Archives for posts with tag: still human

It was a generally lovely weekend, and I enjoyed it greatly. The one or two isolated moments of disharmony were too human, and too brief, to make much of and they quickly passed. It was a weekend to connect, to bond, to listen, and a weekend to be very aware of how much I also needed my own attention, if only for a few hours.

Meditation continues to be a key practice supporting my emotional wellness.

Meditation continues to be a key practice supporting my emotional wellness.

This weekend I took time to continue to ‘move in’ and get more settled; I’d only begun that process when my traveling partner unexpectedly landed on my doorstep for an extended stay. I had halted the process of ‘getting all moved in’ without really noticing I had. Providing him with support and care, and seeing to his comfort is also a high priority, and I attended to it immediately – then forgot I still had quite a lot to do for me, as well. One of the many valued opportunities for me in living alone has been learning to take care of myself, and to be more reliably self-sufficient, specifically because I do tend to ‘overlook myself’ in the context of cohabitation with intimate partners. This weekend I attended to a great many more ‘me-centric’ details, and put some effort into continuing to get moved in, myself.

My favored spot to meditate has been in front of the patio door, and living alone it hasn’t been a headache to simply leave my cushion sitting right there; I step around it. Living with my partner, the comfort of ‘having to step around it’ was no longer exclusively about me, and the cushion was somehow ‘in the way’ – funny how perspective changes on such details. Living alone, meditating in the living room  works beautifully. In a shared living space, the living room is now a busy common area, home to the stereo, television, video games, and fireplace – as well as the door to the patio garden, adjacent to kitchen and dining space – and no longer seems a good fit for meditating at some points in the day, there are too many distractions. Choosing to meditate less frequently, or on a schedule, doesn’t work for me, so I put time into rethinking where I meditate during those hours of the day when doing so may conflict with my partner’s activities, and decide to make sure my bedroom is also set up to be a convenient and inspiring place for meditation.

My studio quickly filled with paintings that are not yet hanging, many of which had been stacked in my partner’s bedroom, because it was an empty room when I moved in. Paintings not yet hanging in my own bedroom contributed to the disarray, as well as projects in progress. Painting rails for temporary displays and drying space have not yet been installed. Soon. This weekend I focused on hanging paintings in my bedroom, making that space ‘more my own’. I walk around the apartment quietly with my coffee, smiling at how much got done with weekend, and feeling very much ‘at home’.

This morning felt very natural. I woke a bit ahead of the alarm, not uncommon, and shut it off, choosing a few minutes more time meditating, rather than attempting another 15 minutes of sleep. It was nice that my cushion was already there, and the walls hung with carefully chosen art work on themes that tenderly guide my thinking toward perspective, balance, sufficiency, and mindful awareness. My stiff aching spine benefits from ‘sun salutations’ before I consider myself really ‘up’ for the day. By the time I got to the kitchen to make coffee, I was feeling fairly awake, and ready for the day. I quietly emptied the dishwasher while I waited for the water to heat for my coffee, feeling generally very comfortable, and very much at home. I had been concerned that I would feel less at home here, myself, with my traveling partner moving in. It seems I have learned some things about taking care of me, over the past year. I realize with some astonishment that, in fact, I lived alone for less than a year…

In the not-quite-a-year that I have lived alone, I have learned a lot about the details that matter most (for me) about cohabitation: the intimate friendly presence of a lover so near, the hellos and good-byes, the day-to-day graciousness and shared delight, conversations, planning for the future, shared tales of time apart shared more frequently in greater detail involving less time, the humor, the support, the availability of hugs, shared problem-solving, teamwork, and sure – sex, too, but surprisingly (to me) that isn’t the most singularly important detail…turns out that the most important details are about emotional intimacy, rather than physical intimacy. There remains so much to learn about life, about love, and even about the woman in the mirror. I am eager to share this piece of that journey, and see where it leads. There are a lot of verbs involved…

Sharing the journey? A good opportunity to be love.

Sharing the journey? A good opportunity to be love.

Today is a good day to start a journey. Today is a good day for love.

I am the human being I am, having this experience right here. There are no promises, few ‘right answers’, and the ‘limited life-time guarantee’ is merely that my lifetime will be limited. I enjoyed a lovely quiet weekend, and crashed out at a comfortably typical time, neither late nor early. I woke some 90 or so minutes later, awakened by my own alarmed vocalization, and weeping; I had taken a detour through The Nightmare City. It happens. I once (as in, ongoing, for many years verging on ‘always’) had grimly persistent disordered sleep (nightmares, night terrors, occasional sleep paralysis, some sleep walking, insomnia…), and improvements over time don’t assure me of continued easy sleep ongoing ‘forever’. I’m still very human. I still deal with PTSD. I still have this brain injury. So… sometimes nightmares happen.

How will I "find my way home"? "Daytime in The Nightmare City" 10" x 14" acrylic on canvas with glow, glitter and micaceous oxide. Indoor light, charged. 2014

How will I “find my way home”?
“Daytime in The Nightmare City” 10″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas with glow, glitter and micaceous oxide. Indoor light, charged. 2014

I woke and began the steps and practices to calm myself, addressing the latent hysteria first, moving on to relaxing such that my heart rate would normalize, and the weeping would stop. I did things children do; I got a big drink of water, and walked through the apartment turning lights on and seeing how normal everything is. I did things adults do, too; I took time to reach out to my traveling partner to share a key feeling of insecurity, to seek reassurance and let that feeling of fear and doubt go. I kept it simple and made a point of avoiding grim details that might put me at risk of writing in a very emotive way – which would tend to ‘spread the poison around’ and also stoke my own emotional volatility afresh. I meditated for a few minutes until my heart felt lighter. All that was left was to get past the aversion to returning to sleep – and this is where The Nightmare City has it’s greatest power over me. If I am unable to sleep, I am increasingly likely over time to have more nightmares, lose more sleep, and slowly spiral downward into disorder.

After pleasantly distracting myself with some relatively studious content from favorite YouTube channels (in this case Veritasium and Kurzgesagt-In a Nutshell) while administering an appropriate amount of medical cannabis to keep my symptoms from flaring up again, I returned to sleep. I woke comfortably to the morning alarm, although it took me some time to become fully aware of the meaning of the insistent beeping. The sleep I got was restful, and I feel pretty good. I know to be mindful that I didn’t get as many hours as I likely need to be at my best – by the end of the day that may be more apparent; I check my calendar to ensure I am not over-committed later in the day.

I’m not alone with this stuff (ha! …Neither are you. 😉 ). I have learned better practices for managing it when my PTSD flares up, or my injury is aggravated (and aggravating me in return). There are still verbs involved. My results still vary. There’s no particular reason for distress over that – or futility; it is a very human thing. I just begin again. 🙂

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. :-)

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. 🙂

This morning that beginning began with the return email from my traveling partner, sent during the wee hours, reminding me that I am loved. It’s enough – and I start the day well.

I’m quietly contemplating my evening’s ‘crash landing’ and wondering why? The house is quiet, but it isn’t late and I don’t know that anyone is sleeping. I know I am not.

It wasn’t a bad evening, quietly hanging out and watching videos of this and that. Calm. Pleasant. Eventually ‘good nights’ were exchanged. I am feeling very mortal waiting for the test results from my biopsy. I find myself ‘trying to be brave’ like the small girl I once was and hoping to let it go until I get the results – any other choice seems silly in the abstract. I am so very human.

Stormy weather...

Stormy weather…

I hurt tonight. I’ve got a terrible headache, probably stress or fatigue. My arthritis hurts. How is it I hurt this badly and still want romance? It’s frustrating. I’m not exactly approachable; I am fragile, reactive, and emotional. That’s really where it all breaks down – in one simple question, and in an instant of contemplation, “How are you doing?”. “Well, shit, I was mostly fine until you asked, actually…” but I never manage to say that. I blurt out the details of how I am doing – however that happens to be, and with the force of whatever emotion is bound up in it all – and it tumbles forth in words…and emotions, in no particular order, and with full real-time intensity.  It must suck on this whole other level to live around this injury, and the chaos and damage I wade through every day – I just don’t have the same perspective on it. How can I?

I don’t know what I’m to learn here. There’s something to be learned, I’m sure of that. It’s late, and these tears don’t matter a tinker’s damn to the massive ills of the world. This is some minor league suffering, right here, and there’s a chill calm part of me that recognizes the subtle difference between the simple sorrow, itself, and the wave of suffering that follows, self-inflicted. Part of me feels foolish to be so storm-tossed, like an adolescent girl; the thought reminds me it’s only been a bit more than a week since I started on the medication I was given – hormones. There are so many moving pieces to this whole ‘taking care of me’ thing. I feel like a dick for having a minor meltdown when I was unwittingly on the brink of being handed a few moments of connection, contact, and affection that I sorely needed at the end of a difficult week.

Sitting here quietly in the darkness, I also feel: sympathetic, compassionate, warm – understanding. What did I expect with the hormones, the headache, the fatigue at the end of a long day, hurting well beyond what my Rx handles, and waiting for test results? I sit calmly, wondering what to do to take care of me most skillfully, and with greatest love. Sleep, soon, probably…

There’s a new day, tomorrow. Love is pretty ‘forgive-y’ (if that’s even a word)…but choices have consequences, I’ve hurt someone dear to me, and tonight I am alone. Perhaps the dawn will come and find me smiling…certainly there’s enough love to go around if only I am open to it. There are verbs involved.

...I still have so far to go.

…I still have so far to go.

I’m sometimes quite astonished by the will people can bring to hurting each other. I’d rather not contemplate it more, at least not right now. Hell, right about now, I’d rather be thinking of almost anything besides right now. Damned awkward, what with all the mindfulness practices, and meditation, and taking care of me, and such. lol I’m feeling very present, very aware. I hurt, and although a lot of it is old pain, and old baggage, some of it is far less so.

I am learning to deal with anger – new anger, never before shared anger, bright white-hot precise anger – and learning to be more open to the honest information in the feeling of it, what set it off, why it matters, what underlying value it speaks to. That underlying value is pretty significant. I’ve been surprised more than once by what was truly driving my anger, and often by how small a thing it really seemed to be. This time? Hurt feelings drive my anger. Disappointment that a friend to whom I gave significant emotional support and nurturing during a difficult time, never seems able to return the favor, worse – my friend often seems to be in the midst of some intense drama about something somehow more urgent or more important, that pretty reliably comes up after I make a point of setting clear expectations about ‘where I’m at’ or what I’m struggling with, asking for support, or expressing limits or boundaries.

I look at those words with some astonishment. They’re true. Honest. I feel vulnerable admitting to hurt feelings over something so small (we are each having our own experience, and the pain we feel ourselves hurts the most, generally), but a little embarrassed to realize the words I wrote apply equally well to the way I’ve often treated myself: without consideration, without compassion, without kindness. I have no particular say in how someone else chooses to behave, but I have endless choices how I see things, how I respond, and what I do to meet my own needs best, over time. Better still – just knowing how much it hurts to be treated so poorly, and to see with such clarity that these are things I have done to myself, feels like a huge opportunity, a gift, a new perspective and a chance to see a bit farther along my journey; new choices are now open to me, and one is the everyday opportunity to treat myself well – more well? Better. To be considerate of my own needs. To respect myself, my body, my values, my experience, my voice. To be compassionate with myself, because I am still quite human. To be open to trying something new, and practicing something that works, and understanding that building skill takes time. Even choices to reciprocate the kindness of others, and the support offered to me when I needed it most; there is always someone else who could use a hand, and the value of kindness isn’t in recognition.

A trestle bridge along the Banks-Vernonia Trail, and a lovely metaphor for making a connection.

A trestle bridge along the Banks-Vernonia Trail, and a lovely metaphor for making a connection, crossing a bridge, along a journey.

A moment of anger somehow becomes a lesson in perspective, and emotional  self-sufficiency, and a gentle end to a trying afternoon.