Archives for posts with tag: practice the practices

I woke up early. It makes sense. I went to bed early, too. I woke during the night. No surprise there, I often do. There’s no stress over any of that. My head is a jumble of random beginnings of thoughts seeking a narrative in which to play a role. My morning is a strange sequence of broken routines and randomness. I’m not concerned about that, either. Again and again, I pull myself back to this moment, here, now.

I sit down with my coffee, eventually, some two hours after waking (which is only one of many odd random bits of altered behavior that seems without cause or purpose).

The first track on my playlist right now is an old favorite. I want very much to play the bass line; I am not yet sufficiently skilled (and realistically, there is chance I never will be). I can try to play it, and fail. I could do that repeatedly. I could do that repeatedly until I am frustrated to the point of disliking what I am doing, although I am doing it because I enjoy it… a lot of people approaching learning something challenging in just that fashion.

I take another approach, instead of “trying”… I practice. That’s it. My approach to a lot of stuff I’m not good at, don’t yet know, haven’t yet found my way around, through, over, or into, or need to do and don’t quite “get”, yet. I practice. I practice the basic skills that would be required to do the thing. Too complicated? I break those things down further, to more elemental basics, until I can begin assembling simpler behavior or actions (or understandings) into more and more complex combinations, and – if all goes well – have learned to do the thing, have gained a new understanding, have completed some complicated task… whatever it is. Most things seem to work out pretty well this way, although it is not the fastest process by which to achieve success. It’s a bit like… a through hike on an unmarked trail, while all the way along observing what appears to be a freeway almost within reach, on the other side of a fence. I could waste time trying to reach that freeway, or I can walk on.

I still get where I’m going. That’s enough.

It may be an uphill climb, some days. I still practice taking time to enjoy the journey, and to look for beauty.

I enjoyed a strangely intimate and emotionally nurturing yesterday. I hung out with a dear friend of many years. We haven’t made time to hang out in about 4 years, and it was overdue, welcome, and comfortably intimate. She is someone I love, though we’ve never been lovers. We’re at very different places in life, and that has been an interesting characteristic of our friendship all along. She was the friend who said to me, so many years ago, “have you heard of ACT?”. Words that would later prove to be another piece to the puzzle of healing and learning to care for the woman in the mirror, because they would still be lingering in my consciousness on that grim December day when I began checking off my list of things to do before I would end my own life. That last item? Try therapy one more time. Her words were a hint at a new direction; “third wave cognitive behavior therapy”. There are several, some very rigid and formal, others less so.

Have we covered this before? Sure. It’s buried in the details, in much older posts. The eagerness of this new way to experience life, more authentically, with greater self-compassion, erupts in my words post after post after post. Life happens. I write about that too. Now and then I add something to The Reading List; my journey is paved with stepping-stones made of books, and practices, and the words of dear friends.

A current favorite track on my playlist feels timed for the moment. My heart fills with tenderness, and gratitude. I’m glad I stayed. Warm tears splash my glasses, and my shoulders shake with sobbing, and I’m just fucking crying now… I’m not unhappy. I’m relieved. I might have missed this precious moment right now. I might have missed yesterday… the lovely color work I got done on my hair… the phone call with my Traveling Partner later in the day… the conversations with friends. Fuck I am so glad I stayed around awhile longer… My heart aches with a powerful need to say “thank you” or.. “I’m sorry”… or… something. ┬áThere are literally no words for this strange strong emotion of thankfulness I feel that I chose to live. I’m okay with that too. I’m not afraid to feel.

Another good morning on which to begin again. I don’t know that I’ve done anything that changes the world, but so much as changed about the woman in the mirror. ­čÖé

Yesterday was lovely, end to end, in spite of the short, restless, night before. It was a pleasant day of healing self-care, relaxation, and mindful attention to the woman in the mirror…

…[It was pleasant] after having a deeply intimate discussion with my traveling partner during which I revealed to myself (and him) that I’ve been quietly struggling with feeling beat down and dismal, fighting off feelings of being irrelevant, “expired”, no longer useful in the world…because I’ve tended (all my life that I recall) to define myself (in the context of relationships) based on my sexuality and sexual availability (and skill), and my ability to reliably bring in an adequate steady income. Sex and money. I’d convinced myself at some distant point that what I bring to a relationship that has any real value is sex and money, just those. I literally don’t have a good understanding of what else I may offer a partner that has “real value”. No wonder I lost my shit the other night, feeling criticized in some implied way over the housekeeping, my weight/fitness, or my current state of non-employment (outside the home); I felt worthless. Yikes. I have some things to think about, and I definitely need to ease up on the woman in the mirror. She’s doing her best, and it is enough.

A walking meditation on a sparkling summer morning.

A walking meditation on a sparkling summer morning.

I spent the day after that feeling rather tender toward myself. I have the sense that I treat myself generally well, day-to-day, these days and it came as a surprise that I’d snuck in such a hurtful bit of messaging, playing more or less continuously on repeat in the background of my consciousness. I was feeling unwanted – but not saying so. I was feeling “out of date” and “superseded” and worthless – and wasn’t even giving myself the courtesy of hearing it, murmured so quietly, so deeply within. ┬áAcknowledging these feelings came with a measure of awkward sad embarrassment, because I was holding on to the assumption that I “know better” now, and would not choose such a thing willfully with my eyes open… only… I did. It was buried in the fine print on the choices day-to-day made to ease the social tension that sometimes develops around my rather intense emotional life; if I choose to disregard my emotional life in order to be polite, to be practical, to be “grown up”, and then fail to follow-up with myself later to make room for my feelings and deal with my needs and hurts, I am going to pay for it, and so will everyone dealing with me when it finally goes down. I do not always make the wiser choice. I’m very human.

It’s the weekend, and it won’t be quite so hot today if the forecast is accurate. (Remember terrible inaccurate weather forecasts? Is that still a thing at all?) Today is a good day to treat the woman in the mirror well… It’s going to take some practice. ­čÖé

Something woke me during the night, around 1:45 am. I finally got back to sleep sometime after 3:30 am. The alarm clock seemed an unkind thing at 4:45 am. I feel… groggy? No, something subtly different… my perceptions and sensations are somewhat surreal spin-offs of the ordinary. Coffee helps. I struggle to sort out my thinking this morning. I go through the motions of tasks intended to┬áhelp me re-engage the moment. I can’t claim any great success. I am thankful I have no plans after work; an early night seems likely.

I think about the day ahead, and the weekend just completed. It is a poor morning for complex thought. I let my thoughts drift through my awareness as sand through a sieve. I think about the nature of values, and how regardless what we say our values are, our actions demonstrate the truth of our values which can’t be denied. I think, too, about ground rules in relationships, how they are decided upon, and the purpose they serve. I muse a while about equanimity, reciprocity, and ‘fairness’. I contemplate the fallibility of memory, and the nature of revisionist history. I think ┬áabout cats, kittens, and just about the time I find myself wondering why I haven’t got one, I remember why I don’t. It’s that sort of morning; my consciousness is filled with thought-confetti, colorful, distracting, disorganized.

The weekend was mostly spent rather satisfyingly helping my traveling partner sort things out for his comfort here. Some of that was more emotional for me than I expected. Something to meditate on at some point when I am not so tired.

Today it will be challenge enough to get through the day’s workload efficiently, to get home still feeling merry and encouraged by life, to end the day more or less content with things, and without causing any stress or drama with fatigued clumsiness or confusion. It’s a sufficiently lofty goal for today, and I will do my best – that will be enough. ­čÖé

In some moments I feel as if I am walking some invisible slack line high above sharp rocks or dangerous obstacles, no safety net, with an armload of squirming cats that don’t get along with each other, and haven’t eaten in days. The sensation is not improved by upheaval in my day-to-day routine, disarray in my environment, or the challenges of experiencing emotional intimacy and connection, while also developing emotional self-sufficiency. Sometimes it’s hard. Difficult. Complicated. Emotional.

Well, sure, you say that, but...

Well, sure, you say that, but…

My traveling partner does his courteous, considerate best to ease the strain, to minimize the challenges. He is, however, having his own experience. I practice deep listening, while also recognizing I have both a need and obligation to my own emotional wellness to set boundaries; this is by intent and respecting my ‘OPD free zone’; my partner is welcome here any time, but relationship drama is not. I continue to invest in my own emotional self-sufficiency, while also recognizing that the skills and tools required are not yet forged of unbreakable materials, and require continued practice, and more good boundary setting. I actually suck rather a lot at the setting of clear reasonable boundaries and maintaining them skillfully. An ongoing challenge requires ongoing attention, and the work involved is on me; there are verbs involved, choices, and mindful attention to the needs of the woman in the mirror, while also being compassionate, present, supportive, and aware – considerate – of the needs of the person so dear to me, now sharing this space.

partnership

Partnerships endure and overcome challenges with shared effort, support, consideration, and awareness.

It has been very tough to relax entirely this week, or to find a feeling of being grounded, centered, balanced, and hold on to it; the symptoms of OPD are present in many moments. I┬áset all that aside and┬álisten to the rain fall. I could contentedly spend the day listening to the rain fall; it’s not a comfortable fit for shared living. At least, for now, I don’t yet know how to say ‘I need more quiet time than I am getting’, without causing hurt feelings, or heaping more experiences of feeling rejected on someone who urgently needs very much to feel welcomed – somewhere. This is home. My home. His home whenever he is here. A safe place to be at home with oneself, and with love. I remind myself that healing takes time, and that hurt creatures need comfort and care, and that change is. Human beings don’t tend to remain ‘in crisis’ indefinitely (unless repeatedly subjected to an insane cycle of empty promises, baiting, and torment). Healing happens in a safe nurturing environment. It still takes the time it takes. I ask myself an important question or two about what matters most to me, and find myself feeling soothed, content, and comforted. At least for a while, it will be on me to provide much of the positivity and comfort here, and to be the builder of an emotionally healthy environment that meets needs for two, and to do rather a lot of ‘adulting’ – maybe more than I feel ready for. I remind myself I’ve been providing these things for myself successfully for a year, and that love is not an adversary, or a drain on resources, or an inconvenience, but may require some tweaks and changes to the way space is used, and the timing of various practices, tasks, and activities.

partnership

Partnerships don’t alleviate the requirement we each have to take care of ourselves, while we also care for each other.

I take some time this morning to meditate on boundaries, ground rules, The Big 5 on which I personally seek to build all my relationships (respect, consideration, compassion, reciprocity, and openness), and what I can do to deliver on those characteristics well, and not┬ásimply assume they are my due. A partnership requires equanimity, and shared effort. We can only each do our best, as we understand our best to be in the moment, and even at that, sometimes our best is literally not enough to cause┬áchange. I can choose not to take small hurts personally, and be a supportive presence in the midst of my┬ápartner’s emotional chaos and suffering; it will require me to learn to juggle my own needs and┬átheirs with considerable efficiency, and to learn to set boundaries more firmly, but also with great tenderness and compassion. Fuck – I hope I am up to the challenge. A year ago – almost exactly – the best I could do was simply remove myself from the problematic environment, because the difficultly level far exceeded my competency, or ability to care for myself while enduring it.

Having both complex PTSD and ┬áa TBI, trust me when I say I don’t find living with people easy; however lonely solitary living may sometimes feel, it is nearly effortless in┬ácomparison to cohabitation!

Today's sunrise wasn't this colorful. I am reminded that change is.

Today’s sunrise wasn’t this colorful. I am reminded that change is.

Every day is a new opportunity to begin again. I spend the time over my first coffee revisiting my budget. There is change to account for. I account for it. I accept how uncomfortable I feel having to do so, so soon after moving. I take a moment to recognize the simmering anger and resentment lurking beneath the discomfort, directed toward someone who is literally no part of my life in any direct way. I resent that there is even an implied presence, or any agency affecting my routine that I have not invited into my experience. I breathe and let it go. I’m okay with the anger, and the resentment too, they seem a reasonable emotional response to being shoved from the slow moving-in process I had embraced so deliberately, to being in circumstances that feel rushed by need and urgency. I dislike the unpleasant negative emotions that come with the lurking ‘OPD’ now a constant threat in the background.┬á┬áIt is part of my partner’s experience, and as unpleasant as I find it, it’s no doubt worse for him.┬áI’d like most to┬áease his suffering. How do I set and reinforce boundaries about this OPD free zone I have created for myself without encroaching on the free will of a respected adult now in my household? (I mean, seriously? I entirely don’t care to deal with it, don’t see that it must be dealt with at all, and don’t want to encourage it; it has no place here.)

...and listen deeply.

…and listen deeply.

The day is barely begun, and holds so much promise. Perhaps a second coffee, and another chance to begin again? Perhaps a different selection of verbs with that? ­čÖé

There are things that are easy. Well…I mean…aside from me. Easy, I mean. ­čśë

I’m in a comfortably good mood, and enjoying the positive items in my Facebook feed; today is a spectacularly good day for my feed, and definitely worth enjoying. Then there’s the lovely autumn afternoon…sunny, mild, and festive with fall color. ┬áThe work day ended in a good way. I’m not in more pain than I can manage, and I am comfortable. My anxiety dissipated at some point, although I am not sure quite when. In general, it’s a pleasant evening – and I have cold pizza for dinner, which is one of my favorite foods.

There have been times when things have gone wrong, and it’s just lasted and lasted – days, weeks, worse – that’s rarely my experience these days, and I’ll say straight up that even though I still struggle with my chaos and damage, still feel frustrated to stumble on some broken bit unexpectedly, still mourn what isn’t when I could do better to enjoy what it is – it’s all so much better now, than it has been in the past. There have been no huge grandiose ‘changed overnight’ big deal improvements that suddenly ‘made everything okay’, and I don’t expect there will be. It’s all been small things, a bit at a time, some forward momentum, and moment to stumble, progress over days and weeks, then a really shitty day or two that messes with my mind and leaves me feeling uncertain and insecure. ┬áThe progress is real, though, and incremental change over time is a thing that has immense power to improve my experience – not just my experience in some one small circumstance, but even in my relationships, my self-talk, how things feel and look and taste, and how I enjoy my life from moment to moment, all alone. So worth it. Just saying.

One sunrise of many.

One sunrise of many.

Please take care of you. You matter. Keep practicing. Fall down. Begin again. I know you’ve got this. ­čÖé