Archives for posts with tag: ptsd

Last night was rough. Bad dreams. The kind of shit that, over time, makes my “sleep aversion” flare up.

…Last night the whole world was burning…

Something woke me – my Traveling Partner? I think so; checking on me – I’d been having a difficult day (although nothing much seemed “wrong”, really). I remember telling him to “stay close to the dogs, they’ll guide you away from the firestorms”. We don’t own a dog. It was weird and terrifying. I remember trying to drag myself from sleep to make sure my partner was safe, and waking more fully in the dark, alone.

“The Nightmare City” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow

Eventually I made my way out of the Nightmare City and slept more deeply. Fewer dreams. Woke in the morning, feeling unsettled, uneasy, with tears dried on my cheeks. I have a vague recollection that my Traveling Partner may have said something about being awake all night – watching over me, or? But that may have been part of my dreams.

Be kind to people. It costs you nothing to do so. The world has some issues right now, war, femicide, exploitation, earthquakes – and soon enough, somewhere, the forests or savannahs will be on fire. Again. Damn, we could do so much better. Could have done better, beginning so much longer ago. It’s only necessary to listen to some of the lies businesses have told about products they sell that they knew were dangerous to human (or other) life, or spend some time looking over the many ways various governments have abused or exploited their citizens, to know we could have been doing better. A lot better. We’re not individually exempt; human beings are less civilized that we like to make ourselves out to be.

I guess it’s all just sort of “working on my mind” lately. I sip my water and think about that. Where is the balance point between “letting it go” and “changing it”? How do I make doing my own best count the most for … everything and everyone else, too?

I rub my eyes. Tears begin to well up, and I grit my teeth and force my emotions down. I have shit to do today.

I sigh and begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee and reminding myself – again – to stop picking at my cuticles. It’s more like a “tic” than a “habit”, and it comes and goes with my background anxiety or general level of stress. I’m less than ideally skilled at managing it. I sigh out loud and begin typing. I know that I can’t pick at my cuticles while also typing…so… there’s that. Helpful.

A glance at the news doesn’t need to go any deeper than headlines. Click-bait-y or not, the news in the world is pretty grim. Earthquakes. Murder. War. Femicide. Sexism. Racism. Xenophobia. Greed. Human primates are a fucking dumpster fire of mistreatment and poor decision-making. It’s ugly out there. I feel “the weight of the world” as a big disappointing bummer. A metaphorical weight holding me down. Bleh.

I feel, momentarily, that I have little power to change the world. I guess that’s mostly pretty true… another sip of my coffee. I think about the coffee itself. Where it likely comes from, far away, in a hotter climate, and likely the product of a great deal of back-breaking manual labor that was not well-compensated. I frown at my coffee. At the world. We could do better. Every fucking one of us, most likely. Me too. You too. All of us.

Another sigh. Another sip of coffee. A glance at my work calendar for today. I’m feeling low and unmotivated. My dreams were troubled and my sleep was restless. If it weren’t a work day, I’d maybe just go back to bed and hope to wake in a different place, emotionally. So much less work involved than trying to sort myself out in this moment.

…”Do better.” I remind myself…

I take a breath. Take a break. Walk around the block feeling the cold morning air on my face. Funny – I don’t recall ever needing to take a break while I was writing in the morning, before. Strange. It’s not about the writing. It’s about the human being doing the writing (clearly). I take a minute to think about things that make me feel good. I think about love. I think about my Traveling Partner sleeping at home. I think about sunshine, Spring, and meadows covered in flowers. I think about forested trails and the sound of a creek flowing beneath a bridge. I think about rain showers and days at the beach. I think about quiet afternoons with a good book. I think about the many beautiful miles I have walked in a lifetime, and how many more miles there are to walk that I’ve never yet set foot upon. I think about the beautiful things my Traveling Partner has made for me (or us) since we moved here to this little house. I think about his smile and his laughter. I think about the warmth of his embrace and the way he misses me when I’m not with him. I think about the first time I ever heard The Sultans of Swing on the radio. I think about my first set of oil paints, my first really good brushes, my first easel. I think about the roses in my garden, and my plans for Spring this year.

…There’s more good than bad, more delightful moments than unpleasant ones, in this one life of mine. I’m fortunate. Trauma has left some scars, and imprinted me in some unfortunate ways. We are changed by trauma, it’s true. I still have choices. I still have opportunities to grow, heal, and improve. I still have so much to say about how I experience moments – even if I can’t do much to change the world. (Individual people do change the world… it’s just fairly unlikely, statistically. lol) Still… our choices matter. How we treat each other matters, and the small things we do to be our best version of ourselves, and enjoy our lives and lift each other up all make an huge difference… if only in small ways. 🙂 It’s still worthwhile to do our best.

…and then do better than that, too…

One moment at a time. One choice at a time. Today I’ll just do my best, and hope to get it more right than wrong, and do better tomorrow. 🙂

I’m ready to begin again. Again.

This morning is a routine Monday morning. It seemed to start too early. It feels utterly ordinary in every possible way. I’m on my “second coffee”, but only because I made the first one, and as I turned to walk to my desk, it slipped from my hand, spilling everywhere. Quite a bit of it into the sink that was near me as I turned, a bit on the carpet, a bit on my jeans. Just spilled coffee. I mopped up and made a fresh cup. I was sitting down before I really noticed that nothing about the experience caused me any particular alarm or distress. I’m fine. The morning is fine. The coffee I ended up with… also fine. Just a Monday morning, nothing to see here.

…There’s something to be learned from this…

I glance over the industry-related news linked in a feed in a work channel. I just skim the headlines for anything properly “new”. Nothing to see here; it’s all retreads and updates. Click bait. I look over my list of tasks, projects, and work activities. Pretty routine. In a very real sense, “nothing to see here” either. I breathe. Sip my coffee. Put on some music in the background that I promptly stop paying any attention to.

A pounding rain begins to fall on the skylights overhead. It sounds like thunderous applause. lol I grin, enjoying the thought of thunderous applause over an ordinary Monday morning coffee. The notion is ridiculous and this delights me. My mind wanders through thoughts of heroes and villains, and paintings yet unpainted. My Traveling Partner pings me a good morning emoji and my morning feels somehow completed by that.

I remind myself of a couple errands that need to be run, and then I begin again.

I’m sipping on a class of cold clean filtered drinking water. It’s pleasantly refreshing. I’ve been drinking a lot more water this year (so far). Pro-tip for the women in the post-menopause set; it’s incredibly helpful to stay adequately hydrated if you’re hoping to continue to enjoy an active sex life that may – at least sometimes – include natural vaginal lubrication. lol Lesson learned. Drink enough water, People – we’re made of the stuff!

…Coffee #2 a little later…

It’s a relaxed Sunday. My “to-do list” is relatively short and utterly commonplace. I’ll do some laundry, empty the dishwasher, tidy up here and there. Clean the bathroom. Ordinary stuff. I could resist, resent the practical workload needed to support our quality of life, bitch about it endlessly as I drag myself through these tasks… but… doing so represents rather a lot of wasted effort, doesn’t it? I mean, compared to just going about getting the things done that need doing, with a certain… accepting merriment? I’m feeling both accepting and merry, so I know which approach I am taking today.

Things are quite lovely with my Traveling Partner and I lately. Like, since we had our rather painful conversation “the other day” (more than a week ago?). Feels like we turned a corner on an important understanding of each other. I feel loved. He seems to also feel loved. We’re enjoying a lot more intimacy (and also more sex). We’re having a better time together day-to-day, and taking each other’s humanity less personally. It has proven entirely useful to have had that conversation… so I’m glad we did. I still have to work at some things, as a person dealing with another person. I think we both tend to take each other “personally” now and then over petty bullshit that isn’t personal at all… more to do with quirks in the way we each communicate and express emotion. Taking shit like that personally is a recipe for heartache. So… don’t do that. 🙂

“Inspiration” 24″ x 36″, acrylic mixed-media w/glow and ceramic details, 2010

Right now the two books on my shelf I find having the most day-to-day value in guiding my skill at self-care, and my ability to communicate with, and nurture, my partner, are proving to the The Four Agreements and surprisingly, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***. It’s not that these two slim volumes are somehow “more correct” than some of the weightier tomes in my reading list (like Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn), which are certainly worth reading, it’s more to do with immediate practical utility and perspective. There are books that teach us deeply, and there are books that give us quick useful insights that we can apply right now with great results, and upon continued reflection continue to teach us.

…I won’t kid you about The Four Agreements, it has a loose sort of “ancient wisdom” style framework that very practical people may be inclined to approach dismissively. Do you. I’m not here to foist a religion off on you or suggest magical thinking. I simply find enormous value in the very basics of the four agreements discussed, specifically, and also the basic understanding of how our life and culture program us for certain problematic thinking or behaviors that we’d do well to at least understand more deeply (if not change outright). So… with that in mind, yes, I’m a huge fan of The Four Agreements. It “works” for me – I still have to “do the verbs” myself, and it’s not a given that my results are reliably awesome; sometimes it very much matters what folks around me are also doing, thinking, and believing (we’re all in this together, each having our own experience) – but it’s a helpful way to look upon the world. It was The Four Agreements that taught me the most about the importance of not taking shit personally.

The modernity and mildly humorous cynicism of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** is different; it points out some seriously obvious things about why mindfulness does work – and how it doesn’t work (and why). It points out how very individual we each feel, and how “special” we are truly not (as individuals). Each of us having our own experience, and nonetheless all of us quite human, with all the baggage and bullshit that implies. It reminds me to take myself – and the world – a bit less seriously, at least now and then, and re-engages my attention on some of the paradoxes of living well and enjoying that experience.

I mention them both this morning because time and again I come back to them, where this is not the case with some of the other books on my list (which have tended to be “read twice and move on” experiences that provide value, but don’t gain more value with additional readings). In every case, though, I think of the books on my shelf less as “self-help” and more as “self-education”, and it’s with that in mind that I make my selections. It’s not necessarily helpful to just gobble up library books desperately seeking answers – that’s not how these came to sit on my shelf. It’s more to do with learning specific things about how my brain works, how emotions function, and how I can make use of what I learn about those things. Then I move on, working to practice the practices I’ve learned over time that help me build resilience, communicate more clearly, and treat others (and myself) well. Just tools in my toolbox. I’ve still got to do the work.

…Books that don’t demonstrate real value and worthiness don’t end up on my shelf; I just read those and then donate them (or return them to the library they came from).

I finish my water, and wonder “where this path leads?” I’m enjoying the journey. It’s nice to feel this way.

It’s a lovely relaxed Sunday. Maybe I’ll spend some time in my freshly tidied up studio…? It’s definitely time to begin again. 🙂

Sunshine and a clean work surface – like a blank page.

Sipping my coffee, drinking water, sitting here with my fingers poised over the keyboard feeling a little distracted before my thoughts even begin to form into something coherent. I had a really useful and well-considered thought quite early this morning, but I didn’t take notes, and yeah I got distracted before I could really commit it to memory in any lasting way, and now… it’s gone. So human.

Yesterday, I headed home to finish my work day there with my Traveling Partner’s encouragement. He was missing me a lot. I was “feeling the mood” and eager to enjoy some close romantic time with him after the work day ended. We found ourselves in quite a different place rather quickly; he was sort of cross, generally, and my pain was flaring up. We still had a lovely evening together, but romance (or, to be more frank, sex) became progressively less likely as the evening developed. Very human.

I woke this morning with a headache. It’s Friday, though, and the entire day ahead of me yet. I’ve no idea where I’ll be on the other side of the day. I look at my work calendar. Somehow the day looks so long. (It’s actually a short one.) I sigh out loud feeling – still – distracted and somewhat discontented. Hilarious and rather silly. Another very human experience.

I think about tomorrow. I’m eager to “really sleep in”, although I know how difficult that really is for me, generally. I think about going out to breakfast with my Traveling Partner. We had meant to do so last weekend… and I forgot. He politely didn’t mention it to me. I realized my failed plan too late. I’d really enjoy having that out-to-breakfast experience with him, though – and although we’ve lived here now for going on 3 years (wow), we still haven’t gone out to breakfast here in our new “home town”. lol Pandemics suck. Still, I think over the logistics of going to breakfast and remind myself to bring it up with him and see if he’s up for it. We’re both plenty human. Our results vary. lol

Another sigh. It sounds loud in this quiet space. My eye strays again to my work calendar, and I “feel the clock in my head” ticking away. An internal rather self-imposed distraction. I let it go. I let my thoughts drift to other places, other times in my life, other human moments. It’s a bit like “scratching an emotional itch” in some peculiar way. I silently remind myself now and then “don’t pick at that!” – some memories are best left alone, unexplored, generally speaking. Human is complicated, and it’s not all sweetness, warmth, and love. lol

I miss late night coffees with far away friends, and a time in my life when work was sort of seasonal, and there were weeks of downtime between jobs routinely. This is not that life. I’m okay with this life, too – it’s a good one. I’m just saying, I think I could have slept in today, and enjoyed breakfast out with my Traveling Partner, and a lazy romantic morning… sounds pretty good. Work is… work. Today, I’m earning my pay just based on the effort it will clearly take me to steady down and focus on the tasks in front of me. LOL

A new day, a new beginning. What will I do with it? I don’t know yet. Where will this path lead? That’s not super clear right now. I do know this is a very human experience, one of many. Each just enough different to deceive us into thinking we are unique and special in all the world as individuals, when, just as truly we are all in this together, and very much sharing a fairly common human experience. lol

It’s a good day to practice Wheaton’s Law. It’s a good day to begin again.