Archives for posts with tag: tears and tantrums

An emotional storm of unexpected magnitude blew in from deep within the darkest recesses of lingering chaos and damage. Maybe it’s my “fault” – it nearly always feels like it must be. I am, after all, the broken one in many interactions. It is, at least, how I often see myself. It feels, in such moments, as if “it” (meaning my experience of self in the context of my own life) is inescapable. An ugly tantrum. Hurt feelings all around. Yelling. My explosion of emotion. My tears. My apologies.

…This shit again??…

I can’t seem to hold on to the slippery recollection of how rare this really is these days, post-menopause. I’m reluctant to point to “hormones” as a root cause (can’t I do better than be a slave to biology?), but in acknowledging a recent rare use of HRT, I find myself wondering.

It’s frustrating. Small issues blow up and become seemingly larger than life. A moment of frustration develops into a cesspool of futility and despair. I end up weighed down by baggage I thought I’d set down a long time ago. Fucking hell.

Breathe

Another coffee. Another moment. A break to stand in what remains of the morning’s sunshine, watching the storm on the horizon approach as if to mock me. Nah… It’s not that bad. I’m okay right now. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership with someone who loves me even beyond moments of tears or madness. It’s fucking hard, though. Having to apologize, again, while sweeping up shards of emotion, and mopping up tears… it’s not on my list of favorite experiences. I could do without it. I don’t mean the act of apology or experience of remorse and contrition – I mean having put myself in a position that earnestly requires it. That sucks. It’s very human. I still don’t like it.

My Traveling Partner doesn’t bullshit me when he’s angry, or hurt, or cross. We’re pretty real with each other. We find our way to a more comfortable place, emotionally, pretty quickly. He understands the trauma history, and the lasting damage. He has his own. We’re in this together, more than many people understand to be. It’s enough, generally, and fairly often it’s far more than enough. Doesn’t make a difficult moment less difficult in the moment, sometimes, although we do both try.

My tears dry. The ringing in my ears left over from my … whatever that shit was… will likely last the day. I mean, the tinnitus is always there, it’s just a bit worse right now. That’ll pass. So will this gray fog of ennui and anhedonia. I remind myself not to confuse these states as having any sort of permanence, and to allow them to pass as if clouds on the horizon. I remind myself they are only the chemical aftermath of strong emotions, and not to be taken personally.

…We begin again.

This week has been peculiarly difficult in spots, amazing in others; the challenges seem to outweigh the benefits just at the moment, but that may be a byproduct of whatever new Hormone Hell I am enduring, or simple lack of sleep. My sleep has been disturbed for a couple of days now, and last night I was wakeful until after 3:00 am, the last time I checked the clock, and I needed every moment; the alarm at 5:00 am sounded actually annoyed with me for not being able to wake to shut it off sooner than a dozen or so beeps into the morning. I’m tired. I’m emotional. I’m saying good-bye to my traveling partner, and feeling my own feelings, having my own experience, facing my own challenges; this time around it’s too much, I guess. I am alone, for the moment, weeping quietly as I write.

What’s with the emotional intensity? Why is my emotional experience so uncomfortable for others? Why is theirs so uncomfortable for me? My brain and my heart and the things that I feel don’t ‘feel age’…but my body is sure taking a beating with the whole ‘aging process’ and I find myself resenting the hell out of it, wondering where it leads, struggling to find balance and meet needs. Struggling to feel valued, desirable, meaningful. This morning is an emotionally difficult one. I’m fucking exhausted, and the last shreds of functional intelligence know it, but I’m so tired I also have obviously impaired executive function, and my emotional volatility is through the roof. Hell, I don’t want to be around me right now, why would my good-hearted loves want to endure it if they can walk on?

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Looking up as a positive metaphor, although beauty needs no justification.

I’m doing my best. Pausing for cleansing breaths, meditating, doing my best to be compassionate with myself…but fuck, all this hurts so much right at the moment.  This week has been too much for me…and not the too much of terrible experiences or trauma, most of the week has been filled with amazing highs, achievements, connected conversation, delightful moments… The number of minutes in any given day is the same. This week has been crammed with experiences and emotions, from my amazing solo weekend – that I’ve yet to have a few minutes to really process – to the joy of the travelers coming home, changed by their own experiences. There has barely been time to share any of that, because it is also one of the busiest professional weeks I’ve ever had, filled with long hours, new software, and new knowledge.  I’d be in better shape this morning if I’d been able to sleep last night, I’m sure.

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Practices require practicing

So now what? My coffee has gone cold. My heart feels heavy. Tears just keep streaming down my cheeks… I have to go to work soon. I am alone when I want so much to be in the arms of my traveling partner. My feeling of connection and intimacy and warmth feels sheared off, as if too much happiness just won’t do, and must be cut away before I get too comfortable with it. My experience of self, itself, feels painful. I just don’t know why.  I have trouble accepting that ‘too tired’ could be reason enough, and that ‘too tired’ plus ‘hormones’ is more than reason enough, and that ‘enough’ is a good place to find balance, and stillness, and accept that this what it is, and just be. I want to feel loved, but even in my own heart I feel myself recoil from me, even as I see that desire to recoil from me reflected in my partner’s eyes. This shit sucks.

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There are choices, changing those changes everything…how to choose the better choice is a question.

Our mortal lives are so finite, so brief…it is pure raw unfairness that even one moment would ever feel like this; love exists, I still know that. I wish I didn’t feel so completely cut off from feeling that experience. Like it or not, eventually we all face the evening light.

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Feeling very mortal indeed, this morning.

Today is just one day. Today will teach me something about being the woman I most want to be. Today will be one of many in the rear view mirror all too soon, and it’s part of a bigger picture of precious minutes that cannot be repeated. Today is most especially a good day to change the world.

Multi-tasking personal growth...

Multi-tasking personal growth…

It’s been many days since I had enough ‘bandwidth’ to write… the world is, as is so often the case, teetering on the brink… of something.  Again and again I find War on my mind, conflict, emotion…and growth. Because I am so prone to metaphors, even War reflects back onto my ‘right now’ experience.  Learning to stay ‘in the moment’ is not as simple to master as it is to take on as a practice. So I continue to practice.  “Taking care of me” is a more complicated puzzle of choices and observations than I’d like it to be, and there too, I get plenty of opportunities to give it another try.  I still make choices that don’t serve me well, more often than I’d like.  I still struggle to be fully who I am, and feel accepted and understood by people who matter to me…and by myself, too.  Change requires effort and, oddly, perspective.

...from another perspective.

…another perspective.

Today I am working on “Perspective” from another angle. Art.

I’ll talk about the inspiration, first.  My life felt like it was unraveling quickly at the start of the year.  The upheaval of moving mingled with my chaos and damage (that I’d managed to avoid dealing with in any notably successful way). I had spent decades allowing myself to be heavily medicated, out of desperation, but against any potential ‘better judgement’ – and went off them one by one, but without any real understanding of how that experience would go, after so many years.  I found out I’d had a pretty serious traumatic brain injury as a ‘tween’, that I’d never been told about, didn’t remember, but had always had evidence of… and it explained a lot of lifetime weirdness, and odd impairments and eccentricities.  My PTSD flared up, and news articles about the high rate of suicide among military veterans over 50 started looking like suggestions… and I was approaching 50, fast.  It was a very bleak bit of my life… (If I had had a different perspective, perhaps that would not have been the experience I had?)

I was at a place in my journey where my perception was that my life was entirely filled with pain, that the chaos and damage could not be overcome, that I ‘couldn’t do any better’ and that failure was inevitable, and a permanent state of being. I still had lucid moments, and I still existed alongside people who love me. In better moments it seemed obvious that things ‘couldn’t be that bad’.  I wanted more data. I wanted to change my perspective, to know something different, and to ‘see for myself’ without the complications of the wreckage in my head.  I was inspired to measure my experience in some way; “Perspective”- in acrylic, on canvas, with 3D mixed media, and of course – it would glow.

It became, over time, more than an art project – and it spoke to me.  Now it is time to finish it.

Every journey has a starting point.

Every journey has a starting point.

I had chosen the move to our new home, all of us together, as a not-entirely-random starting point – it was a big event that caused me a lot of stress and interrupted pretty much every routine imaginable, and it was in the context of struggling with that fairly every day sort of change that I found out about my TBI, and started to understand what a big deal that had actually been for me all along.  My basic concept was simple enough: I would use two glass canisters, and add items to each, representative of events and experiences, day by day from that point until I turned 50. I would watch my life unfold as data points in a visual display – positive events, happy moments, exciting and fun experienced, powerful epiphanies, and positive developments all in one canister – the other would hold the hard times, the angry moments, the pain, the tears, romantic spats, discord, confrontation, PTSD freak outs, stress, grief – and there too, epiphanies and growth, because those come sometimes from what hurts us.  I didn’t want to be bleak, but I figured, at best, the outcome would be a draw – pretty nearly balanced between the tough times and the good times.  It was already February when I started – so I carefully went over my journals, notes, and emails to friends, looking for documentation of the details, and ‘building the foundation’ of “Perspective”.  I was more confused than surprised to see that even from where I was standing in that moment, the wonders and joys, the good bits,  seemed the larger part of life, and it wasn’t a small matter – it was obvious.  That sat rather uncomfortably in my consciousness for many weeks as I added to one or the other canister… because, the good times were still a much bigger piece of my experience than it felt like.  I started questioning a lot of things about my understanding of the world around me, about my ability to understand my own experience, about what the hell was really holding the chaos and damage in place, after all this time… and I kept adding to each canister, day after day… and I kept observing… and I kept meditating.

My intention was to meditate on the progress of events in these canisters, until my 50th birthday, then use the elements on canvas to finish the project.  That’s where you find me now, considering my life, and my “Perspective”.

202 days of my life in "Perspective"

202 days of my life in “Perspective”

There’s certainly more to say about perspective, in general.  The pictures don’t lie – I may be in pain, my PTSD isn’t behind me, yet, and hormone hell is often just one misunderstanding away from seemingly unprovoked tears or anger – but I enjoy life, and life has a lot of joy and wonder to share with me.  My anger, the wreckage in my head, my struggles with chaos and damage are actually a pretty small part of my experience – so much so that it all has to be placed in a single canister to be visible at all.  I have the suspicion, untested as yet, that if I combined the contents of both canisters into one, it would be tough to pay much attention to the dark bits at all, because there is so much light.  Light is a powerful metaphor; illumination, gnosis, clarity…

Canvas is waiting.

The morning was lovely; calm, centered, friendly conversation between lovers, practical and affectionate, supportive and tender. My day starts very well, today. It feels wonderful, and comfortable.

As I walk to work I find myself thinking of what is comfortable, and what is not; recognizing as I walk that some of the most uncomfortable things are on our path to growth. This is not an original thought. It has been pointed out to me by teachers of great wisdom, as well as by very wise teachers, and the most humble of friends, too. Struggle is part of our human experience, as are change, and ideally, growth. I’m thinking about these things because yesterday sucked on a level of sucking that was both remarkable, and tediously, unforgivably, like an oft-watched re-run; in spite of knowing all the dialogue, and the eventual outcome, it plays out from the moment the opening theme is played, until the last name listed in the credits rolls by, and the commercial break begins, simply because I do not choose to change the channel. I could be angry with myself, this morning, because it was what it was. I am choosing differently, and hoping that the choice makes a change.

I observe as I walk that my jeans, are very comfortable – and worn. They drag the ground a bit, and the hems have frayed completely away at my heels. They are spattered here and there with paint, and worn in places from specific work, or play. They no longer fit, having become too large as I close in on my weight and fitness goals. My shirt, too, is soft and comfortable, worn and broken-in, as favorite things so often are. It is also too big now. I feel relaxed in my clothes – they barely embrace me, due to the loose fit and I feel somehow very free. I continue to contemplate what is comfortable, and as I muse about my comfortable clothes that do not fit, tears begin to fall while I walk, and I am thinking about other things that no longer fit, however comfortable they may be; out of date coping mechanisms, long-since toppled poor assumptions, defense strategies to protect me from attacks that don’t happen in this life (or this partnership), a personal narrative based on what is ‘acceptable’ rather than ‘what is’, misplaced commitment to values I didn’t actually choose, or no longer share…other things, too, but these are obvious and I’m still not finished with my coffee. My tears fall as I walk, and I consider how much there is that ‘doesn’t fit anymore’ and what to do about that…recognizing that what will fit nicely in the future may not be very comfortable initially. I think of a favorite pair of combat boots from some lifetime before this one. I trudged along uncomfortably for many days, and uncountable miles, before those boots felt comfortable…I wonder if growing up feels that way, too? Will I ever be ‘a proper grown up’? Will my broken brain allow that, or will there always be bits and pieces that don’t quite fit, and things that don’t quite work?

Comfort…discomfort…change…continuation… I admit to a bit of fear and confusion. I would like to have a map, a Sherpa  a firm plan that leads neatly from starting point to destination… instead I find myself quite alive, and life seems to be rather chaotic and messy, and all sorts of trial and error, and damned little certainty. So, instead, I am determined in my studies of life and love, and hoping to learn the formula for turning discomfort to comfort, and fear to wonder…finding life’s ‘comfortable jeans’ would be a nice thing…to feel ‘free’…

some metaphor about growth...

some metaphor about growth…

Yesterday is behind me, completed, filed, available for later review. Today is an entirely new experience.