Archives for posts with tag: OPD free zone

In December, 2015, shortly after I moved out from a shared living arrangement with my partners at the time (one of those being my “forever Love”, my Traveling Partner), I wrote the post below, which somehow I never published. No idea why now, seems a perfectly adequate bit of writing. Considering I would have likely been reluctant to cause drama for him with careless words, it may have been the concern that she might still be reading my blog had caused me a moment of doubt, some second thoughts, and into the Draft heap it went. Looking for a shortcut, or a way to jump start my thoughts, this morning, I found it, and read it with “new eyes”. 🙂

It Ain’t Me, Babe (December, 20th, 2015)

I spent much of the day in the company of my traveling partner. We had a great time, generally speaking, although he arrived burdened by hurt, and the OPD [Other People’s Drama] of his other, rather difficult, relationship. My place is a drama-free zone, and I welcomed him in with open arms when I opened the door on his unexpected knock. We watched cartoons – appropriate for a Sunday morning, I think – drank coffee, shared laughs, and lingered long in the warmth of cherished company. Lunch came and went. Eventually, when the gloom of evening suggested it might make an appearance some time soon, my partner went on ‘home’ – that physical space where he is currently sleeping at night.

I spent time contemplating things he said, the emotional content of his experience, and his distress. I thought back on moving here to Number 27 in May, and the heavy burden weighing me down thinking so much of what we were all going through was some how ‘my fault’ – that my chaos and damage ‘is too much’ for any relationship to endure. I put myself through a lot over it. Perspective being what it is, so much of that, then, didn’t actually have that much to do with me at all. It’s more obvious now. It’s a lot more obvious right now.

I continue practicing good practices, learning to love well, and incrementally over time I am becoming the woman I most want to be. It turns out, as things so often do, that I wasn’t ‘the bad guy’ in the complicated tangle of … yeah… all of that. And then some. I wasn’t ‘the guilty party’, or some sinister figure, I wasn’t even the charming antagonist of the tale, the one that you know is entirely wholly in the wrong but just so damned charming. I was – and am – just a person. A human being, subject to emotional volatility and misjudgment, prone to taking things personally and hurt feelings, and able to leap to tall conclusions with no data at all – all very true. Looking back on that living arrangement then, from the perspective of ‘right now’ – yeah. That? That wasn’t about me at all, not even a little bit. We were each having our own experience. We continue to do so, now.

It’s hard to watch human beings struggle, even from a distance, and especially when it’s someone dear. Like a commuter stuck in traffic worsened by an accident up ahead, I am torn between compassionate concern for the injured and my own experience of being inconvenienced along my way; in this case, the drama seems precisely timed to interfere with a lovely joyful holiday in the company of my dear love. It’s pretty hard to avoid taking it personally – but I am stopped in my tracks immediately, being far more concerned about my partner’s safety and well-being; caring for the hearts of real people and treating each other well on life’s journey is more important than any perceived destination, or any planned outcome.

I take a moment to also observe that my partner’s stress today and the particulars of his difficult circumstances didn’t set off my PTSD – that’s a small handful of words to describe something of great personal importance. It’s actually a pretty big deal to sit here, concerned about my partner and a bit worried, but also able to have that experience without being torn apart by my emotions, or so overwhelmed I can’t function or make use of reason. Neither agitated nor immobilized, I am simply aware. Incremental change over time is a thing. 🙂

I take some deep breaths, and make some time to let it all go for a while to meditate. I am okay right now. That matters. I am so much more able to provide a partner with the emotional support needed, when I am taking good care of myself… And there’s one thing I don’t know right now; I don’t know what comes next on this complicated journey, or how much of my strength will be needed on a moment’s notice. I’m ready with what I’ve got. It’s no small thing; it’s enough.

I’m feeling pretty fortunate this morning, and definitely wrapped in enduring love. It isn’t always the easy choice to walk away from a bad situation – for anyone. We cling to what we know. We cling to our illusion of Love, fearful that it may be all there really is. We cling to a promise in the face of our awareness of how human we are, ourselves. We cling to the thinnest hope – because the unknown, the real, and the unscripted outcomes of our own free will can be terrifyingly uncertain, and omg we do love certainty so very much. lol

I have 3 “X’s” – relationships so wrong for me, that there was actual danger to my life, health, safety, and emotional well-being. I am grateful that I walked away from each one, with as little damage as I did choose to endure. I phrase it that way because I did indeed make choices. Each subsequent poor relationship appeared promising at some point… each one also boasted huge red flags and “warning signs” that were more like full sized air raid sirens placed as ear muffs. I chose to look at the promises and ignore the klaxons, which is sort of odd, considering our minds are generally wired to avoid threats and danger, when recognized. It took me awhile to realize I needed to walk away.

“It wasn’t all bad…” my memory attempts to reflect on the best times in those relationships. Of course it wasn’t “all bad” – that’s why it was difficult. Nonetheless, 5 minutes of good times don’t balance the scales when what is on the other side are broken bones, a broken mind, or a broken heart. Just saying. One apology after another doesn’t change the behavior that created the need to make the apology.

I sip my coffee, considering all of it; a river of life and choices, a walking path, a journey that stretches behind me – I have come so far! The path leads ahead, too, and I don’t know what is beyond the next bend. Another challenge, surely. I hear my Traveling Partner’s soft breathing in the other room. We share space easily, and speak of contentment and joy together. It’s a nice life. It’s very early, now. I am awake, writing, drinking coffee, and he sleeps. We have our own ways, and don’t mind that about each other; where our hours and presence overlap, we exist in shared time and space. Where we wander from each other, we do what we do, and return home to share a traveler’s tales, and make merry. I silently wish him well in our safe haven, our wee corner of the world, and I wish him pleasant dreams of being ever wrapped in Love. I smile, sip my coffee feeling safe, and content.

Another day begins, and with it, I also begin again. 🙂

I woke from a deep sleep, and strange dreams of exes still hung up on me, and years of random email pings from people who, over time, had become virtual strangers. I followed my dreams with an utterly routine morning, until I sat down to write. There was too much to process, really, and I so don’t feel like “dealing with exes” first thing in the morning… so… I didn’t. 😉

There are other things to do. Other things to consider. Other things to enjoy. I am my own cartographer on this interesting journey… and, at least for today, I don’t plan to make a detour for something – or someone – I’ve already left behind. There’s no time for that. 🙂

foggy

A foggy morning as a metaphor for our potential to begin again, and why not? It almost looks as if I could just remake everything beyond the fog… 🙂 It’s a good day for whimsy, and new beginnings.

Seems a routine day so far – except for the fog beyond the windows. It looks very much like I can begin all this again, and continue to remake my life in my own image. I’ve walked on from so much, and I am content to leave it behind. 😀

It’s here. The longest day. The shortest night. A dim-not-dark pre-dawn sky. A sunset will follow later, so much later, and then a lingering twilight late into the night – then, Summer, Fall, Winter… the wheel keeps turning.

Summer Solstice, 2018, before dawn

Yesterday ended on a bizarrely anxious note. It’s really super uncomfortable having to recognize that the United States is squirming as the government leads in the direction of fascism, while the population struggles to resist. Uncomfortable barely describes it. I was able to sleep, which brought relief, and I am exceedingly fortunate, individually. That’s something. Yesterday was hot. I took cases of bottled water to protesters downtown on my way home from work. I thanked them for being there. The traffic home was pretty terrible, but I didn’t feel it so much as I felt I’d done something to help.

…Of course, halfway home, I found myself facing a critical inner voice reminding me that plastic water bottles are an ecological nightmare… and companies that bottle water are draining life-force (and life-giving water) from communities all over the globe for profit. Shit. This is harder than it looks.

The anxiety had me in its grip well before I got home. Every conversation I’d had at work resurfaced to be re-evaluated through a lens of insecurity, panic, and fear. Every decision got questioned. Every moment reviewed, critiqued, and used to build further fear-driven anxious narrative in my head. I got home, heart pounding, breathless, and on the edge of a panic attack, doing battle with myself. I fluttered around the apartment distracted and wretched for a few minutes – the air conditioning was a relief, and in that moment of appreciation, I found a hint of relief, something to hold onto for just a moment.

I took a deep breath, and felt myself relax as the coolness in the house wrapped me, and soothed me (it was a really hot day here). I stood looking out at the container garden, still feeling anxious, and aware of the hot day on the other side of the glass. “Right, well, I can at least water the garden, even if everything feels crazy right now – no reason to punish flowers…” Out into the heat I went, but the awareness of the waiting air conditioning was working on my mind in a nice way; I knew I would be comfortable again, soon. I slowed down. Took my time to really water everything thoroughly. I filled feeders. I rinsed and re-filled bird-baths. I tidied and swept. I weeded some pots, removing still more peanuts that had sprouted, thanks to busy squirrels.

I returned to the coolness indoors considerably calmed. The anxiety came and went a bit all evening. More like a nuisance neighbor I’m on good terms with, but would rather not see all the time, than like an attacker that has overpowered me. I felt content with the improvement, and sleep came easily when time came to sleep. I woke feeling rested, and ready to start a new day…

It is the Solstice, today. Hell of a good day to begin again. America is still full of Nazis – we ought to do something about that. We can. We have choices. 🙂

I have choices. So many choices – in life, in work, in relationships. There are so many verbs involved. Keeping up takes effort, practice, commitment… omg, just spelling it out, it all seems so daunting! One thing at a time, though? Not so bad. I don’t need to “fix” an entire broken world – or even this one entire broken human being staring back at me in the mirror. That’s no longer my approach at all – I just need to water my garden. Maybe tidy up a bit. Do a little weeding. Meditate for a few minutes. Get some dishes done. It’s just one thing, not everything, right now, all the time. “Everything“is super hard – I mean, have you seen all the shit that needs something done about it?? Too much. All that’s needed, really, is “enough”. 😉

I think I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

Sometimes “OPD” (Other Peoples’ Drama) wafts miles and oozes into my consciousness by clinging to the thoughts of faraway loved ones. It is what it is. Sometimes, against my own better judgement and choices supporting my own mental health self-care, the people involved matter more than my particular “no drama” boundary. That’s just real. We are social creatures, us human primates. We matter to each other. How could I turn away from loved ones who need me? (Slippery slope there; see step 1. below for more details!)

It was interesting to me, yesterday, how much of the OPD I was gently dealing with was a byproduct of a very commonplace behavioral loop built on poor self-care and some handy errors in thinking…

  1. Give too much of ourself, unreservedly, and ignore personal boundaries (reliable first step toward drama).
  2. Allow resentment to build up over time. (and it’s gonna)
  3. Have a profound emotional moment, possibly resulting from 1. and 2., but also maybe just due to poor self-care in general, over time.
  4. Reach out for support for 3. but without being observant of the needs or boundaries of others in the moment.
  5. Be rejected in the moment by way of individual (or group) boundary-setting; they are having their own experience, and also have choices and needs.
  6. Lose our shit in an emotional firestorm of weaponized emotion, catalyzing a really bad time – for everyone. (why do people keep thinking this behavior is okay?)
  7. Demand, quite reasonably, respect for our individual emotional experience, while projecting it forcibly into the conscious space of other (non-consenting) adults – without respecting their emotional experience equally.
  8. Storm off, reliably ensuring everyone is invested in our drama, but can’t resolve it without chasing us… or…
  9. Refuse to honor boundary-setting intended to provide recovery space and quiet time for drama-survivors, by continuously, spontaneously, returning to the scene to unleash more weapons of mass distraction at people we say we have affection for.
  10. Maybe both 8. and 9. keeping things really chaotic and focused on us.

I wasn’t directly involved. I didn’t hear/see the original salvo of emotional weaponry get fired down range. I don’t have all the details. It wasn’t my drama. Not my issue to solve. These  steps, however, are pretty reliably a thing human beings do, and it’s highly likely that they played out approximately this way, in basically that order. I don’t find any of it either necessary – though I’ve done it myself – nor do I see it as being at all healthy or productive. It gets to be a cycle, for people who follow the steps regularly; we become what we practice.

We can do better. We can practice another way. It starts with better self-care. It starts, very much, with being aware of that person in the mirror, and what we need over time for ourselves, and healthy boundary-setting, that we, ourselves, respect. It starts with being aware of each other in the moment, observing each other, and asking clarifying questions – and seeking consent. Clear communication, explicit, non-accusatory, emotionally neutral, and built on “I statements” is a huge piece of that. If I’m having a shit time, and you ask me about it, my answer still needs to account for what you are up for, yourself. You are likely not my therapist – so a deep dive into my fucking consciousness, and unpacking all my chaos and damage is probably not something I should dive into, if I respect your space and your emotional needs as I do my own. I’d ask first. Sure, I could honestly say “I’m having a shit time” – giving you a chance to say “tell me about it…”, or instead, perhaps, “that sucks”. Notice how “that sucks” doesn’t directly invite you to tell me more? Yep. If you wanted to talk more, I might like you to make sure that’s cool with me. Maybe I don’t feel up to listening for hours and holding you while you cry? Or maintaining a calm exterior while you rage about things that feel a bit directed toward me? Maybe you need to get a fucking therapist? Maybe I can feel those things and still love you? 🙂

We are each having our own experience. Knowing that, ideally, allows us to respect our own needs – and also be aware that those may not be shared by others.

If you’re following along, we’re about to step 5. and 6. already. Yep. We fired that weaponized emotion down range, but our loved ones, friends, or associates of any sort in the moment have done what we did not; they set clear boundaries based on their own needs, and have attempted to (probably gently, the first time) let us know they are not up for supporting us through our emotional storm at this time. They have their own thing going. Failing to respect that is an emotional attack. Rejection, though, actually does hurt – and if I’m in a super shitty emotional place and already not respecting my own boundaries, I may not be easily able to respect the boundaries of others – and worse, may not be allowing myself to be aware of it. This is generally when shit really gets ugly, somewhere around step 5. or 6. Because – hurt feelings added to existing powerful emotion just makes everything feel much worse. It’s hard not to take whatever – or whoever – hurt us quite personally, and most human beings I’ve met react to hurt feelings with more of whatever got them that result in the first place – so more anger, or more tears, or more sadness, or more arguing – definitely more boundary-violating shenanigans. You read that right, I said “shenanigans” – because we have a choice there. We are absolutely entitled to our feelings – our emotions are not subject to argument, ever! Having said that, our behavior is a choice. Generally, a choice we’ve practiced over time because the results have served us in some way. Get over all that. Do better. (Yep. There are verbs involved. Nope. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Yep. It does take actual real practice. Fuck yeah, your results may vary. Practice more.)

Stop taking shit personally. Be kind to each other (inclusive of being kind to yourself, by the way). Respect boundaries. Yours too. And not just yours, respect the boundaries of others. Deep emotional conversation about your heartfelt pain may be something you really need, something we all really need. There is an entire industry built of human beings who make this their specialty, and even they require consent to undertake it – hell, they insist you make an appointment and fucking pay them. It isn’t unreasonable to recognize that one reason for this is that it is simply a bit much to ask of others – particularly loved ones. 🙂

Steps 8., 9. and 10. are practices. They aren’t particularly efficient or useful practices, and seem to me to be rather under-handed, self-serving, and unhealthy practices. Emotionally manipulative practices. Disrespectful practices. Practices that stem from reactivity that can be eased – with other practices, carefully chosen, and practiced repeatedly over time. We become what we practice.

This morning I woke up still here, in this quiet space, in this drama-free zone. Still, also, wondering how things are “there” and wishing people dear to me well from afar. I’m definitely better at drama from afar. LOL

It’s a good morning to begin again, with better practices, and better self-care. I look around my place, here, and smile; I can do better, too. 🙂

I woke around 3 am, and made a point of not getting up. I eventually fell asleep again, and slept in until almost 6 am! I woke slowly in the stillness and quiet of a pre-dawn Thursday. Another day of moving in, but planning to make a final visit to the old place, sweep up, vacuum, and hand over the keys.

I live here now. This new place. My aches and pains are here. My joyful moments will be here too. My peace and contentment are already here… I unpacked those yesterday, I suppose. 🙂 My coffee is definitely here. My restless rather disorganized approach to housekeeping is here, too. My baggage and limitations are here… pretty sure I just saw those a minute ago…but in the calm of a lovely morning, I’ve misplaced them.

Yesterday I finished moving into the kitchen, which really needed to happen quickly; frequent meals out, delivered, or taken home from elsewhere are not sustainable indefinitely. This morning I woke to a minimum balance reminder I’d previously set to protect myself from over-spending during the move. Well, shit. That snuck up on me. My inner dialogue this morning is all to do with money, and budgets, and being attentive to details… less chastising than reinforcing.

4 years ago, I’d have probably been in hysterics for hours, freaked completely out both by seeing that reminder, and also simply because I was having to think about money. Particularly first thing in the morning (or right before bed, or at any time that wasn’t planned in advance, or … ) This time? I rolled over, and before I was even quite awake, calmly moved some money into that account in quite a routine way, and moved on with my morning with a firm thought in mind that I’ve exhausted my moving budget, and life moves on with the regular day-to-day budgeting in mind. Things will be tight this week. I’m not particularly concerned, because I specifically prepared for this. 🙂 It’s a nice feeling.

…I manage to be mildly irked with myself, and realize I’d been betting I could “bring this project to a close on time and under budget”… and I missed. On time, sure, easily… if I only count the moving out bit. lol Under budget? Nope. My skills at anticipating costs and making a budget have grown over time, it wasn’t likely I was going to spend less on this move – I was accurate about what it would cost me. I’ve been pretty accurate about how much time it would all take me, too. lol I sip my coffee thoughtfully and decide to celebrate that I budgeted and planned so accurately, instead of celebrating how much less I was able to spend that I expected I might. 😀 Win!! 😉

I take time to care for the stressed out roses, and also to appreciate “Fireworks”, which arrived and immediately burst into bloom. What needs my attention no longer prevents me from appreciating what can be enjoyed.

On a more serious note, when I allow myself to become attached to an outcome, I may as well also plan to be quite frustrated, disappointed, and chronically unhappy, because those will likely be common experiences. Over time I have continued to practice letting go of being attached to outcomes, simply because my “crystal ball” tends to be sort of smudgy and vague, and I am often incorrect about the direction life may go, or the outcome of one choice or set of circumstances or another. Being willing to embrace change, and able to enjoy what is, even when it isn’t what I wanted, or what I was going for, results in a fairly frequent opportunity to simply enjoy myself, enjoy my life, enjoy my circumstances. It’s nice. Non-attachment is a pretty big deal for me. Effective.

I live here, now.

I guess I call this move done, at this point. I live here, rather than there. There’s more to do to move in, but it’s all right here. The “moving budget” is exhausted. Life moves on from moving to… whatever is next, I guess. Laundry probably. lol  Housekeeping. The moving in, itself, becomes part of… life. Hell, friends have already begun making plans to come around. I definitely live here, now. I slept in. I sleep deeply and wake gently, even in the night. I can find my way around the place, in the dark, mostly. I’ve done dishes here, and cooked a proper meal. The pantry is stocked. My clothes hang in the closet. The miscellaneous crap currently strewn on the bathroom counter is mine. This is home. My new “drama-free zone”.

There’s more to do. More time to do it. There will be verbs involved. My results may vary. I live here, though, and this is my place. I am content. This is enough. 🙂