Archives for posts with tag: rebuilding the drama free zone

I’m sipping my Sunday morning coffee in solitude. Best that I do so. I’m in a lot of pain after a long walk on a windy winter beach, yesterday, which, while it provided wonderful time to reflect and listen to my own thoughts, was also physically taxing. I’m definitely glad I wore base layers, too; it was chilly!!

Windy, rainy, cold, and the tide coming in. There’s no stopping the tide.

Things went seriously sideways Friday night, and Saturday’s walk on the beach was moody and bleak. It felt wholly necessary, but there was little joy in the moment. This saddens me, even now. It is, at this point, just something I’m adding to the recollection. I breathe, exhale, and let that go.

…I got some great pictures…

Friday might not have turned into the emotional shitstorm it did if I had been paying more attention… or… if I were altogether someone else, I suppose. My Traveling Partner woke in pain Friday morning, and was in an absolutely foul mood as a result (not unlike where I find myself this morning). He made a point of saying so, and was very kind and careful in our interactions all day, although he was cross and irritable. I finally ended my work day and … the whole delicate considerate assembled-with-care framework crumbled. I’m still sipping my first coffee, right now, this morning, and my brain is not yet entirely “on line”; I struggle to recall specifically what went wrong. Something I said, or my reaction to something he said, and suddenly we were lobbing raw emotions at each other in the form of angry words. I wept. We took turns shouting. We both ended up triggered – and triggering each other – and just fucking mired in our individual pain and heartache. To call it “unpleasant” seems insufficient. To make more of it than that seems simultaneously disrespectful of any underlying legitimate concerns that ought be addressed with love and consideration – but also seems likely to elevate those painful hours to something more important than what they were. Chaos fueled by emotions. Emotions that had less to do with the moments we found ourselves in than other moments, in other relationships, that left us scarred. Both unpleasant and unfair. How is it “unfair”? Isn’t it always unfair to ask love to sweep up the mess left behind by circumstances that had little, if any, actual love in them?

Friday morning became a painting, instead of an argument. 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas, untitled.

Yesterday was strained and awkward. This morning I woke up in pain, and found myself saying so, much in the same manner that he had on Friday morning. A cold chill rolls up my spine, and my mouth goes dry, and my anxiety spikes over fear that today will be another Friday, and end poorly. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I do it again. Then another breath. Followed by another. I keep at the breathing until the hinted-at-future-but-not-now feelings of anxiety recede. I definitely don’t need to invite or cultivate that shit.

I sit with my coffee this morning, thinking about my walk, my work, my relationships… I consider how my TBI affects the way I communicate, not just the part where I talk (a lot), or interrupt (too much), but also the part that is the step beyond listening; my ability to make sense of what I am hearing, and to correctly reply to what has actually been said. I do pretty well, generally, but… when I am tired, or in pain, or distracted, I’m not just “less good at that”, I’m pretty horrible – and when I look at that, and also consider the “performance pressure” I tend to feel that pushes me to answer any question very quickly, I see how easily this can go very wrong, leaving someone trying to have a conversation with me feeling perhaps I am not listening at all. It’s rough. It can go a bit like this:

“Did you hear from your friend about that painting?” someone asks.

“No.” I say, “Well, they texted me. I didn’t feel up to talking right then, so I said I would call back today after work,” I add, followed by “They did say they really like the painting, in their message to me.”

(no shit, a real conversation I had)

So… yeah. What the hell?? When I see it written down, I totally get why that would be not just incredibly frustrating to wade through to get a simple “Yes, they liked it.” It also tends to seem potentially … dishonest? Misleading? Manipulative? Crafty? Vague? Withholding? Dissembling? A whole bunch of adjectives could apply. It’s not actually about any of that, though. I started answering the question I was asked before I actually understood the question at all. Along the way, my brain mixed up “hear from” with “speak to” – similar but quite different – and entirely missed the point of the fucking question until I’d provided a bunch of utterly unsolicited other information. So… slow down? Fuck yes. Easy, right? Well… maybe? It’ll take practice. I’ll say very bluntly that I’ve had “reply immediately” literally beaten into me (first marriage was a domestic violence nightmare I’m lucky to have survived). It’s hard to change behaviors that were heavily reinforced with violence or trauma. It takes more work and practice and commitment and awareness and encouragement and kindness and support than I can describe. It can be done. My results vary, though, and every failure is heart-breaking for at least a moment of pure distilled disappointment with myself.

…This isn’t “all about me” though. This particular challenge is very specifically the sort that commonly affects the people interacting with me, most. I’m kind, honest, open, and well-intentioned, but I’ve also got PTSD… and I’ve got brain damage. That’s going to present a combinations of characteristics some people just aren’t going to be willing to deal with long-term. So far my Traveling Partner still chooses to share this complicated journey with me. I’m very fortunate, and very grateful. I know it isn’t easy.

Caution.

So, yesterday, I walked on the beach alone, reflecting on my challenges, my abilities, love, and life, and work, and gave some thought to life’s curriculum on the topics of boundaries, and of communication. I was missing my partner long before I noticed my knees were aching, and headed home when the rain began to fall heavily.

I find myself, now, bringing my thinking “back to basics”: breathing, listening deeply, my “Big 5” relationship values (Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, Openness), and the book my own beloved recommended to me, early in our relationship…

It’s hard to go wrong with good basics…

Yep. I am re-reading The Four Agreements, again. Sometimes beginning again is simply a step forward, with new thinking. Sometimes beginning again means a new commitment to something that is proven to work well, when applied consistently. Now there is a day ahead of me… I see sunshine through the window shade. The aquarium needs maintenance. There is housework to be done. In spite of aching knees, I’d enjoy a walk in the forest, now that the storm damage from the recent ice storm is cleared away. All of that, and Love to nurture besides… looks like a busy day ahead.

…I guess it’s time to begin again…

Yesterday? Work, home, dinner, some chill time, and positioning bookcases. The day felt comfortably normal, comfortably routine. I still can’t quite find my way around in the dark here. The dimensions of the spaces are different (like the width of the hallway), in addition to the very different floorplan, generally. I struggled to fall asleep, still learning “new noises” – some of which sound very much as though they are inside the house (they aren’t, I checked).  Feeling really settled comes with time, and the unpacking of books, and the hanging of paintings, and the mental cataloging of noises. I remind myself there is no rush; I live here.

My commute was pleasant, yesterday. It’s an improvement over the old one, even if I take public transportation, which I did. There is a nearby-ish “park and ride”, and I am taking advantage of it to continue to let my foot heal. The bus I take is a straight shot to the office, no transfers, no delays, frequent service. Convenient. Shorter than the old commute, if measured in minutes. I am grateful to have the car, and can choose to use it.

I smile, thinking of my Traveling Partner, and his assurances that I certainly need the car more than he does, right now, and letting me have it for some while. The sky lightens beyond my window, and I wonder where he is this morning, and whether he is also looking at the morning sky.

This morning is the start of another day of “the new normal”. The morning traffic just outside my window, is the start of noisy, busy, Tuesday morning commuter traffic. I chuckle thinking about how much I bitched about the ceaseless quiet roar of distant traffic at #59… somehow it still managed to wear on my nerves more than the louder, nearer, traffic does here. Was it the broad expanse of meadow and marsh that made it such an affront to my senses? Or was it the lack of pauses, the lack of quiet even in the wee hours? I feel generally calmer here (so far). Planes overhead. Cars. Trucks. Buses. Cement mixers. Delivery vans. None of that drowns out the peeping tree frogs, chirping and singing of the birds in the trees alongside the deck, or the vocalizations of the squirrels and chipmunks. It’s lovely here, in spite of the traffic, in spite of the aircraft occasionally overhead, and even in spite of not being entirely moved in quite yet. (I’m down to the bit I can take my time with, and I’ll be more satisfied with the aesthetic outcome if I do take my time with it.)

Tuesday, huh? Precedes Wednesdays, generally. This week, that means another work day. I’ve grown rather accustomed to 3 day work days and 4 day weekends. lol Definitely a schedule I could enjoy long-term. 🙂 This week it’s back to full length work weeks, and Thursday feels rather far away.

A new normal will ideally include all of the best self-care practices that nurture this fragile vessel, and support an active life. It’ll need continuation of the practices that support my emotional and mental wellness, too. I guess I’ll get on with that… it’s a lovely morning to take a seat on my meditation cushion, looking out a different window, into a different morning view.

Taking care of me. I see changes to make based on the aesthetics of the view.

It’s a lovely morning to begin again.