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

I’m still “work in progress” as a human primate. I’m aware of that. Lots of character – lots of “character flaws”. Sharp as hell… dumb as fuck. Filled with good intentions, infused with vision, sparked by inspiration, and eager to exert my will to create the life I most want to live… mostly. I’m also capable of unreasonable anger, making incorrect assumptions and poor decisions, and sometimes barely have the will to lift my hand to take a drink of water when I’m thirsty.

Sometimes I get wrapped up in a moment, and without realizing I’ve done so, I get lost in someone else’s emotional experience, vacillating between wanting to “solve the problem” and wanting to be emotionally supported – over an experience that isn’t even my own. I forget that I’m a separate person, and put effort into “centering myself” and my experience, and completely lose any comprehension that someone else has actually come to me for support. Not particularly helpful, and definitely unpleasant for that other person, who probably feels not only unsupported, but also regretful that they ever brought whatever it was to me in the first place.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

Today my Traveling Partner came to me, frustrated, angry with a project going wrong, dealing with the challenge of the day. I managed – I think – to listen. To be available and present. To hear him out without trying to solve the problem (he did not ask me to solve the problem, just to listen). My only assertion, beyond sufficient response to ensure he knew I was listening (in spite of the busy workday just over my shoulder), was to acknowledge his obvious frustration, and to share that I was sorry I did not have some immediate solution I could offer (at all). He thanked me for listening. He went on with his day.

This was, for me, still a very deeply emotional experience – but it wasn’t mine. It was his. The intensity of the emotions I was feeling? A mixture of his emotions being shared, and my PTSD shrieking in my consciousness that intense negative emotion from a male partner is dangerous – “fix it, fix it NOW, or get out! Get away! Danger!” Today, I pushed my fearful consciousness into the background long enough to really listen and be there for my aggravated partner. I stayed present and engaged, in spite of his obvious emotion. It was hard. This is one of the most difficult things I ever have to do, even when my partner’s emotions have nothing to do with me or something I’ve done/not done – in spite of requiring only as much physical effort as it takes to not run away. (It surprises me how much physical effort that does take, though.)

I got back to work when he walked away. My mind still struggles to let it go and really move on. There’s this “sensation in my spine” that tickles my awareness with a lingering sense of urgency and restlessness. I know these things will pass. I keep “wanting to help” – in spite of my absolute lack of potential do so in this particular circumstance. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sit with the awareness that my desire to help is most definitely built on a foundation of terror; my PTSD reminds me of all the things that could follow, leftovers from another life and a very different relationship. Another breath. This is not that life. Not that relationship. I hear music in the other room, and the sounds of my Traveling Partner working.

Men have emotional lives. Men need to talk about their feelings (just as anyone else might need to do). It’s okay to listen – really listen. Be there. In the abstract, I know this, and it is “so obvious”. In the moment I’m actually called upon to be there, listening, it’s still sometimes quite terrifying. I sip my tea – made for me with such love, earlier this morning, by this human being who puts so much heart into listening when I need to talk. I’ve got a lot to learn about love, and I’m not surprised that there are so many opportunities to practice. This tea is pretty sweet, and I am pleased to “do more/better”, this time, even though it feels a bit as if I’ve done nothing much at all. I see the progress. I let myself sit with that awhile, reflecting on the moment over this nice cup of tea. Soon enough, it’ll be time to begin again.

…I wonder how things are going now? I will fearlessly check on things when I take my next break…

Queue “Love Rollercoaster“… or…maybe “Love Rollercoaster“? Love has its ups and downs, not unlike a rollercoaster; it’s an appropriate metaphor. We deal with our own challenges – and our partners’. I’m confident that my Traveling Partner loves “all of me“. I count on his enduring love, “right down the line“. Maybe ours is an uncommon sort of love story – maybe not. I know this is our love – and it’s where I want to be. Sometimes love is like dancing, and I feel like I’ve “got the right dancing partner”, at long last.

Valentine’s Day? It was lovely. Spent lived, out loud, and wrapped in love. There are other experiences worth having. 🙂

I originally wrote a very different post under this title (on Friday). It was hurt-sounding, and infused with strong emotion, seasoned with pointless frustrated tears, and more than a hint of self-pitying catastrophizing. As the weekend proceeded, quite differently I’m pleased to note, my thinking on the writing (and events) of Friday evening continued to morph, evolve, mature, change, and deepen. I ascribed to the events first greater significance, then less, dwindling in magnitude of catastrophe and emotional pain over happy days spent in my partner’s good company, feeling loved, and loving, and enjoying our precious mortal moments together. At several points, I re-wrote, edited, adjusted, and refined my written thoughts, as my lived thoughts of the moment themselves changed. Mostly, I focused on being a better partner, better friend, and better love, and didn’t put nearly as much into writing about any of those things.

I spent quite a bit of time in a thoughtful place, reading “You Are Here” by Thích Nhất Hạnh. You’ll see a lot of his written work linked in my reading list – or on my book shelves. This one was a recent gift to me from my Traveling Partner to ease my sorrow when I learned of Thầy’s passing. Funny, I was so moved by my partner’s gift that simply receiving it was emotional and memorable; I felt so loved and understood. Diving into the work and actually reading it, this weekend of all weekends, I could see so much of the depth of my partner’s affection; every page seems to speak to our “here”, our “now”, and the very nature of Love itself. It led my thinking onward, gently, over the course of the weekend. Like a map, it helped me “find my way”.

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, I woke to an entirely different understanding of Friday evening’s moment of hurt and conflict. I found myself looking at it through a very different lens – one of real compassion and empathy, and awareness of what my partner is/may-be going through, himself, and pushing myself out of the hero’s role of the narrative in my head, to view our experience of each other through a more… equitable(?) perspective. We both have PTSD – and for both of us, the majority of that damage comes from intimate partnerships (other than our own, though at this point we’ve done ourselves a fair bit of emotional damage over a decade) or familial relationships. I now find myself painfully aware how often I insist I be nurtured and supported, while also pretty reliably overlooking his triggers, and his need to be emotionally supported, also. I shut him down when I “don’t feel heard”, instead of listening deeply because I care. I could do better. For sure. Like… probably a lot.

The tl;dr on Friday’s misadventure was simple enough; I triggered him (and did not recognize that in the moment), he reacted, and his reaction triggered me. I threw a fucking fit, and behaved incredibly poorly, and had a nasty temper tantrum we both could have done without. I wrecked a lovely romantic moment in the making, and we had a shit time of things that evening. (I feel fortunate that our love endures our individual and mutual bullshit.) We turned things around together over the course of the weekend, each of us “doing the verbs” to live our best versions of ourselves, and to love each other in the most healing way we could. Win and good; we enjoyed a lovely weekend together.

I thought about posting the original writing from Friday’s moment…but reading it, and even reading various edits and footnotes, I just “couldn’t find room for it” in my current thinking – I’ve already adjusted my thinking, and made room in my awareness to be more supportive and directly nurturing of my partner’s needs, and less strictly focused on my own. Self-care is supremely important, and boundary and expectation-setting is a pretty big deal for building lasting love – no argument there – and I’m not saying that it is any part of my plan to undermine those things (I’ve worked too hard “to get here”!). What I am saying is that I’m more aware that I’ve got room to grow and improve on how well I identify my partner’s need for emotional support, and could use some additional work on those skills, too. Love is a verb. Balance is a healthy quality.

…As silly as this is likely to sound, I put a ton of study and practice into self-care, and meeting my own needs, I somehow almost entirely overlooked how best to support a partner and their unique emotional needs in the context of their PTSD. I mean… for fucks’ sake, really?? Omg. Definitely time to begin again!

Friday. Already? Time to think about the weekend… that’s nice. It’s been a good week. Productive. Chill. I can’t bring a moment of real stress or conflict to mind (in my own right-here-right-now experience of living life). It’s a nice pace to be, poised on the edge of a weekend, without a complaint or grievance. 🙂

…What to do with the weekend, though…?

I’d like to get a couple miles on my hiking boots tomorrow – maybe run up the road to the wildlife refuge and walk the loop there? Work my way back errand by errand? Sounds like fun. Housekeeping Sunday.

Last Sunday my Traveling Partner encouraged me to just “take the day” on Sunday instead of my usual housekeeping and whatnot. It was soooo good to relax that way. We did a couple things together (projects in the shop) and I relaxed. Properly. It was very restful. At some point during the week, my sleep went to shit and by last night, I was kind of stupid with fatigue and sleepiness, and as wobbly getting around as if I’d had several quick shots of rum. My Traveling Partner encouraged me to go ahead and crash – it wasn’t even 5:30 pm at that point. I didn’t think I’d sleep… he woke me hours and hours later to hang out for a little while before he considered calling it a night, himself. I probably could have slept all night, but it wasn’t what I’d wanted to do when I did lay down hours earlier. I’m still astonished that I crashed so hard, and slept so deeply. I had no difficulty returning to sleep a bit later, and woke quite on time this morning, feeling wholly rested.

I yawn, thinking about sleep, later, and smile, thinking about how nice it is to feel so loved, now. It’s a good place to be.

Tomorrow? Another mile on these boots. For now? Love is enough. 🙂

This morning I had what I thought was an excellent starting point for the morning, and had the intention of writing. I never got to it. I enjoyed coffee with my Traveling Partner, had a pleasant walk before work, and enjoyed a productive day of work. My partner has a project going that keeps him quite busy. I love seeing him deeply engaged, learning new things, and occupied in a way that puts his mind to use on something worthy of his talent; it’s profoundly inspiring.

I’ve been painting. That’s part of what kicked my intention of writing off to the side, actually. I sat down in my studio, with my coffee, but facing “the art side” of the room, instead of the “office side”, and found myself whiling away some minutes before work gazing at new canvases – time I’d intended for writing, consumed on nothing more (or less) than inspired daydreaming. I’m even okay with that, I just wish I’d taken notes – even just a word or two – about what I was thinking before my head was filled with colors and thoughts of paintings yet to be painted. I’m pleased to be doing creative work again. I’m not sure what pushed me into the creative zone again… I don’t think it’ll be helpful to overthink it, so I am just enjoying it.

Funny… I’m finding myself wondering if the updated lighting in the house has any part to play in my re-emerging creative energy? I know I’m sleeping better, and when I wake the very gentle middle-of-the-night lighting doesn’t prevent me going back to sleep at all. I’m waking more gently too, and feeling rested and less cross. I’ve known for a long time that I loathed the infernal beeping of my alarm clock for a long long time – any alarm clock, really, and it doesn’t have to beep, and for basically all of my existence that I’m aware of. Bells. Chimes. Ringers. Clangers. Clappers. Buzzers. Doesn’t matter. I have no liking for them. Now, waking to a soft fade-in of light (and not any shining directly into my eyes), and having done so enough to be quite confident I won’t “miss my wake-up” or oversleep, I sleep so… comfortably. I even slept in yesterday. 🙂 Nice. Is that what’s stoking my creativity? Is it the acoustic treatments all around the house that removed the annoying echo and softened the sounds, generally? Such a quiet house, now. I feel more relaxed even thinking about it.

…And also, thinking about the love that has gone into it. Time, sure. Money, too. Considerable effort by my Traveling Partner, too (I’ve been getting to mostly just enjoy the ride on this one)… More than any of that, though, has been the obvious real love and care my partner has put into these projects, each detail another conversation about what matters most, what I may need, how this or that technology can ease some challenge, or enrich our experience of each other, or our life together. It’s pretty mind-blowing to be so well-loved, and it’s a bit to live up to, too. The pandemic has been hard on each of us differently… I wouldn’t want to have had to do it with someone else, though, I’ll say that. I’m glad he’s here. I’m glad he’s been here. I’m fortunate to be so well-loved (and he’s said similar things to me). This evening, that love we share finds me in my studio, on the other side of the work day, writing in the evening – and smiling to think how well that worked out… he needed some time to work on some complicated details of the smart home stuff. I’m happy to write for a few minutes and give him that time – I know that supporting each other pays off in some pretty amazing ways. 🙂

I hear him in the other room, letting me know he’s done for the day. I breathe, relax, and smile. It’s time to begin again.

I woke early with a headache. I didn’t sleep well, waking several times for (sometimes) no obvious reason. More than once I woke from dreams of … noise. Just that. Car noise. Truck noise. Construction noise. I would wake to hear only quiet. No real noise. Back to sleep, to dream of noise. It wasn’t a great night.

I woke earlier than the alarm would have gone off by a bit more than an hour. I got up. Meditation. Some yoga. I felt restless and annoyed, headache persisting. I put on my boots and went for a walk. It was dark, quiet, and still. The chilly morning air felt wonderful. The quiet was lovely. The silhouettes of trees and shrubbery created fantastical scenes ahead of me along the way. The headache persisted.

I returned home, still before dawn and no hint of sunrise visible. I made coffee, and sat down with that – and my headache. I finished off the water in my water bottle while I waited for my coffee to cool enough to drink that, instead. About half-way through my coffee, I admitted that “nothing else” had worked to improve this headache, thus far, and took something for it. My Traveling Partner woke, perhaps I banged the drawer or rattled a pill bottle? We spent a pleasant half an hour or so hanging out with our morning coffee before my work day began.

I started my workday with this headache, and it is with me, even now. A soak in the hot tub in the chill of an autumn morning was lovely. Didn’t help with the headache. Lunch with my partner and his son was quite pleasant, too. Still enduring the headache. I’d taken a stronger headache remedy shortly before lunch, and it’s now about an hour later than we finished that meal. I’ve still got the headache, but… maybe it’s improved a bit? It only hurts when I move… and when I sit still. Sometimes it fades into the background for a moment (that’s definitely an improvement).

…I’m not really just whinging about this headache as much as I mean to be pointing out how important the self-care is, even though it isn’t helping the headache much. The self-care is keeping me from becoming a fucking monster and treating everyone around me badly. That’s worth something. It’s not so much that I can feel any notable improvement where the headache is concerned (I can’t) – but I’m not snarling at people. Not blasting anyone with negative emotion over some small thing. I haven’t lost my sense of humor, or become stern. I’m mostly enjoying my day, mostly being someone I can appreciate in my interactions with others (from my own perspective). I’m in pain. I’m not enjoying that, but I’m also not devolving into some shattered broken down thing, or causing a fuck ton of chaos for everyone around me. That’s worth something. Apologies only go so far, so often – sooner or later we have to take steps to change problem behavior. For real. Headaches and all.

Fuck this headache, though. Damn.