Archives for posts with tag: practicing self-compassion

Time to get back to the office. I’m okay with that. My Traveling Partner is pre-occupied with work right now, and when I am at home working, focused on work, the day-to-day communication challenges associated with my brain injury can be a little more obvious, and, I guess, a little more frustrating. Neither of us need that headache right now.

…Having a TBI that affects how I communicate is more than annoying, sometimes, for everyone dealing with it (not just me). It’s doubly hard when so much about “me” makes it super easy to forget, most of the time, that I have some of these issues…then… fuck. There they are. “Issues”. Damn it. I’m not sure which thing is more frustrating… is it that I often ask for clarification because context is not enough to narrow down the meanings of words to just the one thing intended? (So many words have multiple, or nuanced, meanings, and I “hear them all” when people are talking.) Maybe it is that I sometimes “answer the wrong question” (Okay, I do this a lot, and it is super comical until it becomes super aggravating.) – meaning, that, if you ask me a “when” question, I may give you the “why” – and yes, if you humorously reply by asking me the “why” question, indeed, without skipping a beat, you’re likely to get the “when” of it, without me immediately noticing what I’ve done. :-\ I wish it always just stayed funny, though. It’s not like I’m “doing it on purpose”.

…Then there is the seeming “evasion” when asked a question, and I literally just… go blank. Overloaded trying to both understand and answer, usually in circumstances where there is a clear expectation that I will “get it right” because it is “easy” and “should be right there”. I catch up, sure, but by then I’ve somehow communicated a lack of trustworthiness that can seep into even those interactions with people familiar with me for a long time, and aware of my injury. Aggravating for all concerned. Super painful for me to deal with. Way too many opportunities for hurt feelings, all around.

…And how about those opposites? Omg, yeah. I work with numbers – and this particular challenge is painful, and common; I sometimes say the literal opposite of what I am actually thinking (positive vs. negative, yes vs no, even “opposite colors”, and concepts). Like a cruel prank on myself. Fuck that shit. At least this is one I commonly catch, in the moment, myself. It’s just so hard, sometimes. I want to be heard, valued, and accepted, and I want my words to do credit to my thinking. Realistically, I’m not going to get that any more often, or any more easily, than anyone else. Sometimes, it’s just not there for me. Real talk. Sometimes I sound like a complete dumb ass.

My head aches with trying to manage my headaches, on top of staying on top of all the cognitive disarray, get complicated, and although I do okay sitting here at a keyboard… if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ve probably seen it, too. :-\ It’s not getting better as I age, I assure you. In fact, in spite of continued rehabilitative work, specific to improving these sorts of things, I recognize that there are some indications some of this is getting worse, very slowly, over time. Certainly, that last transient ischemic attack (July? 2013? 2014?) was notable, and obvious, in my writing, and I still see it in “wrong endings” of words – a type of “spelling mistake” that isn’t about spelling at all, and cropped up immediately after that TIA, and persists, to a lesser degree, even now. Brain damage? Yeah. Brain damage. It is what it is.

…How long before the frustration of friends and loved ones isolates me completely, relegated to fond memories, and deliberately patient, tolerant, excuses for putting up with me… or… just… not. Just quiet sorrow, and regrets…

I sigh heavily in the quite room, listening to David Bowie, “I’m Afraid of Americans” (but only because it was next on this playlist, although… yeah). Glum thoughts over good coffee. Feeling a bit anxious about life, generally, and about aging, specifically, and what it may mean for my relationships. My brain attacks me immediately, and with real force, “he’s not going to love you forever, not like this, not if you can’t communicate; you’ve already lost your looks, what’s even left now…?” My brain whispers my worst fears and insecurities to me.

“Fuck. For real? Right now? I’ve got work you know.” I silently chastise my personal demons, and have another sip of coffee as the tears slide down my face. “I’m not having it, you vile bitch, just go ahead and head on back to The Nightmare City, I just don’t have time this morning.” I frown into my coffee, annoyed with myself, my insecurities, my vulnerabilities… my humanity.

I switch up my playlist to something lighter, and hope for the best as my tears dry. It’s a place to start…and it’s time to begin again. This morning, that’s got real meaning; it’s an opportunity to acknowledge my fears and insecurities, accept that these are experiences and feelings I need to address in an authentic, honest, and gentle way with myself. I take a couple of deep cleansing breaths, exhaling slowly and evenly after each, until it feels comfortable. I feel myself relax a bit. I make a point to fill my thoughts with recent positive interactions with my Traveling Partner, and the delight of a recent long email from a dear friend, and the recent triumphs and achievements at work… there’s a lot to be grateful for, to be satisfied with, and to enjoy.

I finish my coffee. I start my day.

Yesterday had its challenges. New physician, time for a physical, and that means medical history questions. I’ve come a long way… it’s still hard to watch dispassionate professionalism morph within minutes to troubled compassion…then…appalled saddened dismay. It’s hard to answer some of the seemingly simple questions; the ‘when’ questions about surgeries become ‘why’ questions so easily. Questions about ‘how it happened’ easily become tears. I left my appointment really proud of my strength; I said things yesterday I’ve never been able to just say to a doctor before, and I didn’t need a tissue, just some time to breath.  It felt like a A+ on a report card. It felt like an achievement. I headed home feeling… proud of myself.

I arrived home feeling something too… only… what? My traveling partner observed fairly quickly that my demeanor and tone seemed a bit ‘on edge’. I held on to some hope that I could just get past that with some small effort… and then I just didn’t. Within minutes some perfectly unimportant moment of tension, resulting from a bit of miscommunication, turned into a PTSD reaction, complicated by a disinhibiting brain injury. I fell apart – how could I… why can’t it… why doesn’t it ever seem to end…? My traveling partner caught the emotional blast head-on, and performed a heartfelt act of emotional heroism; he rolled with it and supported me with a best effort that proved to be ‘enough’. Neither of us was aware in the moment that I might be reacting to my appointment – I didn’t take time to evaluate that sort of thing until later. I was too busy trying.

My dear love’s stroke of genius  – an intellectual distraction and a shared creative project – pulled me back from the brink of hysteria and rage, and along the way opened my eyes to a couple of things I may be able to use, for myself, later on (hint: there seem to be ‘lucidity’ gaps in the chaos these days; I am hoping to learn to take advantage of them).  I need time to think them over before I share more. Actually – I need quite a bit of time, to think a couple of things over that I have lacked ‘the time’ to really meditate on and process fully.

My choices reflect poor self-care practices, and I need a break from a whole host of small things draining my bandwidth and my emotional resources.  Specifically? I need back all the time I currently spend on digital information. It’s crept up on me over weeks and months – bad habits returning. So, I’m taking a short break from the digital empire, logging off social media accounts, distancing myself from email communication, and here, too… setting a specific expectation that I’ll be gone for a few days, taking care of me. Sort of an ‘elimination diet’ for the mind, I suppose.

The sun rises; even on the busiest morning, taking time for a sunrise matters.

The sun rises; even on the busiest morning, taking time for a sunrise matters.

Today is a good day to watch the sunrise. Today is a good day to invest in the very best self-care. Today is a good day to say ‘thank you’ to the people who support us, even when we hurt them most. Today is a good day to take a break from the world.