Archives for posts with tag: self-care

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…

This morning the work day seemed to start too early. To be fair, that’s partially a result of waking later than usual, and having an early morning soak before coffee. It’s just not my usual “order of operations” – but my back is pretty happy with me, and my pain feels well-managed. My coffee is just as satisfying as it would have been, had I chosen to have it first. :-)’

Coffee goes so well with an autumn morning!

Really first-rate self-care relies on me to select wisely from the available tools at hand – as is the case with most projects and work. lol 🙂

I sat down at my desk this morning and eyed my calendar suspiciously. Differences catching my attention without being obvious, and it takes me a moment to fully realize that a couple meetings I expected to slog through have simply disappeared from my day. Nice. I look over the other work planned for this week, and the weeks ahead as the year finishes. Good day for it. I consider my tools, and decide I’ll benefit from something that improves my focus. I put my headphones on, and begin again.

It’s a lovely autumn day. I’ve spent it on mindful service to hearth and home, and some pleasant opportunities to enjoy the company of my Traveling Partner. We both seem to be having a very good day. I’m enjoying that, unreservedly. I’m also in pain.

The forest beyond the deck, on an autumn morning.

If I allowed my physical pain to stop me from getting things done or enjoying my experience in every moment I am experiencing physical pain, I’d have to just give in. Do nothing. Enjoy nothing. Go nowhere. That doesn’t sound like the best possible way to experience life, so… mostly I choose differently. It sometimes feels like an endurance race. A test of will. A hex. Today? Today it feels like a lovely autumn day on which I happen to be in pain. Verbs. Choices. Practices. Self-care.

We each walk our own hard mile. Sometimes it’s not “well-paved” or “smooth and level”. Sometimes that hard mile is miserable, tedious, or painful. Sometimes it feels endless. Persist. Endure. Choose. Don’t like the outcome? Try choosing something else. Begin again. If every mile of this journey called life was easy, effortless, and on an obvious path, it would likely also be incredibly dull, and certainly there’d be damned little reason to grow, to learn, or to change. So… there’s that.

There’s also this pain, but… it’s wrapped in a sunny day, and I feel wrapped in love. 🙂 It’s enough.

Time doesn’t wait on us to set our priorities. Reality does not take a compassionate approach toward whether or not we have a realistic perspective on our choices, timing, or whether our opinions are tied to real life. We do get to choose, though, we get to choose so much! There’s a lot of promise in that. 🙂

This weekend I chose sleep, and I chose Love, and I mostly did not choose writing. lol Sometimes it’s hard to fit all of the things into a single short period of time. 🙂 It was a lovely weekend. For the moment, I don’t at all recall what we did with it… just joyful snapshots: a breakfast out, a dinner at home, shared satisfaction tidying up this-n-that together, love, affection, and connection… certainly it’s enough. 🙂

Now I’ve got my stuff ready for the new work week. I’m dressed for it. Sipping coffee. Waking up. Nothing much on my mind. My neck, for the time being, doesn’t hurt. I pause to really notice and even celebrate that; doing so builds an adjusted implicit awareness that makes room for the recollection that I am not literally always in pain – that’s unhealthy hyperbole. I sit appreciating the pain I don’t have… or… I mean to say, that I don’t have it. 🙂 It’s a good starting point to the day, and the week.

…How is it already time to begin again? 😀

Someone else’s powerful poetry serves this moment up to me, this morning. (Thanks, David Bowie.)

Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for
And my time was runnin’ wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
How the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Surfing the waves of joy and anxiety crashing over my consciousness this morning, celebrating change, reveling in agency, and…but… yeah, also having to manage the anxiety that comes with full throttle adulthood in real-time. Scary. Deliciously unpredictable. My sleep is disrupted, and I woke groggy from having too much to dream. I’m already walking that fine line between “enough coffee” and “what the fuck was I thinking having all that coffee?”

Choosing to make a job change (or career change, depending on how those words are defined, but either way, a change of employer) feels a bit strange and disorienting in this moment. It’s “the right move” for me right now, a good choice, based on sound decision-making (from the only perspective I have in this moment, which is… this perspective, now). Still, willfully acting on that perspective, taking full advantage of personal agency, and acting with clarity of purpose in the context of living the life I want to live, that supports my long-term needs and goals, still shakes me up a bit, and causes me considerable anxiety. Maybe it always will. The anxiety isn’t stopping me; this feels right. A good practice; don’t take my emotions as facts upon which decisions must be made.

…It’s still sort of nerve-wracking, now and then. Small stressors loom larger than they need to be. I find myself sort of “holding my own hand” now and then, and seeking out favored colleagues for moments of connection, sharing, and support. Taking time to acknowledge their importance and value to me before I leave really meets some needs, for me, and seems to for them as well. A good practice; connect with people. Authentically. Even, if I dare to use such words in the context of work, tenderly. With care. Consideration. Gratitude. Joy.

It’s a slow sort of celebration. There’ll be a few days between the one and the other, which I definitely need in order to ensure that I leave any baggage and old business behind, before I start on a new adventure. Another good practice; get my head right, let go of baggage.

I’m taking myself seriously – but not taking my bullshit personally. 🙂 Or, at the moment, anyone else’s. It feels pretty nice, overall. Each dawn brings a new beginning… some beginnings are bigger than others. Some are chosen with great care. Some are simply circumstances presenting opportunities. Some are all those things.