Archives for posts with tag: meditation helps

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.

Sometimes the things we need to do aren’t easy. Humans do some amazing things, from truly enormous undertakings like building a civilization – or raising children who grow to be competent, wise, adults – to small things like going to work on a Tuesday and coming safely home. Sometimes the truly complicated things we take on practically coast toward an amazing seemingly effortless wildly successful finish. Sometimes the simplest practical endeavor seems beyond our abilities. Real. True. Human.

Yesterday, I got that flat tire from over the weekend repaired. I felt fortunate that it was repairable – I didn’t need to replace all 4 tires on my AWD vehicle. I happily got into my car this morning and went on in to work on a very typical Tuesday (which I’ve been doing in a co-work space these days). Totally the routine, ordinary thing. Only…

I did just make pretty significant changes to the medications I take. Not just adding a new one – I added two. Not only that, my doctor changed the dosage on one I’ve taken for a decade without a change. Not enough change? I also needed to change the timing on that one so that it did not conflict with one of the new ones in a weird way. So, okay. My meds are all switched up, and I need to give myself some patience while I get used to all that. Sounds reasonable. Hell, the effect on my physical and emotional experiences are very much improved in most regards – which is great news! Here’s the thing, though, one of the changes seems to be having – at least for now – an “unintended consequence”; I feel more relaxed and chill moment-to-moment and have the subjective perception that I am, indeed, more “relaxed” and comfortable, and my partner seems to (generally) find me easier to be around… but… I have much less emotional “runway” from the moment I become impatient or annoyed with something and when that impatience or annoyance overcomes my (very) limited ability to provide “top down” control of my reaction. I feel fussy, and I’ve got a short-fuse, and I honestly have a very limited capacity to “deal with shit”. So… there’s that. On top of the changes. I mean – it’s part of those changes, but it’s a part I hope fades as I sort myself out on the new meds. (If you can, try to hold on to what I’ve said about where I’m at, for just a little longer.)

My work day was a good one. I feel valued and appreciated. I walked away from my work at the end of the day, headed to the bank to run an errand for my Traveling Partner (well, in support of his new business, so, yeah). No problem; he was crazy busy receiving a shipment in several packages (also business). Cool, cool. No big. I’ve got the room in my day to do it. About half-way there, I felt very much that the car was not handling the way I expected it to, though I had some trouble putting my finger on quite what was going on with that. As I passed the tire place I’d spent part of my morning at yesterday, I thought to myself “maybe I should ask them to check that tire they replaced…?” I pulled in to the bank parking lot less than a mile further on, eager to be done with the day’s work and headed home to hang out with my partner. As I parked, the “check tire pressure” light came on – again.

Wait… a different tire is flat??

I got out of the car hearing a hissing sound that was pretty loud and turned to look. Flat tire. Fucking hell – seriously?? I felt my entire body tense up. My jaw clenched. I felt my body begin the first changes that signal an incoming panic attack or hysterics. I took a breath, then another. I called my partner and told him I had a flat – another flat. I told him, feeling almost desperate and very much “on the edge”, that I wasn’t even a mile from the tire place! I wondered if I should “just drive it over” but that tire was already even flatter than when I first looked at it. Shit. I can’t drive on that. He confirmed and reminded me “they have a truck” and suggested I call them. So, sure, okay. That makes sense. My stress level immediately dropped. Wow. Real progress and change. This works! I phoned the tire place and they assured me they’d get someone over right away. I went into the bank, and rescheduled the appointment I had (it wasn’t urgent, just needful, and I had had that time available). I settled myself down for the wait…

Is that a fucking knife??

As I waited, I looked closer at the pictures – then at the actual tire. My Traveling Partner had noticed first, and I admit, I was skeptical, but yeah… that looks like a knife broken off in my tire. What the hell?? How did that happen? This is not that kind of community. I don’t live that kind of life or keep company with folks inclined toward this sort of violence… wild. What the hell? “Weird spot on the tire for that sort of thing… wouldn’t that take a lot of force?” I thought to myself.

I made it safely to the tire place after their truck showed up and reinflated the tire. It was only a half mile drive, but I could feel the tire “softening” as I drove, and I cursed the rush hour traffic under my breath, fearful that I wouldn’t make it before the car was rolling on the rim. I did get there before that happened, but minutes after I parked the car, that tire was entirely flat once more. I’m glad I wasn’t doing any freeway driving!

The tire folks were pleasant, efficient, and brought me the bit of metal that punctured my tire. Sure enough – it is the snapped off end of someone’s no-longer-very-useful Gerber knife. The tip was quite gone, though, and the tire technician pointed that out and also the thickness and sturdiness of the metal generally; it seemed unlikely it was a hostile act. More likely, he suggested, it was a bit of debris fallen from a trash truck or work truck that I ran over. He suggested the front tire might have popped it up, making it more likely to pierce the rear tire, and becoming embedded, then driven-in as I drove on, unaware. Seemed reasonable. They put an appropriate “loaner” tire on the car and ordered a replacement. I am grateful that the minimal wear on the tires made that feasible at all. I’ll go back tomorrow or Thursday, when the proper replacement is in, and they’ll put that on and rebalance my tires and I’ll be on my way. Fine.

It just doesn’t seem like “all that” now…


I got home. I brought burgers. We relaxed until a neighbor came around with some work my partner had offered to finish tonight, and he took off to do that, and returned a bit later. Somewhere along the way, I don’t know, I just … finally didn’t have anything left resilience-wise, and a handful of interactions later, and I just could not maintain the facade of doing my best. I mean… I guess that was all I had left “doing my best-wise”, in spite of fancy new medication, and improvements in self-care. I just wasn’t able to accommodate even one more critical observation of any sort, however well-intended or legitimately helpful. I managed not to lose my temper, but my frustration was growing more evident by the minute, and I found myself no longer willing to wrestle my emotions into compliance. I just wanted to be left alone with my problematic experience for a little while. I found myself needing a lot of nurturing and emotional support – way beyond what would be a reasonable ask – and just gave in to being alone with my bullshit for a little while.

So many times we fail to be kind to each other when we’re “going through changes” – it isn’t easy. Even something like changing the timing on just one prescription, depending on what it is and what it does, can have profound effects on our emotional resilience, ability to manage our mood, our executive functions (or disfunctions), or our experience of the world around us. (Don’t be a dick to people – you may not know what they are going through.) (While you’re at it – don’t be a dick to yourself, you definitely do know what you’re going through, and you could use a break from your own bullshit.)

I’ve got a mug of very excellent drinking chocolate. There’s soft holiday-ish jazz playing in the background. My pain is decently well-managed, and the mild vertigo I woke with this morning has dissipated. It was actually quite an excellent work day, and I’m making room in my awareness to really savor that. My Traveling Partner has a lot going on this week, and I admire his ability to balance all of that with… all of me. It can’t be easy. (I’m annoyed by the feeling that if I try to say that to him right now, instead of “thanks for understanding”, I’ll get a short lecture from him on why it isn’t easy, instead, and I’m irked with myself for letting that hold me back.)

…I’m still holding back tears, but I think they’re just an artifact of the ups and downs of the day I’ve had, and an expression of frustration and fatigue, and the complexity of changing my medications. It’ll pass… or I’ll cry myself to sleep later. Either way, tomorrow is a new day, and I can begin again.