Archives for posts with tag: one moment at a time

It’s very early, on a Sunday morning. The aquarium lighting is on, but still quite dim, simulating a slowly approaching sunrise. My cup of coffee is hot, and tastes good (to me). I sip it slowly, while I wake up. I scroll through years of bookmarks, deleting those that are out of date (either because it is relevant to a topic in which I no longer have interest, or because the link itself has become a “dead link”). It’s an easy bit of housekeeping that doesn’t demand much of me. The sky beyond the window slowly changes from darkness to a dismal rainy day blue-gray. Rainy spring days are common enough around here, and I’m not complaining, just taking note.

I take a look at my supply of flavor concentrates for vape juice and reorder things I’m running low on. It’s less than ideal to discover, in the middle of mixing a batch of juice, that I’ve run out of a key component in the recipe I’m using. lol Once I’m a bit more awake, I take a look at the budget, and think over our household supplies – are we running low on anything important? Do I have to go out for it, or can it be ordered? Life in the time of pandemic; we definitely appreciate the many delivery options.

I check my list of things to do. Some housework, some chores, some projects, it is a list intended to keep me busy, occupy my time, and also deliver quality of life value to a shared experience. I smile, thinking about yesterday; I spent the day, mostly, reading. It was lovely. I sometimes find it hard to find the time, and the quiet, to read for a while. It is so worth making the time (and finding the quiet). 🙂

I look at the envelope laid with care on my laptop for later attention. The census. Maybe I’ll do that today? Good day for it, I think to myself. Why not?

I finish my coffee, sigh contentedly, and begin again.

This morning’s blog post is sponsored by… a good night’s sleep. Which, sadly, has wiped from my memory all recollections of even the hint of the excellent idea I had for this morning’s writing, as I drifted off to sleep last night. LOL It is what it is. I didn’t even attempt to take notes, as I sailed off to dreamland. I just fell soundly asleep and forgot all about it. Oh, but what a lovely night’s sleep, though. 3 consecutive nights of good sleep! A recent-past milestone, for sure. I sip my coffee, trying to pull myself out of this sleepy fog, grateful to have slept decently well.

I think about the weekend. It was generally quite pleasant. I think about my Traveling Partner, asleep in another room. I did my best to avoid waking him as I made coffee and dressed for the day. I doubt I was successful, but the house is still quiet, so maybe I was. I smile, either way I am filled with delight that he is here with me. I persist in enjoying his companionship greatly. 🙂

I consider the morning commute; drive or take the train? The weather forecast suggests the train will be the more reliable choice, with the forecast hinting at maybe snow, but I do enjoy the drive time in the morning… and I’ve got a good parking location that is low risk of collisions and other misadventure. Light rail lets me read on the commute into the office, though, and this year I’ve been steadfast with my commitment to read more (and I’ve been greatly enjoying it). I flip-flop on the matter of the commute a few times before deciding to actually check today’s weather report. 37 degrees (F) and rainy, with some chance of snow. Hmmm. It does sound like light rail is the way to go this morning… but… I also have AWD on my compact SUV, and good all weather tires that were brand new last winter. I doubt I really have anything to worry about, but taking a minute to think it through over coffee, I decide to right the light rail, and avoid any commute-related concerns, at all.

No snow yet. We did get a shower of fine hail yesterday.

One by one the concerns of a new day rise to be dealt with, and fall away having been considered. I sip my coffee, relaxed and ready for a new Monday. I’m not immersing myself in work, yet, just contemplating the day in the loosest possible, wholly suited to any day at all, sort of way. I remember to consider my everyday carry, too; inclement weather is unkind to beautiful leather bags, and I remind myself that I have an outstandingly weather-ready smallish backpack, that will easily fit my laptop, and my clutch, and decide to leave my handbag behind for the day. Another small challenge, another practical solution. 🙂

I smile into my empty coffee cup; it’s already time to begin again. 🙂

 

Here it is, another morning. I’ve an on site job interview for a promising position firmly within my area of expertise. I remind myself to let go of clinging to an outcome, and trust myself to do well, without fear or self-criticism.

Life has so much to offer, no one moment carries the weight of a lifetime… unless of course, I were to choose that it would, and invest my will in it. I’m a human primate. I tend towards making “Moments” out of moments. I breathe, and let go the meta-anxiety developing around the very mild, rather inconsequential background tension so common to an imminent interview. There’s no need for it to become more than that.

Begin again. Again.

Begin again. Again.

It’s a cool, gray morning. The clouds overhead are those that look rather like some distracted artists smudged them in place with charcoal, then tried to wipe them away after a change of heart. No sunshine this morning, and the forecast suggests that rain would not be entirely unexpected. I think over my interview clothes, and sip my coffee, staring out over the meadow to the treeline beyond.

I think about life in the context of giving up 40 hours a week of precious lifetime for someone else’s agenda; it sits uneasily in my awareness, but without the agita, stress, and feeling of violation that had accompanied it for so long. I suppose there may be people who don’t find themselves with anything to do in life besides be employed at a job somewhere, or embracing some potentially lucrative career of some sort… that isn’t me. I definitely have more than enough to do, for me, myself, to occupy fully all of my time. I include among those desirable endeavors the time and opportunity to sit quietly, enjoying the stillness within. 🙂

I find myself becoming emotionally involved with the idea of working, and not in a positive way. I breathe. Relax. Let it go. (Again.) I suspect I’ll be doing this a lot, this morning. That’s okay, too; it’s a practice. 🙂

So…here I go. Dipping a toe in the icy water of returning to “gainful employment”. Quite properly “grown up”, I suppose. Today is a good day to make choices that meet my needs over time. 🙂

This morning I woke up crying. And in pain, but the pain is an everyday thing, waking up broken and emotional less so. This morning I woke up on the dark side of the bed, clumsy, hurting, and weeping. I initially tried a ‘reset’, took my morning medication and had a glass of water, went back to bed. Not helping. The tears become sobbing. Why am I crying? Is it only the pain? Nightmares? I slept well and deeply, and don’t recall my dreams… My brain carpet bombs my heart with every misstep, every failure, every scrap of potential risk in my near future, all my doubts, my fears, my insecurities – I’m drowning in panic. What the fuck is going on?? I stop caring much about any of that at some point and just give in to the sorrow, the dread, and the tears.

…Clearly, I was not going back to sleep. I get up. I make coffee. I open the apartment to the cool morning air. I am so overcome by restlessness and anxiety that meditation is difficult. I pace a bit. I’ve barely been up half an hour; yoga is difficult this morning and I am too stiff and too clumsy for now. No relief. No ease. The tears start again. My own words are attacking me, becoming water leaking from my eyes as soon as they form sentences in my head. The layered meanings of English words become enemies, and I hear only darkness and despair in the most beautiful poetry. I feel sad and lost – and can’t bear to put it into words. Fuck this… But now what?

I finally reach for my coffee and take a sip. Well. There’s one bright spot in a difficult morning – my coffee is excellent. It’s something – and I grab onto the moment and hold on. It’s still very early – earlier than I’ve been getting up most of this week. The sun has not yet risen, and I can see the colors of the sunrise just beyond the window of this room.

My brain sucker punches me again, when I try to write “just beyond the window of my studio”, and I start weeping all over again. How fragile happiness can seem when it slips away. “This is temporary, and it will pass.” I remind myself. I remind myself, again. Uncertain what is causing this emotional experience, even now, I go through the motions of any small thing that I know has the potential to be comforting, soothing, balancing… things that provide perspective, that ease emotional pain, that tend to support long-term wellness. I keep waiting for something to work. “Be kind to yourself, it’s a very human experience.” Yes, isn’t it? I feel rather as if I am… grieving.

I’m in pain this morning. I read my traveling partner’s well-wishes of the night before, hoping that I rest well and wake without pain. Well… 1 out of 2. It’s a start. Is this all just pain? If I start root-causing it now, I’ll likely be trapped ruminating over this all day without really getting anywhere. I woke up crying. I sure did. Now I work on pulling my focus away from it, and practicing practices that nudge me a different direction a bit at a time. The sun rises, peach and orange along the tree tops, dissipating into a pale cerulean blue wash of sky above. I watch the sun rise, and listen to the birds singing their morning songs. Today is not a work day, and clearly I need to take care of the woman in the mirror – once I figure out what this mad bitch actually needs to ease her hurts. Fuck this is hard sometimes.

My coffee is fucking good though. That’s something.

I take a really good deep breath. I observe my posture, and how tight my chest feels. I take a moment to stretch, really stretch, and breathe, really really breathe. More tears. Fuck it – let them come. I slowly ease myself through my ‘stiff back morning yoga sequence’, cutting myself some slack that it is so difficult today, and just doing it. Slowly. Try again when I can’t quite do some simple posture. I’ll get there. I remind myself that today will be a good day to meditate. I feel no enthusiasm for it. I’ve lost my joy for the moment – but chasing it is an exercise in frustration. The word frustration causes more tears; words are often associated with a visceral reaction for me, inconveniently. I remind myself that the tears are not my enemy, just another way to communicate an experience – a way that is very hard to shut down without actually addressing whatever the fuck is the matter. I let the tears come.

Okay, I’m done fucking around with this – and I need to break the cycle. Well – it feels like a need, and that’s enough to drive desperate action in human primates. So… I take a step I might ordinarily avoid, and I head to the internet. No, seriously, totally where I’m heading. Perspective is a powerful tool, and right now I’ve lost mine. I feel deeply aggrieved about… nothing, and it’s really messing up my ability to be in this moment and also okay – and I can’t identify any reason this would be the case. So. Perspective is on the internet. There is war. There is a refugee crisis. There is poverty. I let the tears continue, and I look on the face of the world’s suffering – because there are things worth crying about. There are people suffering, really suffering. I’m not among them. This is emotional bullshit I’m struggling with, and I can at least stop fucking struggling with it, and just be.

My tears stop. My heart aches for the suffering of others, and I feel grateful to be where I am, in the circumstances I have right now. I pause to reflect on what is, without burdening myself over whether it will last, or what ‘forever’ looks like, or whether this is enough. The sun clears the trees and fills my studio with light. Well… it’s not ‘enlightenment’ in any meaningful way, but it’s a start.

I’ll say that as practices go, diminishing the magnitude of my own suffering by immersing myself in the suffering of others (compassionately) in order to gain perspective is a fairly aggressive approach to take with myself when I am hurting – but it is often an effective tool. Compassion and gratitude don’t leave much room for despair, for anxiety, for sorrow, and tend to crowd out the chaos and damage, and the voices of the demon chorus.  (Note: I have found that it is not at all effective to attempt to take this approach with someone else when they are suffering – it’s sort of a ‘self serve’ tool, at best.) I’m not necessarily less angst-y, or feeling any less pain, but things being relative… yeah. I’m okay right now.

My coffee is quite exceptional this morning, and admittedly more so because I’d been getting by on the last of the pre-ground packaged coffee from the grocery store, left over from the trip to the coast for two days. The whole-bean artisan-roasted coffee this morning is a very different experience. I take a moment to allow myself to be comfortably aware that “this too shall pass”, that circumstances change, and that I may not ‘have it so good’ at some future point; change is. I am here right now, though, and it is enough. 🙂

A lot of the time I’ve spent bitching about how awful things were in that moment would likely have been much more enjoyable had I been focused on how exceptional other details of that moment happened to be. It’s just true. Hard, sometimes. Still true. My tears have dried. The day looks like a lovely one. The air is fresh and cool, and filled with birdsong. I am in a quiet safe space, with the day ahead of me. The pantry is stocked. The bills are paid. I head for my meditation cushion…

…I am okay right now. It’s enough.

I woke smiling this morning, although in pain, and feeling light-hearted, balanced, and calm. This would seem almost commonplace, except that last night, at the end of a wonderful evening with my traveling partner, some particular turn of phrase, repeated several times in conversation in relatively quick succession, triggered my PTSD symptoms. My emotions quickly spiraled out of control, and somewhen in the midst of it, I directed my dear love to go, to leave, to walk on…and found myself alone and crying; he respected my boundaries, which sucked then, but this morning it is something I cherish. I can count on him so utterly.

p.s. I love you.

p.s. I love you.

He phoned me after he left, upset and concerned. He pointed out my symptoms (because I am not always aware that I am interacting with some other experience). We talked.  Afterward, I took time to meditate. I calmed and soothed myself – relying on emotional resilience and self-sufficiency that I am building over time through all manner of practices (like meditation). I reflected later on what went down, and how and why. Moments like last night are outstanding for monitoring growth and progress – but they still suck completely and entirely. I emailed him an unreserved heartfelt apology, making no excuses for my behavior (let’s be real here, it’s been much much worse in the past, and that’s not relevant to treating someone I love badly now!), which was uncomfortable for both of us, and unpleasantly emotional. I was already over it such that I could also express gratitude and appreciation for what he was attempting to discuss and help me with, and I had taken time to follow up on our shared concern and the practical relevant details… like a grown up. 🙂

I made a note for myself to follow up later on developing more effective ways to gently communicate that some particular detail, phrase, approach, or behavior has the potential to trigger me – not in the hope of having it avoided, but because in real life these things come up, and one by one I must move past them, for my own emotional well-being, and as a loving investment in my relationships, and wouldn’t it be nice once in a while to just say ‘Oh hey, could you rephrase that one this time? I’m still working on that and I’ve got some challenges with that verbiage’. It takes time, but I no longer view improving on these things as unachievable; I may have some measure of PTSD for the rest of my life, but there is nothing about that which suggests I can’t continue to improve, to grow, and to become the woman I want most to be.

We've all got some baggage.

We’ve all got some baggage.

When my traveling partner had gone, and I was sifting through my chaos and damage, it was quickly very clear that the entire problematic exchange wasn’t at all about or with him (or us) in any way at all; I could feel my violent first husband standing in the room with me. It was an eye-opening moment to be so able to clearly sense the anachronistic miasma of ancient fear and pain. It was also part of what allowed me to move past the moment – and my symptoms – so quickly last night, once I was alone. I could really feel that it didn’t source in my real experience of the moment in any way at all. I had been triggered – and I don’t mean mainstream press too-pc-for-adulthood-don’t-say-things-I-find-discomfiting- “triggered”*.  I mean no bullshit, I was having a post-traumatic stress flashback. Generally, in the past I have had no way of clearly discerning that such is the case until well afterward. This is growth. I don’t know what to do with it, but it is very promising, anyway. I haven’t had a flash back in a long while (months, and well before I moved into my own place, back in March).

Every moment of growth is as a rainbow in a stormy sky; a promise of better things.

Every moment of growth is as a rainbow in a stormy sky; a promise of better things.

Last night – and a couple of times early in the day – I was having a strange very severe headache in a weird location, that throbbed with a deep dull nauseating ache that pulsed every 10-15 seconds or so. I’ve no idea if it was related, causal, or worth consider a serious concern… except that any headache that is unusual is also of great concern for someone with a TBI and a family history of stroke. This morning I made a point of emailing my physician to make note of the headache, and ask if I should make an appointment. I haven’t felt it yet today, so perhaps it was just a headache.

Today I'm not making this complicated.

Today I’m not making this complicated.

I am okay right now. Love is okay right now. Human beings persist in being human, and life offers opportunities to learn, to fail, to grow, and to connect our hearts through what is difficult more often than through what is easy. It’s worth becoming skilled at managing my worst moments more skillfully; I can count on most of the best moments to take care of themselves.

It helps to have the right tool for the job.

It helps to have the right tool for the job…

Today is a good day to practice good practices. Today is a good day to take care of me – and to take care of love. Today is a good day for listening deeply, and connecting honestly. Today is a good day for authenticity and vulnerability. Today is a good day to say thank you, when love shoulders the heavy load my post-traumatic stress carries every day. Today is a good day to walk on, and enjoy blue skies. I am okay right now. 🙂

...and perhaps a change of perspective.

…and perhaps a change of perspective.

It's a journey. Each step I take is my own.

It’s a journey. Each step I take is my own.

*Just an afterthought…Can I just say that I find it damned inconvenient that people have undermined the value and meaning of the word ‘triggered‘ by diluting it for their everyday over-sensitivity or bad-tempered moments? For someone with post-traumatic stress the experience of having symptoms triggered is not a mildly uncomfortable moment, or inconvenience – it’s a pretty big deal, associated with brain chemistry, volatility, mood, physical experiences, and isn’t something that can be easily turned away from or ‘managed’. By mis-using the word to cover feeling uncomfortable to read the ‘fuck’ in a news article, or because a moment of provocation caused a bit of temper, people who really need to express an experience are robbed the language to do so. Knock it off – go find your own words. Seriously. There’s a big difference between being a bad-tempered over-sensitive little bitch, and being having one’s post-traumatic stress triggered – trust me, I’ve had both experiences, and I’m pretty clear on the difference. 🙂