Archives for posts with tag: listening deeply

…Oh, but it’s gone now. Sorry. Bit of a teaser. Too click-bait-y? That’s on me. Cold coffee and a bit of wait time; we have a houseguest coming (my Traveling Partner’s son, on vacation). Should be fun, but I am admittedly distracted by the nagging thought that there is (still) another task or bit of housekeeping that could be done before our guest arrives… The feeling is an illusion; the essentials are handled and the house looks tidy and welcoming. The reality of it, though, is there is (nearly) always more that could be done to improve one’s quality of life in some small way.

…My eye lands on an “extra” coffee cup sitting on my desk; it could have made it into the dishwasher. I overlooked it.

…I suddenly remember that I’d said I would weed under the deck (definitely needs it) but until just now, I’d forgotten that.

…This nagging headache could use some mitigation, maybe some acetaminophen or ibuprofen. I can pretend that will help, until maybe I forget I have a headache, and it eases a bit?

…I had made a really well-crafted list of things I wanted to … was it “do”? or… specifically write about? paint? …fuck… Well, at least it is a Saturday. (It is a Saturday, isn’t it?? I pause to check. It is. I could trust myself more, I guess.)

…A couple of weeks to the new job…

…There are quite a few local trails and small parks I have not yet visited. This could be a good time for that. I remember, too, that my partner and his son have been planning to camp for a few days while he visits. When (if?) they do, it will be the first time since we moved here (more than two years ago, now) that I’ve had the house to myself for more than a couple hours (no exaggeration). I’ll enjoy the solo time at home. I generally have to go somewhere for that luxury.

My Traveling Partner sticks his head into the studio (again). He’s “grabbing little moments” as often as he thinks to, before our guest arrives. I love that he cares to do so. Hard to focus or concentrate, though. lol I am struggling to write coherent complete thoughts or find meaning in words.

…Relationships are important, and rejection is painful. Easier to let go of the writing for now. I can begin again later. 🙂

I queue up my favorite Portishead + Morphine playlist… reminders that “this too shall pass – or maybe not, but fuck, it’s life, right?” It’s enough to keep me engaged in the work in front of me, honey-smooth and mellow, low notes and minor chords, and the occasional poignant moment in the background. An Rx solution to “take the edge off” – not enough to put the pain to rest completely, but frankly, I wouldn’t be comfortable with coming so close to shutting down my ability to think and work and write in the middle of a work day.

Weird world. Chaos and pain and anger everywhere. Hate. Killings. More killings after that. Blood in the streets. What a strange and terrible time to be alive – but it’s not as if we get a choice; we’re born into the world as it is. Nothing more.

I take a breath, and exhale. I go looking for something more uplifting to listen to in the background. I don’t have anything in mind aside from being distracted from my personal experience of subjective pain, and the very ongoing need to manage that. It’s a good track for data entry, and I pull my shoulders up, straightening my spine. I don’t “feel any better”, but I know “good posture” results in “more up time”. I feel a certain subtle resentment over turns of phrase that conflate human beings with machinery… I am not a machine. Just this fleshy meat sack wrapped around a consciousness. Humbling. Limited.

It’s been an amazing (delightful) few days. I’m not sure what the “secret sauce” has been. My Traveling Partner has been in the shop (a lot) working on projects (several for me), and I’ve been enjoying sharing some of that time, and helping where I easily can. The quality of life lift that results his handiwork is more than pleasant or convenient; I feel very loved. Every time he finishes some project that is the result of some stray “I wish I had a…” or “it would be cool if this would…” kind of remark, I feel heard and understood. It’s special. I feel respected and cared for.

A new cutting board, made for me.

…Then, in some unexpected moment, he’ll snarl at me out of frustration or annoyance over something or another, and I am reminded how human we actually both are. lol Which is to say, “very”. Very human, indeed. Most of the time I let those moments go. Sometimes I laugh with him over it. Sometimes I cry. (Yeah, very human.) Those sorts of moments are more common when one of us is in pain. Pain shrinks our world, pulls our focus inward, and we lose perspective.

My Traveling Partner comes in to share with me his latest finished work; lovely earrings, laser cut from wood. They delight me. (Earrings are the only jewelry I commonly wear, and I do love a fun new pair of earrings!)

Partnership has highs and lows. Pain comes and goes. There’s this moment, now, and very little else has to grab my attention “right now”. It’s okay to take a breath, and begin again.

I’m still “work in progress” as a human primate. I’m aware of that. Lots of character – lots of “character flaws”. Sharp as hell… dumb as fuck. Filled with good intentions, infused with vision, sparked by inspiration, and eager to exert my will to create the life I most want to live… mostly. I’m also capable of unreasonable anger, making incorrect assumptions and poor decisions, and sometimes barely have the will to lift my hand to take a drink of water when I’m thirsty.

Sometimes I get wrapped up in a moment, and without realizing I’ve done so, I get lost in someone else’s emotional experience, vacillating between wanting to “solve the problem” and wanting to be emotionally supported – over an experience that isn’t even my own. I forget that I’m a separate person, and put effort into “centering myself” and my experience, and completely lose any comprehension that someone else has actually come to me for support. Not particularly helpful, and definitely unpleasant for that other person, who probably feels not only unsupported, but also regretful that they ever brought whatever it was to me in the first place.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

Today my Traveling Partner came to me, frustrated, angry with a project going wrong, dealing with the challenge of the day. I managed – I think – to listen. To be available and present. To hear him out without trying to solve the problem (he did not ask me to solve the problem, just to listen). My only assertion, beyond sufficient response to ensure he knew I was listening (in spite of the busy workday just over my shoulder), was to acknowledge his obvious frustration, and to share that I was sorry I did not have some immediate solution I could offer (at all). He thanked me for listening. He went on with his day.

This was, for me, still a very deeply emotional experience – but it wasn’t mine. It was his. The intensity of the emotions I was feeling? A mixture of his emotions being shared, and my PTSD shrieking in my consciousness that intense negative emotion from a male partner is dangerous – “fix it, fix it NOW, or get out! Get away! Danger!” Today, I pushed my fearful consciousness into the background long enough to really listen and be there for my aggravated partner. I stayed present and engaged, in spite of his obvious emotion. It was hard. This is one of the most difficult things I ever have to do, even when my partner’s emotions have nothing to do with me or something I’ve done/not done – in spite of requiring only as much physical effort as it takes to not run away. (It surprises me how much physical effort that does take, though.)

I got back to work when he walked away. My mind still struggles to let it go and really move on. There’s this “sensation in my spine” that tickles my awareness with a lingering sense of urgency and restlessness. I know these things will pass. I keep “wanting to help” – in spite of my absolute lack of potential do so in this particular circumstance. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sit with the awareness that my desire to help is most definitely built on a foundation of terror; my PTSD reminds me of all the things that could follow, leftovers from another life and a very different relationship. Another breath. This is not that life. Not that relationship. I hear music in the other room, and the sounds of my Traveling Partner working.

Men have emotional lives. Men need to talk about their feelings (just as anyone else might need to do). It’s okay to listen – really listen. Be there. In the abstract, I know this, and it is “so obvious”. In the moment I’m actually called upon to be there, listening, it’s still sometimes quite terrifying. I sip my tea – made for me with such love, earlier this morning, by this human being who puts so much heart into listening when I need to talk. I’ve got a lot to learn about love, and I’m not surprised that there are so many opportunities to practice. This tea is pretty sweet, and I am pleased to “do more/better”, this time, even though it feels a bit as if I’ve done nothing much at all. I see the progress. I let myself sit with that awhile, reflecting on the moment over this nice cup of tea. Soon enough, it’ll be time to begin again.

…I wonder how things are going now? I will fearlessly check on things when I take my next break…

Here it is, another holiday season. 🙂 Still got this pandemic going on, although it’s clear that many folks are sort of just pretending that it doesn’t exist (which is frankly a bit terrifying, and the lack of basic consideration involved there is disheartening). “The world” seems a bit askew, but I’m not really certain that there is legitimately more (or potentially actually less) violence going on “out there” (none at all in here)… it definitely seems so. The news is filled with an alarming number of articles alerting us all of a huge assortment of violent events, from the very peculiar outbursts from adults on aircraft to truly heinous reprehensible acts of terror and gun violence in schools and on our streets. The long term solutions are complex – but achievable, if we were to bother with them as a society. The short term solution is easier; change the channel. Turn off the news. Log off of social media. Be here. Now. (This does assume that your “here” is safe and quiet and calm… which sometimes feels like a very privileged position to be in, these days. Yeah…. turn off the fucking news for awhile.)

I am sipping this tasty mocha I made for myself after running a quick errand. I’m feeling a bit run down and “off” – I had my seasonal flu shot and my Covid booster (both) yesterday. I’m not ill, just… feelin’ it. lol This mocha, though, is super tasty, and I’m delighted with it, as much because I made it for myself as for the taste of it. 🙂 Self-care feels pretty nice. What are you doing for you? So much effort, and heart, and time goes into these holidays – it’s important to take care of yourself. Life is an endurance race, not a sprint. 😀

I had an idea before I sat down here… thought I’d write about this or that, things that have been on my mind, vexing details of life, how to do this or that in a way that would be more productive, useful, or… something. Those ideas faded when I looked into my Traveling Partners eyes after arriving home, and feeling his embrace. lol I thought then, perhaps, that I would write about love in some way… it’s not always easy to love skillfully, and my own awareness of that halted me; what do I even know about that? I’m a student of love, still learning the basics. 🙂 I’m feeling more inspired to live and to love than to write about either – and I surely need practice at both. lol

I load my favorite playlist. I don’t sort it very often, and listening to it “takes me back in time” in an interesting way. Leave it on long enough (it’s many hours of music) and it rolls the clock back by years, through complicated times, through memories of life and love, the beats a steady reminder that time passes, and that our joys are fleeting – but they live on in our memories, when we allow it. It’s too easy to focus on the shit that has made us most miserable over the years, and too easy to forget all the good times. This particular playlist hints at the miseries now and then, but mostly it’s a merry romp through the good times, and a celebration of joy. I mean… if you like dance music, and videos. lol 😀 (Not all of these tracks are what I’d call “great art” – some of them are just “catchy tunes”, others are amazing works of video art supporting music that maybe isn’t so impressive, and others that it’s the music that gets my attention, and a few with no video at all, just happens that I found the track on YouTube.) Enjoy. Merry Giftmas in advance, and thank you for continuing to read my writing. 🙂 I’m glad you’re here.

My holiday earrings tinkle and jangle with the turn of my head, as my Traveling Partner walks by. G’damn, all these years and I still absolutely adore him. I tell myself that I’ll write more tomorrow, maybe… 🙂

The ringing in my ears is ferocious today. Like a jumbled up combination of a distant (persistent) phone ringing next to a fire alarm, surrounded by chimes. I have the sense that my hearing may even be impaired, though generally that’s a bit of an illusion (tinnitus is very distracting, though). My back aches – arthritis pain. My head aches, too, not sure why, but sometimes “it’s a set” rather than just one something or other hurting.

The work day is behind me, and I sort of feel as though this could/should be a “joyful moment” – but my physical limitations at the moment are aggravating my partner, who is, himself, aggravated by other things – most particularly, his frustration with a new tool that he’d like to upgrade, and has the parts with which to do so, but… sometimes things are not as simple as all that. Real life getting real. Instead of his infectious delight with a new tool, I’m breathing in his profound frustration, which is not at all pleasant. I wish I could help, but aside from offering up one suggestion that seemed to have some small bit of promise, I’m just staying out of the fucking way. It’s the best I can do, right now.

Instead of getting mixed up in his moment, I’ve got mine, right here. My phone has been laggy and less-than-ideally responsive lately, and with the addition of the home automation application – which serves best when it runs smoothly – I am painfully aware of the poor device performance. What I am not, however, is “surprised”. My SD card is 100% absolutely entirely full of photos and videos… and when that happened, some months ago, I haplessly went ahead and told the silly thing to save new ones to the device storage instead. Now that’s full too. Not a little full… I’m talking 10,000+ high resolution images. LOL So, after some apparently-necessary reminding by my partner, I’m cleaning that mess up. With some hesitation (I’ve definitely got some “hoarder ancestry”), I checked “erase after importing”, and clicked “import”… now, it’s a matter of waiting… and writing. 🙂

I take a breath. Relax. Turn my attention to my Traveling Partner when he comes to me with his stress and aggravation. He’s disappointed – it’s an exciting moment to acquire a new tool, and when it doesn’t meet expectations, for some reason, particularly reasons that render the tool no longer a functional tool, it’s a whole other order of magnitude of disappointment. Great customer service was a selling point for the brand… but… so far? Not actually “great”. Well, shit. Here I am, still wishing I could help, still got nothing to offer but my sympathy, my compassion, and my unfortunate empathy. (I say “unfortunate” because I don’t really want to feel this disappointment and frustration alongside him in such a visceral way – it’s unpleasant for both of us to feel this, and my empathy is not helpful or useful, in this instance. He’s having his own experience. I’m mostly working on “being here” for him, and not making it worse, while I have mine.

Fuck. Damn, I was hoping to be feeling the soaring heights of his delight, right about now. Still wishing I could properly help.

…6303 items imported of 10,176. Progress.

My work trip to Seattle fell through. I guess I’m not surprised, although I was momentarily quite disappointed. I’m okay being home. I was able to cancel all the reservations for travel and lodging without any penalties, which was an unexpected success. My partner made a point of mentioning – while also being very grateful and appreciative that I’d be staying home – he would miss having some solo time to work on things around the house. I changed up my plans and found a room on the coast at a reasonable price, and made new reservations for an entirely other experience. I asked for, and got, Friday off to extend the time I can offer my partner for his own purposes.

…My head begins to ache when I recall that he’d asked for that time primarily to work with the new tool that is sure to be returned before I ever check into that room on the coast, and I realize I’m clenching my jaw in sympathetic frustration…

…Was I sufficiently encouraging and supportive…? I wonder to myself and drink more water. (Maybe this headache will go away if I drink more water?)

…Fuck this headache…!

I think over books to read. I think about videos I’ve been meaning to watch. My head pounds in the background. I drink more water.

…My bag was already packed for my business trip. I won’t have to repack it, just swap the shined boots for sandals, and make a point to throw in my sketch book and some pens & pencils, and maybe my watercolors. All I’ve got to do between now and Thursday, to prepare for my short getaway is resist the urge to pull something out of that bag to wear sooner. LOL I think I’ve got this. 🙂 Not that hard.

…8234 items imported…

I feel a moment of trepidation – there likely won’t be any images (of mine) on my phone at all. I could have been more precise, selecting a few to keep on the device for… reasons… (Is this how we accumulate bullshit and baggage? Why yes, I think it is…) I sigh to myself. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of that lingering attachment – there are always new pictures. Always. 🙂

I watch the final steps of the import process playout as a fast sequence of thumbnails in the import window. Entertaining. I feel the pain medication I took before I sat down start to have the desired effect. I hear my Traveling Partner close a door somewhere else… it wasn’t slammed, so that’s progress. (I still wish I could actually help soothe him and ease his stress and disappointment, but we’re each having our own experience, and there’s no real way to it differently, I think.)

The shards of sharp summer sunlight sneaking through the fabric of the window shade pierce my vision, and add to my headache. I recall the vestiges of a dream I had recently, in which bright sunshine was “shining directly on my brain” through my eyes, and as much as I covered them or dodged the light, I could not escape the blinding pain. Strangely, it wasn’t a nightmare at all, just an odd dream, filled with frustration. The recollection dissipates before I can assemble it more completely, and I lose interest in thinking about it further.

I finish my bottle of water, head still aching. I know that once I get up for another, I won’t return to this… it’ll be the beginning of some other thing I will be doing, then… but I don’t yet know what. I sigh, letting the air out of my lungs, and refilling them completely a time or two. Wondering what to make for dinner.

It’s a good time to begin again.