Archives for posts with tag: hormone hell

[Oh hey, I’m talking about emotion and domestic violence in this one. No surprises. Please take care of you. <3]

Think about this carefully; anger doesn’t solve very many relationship problems. It’s not that anger is “powerless” – it isn’t. It’s a dangerous force for change, particularly in the context of lost self-control, lost perspective, and a righteous sense of entitlement, possession, or justification. Tragedies happen by way of uncontrolled rage. Clearly, anger can be quite powerful. “Violence never solved anything” is both true and false – and very much dependent on what we mean by “solved”. If we end an argument with violence, we’ve ended the argument certainly, but whether that counts as a solution depends on whether everyone walks away undamaged.

There was a time I didn’t understand emotional violence as violence – primarily because I lived in a messy tangle of both physical and emotional violence, served up with a hearty helping of military life, as well as gas-lighting. Emotional violence was the least of my worries. I didn’t understand my experience. I lacked the emotional intelligence to understand that I had options – and choices. It’s hard to look back comfortably on the choices I did make. Like a barefooted journey across hot asphalt and broken glass, every step did more damage. I lived with continuous fear and anxiety. I rarely slept. The emotional violence in my relationship was the least of my worries; I just wanted to survive the physical violence. I eventually got out of there, safely away, and sadly still unaware of the worst of the damage that had been done, because that wasn’t physical at all.

Physical injuries heal in a physical way. Bones mend. Scars fade. My arthritis follows me everywhere, but as a consequence of earning my freedom from fear it is a reminder that I live…still…it fucking hurts. I never forget how I got here. Tomorrow is 22 years since a nightmare ended. I ended it. I walked on.

…I took the chaos and damage with me…

The worst of the damage was emotional. I didn’t understand that for a long time. I understood “symptoms” – complex PTSD has many – diagnosis in hand, I recognized that I seemed to have no ability to manage my emotional volatility, as a symptom – as something that happened to me. I didn’t understand how accountable I actually was for my actions, though. I didn’t really “get” that like it or not, when my feelings become choices that become actions that affect other people, I am responsible for my actions. There’s no argument there, so just don’t. “Hormones”, “PTSD”, “a terrible headache” “a tough day” – none of these things actually make it okay to be emotionally violent with someone (most especially and particularly someone I say I love). I didn’t understand that I could – no, seriously, I totally mean this – I could choose to behave differently. My experience is my own. My emotions are entirely mine to feel. My choices are mine to make. I am responsible for my actions. Not one moment of personal misery really excuses treating someone else badly.  I was slow to learn this lesson. I carried the violence forward into my future with me, woven into the damage I’d survived, and expressed it as uncontrollable impotent rage, meltdowns, tantrums and frequent loss of rationality. I’m done making excuses for emotional violence – few people die in a literal way from emotional violence, but the life they are left with is changed. It’s really not okay to behave that way. (Nope, PMS, PMDD, they don’t excuse it either. Get help. Make amends. Say you’re sorry, for fucks sake. Do better over time.)

I’m glad to be moving. Escalating domestic violence next door is uncomfortable to live around. It fucks with my head when I hear the yelling through the walls, the slams and bangs, vague and undefined. There are no good guys. Only human beings unwilling to choose differently and calling it “love” (it isn’t).

Look around. There’s a lot of that going on. We can choose differently. All of us can do better. I can. You can. That person pulling out a gun on the highway to shoot a teenager can choose differently, too; they chose their actions. Think about what that means. Feel your feelings. Behave well. Treat others well. Recognize the subjective nature of your emotional life, and don’t inflict weaponized emotions on other human beings. Fuck your hormones. Fuck your PTSD. Fuck your anger. Care. Care enough to choose better behavior. Care enough to be the person you most want to be. Care enough to seek help if you need help. Care enough to take care of you – well. Care enough to take a step back from a difficult situation. Care enough to understand that each of us is having our own experience – and it’s ours, not to be taken from us. None of us belongs to another.

I say that, then sadly spend minutes contemplating the very real continued existence of slavery and violence around the world. I don’t really know what to say. I am saddened by the constant awareness that there is so much violence loosed on the world. That we wear the face of our own destruction, as a species.

We can all do so much better to treat people well than we actually do. What will you do today to become the person you most want to be? We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

How much of our perceived experience is mangled in translation as we struggle to make sense of who we are, ourselves, in the context of all of the everything else? Probably most of it, I suppose, but it’s what we’ve got to work with. lol

Spring, almost summer, plenty of flowers to see, to smell, to touch, to pause for.

Late in the day, yesterday, I received an anguished text message from a younger female friend. It was an emotional soup of self-denigrating words and phrases, and simultaneously angry and despairing, and somewhat nonsensical in the context of my recollections of my friend, and known details of real life. I dislike being the one to call it out, but couldn’t help noticing that the timing was almost precise; four weeks after her last major “life is shit” meltdown. Hormones. She’s in her 20s, so that’s an experience that hits hard in her life, and at a point when she may not yet have figured all of that out, herself. Fuck I hate drama – but I do love my friends. I search for calming words, something to put the emotional blast on pause, or at least assure her she is not adrift alone. The work day was nearly over, but I felt very far away.

It was still a very good day for flowers.

No kidding, when I got home I actually invited drama to come over to a cup of cocoa. LOL Yep, brought it right into my safe haven, my drama free zone… held the door open, even. 😀 We chilled together – things were already some better. That’s the way of it, like any other sort of storm, bad weather passes.

Some flowers are small….

The three of us (me, my friend, her lover) chilled in the quiet comfort of my place, talking. Sometimes there is no perceptible difference in our ages when we hang out…we’re just people, there are more important things to be aware of. Last night, I felt that peculiar sympathy and tenderness of the elder “wise woman” in the company of youth; so much of what was troubling my friend is no longer commonplace for me, but recognized, familiar, and mostly relatively (subjectively) well-understood. I shared what I learned over many years of screaming and crying on a cycle, the things I found that worked, the things that did not, and continued to reassure her that she can be okay and learn to manage this bullshit that curses us all. lol I was going for offering more hope than I ever felt myself; I didn’t have me as a mentor, or friend.

…some flowers are more complicated…

I looked back on the woman in the mirror, and recalled all the things I wished I’d understood sooner, all the many times I learned something more. I tried to share those things with calm conviction and reassurance. I served cocoa.

…some flowers decorate vegetables…

I talked to him about little things that really do make a difference, openly, comfortably, together, because this ought not be secret knowledge! The biggest thing I have to share with him? Ease the fuck up on being right while the hormone thing is going on. It’s hard, but seriously, just stand the fuck down, back off, and revisit whatever on some other day, when everyone is “feeling better”. lol How many fights wouldn’t be fights at all if lovers would let bullshit go when one or the other is hurting, and tend to wounded hearts as lovers can? The hormone thing is just not a personal attack, the experience can feel really shitty and lonely, and more than anything it’s nice just to feel loved, and feel that our lover “is there”, and understands we feel shitty.

…others are on trees…

Then I called bullshit on her bullshit, too. It’s a hard thing, but as bad as the hormone thing can be, legitimately and truly bad behavior remains bad behavior. Unacceptable behavior is no more acceptable when driven by hormones. Being a nasty mean bitch still isn’t okay just because being female has some really shitty irritating unpleasant painful aggravating experiences that push us past our personal breaking point. We still have an obligation to do our best to choose our actions and words with great care, and with mindful awareness that the person we’re interacting with is every bit as human as we are, ourselves, and also someone we love. Including the woman in the mirror.

…some are potted…

How is it I think I can say these “terrible:” things that may appear to lack compassion? Well… I just haven’t ever seen a woman treat her boss the way she treats her lover when hormones flare up – have you? I mean, seriously, full-on raging tantrum, screaming at them irrationally, or being overtly willfully nasty to them using hormones as an excuse? Acting out? Breaking shit? Weeping apathetic pessimism that halts all productive effort? I’m betting you haven’t. lol So. Some choice and freewill are clearly still available. Just saying. Feel your feelings. Take care of you. Do what is right, nonetheless, and treat your lover with an assumption of positive intent, and an awareness that they are having their own experience and would help if they could.

…their colors vary…

Not one bit of any of that is “easy”. It takes a lot of practice. Results vary. Adulting can be hard. lol 🙂 Begin again. Practice more. Say I’m sorry” when you’ve hurt someone – right? The basics.

how we tend the garden of our hearts determines what will blossom.

It was still a beautiful evening shared with friends. Drama left way before they did. No idea how they ended the evening… I woke wondering, and hoping they are okay. Young is hard… I’m sort of glad I’m not that, anymore, at least… this morning, on a lovely quiet morning, over coffee, watching the sky lighten to a cloudy spring morning. Being where I am in life is enough. 🙂

Love matters most.

My holiday week continues. Yesterday didn’t have much of a vacation feel to it, and having spent it caring for a distressed loved one I found myself wrung out with fatigue quite early. I’ve been sleeping quite well, lately, and didn’t think twice about crashing out a couple of hours early; no alarm to be set, I could even sleep in (again) if I like.

At the end of a stormy day, feeling a bit flooded.

At the end of a stormy day, feeling a bit flooded can be expected.

It was no real surprise to wake around 2 am, my troubled dreams did not linger in my consciousness and I easily returned to sleep. I woke again shortly after 4:00 am, and got up long enough to take my morning meds (a bit early, but acceptably so), and again return to sleep…only… I didn’t fall asleep again. My brain decided my mind had become a playground for worrisome demons, driven by background stress lingering from the day before. No real surprise there, under the circumstances. I reorganize myself into a position suitable for meditation, and teach my errant consciousness a thing or two about self-discipline – or I try. We play a cat-n-mouse game of meditation versus imagination for a while; when I found my mind wandering, I bring it back to my breath, and again and again, and yet again. Some time later my mind yielded to my determination, and unmeasured time passed in calm internal stillness. Around 7, or a bit after, I roused myself naturally with a deep sign of contentment and a feeling of ‘being complete’ – the only thing missing at that point was a good cup of coffee.

The warmth of the mug in my hand is a pleasant contrast with the chill in the room, and I remind myself to adjust the thermostat controls for ‘home for the holidays’ so that I’m not chilly for the sake of economy at a time of day when I’m not usually home, but am most definitely both home, and sitting around in my jammies the week before Giftmas. Taking care of me has some very practical small details to it, and learning to manage them all well and skillfully is an ongoing learning process.

I see a sliver of ‘lighter than darkness’ peeking through the small gap under the vertical blinds on the patio door, and open the blinds enough to provide a view of the changing light of day. Regardless of the weather, I like the wee bit of not-much-of-a-view and seeing the day progress, and small wild creatures at play just beyond my patio. The view is most appealing because the vantage point from my desk or wee love seat is such that it doesn’t look to anyone else’s windows, which matters to me although I would not easily be able to explain quite why.

After the storms, growth.

After the storms, growth.

In general, the day is off to a good start and this ‘now’ right here is calm, and pleasant, and I feel content and at ease. I don’t know where the day will take me, or what the experience will be like – will it be rich with warmth and love? Will I laugh a lot? Will I smile most of the day, or will challenges chase me? Will love win? Will I look back on the day pleased by the outcome of carefully made choices? Will I remember to take care of me? Will I treat others as well as I would like to be treated, myself? So many choices, options, and opportunities!

Today is a good day to keep the bar set comfortably at ‘enough’ and enjoy whatever the day may offer. 🙂

It’s Monday morning. I woke with some effort, to the alarm, and still struggle to ‘really wake up’. I slept well and deeply, and woke up only once, and at an unusual hour. At 3:17 am I woke, thinking I heard a noise. The noise was the sound of a front door buzzer pushed twice in rapid succession “bzzzt bzzzt”. It seemed an actual sound, but whatever actually woke me didn’t do so with any ease. I was incredibly groggy and dizzy, and there was nothing at the door – or elsewhere that I noticed – and I returned to sleep so quickly that I wonder now if any of it was real – even the waking up and getting up, parts.

I’m having trouble waking fully and getting my brain online. I am groggy even now – more than an hour after waking. The sky is still quite dark. Dawn has moved later into the morning. I am impatiently waiting for my coffee – which I am having some trouble making with skill, because I am not quite awake. I take my time with it – and successfully stop myself from rubbing my eyes while I am making coffee, avoiding rubbing coffee, coffee grounds, or hot water in my eyes. This morning, that feels like a major success. 🙂

The morning is cool, and I feel the cool air filter in through the open patio door and the vertical blinds. I am drenched in sweat after making coffee and feeling peculiarly overheated. Hormones? Please, no, not today…it is, after all, Monday. I take a deep breath of the cool morning air, and fill my thoughts with the memories of the weekend as I fill my lungs with fresh scents of this summer morning. I took the additional ‘taking care of me’ step of un-syncing my work email over the weekend, and resetting my smart device so that my work email will only sync manually outside of work hours, reducing the likelihood that I will waste precious life-time on work-related matters by reflex or habit during leisure hours. It is powerfully freeing to return to a lifestyle when work is limited to those occasions that it is scheduled for. I needed the break, badly, and don’t easily set those boundaries with myself unaided – which definitely makes setting those boundaries with colleagues challenging. My traveling partner had observed rather firmly quite recently that I was not taking the best care of myself in this area; change was needed.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the morning with my traveling partner, unexpectedly, and to my great delight. It was a lovely treat, although he arrived distressed and agitated. The level of day-to-day drama in his experience at home is much higher than mine, here at Number 27. I did everything I could to support and soothe him, and even though we shared some [perhaps unnecessarily] emotional moments together, I cherish the time with him. He made a point of following through on his commitment to provide me with some technical support (my bluetooth wasn’t working, and my own troubleshooting did not resolve the issue), and in the process uncovered the likely cause; I had peripherals plugged in to USB ports in a sort of willy-nilly random way, primarily intended for cable management, without regard to USB 3 ports, or always-on ports, or what devices need what sorts of ports, and having no particular understanding that those details were important I had created conflicts. I feel a moment of sympathy; it’s probably just as hard on my laptop to be mine, as it is for people to live with me! This morning, though, there is music. (And yesterday evening, too.) 🙂

Change is. Progress happens. We are at a disadvantage if our understanding of the world becomes 'set in stone'.

Change is. Progress happens. We are at a disadvantage if our understanding of the world becomes ‘set in stone’.

We enjoyed coffee together, and conversation, and laughter, once the technical work was finished. It was hard coming to terms with one facet of aging; I am struggling to remain current with technology, now. Poignant and emotional for me, frustrating for my traveling partner; there is no room for crying during technical support. He’s a decently good sport about it, and although somewhat impatient with me, and frustrated by my emotionality, he makes a point of hearing me. That’s enough. I got by on that, and we moved on with the morning. The high point of my afternoon was soaking in a hot bath, listening to Barry White, and talking on the phone with my traveling partner – an experience I could not easily have had the day before (my stereo sounds way better than music played over laptop speakers). 🙂

My point is that the ups and downs don’t have to be tragic, or an unrelenting buzzkill; we’re all people, having our own experience, and it is sometimes an emotional one. How we treat each other – how we treat ourselves – can be accepting and supportive and aware, and emotions pass. The respect we give each other – each having our own experience – and consideration we give each other while we do so, are a big deal; they define our character, and define the love we share. An honest apology, no excuses, goes a long way when we are not at our best. Our loves are not a dumping ground for emotional toxic waste, and when we share hurts, strong emotions, moments of anger, it’s urgently important that we follow-up with consideration, with compassion, with recognition of their difficult experience sharing that moment with us. Being open isn’t solely about sharing who we are, and how we feel – it’s also a willingness to listen deeply, to be present in the moment when our love sets boundaries, or tells us we’ve caused them pain, and accept the consequences of our actions with honor, with respect, and providing reciprocal support. In this, too, there are practices to practice, verbs involved, and room to grow – and incremental change over time can seem so slow…because that other person can matter so much.

I am taking the morning slowly.

I am taking the morning slowly.

It’s a Monday. This one begins, for me, on a foundation of adequate rest, and good self-care. It would be lovely if that were an absolute assurance of a great week, but I know that there are verbs involved, and plenty of decision-making, and opportunities to communicate with clarity and practice good practices that support my needs over time. This morning, waking so slowly, it is as if I have a head start on slowing down, perhaps there is greater potential there than I understand?

Today is a good day to take things one at a time, with consideration, listening deeply, and recognition that each of us is utterly and entirely human. Today is a good day to be aware that the relationships matter more than the challenges. Today is a good day to ask for help when I need it, and accept help when it is offered. Today is a good day for beginnings; a good beginning has all the potential to change the world. [Note: there are verbs involved, and your results may vary.]

I struggled with a bad bit yesterday. It was the first significant experience with loss of balance, volatility, and my chaos and damage since I moved. The lovely morning began to slide sideways fairly early in the day, as I reacted to fairly commonplace work stress while also struggling with my hormones. I made choices that caused both to be more serious challenges than they might otherwise have been.

I realized where my state of being was taking me around mid-day, and made the choice to start the holiday weekend early. A hot day, no clear agenda, enough background stress to repeatedly find myself clenching my jaw…I followed up my early departure from work with the choice to head to the nearby mall…an odd choice for me these days, but I found myself wanting to window shop and consider my quality of life ‘to do list’ for home and hearth, and enjoy the colder a/c for a time.

Choices matter. This choice was not ideal for me, fortunately I still have free will.

Choices matter. This choice was not ideal for me, fortunately I still have free will.

Clenched jaw. Headache. Irritability. Backache. A persistent feeling of frustrated anger simmering in the background. Feeling disconnected – and unable to connect. I felt very aware that the issue was my own, and not something anyone else was causing. As I wandered the aisles of ‘retail paradise’ I repeatedly pulled my focus back to ‘now’, working to maintain awareness, and presence in the moment. I was not expecting to find myself unable to find joy in the varied colorful displays of merchandise offered for my consideration; “retail therapy” used to be something I could easily rely on for a diversion, if nothing else. It was not working yesterday; I am not the person I once was.

I got an icy cold creamy chocolate-y coffee beverage ‘for medicinal purposes’ (yes, in my experience the combination of chocolate and coffee does help with hormone challenges). I sampled some fruit teas, and bought a nice one for iced tea for the weekend. The mall had nothing else to offer [for me], unless perhaps I had a much bigger kitchen, and an unlimited budget for high-end kitchen gear – neither of which are the state of things. I felt irritated with the noise – I went to the mall while I was struggling with noise sensitivity, too? What was I thinking? I headed for home feeling pretty low, and rather dismally disconnected from self.  The heat of the day contributed to being so cross by the time I got home that I was near tears. I sent my traveling partner a heads up that I was dropping offline for a while to take care of me, and that I was not at risk of self-harm; worrying loved ones doesn’t help with longer term stress management.

As soon as I got home I reached for the checklist. Mine is personalized with some additions that are specific to my own needs. First things first – I went down the list and checked off what I knew I had already managed and discovered something I wasn’t fully aware of; there were some significant misses. I set the check list aside, and in a ‘first things first’ sort of way, had a leisurely shower to rinse off the stickiness of sweat and the heat of the day, and changed into ‘comfy clothes’ [for me that’s yoga pants and a loose tank top]. At that point I put down everything else – including my concerns, doubts, stress, and emotional weirdness – and took time to meditate, no timer. It was a struggle. My mind wandered, again and again, fussy over nothing, irritated with minutiae, distracted and out of focus, and feeling vaguely sad. Each time I came back to my breath it got a little easier, and I felt a little more calm. My headache began to ease. My clenched jaw finally relaxed.

Another look at the checklist, and I began working my way down the list item by item…a healthy meal…some exercise…music, dance, yoga…I picked up and completed a couple small projects, and planned the weekend around taking care of me, and enjoying some leisure time. I stayed away from social media, and video brain candy. I looked into the face of my anxiety fearlessly, and allowed myself to consider that I might go completely to pieces that evening and find myself in crisis management mode, and affectionately accepted that I have challenges to deal with, even now, and that life isn’t about ‘perfect’ or ‘happily ever after’ and that the variability and intensity of my emotional life is also part of how I feel the intensity of the love, passion, and delight that I do in other moments. I reminded myself this would all pass, as things typically do; the intensity is not really sustainable.

The hormone piece is a real bad-ass as challenges go; I’ve passed menopause, and the tendency is to think this means I am done with complicated mood swings and whatnot resulting from the reproductive hormone cycle, but that’s a gross oversimplification, and this week I had screwed up the timing on my HRT – which means hormones became a factor that needed acknowledgement, attention, and self-compassion. The disinhibiting qualities of my TBI contribute to my volatility; I have trouble managing intense emotions, however fleeting, and the stress caused by my fears that I may ‘lose my shit’ unexpectedly and lash out in a socially inappropriate way doesn’t make it any easier.

Over the next few hours of taking care of me with my whole attention, and nothing else on my mind, I managed to find my way to a more comfortable place. I didn’t stop when I got there, and enjoyed several more opportunities to meditate, to treat myself with compassion and tenderness, and to restore order to my thinking through the living metaphor of restoring order to my experience, and my environment.

This morning I woke at the usual time, without the alarm, and got up long enough to take my medication on time, and return to sleep for a delicious additional 2 and half hours. I woke easily, feeling content and comfortable in my skin, and in my head. I overslept my original plans, but didn’t feel disappointed; I have a plan B. I enjoyed a few minutes of conversation with my traveling partner, in the digital world, and made coffee. I took time to enjoy my coffee without distraction, feet up, listening to music. Meditation, yoga, and dancing got my on my feet and enjoying the pleasure of movement. I took on a couple small household projects, like reorganizing the pantry for the shelves that will arrive next week, and making a home for the bin in which my journals remain packed (I once needed to see them displayed all around me to feel secure). The additional living space and order feel very good, and I recognize that the lack of order was causing me stress; these were details that felt very much that I wasn’t finished moving in.

Blooming in my own time, when conditions are right; I am learning to tend the garden of my heart more skillfully.

Blooming in my own time, when conditions are right; I am learning to tend the garden of my heart more skillfully.

It is one truth that I will face my demons until they are vanquished. It is another truth that although I have taken many steps, there are many more ahead of me. It is yet another truth that I am okay right now, and right now that’s enough.