Archives for posts with tag: HRT

An emotional storm of unexpected magnitude blew in from deep within the darkest recesses of lingering chaos and damage. Maybe it’s my “fault” – it nearly always feels like it must be. I am, after all, the broken one in many interactions. It is, at least, how I often see myself. It feels, in such moments, as if “it” (meaning my experience of self in the context of my own life) is inescapable. An ugly tantrum. Hurt feelings all around. Yelling. My explosion of emotion. My tears. My apologies.

…This shit again??…

I can’t seem to hold on to the slippery recollection of how rare this really is these days, post-menopause. I’m reluctant to point to “hormones” as a root cause (can’t I do better than be a slave to biology?), but in acknowledging a recent rare use of HRT, I find myself wondering.

It’s frustrating. Small issues blow up and become seemingly larger than life. A moment of frustration develops into a cesspool of futility and despair. I end up weighed down by baggage I thought I’d set down a long time ago. Fucking hell.


Another coffee. Another moment. A break to stand in what remains of the morning’s sunshine, watching the storm on the horizon approach as if to mock me. Nah… It’s not that bad. I’m okay right now. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership with someone who loves me even beyond moments of tears or madness. It’s fucking hard, though. Having to apologize, again, while sweeping up shards of emotion, and mopping up tears… it’s not on my list of favorite experiences. I could do without it. I don’t mean the act of apology or experience of remorse and contrition – I mean having put myself in a position that earnestly requires it. That sucks. It’s very human. I still don’t like it.

My Traveling Partner doesn’t bullshit me when he’s angry, or hurt, or cross. We’re pretty real with each other. We find our way to a more comfortable place, emotionally, pretty quickly. He understands the trauma history, and the lasting damage. He has his own. We’re in this together, more than many people understand to be. It’s enough, generally, and fairly often it’s far more than enough. Doesn’t make a difficult moment less difficult in the moment, sometimes, although we do both try.

My tears dry. The ringing in my ears left over from my … whatever that shit was… will likely last the day. I mean, the tinnitus is always there, it’s just a bit worse right now. That’ll pass. So will this gray fog of ennui and anhedonia. I remind myself not to confuse these states as having any sort of permanence, and to allow them to pass as if clouds on the horizon. I remind myself they are only the chemical aftermath of strong emotions, and not to be taken personally.

…We begin again.

My coffee this morning is, perhaps, a bit of both – strong, and bitter. I can’t actually be sure…I don’t taste ‘bitter’ with any particular acuity, myself.  My own vantage point is that the coffee ‘tastes different’ in some hard to place way. It could be that it is simply a stronger cup of coffee than usual…

Bitter is not one of the flavors of Love.

Bitter is not one of the flavors of Love.

Strong versus bitter is something to consider on another level, isn’t it? The old adage that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger says nothing about what may become of our welcoming innocence along the way. Isn’t ‘bitter’ one opposite of innocent? The difficulty is that bitterness doesn’t typically serve me well as an individual seeking growth and wellness – it gets in the way. It is by far preferable, I find, to allow experience to develop over time in a gentler way, with a kinder (to myself and the world) outcome: strength. I still have a lot to learn about what develops strength versus what fosters bitterness…even with making coffee. 🙂

I was once far more cynical than I am now. More damaged. More wounded. More bitter. Experience had beaten me down, and torn my heart and my spirit to shreds leaving an emotional wasteland behind, and lacking any greater understanding that the journey could take me another direction if I chose my steps with care, I sort of trudged along…consumed by bitterness, ancient pain, and rage. That was a really long time ago. The first handful of steps in a different direction took so very many years…and the last handful of years have seen me take so very many steps in a better direction. The bitterness – the small bits that linger – are often simply a reaction from the damaged past to some “See? This shit, again??” moment within, before my brain can catch up with my emotions and remind me how far I have come, and that we are each having our own experience.  As emotions go, bitterness is every bit as fabricated as the rest, and just as illusory. The hurts in life hurt – they do – but the bitterness? I can choose differently. I can choose to raise my voice, use my words, and love the woman in the mirror by showing her the same respect, consideration, compassion, and openness I would show anyone else – and the reciprocity I need? That comes from using my words – answering circumstances with gentle reason, with awareness, with observation and clarity, instead of reacting with bitterness. Words may not change the circumstances – but I will feel heard. It takes practice to speak with tenderness, and vulnerability, about the things that set off a feeling of bitterness. It takes more practice to do so without letting hurt and anger become louder than the words – very few people, however much they love someone, can really ‘hear through the anger’ – we hear the anger itself, and earnestly wanting to be heard, I find value in learning to take a softer approach.

It’s a lovely  morning. A gentle, quiet morning that begins with a strong coffee, and an appointment, and will end with – no kidding – a baseball game! How peculiar? How delightful! How very different from the ordinary routine of the busy work week? I have never been to a baseball game. 🙂

Dinner last night with my traveling partner was quite relaxed and wonderful. I dropped him off at his place, still smiling, and headed for home – by way of rush hour traffic. It’s no wonder we spend so little time together on workday evenings – the traffic is nasty, and it takes 40 minutes to get from his place to mine! (It’s only 11 miles… 40 minutes seems somewhat excessive.) I can’t comfortably invite him to dinner much of the time, knowing that;  just the thought of the traffic in the evenings robs the idea of any fun. Why would I put him through that on purpose? It doesn’t sound very loving. lol  By the time I got home I was feeling on the edge of tears, and a hint of bitterness was creeping in. Rather than allow that to progress further, I reached for my handy self-care toolkit.

  • I checked my calendar – yep, due for my HRT; bitterness and other emotions on the darker end of the spectrum are often associate with fluctuating hormones. I take my hormones. This detail is not a safe one to ‘miss’ on – the consequences for my emotional experience can be pretty ugly.
  • I acknowledged how much I really just miss my traveling partner; this is an emotion that coexists with my day-to-day joy and comfort with living alone. Recognizing I have these feelings, I invite him to do something together this weekend (which both comforts me and gives me something to look forward to).
  • I take a shower and wash off the stress of the commute home through traffic; I rarely drive in rush hour traffic [or at all], and the scent of stress clinging to me could potentially continue to affect my mood. Besides…a shower after a hot day just feels lovely. 🙂
  • I meditate. Honestly, it takes the edge off, for me, in almost any trying moment.
  • I address other stressors that are in the background; there is paperwork for the appointment in the morning, and I had not yet found all of it. Taking care of that did a lot to ease my general level of stress.
  • I reminded the woman in the mirror that it’s okay to miss my traveling partner – he misses me, too – there is a greater purpose in living alone right now, a worthy one, a needful opportunity to heal and to grow. Taking the time to recall that this is a choice I am making for me, for my own sanity and longer term health and wellness, does a lot to ease the developing sense of bitterness.

Seriously? The bitterness was an illusion brought on by a little stress, a lot of love, and a lack of physical contact – it can be a challenge struggling with my libido in solitude, honestly, and that has been a thing that has held me back from finding my way through the chaos and damage more than once. The most important thing lacking in a solitary life [for me] is touch. An intimate connection with a physical component. Sexual romantic love. Going without that is super difficult for me, some days. Recognizing the simple primate mammalian truth of it allows the bitterness to subside – it wasn’t ‘real’ in the first place – and I move on with an evening filled with loving recollection of the excellent dinner I shared with my traveling partner, while I got myself organized for my appointment.

There is a lot of strength to be had in taking the very best care of this fragile vessel – and the being residing within it. Strength is…well… strong. And sexy. And nurturing. Bitterness? It doesn’t have those qualities at all. Given a choice, I’ll choose strength. I’m okay with not being so easily able to taste bitter. 🙂


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.

Today has been…strange. Peculiar? Sure, that, too. Perhaps a bit surreal, too, although bizarre would go too far. It’s late in the afternoon, and odd time to find me writing. That’s strange, too.

I slept deeply and well, and woke easily this morning – but woke thinking in the moment that it was during the wee hours. I felt discontent and off kilter to check the clock and have the alarm go off in my hands. My coffee was hot, and the household woke shortly after I did – only, I did not wish to interact with anyone. I heard beautiful music in the other room, and felt moved to greet my traveling partner, and the start of the day. He changed the music just at the moment I got to the living room. It was still a great track, not in step with my mood, but I lingered to enjoy it. Conversation developed, on a topic of shared-interest, and I didn’t really get to listen to the music. Then curious fact-finding questions resulted in de-railing the conversation, itself and I ended up being cut-out of the conversation. No one noticed, and I excused myself politely. Shortly after that I managed to turn a compliment into a contentious moment, making the mistake of trying to explain something that didn’t require an explanation, as it had gone unnoticed by anyone but me.

I’ve felt more than a little ‘out of step’ most of the day. Peculiar describes it well enough.

I don’t really have any enthusiasm (or interest) in troubleshooting circumstances; there’s really nothing ‘wrong’. I also don’t know that I have much more to say about it. I feel… weird. The weekend is almost here. The day is almost over. There’ll be another tomorrow. I don’t know what, if anything, I want out of ‘now’ – a connection; that’s as close as I get to understanding what I want.  A particularly intimate, deep, comfortable, reliable, loving, romantic, profoundly secure emotional connection…that I don’t know how to achieve, yet. (I will not be particularly surprised to find, on my deathbed, that this thing I yearn for doesn’t actually exist, but I am not convinced that it doesn’t…because I have the recollection of having achieved at some other time, what I yearn for now…which I also can’t count on being real.)

Inconveniently, the doctor put me on an Rx that may influence my thinking…so…what can I be sure of, at all? Yeah. Well…I’m sure it’s been a strange day.

A moment of illumination is sometimes not so easy.

A moment of illumination is sometimes not so easy.