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It’s not every evening that I break through something that’s been holding me back. The walk home from work began in the usual way; I left the building, and turned left. It all respects it was a similar summer evening walk home as most have been. At some point, soon after I started, I made a choice to… just walk.

It was not as hot as it has been, and the humidity doesn’t bother me much. I walked along past familiar things, thinking familiar thoughts…and then, I let even those go, too. I just walked, breathing in the heavy summer air.  No cause to rush; I had no plans on the other end, nothing to achieve beyond what I had in that moment along the way, and I felt content to stroll. I passed by a spot where the cooler air of evening-to-come was beginning to gather among the dense vegetation, lifted by whatever sorts of things cause currents of air to move along. The coolness of it brushed my arm before the subtle scent of blackberries, perhaps fallen or crushed under foot, reached my nose. I breathed it all in, almost pausing, reluctant to pass by.

Around the bend, down a hill, along a walk way open to the sun most of the way, with groves of trees here and there, well-spaced and well-mannered, sharing the moment with me as I walked past, through, beneath. Scents of parched pine needles mingle with the lusher, richer scents of the sodden earth of landscaping gone mad; sprinklers, used and over-used, nurturing dense expanses of mown lawn between trees in groups like cliques of high school girls – all of the same sort, gathered quite closely together, saying nothing as I pass. The trees are filled with birds. Some sing their song as I approach, silent while I am too near for comfort, and resuming as I walk away. Others, blue jays, and crows, call to me – setting boundaries, or perhaps sharing news of the weather, insistent, demanding.

There is a buzzing, chirping, peeping din to the left of me as I walk past the shallow lake at the end of the park. The persistent woosh of the cars on my right, somehow similar, but different – less pleasant, and only beginning to fade as I make the left through the park. I forget the sounds of traffic again and again as I walk. I don’t reach for my phone. My thoughts are… not really thoughts. I am walking. Breathing. Listening. I am aware, but not wary. I am alert, but not vigilant. I am content, without self-soothing. I am simply walking.

I turned away from home, as I got close, and walked further than needed, through the park, along other paths. Just walking. Breathing. Listening to the birds, and the frogs, and seeing the clouds shift and change as the sun crosses the sky toward twilight. No pictures. It didn’t seem to be part of the experience. When I did reach home, I felt welcome, comfortable, and…something else. I’m not sure what. Something nice. Something that feels steady, and reliable…like a promise to a friend that I know won’t be broken.

It was easy tonight to make a healthy meal without negotiating with myself, or promising more or better some other time. Easy to tidy up without fighting a child’s impulse to play at the expense of commitments to self. Easy to take care of me. Contentment feels easy. The evening feels easy. All the practicing? Right now all of that feels… easy. Worthwhile. For the moment? Natural. It’s a journey. I guess I’ve walked a bit farther than I had before. Tonight that’s enough. 🙂

It’s a paraphrasing, of course, but so many noteworthy leaders of people, visionaries, and prophets have said it, pleaded with others, asserted that the message is more than the messenger. It’s a valid point. I mention it because, some days ago, someone dear to me commented in conversation how inspired they sometimes feel after reading my blog.

Then…there’s today. More specifically, there was last night, and realistically it is behind me. I feel very human this morning, and not really the best bits of that experience, and my behavior last night can easily be described by someone as ruining something. This morning, it’s just the physical and emotional aftermath of a very bad few moments last night. Not even an hour, actually, but when something feels bad, it doesn’t have to last long to make an impact.

This morning, my head aches fiercely, and my ears are ringing. I have a headache that feels like I took an axe to my own head and tried to cleave my skull in two. I don’t even care about my arthritis – the headache overwhelms most other sensations. It’ll pass. It sucks right now, though.

Yesterday was an amazing day. Great stuff at work, great evening at home hanging out and connecting over conversation and the glow of love and family. The mood was loving, and there was clearly romance on the mind of my traveling partner. I felt loved, appreciated, and we all seemed to be enjoying the evening. Almost out of nowhere, I lost my damned mind. Seriously. I don’t really understand what happened at all. I went fairly quickly from communicating a misunderstanding I felt somewhat emotional about, even recognizing I was likely mis-understanding something. That seemed to work out okay, but I felt my level of fearfulness and insecurity suddenly take an abrupt turn for the worse, and simultaneously had a sense that I was no longer communicating clearly. What happened next doesn’t make sense, to the point that I’d likely complain about it if I saw it in a movie…I simply disintegrated into little better than a cornered animal, attempting to communicate using emotions, exclusively, but trying to express them in words – which felt in the moment like a distinctly foreign language. It was, quite frankly, horrible. My partner was obviously hurt; his desires for the evening blown to pieces in a shit storm of unexpected and inexplicable negative emotion.

He did his best to sooth me. I could even recognize his efforts then. What reached me wasn’t the feeling of his love, although I recognized the love existing there; what reached me was his powerful hurt, his anger, his doubt, and I reacted incredibly poorly to both what was going on within me, and how badly that was affecting him.

Now I’m sitting here doing things I’ve been practicing, things I’ve worked hard to build over time, and trying to resist the emotional and very human impulse to turn on myself and destroy whatever is left of a pretty decent human being within – because I let myself down in a moment, disappointed myself in the face of an earnest desire not to do my loves more damage, and a feeling that only justice matters, and that I must be punished. Harsh. I’m not easy on myself when I fail fall. So. It could be a lovely morning after a night of passion. It isn’t, and I do feel hurt by that, and I do feel I let myself down somehow, and I do feel saddened to be so human and so easily able to hurt someone I love, and I do feel frightened and confused that it was such an inexplicably small step to what felt very much like madness.

I spent a bit less than an hour meditating this morning. I need that time for stillness, awareness, presence; reconnecting with the firm foundation in love and compassion that I’ve been working so hard to build is tough right now. It’s a pretty new thing to keep taking that step, again and again, to allow myself my humanity, and to recognize that it won’t always be easy, that I am going to make mistakes, and that this journey is about growth, not perfection.

I still wish I understood, and in the wishing I recognize that I do, and that what I understand is ‘enough’. My hormones have been fluctuating, I can tell because my face broke out yesterday, which I generally only experience with PMS. I’m pushing myself incredibly hard at work this week on an important project, and also in therapy on an even more important project (me); I was tired, and aware of that piece of my experience in the moment. I was in a lot of pain with my arthritis, and my ankle. I already had the beginnings of this headache, and some emotional baggage I was struggling with in the background and trying hard not to share that experience out of a very human reluctance to bring anyone down. I had a nasty bite of my PTSD apple earlier in the evening over a small nothing that hit my consciousness wrong, and those experiences can change emotional chemistry for some time to come.  I didn’t take care of me, by dealing with those things straight up, and with a high  priority; I was enjoying hanging out with my partners, because we were all enjoying each other. I chose poorly. I ended up hurting people I love.

Now… now I get to figure out if I’ve made enough real progress to take those deep breaths, understand that I am human, to allow myself to celebrate that in the bigger scheme of things it’s huge progress that the whole ugly mess lasted less than an hour – and that I can choose not to linger in that bad place for days, because I do have choices, and can take actions. I can allow myself to face, and accept, my emotions about the experience without lashing out or blame laying. I can be kind to myself – this headache is a motherfucker, and being human is something we all share. I can trust that my partners love me, and that love is bigger than a bad moment. It’s an effort of will to step away from the self-inflicted emotional brutality. I intend to do my best; it matters. If nothing else, I’ll get more practice. But, to be fair, I can’t suggest that anyone ‘follow’ me… we are each having our own experience, I would not want to mislead you that I’ve somehow gotten something ‘right’ or found an ‘answer’.

Love is the only answer I feel sure of.

Love is the only answer I feel sure of.

Today is a good day, full of unknown potential, new opportunities, and choices that lead to change. Today is a good day for change.

Oh, hello… Please excuse my lack of enthusiasm for your visit. I admit, I was hoping we were really over and done with, you and I. Admit it, it’s been a troubled and troubling experience for years, unhappy, unpredictable, messy… I’d have made plans for your visit, you know, even though – or perhaps especially because – I enjoy you so little.  You wear me out, and wear me down, almost as soon as you arrive on the scene. Headaches, confusion, the way you play with my emotions and lie to me – it’s not okay, and I resent the way you make me out a fool or worse, again and again, but I’ve found some small amount of relief in being prepared. Of course, now you take even that from me.

So often, just as I’m finding a way to get along with you more easily, you slip away. I’m left with cleaning up the mess and making all the apologies. I can only imagine how lame those sound after all these years.  Once you’re finally gone, I still find myself putting distance between me, and everyone, over lingering fears about whether you are really gone, and because the insecurity I feel after even a few hours with you hangs around screwing with my ability to feel emotionally safe long after you are gone.

You rarely move right in these days, and while I do appreciate that, I am still incredibly annoyed, and feeling imposed upon, each and every time you peak around a corner into my space unexpectedly.

Today I’m incredibly angry with you for being here, now. It’s just not right. You were not invited to my birthday and I don’t want you around.  I’m hurt and frustrated that I don’t have the choice of saying ‘just go and don’t come back’; you are an unreasonable and unreasoning pain in my ass (metaphorically speaking) and I’m also frankly bored with you.  Still, you return again and again with no ability to understand what you are doing to me, and clearly no concern or compassion.

344 days since I’ve had to live shoulder to shoulder with your bullshit, your mess, and your drama – and still you hassle me and mess with my good times.  You know what? You can fuck right off. I’m done with you – if not now, then very very soon, and eventually even you will not be able to deny me that.  Maybe for another little while more, but it won’t be long now; eventually I will reach your border, Hormone Hell, and I will walk on through to the other side.