Archives for posts with tag: p.s. I love you

The holiday season is just at the edge of “now”. Thanksgiving is next weekend and I’m excited about welcoming my Traveling Partner “home” – to this home – for a few days of his good company, shared at leisure. I’ve been daydreaming about it since July – literallyΒ  since I moved into this space. lol Dreaming doesn’t get me far, though, it just feels nice.

I shifted gears from dreaming to planning once he had confirmed confirmingly that he would indeed, no fooling, actually be coming up, and that he had a plan to do so. πŸ™‚ This morning, I sat down with my coffee and made my weekend “to do” list, and extended my planning from thinking over the holiday menu, and how best to stock the pantry for his stay, to also putting the house in order for having a guest, and adding little touches like specifically stocking the bathrooms with his brands, preferred products, and common OTC remedies I know he favors, and “detailing” my space. This doesn’t send me into a frantic flurry of panicked task completion, because that isn’t who I am. What it does is give me some structure to hang onto while I tidy up my corner of the world, and prevents me from losing track of what I intend to get done. I won’t finish all of it. That’s absolutely a given; I will want to do more than is possible to do. What is also a given is that I am okay with that. πŸ™‚ The weekend is about love and celebration and gratitude, and at no point has my Traveling Partner suggested that my real value lies in my ability to wash a dish, vacuum a carpet, or do a load of laundry. lol I do like order, and I enjoy being a relaxed hostess – tidying up a bit makes me feel more relaxed, and… prepared.

So, this weekend is the point at which I shift gears again, going from planning the weekend to being prepared for it – which has to include also be ready for all that is not/was not/could have been planned. πŸ˜€ Yep. You read that right; I plan for spontaneity, then attempt to be prepared for it. LOL πŸ˜€

A low stress, relatively simple holiday meal for two, and a weekend in my partner’s good company sounds like a lovely way to spend a couple days away from the office. I’m looking forward to it. Hell, I’m looking forward to the weekend of tidying up, too! Sure, there are verbs involved, and I’m not suggesting that I specifically enjoy doing dishes, vacuuming, breaking down boxes for recycling, or doing laundry, but I very much enjoy the outcome of doing those things, and doing them with care, because the outcome matters to me personally and supports the quality of life I enjoy. I have learned to embrace the doing of them as both necessary and precious. Every dish I wash is something I worked hard for. Caring for them makes a lot of good sense. The way I feel when I see how tidy my kitchen is, recognizing that this is something I have done for me, because I like it, feels satisfying and nurturing. I feel cared for. It doesn’t detract from that feeling that I am the one caring for me day-to-day – shouldn’t I be? πŸ™‚

Don’t get me wrong – I am not a “neat freak”. Being tidy and orderly doesn’t “come naturally” to me, nor is it a compulsion. I have to work at it. The outcome feels wonderful, and I do love living in a very tidy orderly environment, but omg – the verbs. This is what makes it possible to use my own environment, cared for by me, to gauge my emotional and mental wellness in the moment; everything goes to shit when I am descending into disorder, having a rough time of things, or losing my damned mind. When I’m sick, I struggle to stay caught up on every day basic housekeeping – which means whether I am fully aware of it or not, I am also likely failing to care for myself well, and since I can see the housekeeping more easily than I can see whether or not I am taking care of myself, it’s an effective early warning system to simply look around and “see how I’m doing”, based on the housekeeping. Little things can say a lot. (Sometimes they just say I need to get more rest, because I’m too tired to care for myself, sometimes they say I am over-committed to other activities and need to spend more time at home.)

…I’m pretty sure that a horribly messy crowded disorganized insufficiently clean unsafe or unhealthy household actually literally “makes me crazy” – or, at a minimum, crazier.

Looking around, it feels good to see that I’m generally well-prepared for life, for guests, for friends to drop by. There are some things I’d like to get done. There are some small improvements I can make that function as reminders to take time for me. I’m eager for the work day to end, for the weekend to begin. I’ve got concert tickets for tonight… then… sleeping in sounds nice… then… chores! LOL I am every bit as eager to get started on the housekeeping as I am to go to the concert tonight. πŸ™‚

…So many verbs.

My coffee is finished. I make a second cup and get started on a grocery list. Thanksgiving won’t prepare itself!

…I still got the invitation to join the fun under the big top. That’s sort of how OPD (Other People’s Drama) works; it’s not your own, but nonetheless, it draws you in, consumes your attention, your time, your resources… if you choose to allow that. The alternative, which is to say, choosing to avoid, or depart from, the local circus of human drama means accepting, first, that you can.

Some people cultivate drama, relish it, and insist you sample it with them.

You don’t get those minutes (hours, days, weeks… whatever) of your life spent on drama back. Ever. You likely also don’t recoup any more tangible losses, should you have been so foolhardy as to waste your literal resources on Other People’s Drama. Most often, our compelling, seemingly unavoidable (it isn’t) drama is that of family members, and friends. We may feel “invested”, or obligated to do something about for… reasons. We may think we can “help” (unlikely; drama is chosen by those who love it, and they aren’t going to relinquish all that attention any time soon).

The drama isn’t “real”…

My weekend was weird. I cherish the time I spent with my Traveling Partner. The unexpected drama swirling around an unexpected couch-surfing house guest staying with his other partner was… both unexpected, and dramatic. It was also utterly willful, built on the narrative in said house guest’s head, and entirely untethered from any obvious connection to reality. Chosen. Emotionally invested in. Shared with persistent enthusiasm. I excused myself several times to be away from it altogether. No advice I could offer will alleviate self-selected willful suffering.

…like a mushroom, what is on the surface of most drama is only the outward expression of something far more vast …

Then there was the alternate undercurrent of drama that is simply the ebb and flow of change as my Traveling Partner and his Other get settled into the new location, and adjust to nearer and farther away friendships also adjusting to those changes. Getting to know new neighbors. The welcoming of deepening associations among now-local friends. The boundary-setting and limitations on resources that must sometimes be placed on friends lacking recognition that generosity has limits, that resources are not unlimited, that circumstances change. Learning to live well in an entirely new context. It’s lovely out in the country on their acreage – it is also not city living, at all. Change is a thing. What works when one can just pop down to the big box chain at the large shopping megaplex down the street isn’t necessarily an effective strategy when the nearest neighbor is a drive away, the corner market doesn’t have all the essentials because it is only the size of a storage shed, and “town” is miles down the highway – and more of a village than a town. I’m not being critical of country living – I’m eager to retire and embrace it – it is simply quite a lot different, and requires altogether different strategies to maintain good quality of life. It definitely drove the point home to be part of the experience of shopping for more complete first aid and emergency care gear; there is no chance an ambulance could arrive to deal with a first aid emergency in less than 45 minutes or so out there, at best.

…like raindrops clinging to surfaces after a storm, tears fall, tears linger, tears eventually dry…

The drive home was… surprisingly restful. lol No traffic and no drama. My timing was excellent. I left after enjoying morning coffee with my partner. I got home in the early afternoon, with plenty of time to grocery shop (didn’t need to, didn’t bother), do some tidying up (didn’t feel like it, didn’t bother), and prepare for the week ahead (didn’t need to, already was). I spent the evening meditating, reading, and enjoying the changes in the shadows as afternoon became twilight, and then night.

…there is value in perspective, and looking beyond the storm of the moment…

I still did not wholly escape the whopping helping of OPD that I “enjoyed” over the weekend; more drama when I got home. I (rather humorously, actually) was “unfriended” by a friend – over the other friends we had mutually shared (who, apparently, he also unfriended). I noticed though (while briefly catching up with the world), and, yep, invited drama rather thoughtlessly by asking him what was up with the unfriending? So… he told me. lol Fuuuuuuuuck. Okay, okay. That one’s on me. But – we’re still friends, I think. I even think that matters, since the entire mess was a reaction to an online exchange which I was no part of, and I actually like the guy. I even enjoyed spending some minutes in conversation with him, once we’d moved on from the drama, itself.

…storms pass.

Seriously, though? What is up with all the fucking drama? I mean, I’m not really surprised. We elected drama. We gobble up drama in our feeds every damned day. We make more if we run out. It’s pretty gross, actually; we are not ready to be content, or even to enjoy a moment of quiet. I mean, as a species, or a culture. Me personally? So ready. In fact, I spend much of my time utterly without drama. It’s pleasant. I plan to do more of that. πŸ˜€ I’ve even gotten pretty good at it. (If you read my blog regularly, you are probably getting pretty good at it, too. πŸ™‚ )

There’s more to life than drama. Seasons change.

I woke at 2:32 am, this morning, when the power here went out in the strong wind and stormy rainy night. I might have slept through it (most of my neighbors likely did), but the back up power on the aquarium beeps in a friendly but hard to ignore fashion, about every 30 seconds, until shortly before it has done all it can, at which point it beeps rather more aggressively before becoming silent. Once it was silent, I went back to sleep for an hour. The power came back on minutes after the back up power to the aquarium was exhausted (just about perfect, and I remind myself to thank my Traveling Partner, who suggested it), about an hour and a half after the power went out. I dragged myself out of bed earlier than I meant to when my phone, carelessly left on my nightstand, buzzed when morning emails and message notifications began to arrive.

What we contribute to our experience ripples outward into the experience shared with others.

A new day, a new week – hopefully no new drama. lol It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I like beginnings. I’m a big fan of starting and of starting over. I love the energy of a beginning, the enthusiasm, the eagerness. There’s one thing I do know about the majority of beginnings, though; they usually follow the end of something else. I don’t always like endings so reliably well.

I’m sad that the weekend has… ended. πŸ™‚ I had a lovely short weekend with my Traveling Partner. It was a fairly high energy visit, and we crammed into it quite a lot of hang out time, cuddle time, laughter, serious dialogue, connection, and social time – even managed to hit up a party. Twice. lol I slept like crap Saturday night (which meant, so did he 😦 ). I was so tired when I finally arrived home late in the afternoon on Sunday, after hauling ass up the highway through nearly continuous entirely pouring down freezing rain, that I barely finished a cup of soothing hot tea before deciding to just… call it a night. lol I crashed out early like an over-stimulated toddler.

This morning I woke precisely on time – well, if it were not for Daylight Savings Time, it would have been precisely on time, and with the alarm, instead it was an hour early…but… I’d slept through the night, from 6:45 pm (no kidding) until 3:28 am. I woke well-rested, and ready to begin a new week. Good enough. I got up. πŸ™‚

I didn’t bother with the internet much – or the world – while I spent the weekend out in the countryside with my Traveling Partner. It was sad to catch up this morning and see that yet another angry man ended his life with violence, taking a bunch of innocent people with him. I have no ability to understand why we do not, at a minimum, restrict firearm ownership from individuals with domestic violence priors. I just don’t get it. If a human being is already known to have a domestic violence problem – whether they are convicted or not – why the ever-loving-fuck would they be permitted to buy or own a firearm, ever, at all? If a human being can’t be trusted not to assault people they say they love, how can they be trusted to use a firearm responsibly? These are serious questions, and they need serious consideration, serious answers, and serious action. Fuck, we are some stupid god-damned primates. I’m very disappointed in us. Anyway, this is just my opinion about the most recent firearm related sad news. I’m sure you have your own.

A new week begins today. We’ve all got yet another chance to begin again, to start over, to do things differently than we did them yesterday. That’s pretty cool. πŸ™‚

I started the morning in the usual way, then spent some time sipping my coffee and planning my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list. I enjoy planning, and haven’t yet determined the menu for the holiday meal. I’m excited about it this year, more so than usual, because I am anticipating my Traveling Partner’s visit to my new place, and he’ll be staying the weekend with me. πŸ˜€ Fun!

A new week begins today. There’s also the work piece; short work week ahead because I am taking a couple days for a long Veteran’s Day weekend, and making the trek back down to the countryside to spend it with my Traveling Partner. We’re seeing a lot of each other while we can. When winter weather sets in, I won’t want to make the drive, and he will likely journey elsewhere, anyway. This year, we are just straight up planning around that, and I expect we won’t see each other at all for 6-10 weeks, including all of December, and much of January. I’m okay with that. I’m skillful at enjoying my time alone, generally, and have plenty to do through the cold winter months. πŸ™‚ I’ll catch up on my reading, and have more to say about life and the world when we next see each other, and he will return with a traveler’s tales. πŸ˜€

That last paragraph started about work, ended up about love; clearly I’ve got my priorities in order. πŸ˜€

Coffee is finished. The day is started. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m not at all firm on what to write about, this morning. I often begin that way, and it is a state of things that does not cause me any particular stress. I put words in the title field, and then begin typing in the text box, and away I go. Writing coherently, fluidly, about something that matters to someone, in a clear, specific, insightful way… is not a given. It’s more a coincidence, I think, when it does work out that way.

I think that “insight” is more to do with you, the person reading the words, than me… or the words. We each have our own dictionary, and what I think I’m saying may not at all be what you understand me to have said, and this need not be a relevant concern to the matter of insight, at all. You’ll likely make some assumptions as you read. Maybe if you know me personally, you read my words “in my voice”, but is it my voice now, or my voice of some other lifetime? Are your assumptions accurate? Were mine? If you don’t actually know me personally, in what voice do you hear these words, when you read them? There go those assumptions again, at work in the background. Who do you think I am?

If I got something from the process of writing the words, and you get something from reading the words I wrote, does it matter at all if we understood completely different things? Perhaps – at that point we attempt to explain to each other how well we understand one another, I could see that being a potential sore point, but… maybe not? Maybe? I don’t have an answer here, only a question. It’s not even an important question. Just a random thought on a Friday morning.

I make a second coffee, and marvel at how terrible it is. How is this cup of coffee possible, from the same beans, using the same machine, made in the same way, by the same method, into the same cup, at all different than the previous coffee?? I take another sip, puzzled, curious, and seeking greater understanding. I like understanding things. Yeah… No – this is one terrible cup of coffee. Wow. I mean… like… an achievement of bad coffee, a stand out, an extraordinary demonstration of how poorly made a cup of coffee can be – and I didn’t even need to use a percolator, an air pot, or poor quality additives. Good grief. This sucks. I mean… on this whole other “No, seriously? I must be wrong… one more sip…” level. lol This is bad coffee. LOL I am still drinking it… no idea what that says about me, or about human primates generally, but… this is me. Drinking terrible coffee. At this point, I am savoring this terrible coffee and even enjoying its noteworthy awfulness. Please don’t ask me why would I do such a thing, because frankly… I don’t have an answer for that one, either. It is every bit as inexplicable as if I were to suddenly rise from my seat and do a cartwheel. lol

I think about the winter ahead. I think about the future. I sip my bad coffee, now mostly over how dreadful it is, my consciousness has moved on to other things. I think about love. I think about lovers. I think about the twinge of discontent that sometimes catches me by surprise in some lonely moment, when my awareness of age and aging collides with my awareness that I “still feel young on the inside”. This morning, the thought is merely a thought, and does not evoke an emotion. My thinking moves on.

I’ve a busy weekend ahead, and I am eager to get on with it. I’ll see my Traveling Partner this weekend (if all goes to plan, next weekend too!). Fuck I miss that guy. I’m ready to make the drive down, and I’m glad I seem to be well enough to do so; I don’t think I have the pro-adult skills to firmly decline if I weren’t up for it. I just miss him too much at this point. lol I consider the drive itself. It is autumn, and a lovely time of year for a long drive through beautiful countryside. Weather permitting, perhaps I won’t take the highway? A longer route, through scenic forests, down less traveled state highways and country side roads could be quite lovely and relaxed, and a great deal more like part of the weekend than mere transportation from point A to point B. (I-5 is efficient, but not beautiful, the result being the drive feels very purposeful, and more like “work”.)

The map is not the journey. The journey is, itself, the destination. Life’s menu of options is vast, and the choices are many. I am my own cartographer. I sip my terrible coffee and smile. The words pile up. I open up Google Maps with a plan in mind, ready to begin again. πŸ™‚

 

 

I woke three times, all three times feeling well-rested, the first two also entirely able and willing to return to sleep – so I did. πŸ˜€ It is Saturday, and I have succeeded in doing the one thing I did plan to do today; I got the rest I needed. πŸ™‚

Good self-care is critical to my wellness. (Yours, too, probably.) I used to suck at it completely, always over-compromising what it takes to be well and feel good by grabbing onto other experiences and choices, for…well… reasons. Reasons that seemed to make sense in the moment, but more often than not were excuses and rationalizations for “doing whatever I want” – or, actually, whatever someone else wanted. The cycle of exhaustion, meltdowns, and poor outcomes was so predictable that for many years I simply called the entire mess “hormones” and put that shit on my calendar without any particularly successful effort to mitigate or improve any of it (because… “hormones”… well… that shit can’t be fixed, though, right? Right??) (Actually, no. It turns out that conflating hormones, mental illness, a lack of emotional intelligence, poor self-care, and plain old-fashioned inconsiderate shitty behavior, assumption making, and personal bullshit leaves quite a lot of room for improvement… so… maybe rethinking your inconsiderate bullshit, at a minimum, is a good place to start? πŸ˜‰ Just saying.)

I am watching, from a distance, as two relationships in my social network struggle with a partner’s mental illness. Both have been deeply committed loving relationships of decades of mutual affection, support, and shared family life. Both are struggling with the challenge of making love work, while also supporting a mentally ill person’s personal challenge with finding wellness, and juggling all the other elements of family life: work, kids, bills, grocery shopping, and even the assumptions of strangers and the well-meaning “help” and support of friends, sometimes less than ideally helpful, no doubt. (Been there.) It’s fucking hard to be mentally ill. It’s fucking hard to love someone who is mentally ill. The coping skills and rationalizations that allowed these relationships to succeed and perhaps even appear functional before mental illness finally prevented that from being a thing at all are reliably breaking down now that these mentally ill friends are seeking (and getting) treatment that may actually result in wellness. Their partners may not be much help at this point, and in fact, their hurts, anger, resentment, and emotional wellness concerns are reliably welling up and becoming problems that need to be managed. It’s when a mentally ill loved one begins the journey to wellness that everyone else’s rampant crazy bullshit comes to the forefront – along with the rationalizations, excuse-making, justifications, chronically incorrect and untested assumptions, and refusal to respect new boundaries and changes of behavior. It’s ugly and it’s hard. There are literally no “good guys”, and as soon as “the crazy one” begins to practice things that are more sane, the crazy on the other side of the relationship becomes apparent – often accompanied by utter refusal to acknowledge it, be accountable for it, accept it, or change it.

When people who are mentally ill seek treatment, find it, and begin their journey toward wellness, the first set back is often because within their once supportive network of friends and family (“I’m here for you!”) are people who are suddenly not so willing to “be there” if “there” turns out to include being aware of their own bullshit, and their continued commitment to a status quo that it turns out has favored them, and met certain needs that must now be met differently – in, oh, hey, some new healthy way. It’s hard. It’s hardest, frankly, on the mentally ill partner now responsible not only for staying focused on treatment, but now this mentally unwell person struggling with their situation is suddenly also forced to have to provide support to the adult in the room who turns out to be less than ideally adult (and sometimes fully unwilling to even be aware of that).

It’s a see-saw, people. When we love someone with a mental health challenge, over time, we make room for some weird and possibly damaging bullshit that changes who we are, ourselves, a little at a time. When someone we love who is mentally ill seeks help, and begins to make real changes, on purpose, with the intent of becoming well – our own crazy is going to well up and fight back, and our failure to be observant and aware, and also take the very best care of ourselves, for real, is likely to be the first step on the path to seeing that relationship simply end. It will end in screaming tantrums, outrage, defensiveness, accusations, and generally – a lot of needless yelling. The cause I most commonly see as obvious and avoidable is that instead of partnerships fighting mental illness together, partners become adversaries and basically forget all about the actual issue being someone who is sick, and not able to be at their best, who needs help, support, consideration, and compassion.

Reminder: getting a diagnosis does not suddenly make someone who is mentally ill magically able to not struggle with mental illness. They can’t just point to a page in their handy “So you’re depressed?” handbook or their “The basics of living with PTSD” guide and go down a list of steps to “make it all better” for some other person. Fuck you. That’s sort of one of the limitations of being unwell; there is a fairly commonly implied inability to do all the things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s fucking hard. I’m saying a great many relationships that end over mental illness don’t end because a partner is mentally ill – they end when that person seeks wellness and messes with the stable status quo that has allowed the “well” person certain… sanity privileges, that they must now give up in favor of dealing with their own unaddressed bullshit. No one in a relationship recovers from mental illness alone; everyone must deal with their bullshit. Everyone has bullshit.

When I hit that wall in my own relationship(s) I was fortunate. I chose to move into my own living space, and make a significant lifestyle change for a variety of reasons that overlapped in a useful way. I live alone. Sure, there’s bullshit, and I definitely trip over it frequently – and it’s all mine. My bullshit. My issues. My limitations. It’s also my home, my rules, my way; the failures are mine, and so are the successes. I was able to let go of my attachment to “being heard” by my partner(s), and able to comfortably take time to be heard by the woman in the mirror – because I could recognize, in the silence of solitary space, that this was in fact where the issue rested, for me. I was able to begin to sort out my bullshit from the bullshit in my relationships that wasn’t mine, and let go of trying to fix other people, or a relationship dynamic that was unavoidably damaged by my issues, and work on practicing healthier practices that support my own mental wellness… and having gained a measure of wellness, emotional resilience, and stability, then I could begin to tackle the complex challenges of “making things right” with emotionally hurt partner(s). Please note: I am not recommending my choices to anyone else. I am this person here, and my needs are what they are; I thrive living alone. You are likely someone else altogether, with different needs, and other choices may be preferable for you, personally. I’m just saying – achieving wellness may very well destroy existing relationships, and not through any failure of the mentally ill person, and in no way directly caused by their illness, but totally because they attempted to get well – and wellness did not meet the needs of that relationship. It’s totally a thing.

Prepare for change. Seeking mental health changes things. It’s a thing people know about.

Are you a “bad person” if you can’t stay in a relationship with someone who is mentally ill? I mean, you wouldn’t leave if they broke their leg, right? It’s a complicated question. Just as complicated as “Am I a bad person if I can’t stay in my relationship because my partner won’t respect new boundaries and changes in behavior as I improve my mental health?”

Helpful friends don’t feel any more comfortable than anyone else in the context of watching lovers struggle with mental health concerns. Everyone has their “good advice” to offer. People take sides without ever seeing the entirety of the dynamic. Also hard.

Every bit of all the hard stuff is 100% hardest on the person who is mentally ill, who is trying their damnedest to find emotional wellness – they are the one who is sick, people. I’m just saying. Seriously? Find some fucking perspective. Be there for a friend. Listen more than you talk, and refrain from making assumptions. Be encouraging. Be considerate. Be compassionate. If a relationship is struggling with mental illness, everyone is hurting, everyone is injured, everyone is struggling – and no one is the good guy; we’ve all got our own bullshit to deal with.

Two different relationships, two different sets of circumstances. I find myself fairly certain one relationship has already failed, and wondering if the other might manage to survive this; it’s in how they treat each other. In both cases, I see the mentally ill person doing what they must do to become well.

I notice that I have finished my second coffee, and my playlist just ended. It is a lush rainy Saturday, and I’ve got some important self-care to take care of; it’s been a long week, and I find that my own emotional wellness is very much tied to skilled self-care. πŸ™‚ It’s time to get started on the practices that keep me well. Doing so, and staying committed to them, has changed my world, and also my relationships. I swallow one last bite of oatmeal, grateful my relationship with my Traveling Partner has endured my changes. Love matters most.