcel that out is sometimes difficult. I could do better. Seems like everyone needs a piece of me… and the only person who seems ready to yield what they feel is their “due” is… me. Fuck. That’s how I get into this quagmire of cognitive fatigue and emotional fragility in the first place, though. Taking care of myself really needs to be a non-negotiable – at work, at home, and in life, generally. I could do better.

…When I take better care of myself, not only is there “more in my glass” to share with others, the glass even gets bigger and holds still more… and I know this

We become what we practice. When I practice calm, I become calmer. When I practice good self-care, I become cared-for, resilient, and confident in my worth. When I practice deep listening, I become a better listener more able to “be there” for others. Understanding this is important. It is true of unpleasant emotions, too. If I “practice” losing my shit in a time of stress, I become more prone to being volatile. If I “practice” anger by way of confrontation, venting, or tantrums, I become an angrier person less able to manage that intense emotion appropriately. True for all of us; we become what we practice. How do I become the woman – the person – I most want to be? Sounds like I need to practice being her …and when I fall short? I need to begin again.

I finish my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin planning the packing and tasks needed to prepare for my trip to the coast. I remind myself to take time to meditate, to check my blood pressure, to stay on time with my medications. It’s a lot to keep track of some days, but the pay off is worth it; I feel better, enjoy my life more, and I am more able to be there for my partner when he needs me. I’ve just got to do the verbs.

Time to begin again. Again. It’s slow going, sometimes, but I do become what I practice.

Sipping my coffee on a Sunday. Feeling content, and cherishing that feeling even more for having recently been blown off that comfortable perch by stormy emotional weather. I take time to be pleased with the morning, and the moment, and the fact that hurt feelings don’t have to linger for days. Even yesterday was quite lovely, so much so that I never did sit down to write about it; I was busy enjoying it.

But what happened?!

Fair enough. I went to my afternoon appointment, Friday, and returned home. He was up from napping, by the time I got back. We enjoyed a lovely evening – and not “as if nothing happened” in some peculiar surreal or bitter way, faking the moment. It was like that at all. We each had a chance to care for our own needs, and took it. He took time to manage his pain, and got more rest (which he evidently needed). I took the time it took to manage my own pain, and my PTSD, which had flared up over some nothing and derailed our lovely morning. We were both fine, and when we reconnected in the evening, we made a point to check in with each other, sooth hurts, restore broken intimacy, and simply moved on with a lovely evening, without lingering resentment (as far as I know; it’s still true we are each having our own experience).

Then we enjoyed yesterday. Autumn means more indoor cooking. Desired health, long-term wellness, fitness, and longevity goals mean more new recipes, whole ingredients, and fun exploring different sorts of meals at home. Just humans being human.

Today, I woke with a bit of a headache, but well-rested, feeling fairly merry, and enjoying the sound of the rain falling fairly ceaselessly (this entire weekend) beyond the windows. I sip my coffee, explicitly aware of, and exceedingly grateful for, the roof over my head, the central heat and a/c, the indoor plumbing and potable water, refrigeration, the gas fireplace, the comfortable furnishings, and the lovely view beyond the patio. I’ll never be wealthy, but I am so very fortunate. It’s a lovely morning to enjoy that, to embrace contentment, and maybe, later, do a little laundry. lol 😀

…Then I can begin again. 🙂

One moment of many.

Time shrank, stretched, and snapped back, today. I got home feeling I had simultaneously done much more and much less than I had planned to do – more than I expected to get done, less than I urgently needed to get done, and certainly enough actually got done. Time can be peculiarly malleable, and sometimes I think I’ve almost got the hang of doing it at will. (That would be quite amazing.) 🙂

At some point, I realized I needed a couple things from myself. I was feeling fairly pressed for time, pretty frazzled, and I was overwhelming myself with details, and small frustrations. When I started getting close to that very special moment – you know the one? That moment just at which not having some sort of horrific tantrum or untoward meltdown would just no longer be possible? That fairly strained moment of longing and regret-in-advance? (Is that just me?) I could see it there, just ahead of me… the snarled remark, perhaps, got my attention – and a moment of appreciation that although I’d spoken aloud, I was seated alone. I paused, and listened for just a precious second of limited time – really listened – to me – and I recognized unmet needs. Simply that. I heard me. I needed recognition that I’ve been sick. I needed better self-care. I needed to slow down a bit, really focus, and be patient with myself. I needed a healthy meal – a real, actual, cooked-with-care, meal, prepared from fresh ingredients that meet all of my dietary needs. (I’ve been sick, right? Cooking takes some effort, more than I could manage for a couple days, so it’s been… broth. lol Mostly just broth. And coffee. Tea. Fizzy water. Cold medicine.) I looked at the clock and acknowledged to myself how very human I am. I reset my expectations, and moved my workload around a bit. I reset the expectations of others, with consideration, with care, and as firmly as I know how to do graciously. I finished the day with a plan.

The commute was okay. Rainy. I was pre-occupied with my own thoughts, so less frustrated with the shenanigans of other, less skilled, drivers (I know they are less skilled, because… did you see that shit?? You did not. I did, though. lol). I picked up some healthy ingredients on the way home and made myself a small London broil (although I rarely eat beef, if I am at all a risk of anemia, or have recently been ill, it definitely perks me up to have it), some steamed broccoli, and homemade yam steak fries. I cooked. I enjoyed a solitary evening meal, listening to music, thinking my thoughts. First day back to work is tough on me after being sick, so I take things pretty easy this evening. I want to do more, and look at my “to do list” with a certain purposeful yearning, although I definitely do not have the energy for all that (or even most of it, or… yeah… none of it at all, actually, not tonight). An early night will be the thing, then. Maybe some quiet time reading? Meditation. I’ll write (hello!). I’ll meditate. I’ll call it a night.

Of course, the internet grabbed my attention pretty quickly – it was hard to tear myself away. A couple rounds of being annoyed with myself, followed by a reminder, again, of how human I am… the evening continues.

Self-care does not come naturally to me, in any way I can tell. I really work at it. I sometimes seriously suck at it, but it needs to be handled, and generally, it needs to be handled skillfully – or I am doing little more than hastening my own demise through neglect. :-\ So, tonight I practice self-care practices. Gentle verbs. Verbs that nurture. Verbs that heal. Verbs that soothe and tend and care for.

Tomorrow is soon enough to begin again on all the other verbs. 🙂

It’s a chilly morning. I woke a bit ahead of the alarm clock, and somehow the shower didn’t warm me up much. My head is stuffy, as if in sympathy to my traveling partner, home sick at his place. I miss him greatly, but it matters more that he take care of himself and be well – besides, I don’t really want to be sick, myself, and I am content to wait to see him for some better time.

I find myself thinking about perspective, again. I know that because I’d like to be in my traveling partner’s arms so very much, it would be super easy to dive into misery, frustration, and annoyance that we are not together, and then for that to become a springboard to all sorts of doubt, insecurity, hurt, and anger spreading out in all directions from that one small thing; I miss him. Emotions are intense, and can easily overwhelm reason, and then… then what? Then I am unhappy, riled up, agitated, miserable, lonely, angry, frustrated, and filled with negative self-talk and thinking so distorted that all those feelings start fueling some sort of ‘blame machine’ that generates more distorted thinking, and rationalizes treating others poorly on the basis of that distorted thinking. This morning I am appreciative that I am not in that place. (Perspective is a lovely way to defuse those emotional bombs.)

Anyway, how would I really measure life's 'spilled milk'?

Someone else said it first; there’s no use crying over spilled milk.

Life isn’t ‘about’ my losses. Sure the losses exist, but they don’t exist isolated from the joys, the gifts, the delights, the wonders, and the cherished moments. Life is also not about keeping score; when I am focused on this moment, my moment, engaged, present, and mindful, the bullshit fades away, and I’m not filled with self-made poison. I was thinking about this while I soaked in the bath last night, too; if I measure my life by my losses, how could I not find myself wounded, tearful, and overwhelmed with doubt and sorrow? It’s 52 years worth of ups and downs – there are some losses in all that experience.

I could measure my life by my gains, if I choose. Things look different stacked up as an assortment of wins, gains, achievements, successes…and that too is misleading; I don’t learn much from the easy wins, and the emotional highs are far less intense, lacking depth and value, without the perspective offered by what has been lost, and what hurt, and what didn’t work so easily. Then, too, if I measure my life by all the things I have done or achieved that are awesome, I don’t leave much room to be vulnerable, to connect, to appreciate what is soft and tender within myself, and to value myself when I am not winning, gaining, achieving, or succeeding, and I may also need to spend a great deal of mental bandwidth defining those successes, to avoid becoming frustrated by shortcomings that might negatively affect measuring the wins. Hell, I’m only thinking about it, and I feel myself becoming a little anxious!

...and how exactly is 'success' truly defined, and measured...and who decides that?

…and how exactly is ‘success’ truly defined, and measured…and who decides that?

It’s the measuring, itself, that I find myself thinking about critically. I don’t personally prefer life to be a competition, and the measuring of successes, the score keeping, the comparing of this person to that person, the perception that there are ‘necessary’ achievements one is expected to make in life (marriage, children, car, house, career…) – I have come to view all of those as bullshit distractions, choices, simply details we can add to who we are – or not. I’m choosing ‘not’, generally, and re-evaluating where all of those things really fit in with who I am, myself. It’s been a process. Part of asking that ‘who am I?’ question, I guess…. (I’m sure not telling you what you should or must find important, yourself.) I’m just observing that holding an attachment to goals that aren’t really my own, imposed on me by expectations of one sort or another, is one very elaborate way to be miserable.

Why am I on about score keeping and measuring and comparing one to another? Because I miss my traveling partner, of course! See what I mean by how quickly powerful emotions can overwhelm reason? How are those even connected? They are connected in only the loosest way, by time itself, and by the measuring of time, and the score keeping of moments. I don’t spend as much time with him as I’d like, which has the potential to nudge me toward contemplating the time he spends with others, and to become resentful and hurt over it. It’s silliness – because love isn’t about score keeping (or time keeping), or measuring, or counting. I’ve come a long way from allowing my powerful emotions to sneak attack me on something so small, most of the time. 🙂 That feels pretty good over my morning coffee, and instead of fussing irritably about why my traveling partner isn’t in my arms (he’s sick, seriously?) I am simply enjoying a lovely morning, in this moment here, content that there are other moments to enjoy in other times, and that love exists, regardless – it’s certainly not worth stress, or agitation, or grinding my mental gears over if/when/why. That kind of mental busy work poisons my experience now, in part because my brain injury impedes my ability to regulate emotions stirred up by thoughts (they feel every bit as real, and intense, as emotions that occur in response to circumstances), and in part because I am human.

It's a journey - there are some detours.

It’s a journey – there are some detours.

That’s been another lovely bit of awakening, recently. I’ve struggled so long with sorrows over what is ‘wrong’ with me, due to my TBI, and what my injury has (may have?) taken from me… Sometime between last Friday and yesterday morning walking to work, something clicked… Whether my injury is anything to do with whatever may be ‘wrong’ with me – it is most assuredly the source of a great many things that are very right with me, that I enjoy and count on daily. Perspective.

...Life these days feels more like a construction site than a disaster area. :-)

…Life these days feels more like a construction site than a disaster area. Progress. 🙂

So…this morning…a lovely morning that could have been experienced very differently not so very long ago. Perspective matters. Practicing good practices for building emotional self-sufficiency, and resilience, matters. Remembering to include the woman in the mirror in the set of ‘all the people I love’ matters. Contentment, gratitude, and enjoying what is more than I mourn what is not, matter too. It’s a chilly autumn morning, and I am enjoying it wrapped in a warm sweater – and wrapped in love. (I’m not all certain which provides the greater comfort – I suspect it is the love, and I am awed that it comes from within.)

Today is a good day to be love.