Archives for posts with tag: TBI

I am drinking a glass of water between housekeeping tasks. I already know I won’t easily relax on my planned coastal getaway if I leave the house looking untidy, or if I just don’t do all the things I knew I could have done to make my absence easier on my Traveling Partner. He made a point of gently reminding me that I “don’t have to go, if you don’t want to…”, immediately followed by his reluctant awareness that I’m genuinely looking forward to this. I definitely need the break… from everything. People. Work. Chores. Routines. Agendas that are not my own. Errands. Did I mention “people”? Yeah… I for sure need a real break from being surrounded by other consciousness, and some real quiet time to listen to my own thoughts for a little while.

…I’m ready…

The chores didn’t take long. I’ll run to the store a little later and pick up a couple things for my partner (I check the list; ice cream, hamburger buns. Yeah. Ice cream and hamburger buns. lol) and enjoy the moment of awareness that the pantry is actually pretty well stocked, nothing to be concerned about. It’s a tiny reduction in background stress, and added up with other similarly relieving details, I keep feeling my stress level decline as my departure time (tomorrow) approaches. Feels good.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I contemplate the upcoming days away. My intention is a “silent retreat” aside from the minimal civil interactions required between myself and hotel staff, and wait staff at restaurants. It’s likely that other than check-in/out, and meals, I won’t exchange words with another person for 3 days. Damn that sounds good. 😀 I’m also looking forward to a “digital detox”. Minimal time logged in or connected – hell, I’m even on the fence about whether or not I’ll do any writing. Probably will, but I’m for sure staying off my phone, the internet, games and apps, aside from that bit of morning writing, I think.

I think about how much my partner will likely miss me while I’m gone (I’m only an hour away, and it’s only 3 days). Maybe I should invite him to a Zoom call or something and enjoy a few minutes remotely on Tuesday…? I know I can. He’s likely to be busy with work, while he misses me, but everyone needs a break now and then, right? I think about it until my thoughts move on.

No fancy vacation agenda. No event planning. Just a woman and a camera, and a couple days on the chilly Spring beach celebrating the changing of seasons. Should be everything I need to rest and reset and return to life’s busy routine recharged and ready to start a bunch of new projects for Spring. I’m looking forward to it.

It’s definitely time to begin again. 😀

It’s an okay morning. Saturday. Good cup of coffee. Had a pleasant frosty-morning walk through bare wintry vineyards as the sun rose, this morning. Returned home once my Traveling Partner pinged me that he was awake and starting his day. Could be that was a mistake (in timing)… I rushed home rather eagerly, to enjoy the day with my partner, and I may have been working from expectations and assumptions that were a poor fit to the reality of the morning.

I got home and he was just making his first cup of coffee, immersed in the emotional experience of being angry about the condition in which parts had arrived, and the likelihood that the parts he had ordered are not in any way actually usable for the order he is working on. His anger over the situation seems reasonable. He shares his feelings. He shows me the parts. His anger is evident, and he is actively working through it. (The way out is through…and…we become what we practice. Hold that thought.)

…I have difficulties with anger, particularly the expressed anger of male human beings with whom I am in a relationship (it feels uniquely terrifying and threatening even when only expressed verbally), and it makes it sometimes very difficult to endure the experience of being in proximity to that visceral emotional experience in the moment… It could be that this alone makes me potentially unsuitable for long-term partnership. I find myself thinking about that today. Today, my partner explicitly challenged my overall value as his partner due to my “lack of ability to be emotionally supportive”.

My sense of things is that I listened with consideration, compassion, and care for some length of time while he vented his feelings (my watch suggests about 40 minutes, but I don’t think that matters as much as that he didn’t feel supported). Maybe I don’t really understand what my partner needs from me when he’s angry about something? Listening doesn’t seem to be it. Even listening deeply and offering support, or asking how I can be helpful (if I can at all), doesn’t seem to meet the need. Commiserating with his position doesn’t seem to meet the need, and often seems to prolong the intensity of the emotional storm. Attempting to “be helpful” or offer any “troubleshooting” perspective is usually unwelcome (and most of the time I don’t have the specific expertise to offer that in the first place). It’s often been my experience that eventually, however supportive I am seeking to be, one common outcome is that at some point, the anger that is “not about me”… becomes about me. Terrifying, even in a relationship where there has never been any violence. The anger feels threatening. This is a byproduct of violence-related trauma in prior relationships. Decades later, I’m still struggling with this. It seems unfair to my current (or future) partner(s).

When a person with PTSD embarks on making a relationship with another human being who also has PTSD (or similar concerns), there are some additional complications that sometimes make living well and harmoniously together more than a little difficult to do successfully – and it’s less than ideally easy, no matter how much we may love each other. Sometimes love is not enough. Maybe that seems obvious? It probably should be obvious. I sit with that thought for a few minutes, uncertain what it is really telling me. Maybe nothing new. I mean… I know, right? It’s hard sometimes. (“This too will pass.”)

…Resilience is a measure of our ability to “bounce back” from stress…

Using meditation and mindfulness practices is one means of building improved resilience. Resilience lets me “bounce back” from stress more easily, and allows for greater “ease” in dealing with stress in the moment. Resilience supports improved intimacy. Resilience along with non-attachment is a good means of learning not to take things personally. Resilience makes some practices produce better results – “listening deeply” can be incredibly difficult and emotionally draining without resilience, for example. Resilience is like a glass of water, though; once the glass is emptied, no amounting of drinking from it will result in slaking thirst. I’ve got to refill the glass. (It’s a wise practice to keep it “topped off”, too; that’s where self-care comes in.)

G’damn, I really need some time away to invest in my own wellness and resilience. Quiet time taking care of the woman in the mirror for a few days, without any other agenda or competing workload. My resilience is depleted. Even “doing my best” is not enough right now – I feel comfortable acknowledging that. Can’t efficiently move forward from one place to another if I don’t recognize where I am right now – and start there. In this particular instance, it is less about physical fatigue than emotional and cognitive fatigue. I’m “brain tired”. I’ve been lax about my meditation practice, and it’s clear how much that does matter. I’ve taken on too much, and can’t seem to dig out in order to get to the practices and experiences that support my wellness; I’m scrambling just to get “all the other shit” done, that seems to have been given a higher priority than my emotional wellness or mental health. I can’t blame anyone else; it’s called “self-care” for a reason. I’ve been giving 100% of what I have to offer to work, to the household, to my partner, and not leaving much “left over” to take care of myself.

I find myself wondering if I would do well to leave for the coast a day earlier. It would probably be good for me. Probably not good for my partner who has been missing me, and potentially feeling un-cared for and lacking an adequate portion of my undivided attention and emotional support. I’ve only got the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else has – and figuring out how to parcel that out is sometimes difficult. I could do better. Seems like everyone needs a piece of me… and the only person who seems ready to yield what they feel is their “due” is… me. Fuck. That’s how I get into this quagmire of cognitive fatigue and emotional fragility in the first place, though. Taking care of myself really needs to be a non-negotiable – at work, at home, and in life, generally. I could do better.

…When I take better care of myself, not only is there “more in my glass” to share with others, the glass even gets bigger and holds still more… and I know this

We become what we practice. When I practice calm, I become calmer. When I practice good self-care, I become cared-for, resilient, and confident in my worth. When I practice deep listening, I become a better listener more able to “be there” for others. Understanding this is important. It is true of unpleasant emotions, too. If I “practice” losing my shit in a time of stress, I become more prone to being volatile. If I “practice” anger by way of confrontation, venting, or tantrums, I become an angrier person less able to manage that intense emotion appropriately. True for all of us; we become what we practice. How do I become the woman – the person – I most want to be? Sounds like I need to practice being her …and when I fall short? I need to begin again.

I finish my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin planning the packing and tasks needed to prepare for my trip to the coast. I remind myself to take time to meditate, to check my blood pressure, to stay on time with my medications. It’s a lot to keep track of some days, but the pay off is worth it; I feel better, enjoy my life more, and I am more able to be there for my partner when he needs me. I’ve just got to do the verbs.

Time to begin again. Again. It’s slow going, sometimes, but I do become what I practice.

Yesterday was rough. I’m not really sure why. I think about it over my coffee for a few minutes.

It is the week following the daylight savings time change for Spring, and while it’s not as hard on me as the one in the autumn, it does change the timing on all my medications, and that does affect my experience. Maybe that was it? Maybe it was the headache? Maybe it was a byproduct of my sour mood after my Traveling Partner snarled at me (after I allowed myself to be distracted while he was sharing information he expected I would need in order to complete an errand I had offered to run on his behalf)? Maybe it was the cascade of shitty other (small) experiences that followed? I mean, it was a lot to take: I smashed my hand in the car door, broke a couple nails, almost ran out of gas on a day when timing mattered, my GPS failed while I was in a strange city, and I also missed a meeting I had planned to attend and had to reschedule… I mean, seriously? Shitty bunch of happenstances.

At any rate, yesterday was rough. I finally got home from running that errand… in a vile mood, cross, feeling dark and just fucking seething with negative energy, generally. I still had hours of work ahead of me that needs to be completed before I take a week off next week. Somehow, together, my Traveling Partner and I still managed to have an okay evening together. We ate a meal… I don’t remember what it was now. I was just grateful to dine in quiet harmony with this human being I love, avoiding opportunities to be at odds with each other, and just enjoying what remained of the day. It was enough.

It’s likely that my whole self is just needing the down time I’ve already got planned – I’m “all peopled out” for the time being, and every additional interaction with another person is… too much. lol We’re social creatures, though, and it’s an unreasonable ask to be wholly entirely “left alone” when we live and love and work with … people. Next week I’ll get away for a couple days, unplug, walk the beach alone with my camera, walk the trails along the coast that lead across meadow and marsh and through the salt-sprayed forests. It’ll be lovely. And quiet. I’ll nap. I’ll write. I’ll read. I’ll meditate. I’ll make each day a pause from how busy life can feel. Hopefully, the result will be that I come back to the day-to-day feeling recharged and grateful and appreciative of the good life I lead, instead of snarling my way through the minutes feeling crowded and encroached upon. 🙂

…I have stayed at the same place often enough now that they texted me this morning to ask if I’d like my usual early check-in for my arrival on Monday…

My attention slips to work before I’ve even finished writing, and before I’ve actually started my work day. It’s been that kind of week, and, honestly, that’s part of the challenge for me right now; I’m exhausted and struggling to put my attention on taking care of this fragile vessel. Human.

I sigh out loud and sip my coffee.

It’s time to begin again.

It’s the first morning I’ve had any “writing time” in what seems like a very long while, although it has only been 6 days. “Only” 6 days? It’s been nearly a week! I am struck by how long it actually has been, even as I observe how little time that is, from another vantage point. I try to think about what I was doing before last weekend that would have halted my writing in that way, and finding myself a bit lacking. I startled myself with an abrupt bark of a laugh in this quiet early morning space. Right. That was it…

…The same events that changed the entire character of the “department on-site get together” I went to the city for this week had also altered the flow of my days last week. Just that; work. There it is, though; change. Change is

What had been planned as a fun sort of re-calibrating/re-charging sort of get together of colleagues who rarely meet IRL or work together collaboratively in a shared physical space in a single time zone became a tactical gathering of professionals doing what they do in an extraordinary way to meet extraordinary needs. Instead of a handful of structured pleasant meetings, ice-breakers, team-building exercises, and after hours get-togethers and social activities, it was work. A lot of work, long days, fast-paced and very demanding, and we were mostly all too exhausted to do much partying. Most of the structured strategic planning or informational sessions were just cancelled, and others were re-planned to be recorded content for later consumption. Many of us didn’t make it to any after hours activities at all; too tired. I put in about the same hours in 3 days this week than I generally do in an entire week. lol The week is not over.

I’m not even bitching about any of this. It was amazing to see the team come together as a well-coordinated effective professional powerhouse. We got so much done that was needful and even urgent. Pretty cool. (I would not want to try to sustain this kind of intensity or pace, it would quickly be exploitative and abusive.)

I’m so glad to be home again! I feel rather as if I was very far away for a very long time, although I was only gone 3 nights, and I was only 47 miles away. My Traveling Partner missed me. I missed him. (So much!) We enjoyed a lovely chill evening together. It was nice to cook a simple meal in my own kitchen (we had hot dogs). It was so good to be in my own bed, again. 😀

I’m only half un-packed, and I’m sitting here sipping my coffee thinking about how to most easily pivot from getting laundry done and unpacking to repacking for my wee coastal holiday next week. (So soon!) There was nothing restful about the trip to the city I just returned from, and although I missed my Traveling Partner enough to consider (briefly) canceling my coastal getaway, I know I actually really need to take some proper time for myself, to rest and recharge. I’m so tired! LOL A couple days on the coast, sleeping in, writing, reading, drinking coffee, walking the beach – it will be a healthy investment in my wellness and resilience.

I sigh out loud, remembering an errand I need to run today and making a point of putting that “top of mind”. I feel my attention tugged in the direction of planning the day. It must be time to begin again… 😀

Another morning. Another Friday. Another cup of coffee. 😀

I sat down with other thoughts, but as the minutes passed my thoughts just sort of … dissipated. I’m left with this pleasant quiet moment and this cup of coffee. It’s enough. I feel contented, and I am safe and warm inside, while a strangely snowy rain falls steadily outside.

I woke too early. Headed to the co-work space early. I was hopeful my Traveling Partner would be able to get some additional rest (he was already up when I woke), but based on the continued conversation via text, I guess he was not able to go back to sleep. I sip my coffee hoping he has at least had enough rest to support the needs of his day. I’m tired, but not groggy (which is nice), and I would have happily gone back to sleep after getting up to pee at 04:25, but his audible exclamation of relief that I was “finally” up fueled a decision to, instead, properly get my day started a bit early. I’m not cross about it; should be a short day, today.

I think about the weekend ahead. What will I do with it? What will we do with it together? Sunday evening I’ll head into the city for a work “on site” event that spans a couple days, before returning home Wednesday. The week after that I’ve got a couple days on the coast planned. I find myself hoping he is easily able to sleep while I’m gone.

My back aches from the cold chilly weather. My face hurts because my occipital neuralgia has flared up. My head aches, but, honestly, when doesn’t it? It’s all just physical pain. Noise. I breathe, exhale, and relax – which rarely seems to actually reduce the pain I’m in, but sometimes does sort of “push it off to the side” and render it rather harmless. I take time to meditate. Do some yoga. I feel ready for the day ahead. It’s a good feeling.

I yawn and queue up a study playlist – maybe this week I’ll take my next certification exam? Life itself doesn’t give us many “credentials” for basic adulting or successfully thriving… but “credentials” are out there for the taking, on a wide variety of topics and skills, in many areas of human endeavor. Feel like you need one? Go get it! Do the coursework. Do the study. Take the test(s). Looks great on a resume – and feels pretty good to complete. 😀 What are you interested in? Are you learning that? If not, why not? What are you waiting for? You’ve got the entire internet in front of you and you’re sitting here with me? Ready this? I promise you my feelings will not be hurt if you choose, instead, to go learn something that could have a significant payoff in skills, ease, or enjoyment of life – or even money. lol Do you.

The day begins to break through the pre-dawn gloom. It’s snowing now (again). The sky is gray. It’s time to begin again.