Archives for posts with tag: The Big 5 takes a beating

Funny how much difference one moment can make in the way my experience feels. I’m still working on making the most of some pretty vast raw materials; the artistic masterwork of a lifetime is the journey I take to become the woman I most want to be, exploring my experience, and taking this amazing journey of discovery as a being. I am still taken by surprise, sometimes, at how little it takes to change the tone of that experience, to color it, to shift it on the emotional spectrum one direction or another.

So much potential.

A new day holds so much potential.

Yesterday the tone of a reply to a practical question held the potential to be a powerful destructive force in my day. I dislike being dismissed, or disregarded – I suppose most people likely do. I found great satisfaction that the day didn’t go awry, and took time to be grateful for new practices making a difference. I took that approach every step of the way yesterday, refraining from taking things personally – even when they appeared to be very personal indeed – because I was able to understand that the behaviors of others reflect their will (not mine), their values (not mine), and their choices (I make my own); I’m a bystander in their experience. Their pain is their own, as are their great joys. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

This morning, I woke early, feeling a bit off, my mind inclined to wander into anger or irritation although the day was so very new there was no cause for it. New practices for the win, this morning, too; I gently nudged my mood back toward joy and contentment with meditation, and just as I felt relaxed and content again, I was treated to cuddles and love. Cuddles and love are simply one utterly wonderful way to start a morning. Any morning.

A lovely autumn morning.

Mornings hold so much potential.

Now I’m just chilling, sipping my first espresso, and listening to the world wake up around me. The sound track of human experience. I’m also listening to a terribly cheesy love song in my head; sometimes love does that to me. Sometimes I just sing holiday carols. LOL (No foolin’, I do.)

This human thing isn’t always easy, or orderly, or pleasant, and the weirdest shit seems to go wrong at the strangest times. People matter. I’m including myself in that set these days, which is a very nourishing experience emotionally. I’m setting my own priorities, based on what I need, and what matters to me. It makes some of the everyday drama pretty inconsequential. That’s really the reason I don’t drill down into the details of everyday drama that comes up in my relationships. It’s less about privacy than priorities. Some of it would be fun reading, exciting fiction, pretty gripping – stuff we can all easily identify with, perhaps even a bit titillating sometimes…but it’s not a high priority for me. Those every day stresses between human primates in close quarters are not the focus of this journey, and honestly, we all have our daily grind, and my advice wouldn’t likely be particularly useful – it’s always a sort of ‘you had to be there’ moment, isn’t it? Love each other. That’s the important thing. Listen attentively, with your whole awareness. Be engaged and present. Be willing to be vulnerable and speak your mind – and your heart. Do no harm. Be kind while you are being honest. Let the small stuff go. Did I mention Love? Sometimes I find re-envisioning some challenging moment with someone dear to me animated as The Simpsons, or Archer, or South Park. It’s not so much the colorful figures; I also rewrite the script, and the plot, and try to be true to the tone of the show and characters. It relieves a lot of that sense of loss and chaos that sometimes goes hand in hand with small drama.

Like mushrooms; under the right conditions, all sorts of things come up.

Like mushrooms; under the right conditions, all sorts of things come up.

So, here it is another day in this human experience. I wonder what will come of it? Today is a good day to make good choices and express the best of who I am in every interaction. Today is a good day to love and be loved in return. Today is a good day to respond instead of react. Today is a good day to feel autumn breezes, and see smiles on the faces of children. Today is a good day to be open to new ideas and to take chances on trying new practices. Today is a good day to change; that’s how I change the world.

It’s a paraphrasing, of course, but so many noteworthy leaders of people, visionaries, and prophets have said it, pleaded with others, asserted that the message is more than the messenger. It’s a valid point. I mention it because, some days ago, someone dear to me commented in conversation how inspired they sometimes feel after reading my blog.

Then…there’s today. More specifically, there was last night, and realistically it is behind me. I feel very human this morning, and not really the best bits of that experience, and my behavior last night can easily be described by someone as ruining something. This morning, it’s just the physical and emotional aftermath of a very bad few moments last night. Not even an hour, actually, but when something feels bad, it doesn’t have to last long to make an impact.

This morning, my head aches fiercely, and my ears are ringing. I have a headache that feels like I took an axe to my own head and tried to cleave my skull in two. I don’t even care about my arthritis – the headache overwhelms most other sensations. It’ll pass. It sucks right now, though.

Yesterday was an amazing day. Great stuff at work, great evening at home hanging out and connecting over conversation and the glow of love and family. The mood was loving, and there was clearly romance on the mind of my traveling partner. I felt loved, appreciated, and we all seemed to be enjoying the evening. Almost out of nowhere, I lost my damned mind. Seriously. I don’t really understand what happened at all. I went fairly quickly from communicating a misunderstanding I felt somewhat emotional about, even recognizing I was likely mis-understanding something. That seemed to work out okay, but I felt my level of fearfulness and insecurity suddenly take an abrupt turn for the worse, and simultaneously had a sense that I was no longer communicating clearly. What happened next doesn’t make sense, to the point that I’d likely complain about it if I saw it in a movie…I simply disintegrated into little better than a cornered animal, attempting to communicate using emotions, exclusively, but trying to express them in words – which felt in the moment like a distinctly foreign language. It was, quite frankly, horrible. My partner was obviously hurt; his desires for the evening blown to pieces in a shit storm of unexpected and inexplicable negative emotion.

He did his best to sooth me. I could even recognize his efforts then. What reached me wasn’t the feeling of his love, although I recognized the love existing there; what reached me was his powerful hurt, his anger, his doubt, and I reacted incredibly poorly to both what was going on within me, and how badly that was affecting him.

Now I’m sitting here doing things I’ve been practicing, things I’ve worked hard to build over time, and trying to resist the emotional and very human impulse to turn on myself and destroy whatever is left of a pretty decent human being within – because I let myself down in a moment, disappointed myself in the face of an earnest desire not to do my loves more damage, and a feeling that only justice matters, and that I must be punished. Harsh. I’m not easy on myself when I fail fall. So. It could be a lovely morning after a night of passion. It isn’t, and I do feel hurt by that, and I do feel I let myself down somehow, and I do feel saddened to be so human and so easily able to hurt someone I love, and I do feel frightened and confused that it was such an inexplicably small step to what felt very much like madness.

I spent a bit less than an hour meditating this morning. I need that time for stillness, awareness, presence; reconnecting with the firm foundation in love and compassion that I’ve been working so hard to build is tough right now. It’s a pretty new thing to keep taking that step, again and again, to allow myself my humanity, and to recognize that it won’t always be easy, that I am going to make mistakes, and that this journey is about growth, not perfection.

I still wish I understood, and in the wishing I recognize that I do, and that what I understand is ‘enough’. My hormones have been fluctuating, I can tell because my face broke out yesterday, which I generally only experience with PMS. I’m pushing myself incredibly hard at work this week on an important project, and also in therapy on an even more important project (me); I was tired, and aware of that piece of my experience in the moment. I was in a lot of pain with my arthritis, and my ankle. I already had the beginnings of this headache, and some emotional baggage I was struggling with in the background and trying hard not to share that experience out of a very human reluctance to bring anyone down. I had a nasty bite of my PTSD apple earlier in the evening over a small nothing that hit my consciousness wrong, and those experiences can change emotional chemistry for some time to come.  I didn’t take care of me, by dealing with those things straight up, and with a high  priority; I was enjoying hanging out with my partners, because we were all enjoying each other. I chose poorly. I ended up hurting people I love.

Now… now I get to figure out if I’ve made enough real progress to take those deep breaths, understand that I am human, to allow myself to celebrate that in the bigger scheme of things it’s huge progress that the whole ugly mess lasted less than an hour – and that I can choose not to linger in that bad place for days, because I do have choices, and can take actions. I can allow myself to face, and accept, my emotions about the experience without lashing out or blame laying. I can be kind to myself – this headache is a motherfucker, and being human is something we all share. I can trust that my partners love me, and that love is bigger than a bad moment. It’s an effort of will to step away from the self-inflicted emotional brutality. I intend to do my best; it matters. If nothing else, I’ll get more practice. But, to be fair, I can’t suggest that anyone ‘follow’ me… we are each having our own experience, I would not want to mislead you that I’ve somehow gotten something ‘right’ or found an ‘answer’.

Love is the only answer I feel sure of.

Love is the only answer I feel sure of.

Today is a good day, full of unknown potential, new opportunities, and choices that lead to change. Today is a good day for change.

I overslept yesterday. It’s a rare thing, and generally associated with pure panic, incredible anxiety, a feeling of failure, and an excess of emotional self-abuse and callousness. Yesterday? Yesterday I simply overslept a bit, having awakened in the night to the sound of thunder, and spending some time watching and listening to the rare (in this area) thunderstorm. I woke gently. Noticed quickly that it was later than I expected upon waking. Gave myself an understanding smile, and experienced a moment of appreciation for my habit of recent years of getting up very early to slow my morning down to a pace that feels pleasant and unhurried; the result yesterday was that although I overslept by a substantial amount, there was still no cause to rush. I had time for coffee, yoga, meditation, and all the usual sorts of morning related hygiene and ‘getting it together’ stuff I generally do. So… oversleeping was a total non event, and that is what was noteworthy about it.

Perspective, again. It really matters.

What we see depends so much on what we're looking at.

What we see depends so much on what we’re looking at.

I have a peculiar perspective on perspective, though, because although I easily accept that perspective and context change how some experiences feel, I also find that some experiences are unpleasant,  unacceptable, even ‘wrong’, regardless of context. Torturing people fits that category. So does force-feeding them (and by that I mean feeding people forcibly in the face of their specific refusal to eat by choice of their will and intention). Killing people over ideology fits the category [for me] of acts that are unacceptable without regard to context. Genital mutilation, too; I am not opposed to body modification chosen willfully by an individual, but I don’t find it even a little bit acceptable to go around hacking up people’s sex bits when they are children (of any gender, or culture) and not yet able to consent, or in the face of obvious refusal to consent. In fact, that’s the magic word for me – ‘consent’. So yeah: rape, murder, genocide, drone warfare, genital mutilation, domestic violence, acting out against another human being in anger…really, any act of violence against other human beings just isn’t okay with me, whether it is parent against child, spouse against spouse, ex against ex, nation against nation, cop against mentally ill person, soldier against civilian, sports figure against fan, pissed off person against person who pissed them off… it just isn’t okay.

I have trouble understanding why people don’t embrace kindness, compassion, open communication, frankness, clear boundary setting, and respecting the boundaries set by others. At this point in my life I find no argument that justifies a man killing his ex-wife over her desire not to associate with him any further. I find no argument that justifies raping someone. I find no argument that justifies genocide. I find no argument that justifies genital mutilation (and yes, I do include circumcision as genital mutilation, considering the arguments used to support it are just as phony as the arguments used to support female genital mutilation, and it seems an obviously painful and utterly worthless procedure). I find no arguments that make violence against children acceptable, especially at the hands of a parent. I just don’t get it. How can a human being raise a hand against another human being and not understand how vile that actually is? Where is our compassion as human beings?

I wasn’t always ‘here’. This hasn’t always been my point of view. I was once pretty ‘pro violence’, in the sense that it seemed to me, then, that any number of things made sense as justification, or at least mitigation, of violence… generally falling in two basic buckets. The first, the sick notion that there is some one ‘right way’ and that all must be forced to comply with that way – the ideology argument. The other, that there is  somehow something due to an individual or group, some sort of recompense, or vengeance, or act in their favor regardless of the will or resources of another – the entitlement argument. There’s a lot of cross over, there, but generally it seems to me those two basic misconceptions cover most of it.  The ugliest violations in life are built on those cornerstones of ill-will. I don’t find either of those adequate justification for violence at this point in my life.

There is, of course, more to life than violence, and so much more going on in the world. I avoid the news, but I prefer not to become ‘ignorant’ through doing so; ignorance easily leads one to callousness, cruelty, and casual unkindness through lack of context, or understanding, so I make an effort to be aware of the flow of historical events, while avoiding traumatizing myself with emotional overload. One thing that keeps me engaged in the world, strangely, is the ‘homework’ I do that has evolved around studying emotional intimacy, the nature and function of emotion, my own internal chaos and damage, and the slow process of healing and ‘growing my soul’, and developing emotional resilience and self-sufficiency (all ongoing processes). I’ve reached a point on my journey where much of what I contemplate has to do with issues of consent; it is where most of my own damage lies.

I seriously doubt many of us take a moment to slow things down and look at how often we violate the boundaries of others, overstep the limitations of their consent, violate their consent outright, attempting to ‘talk them out of’ their position, contradict or bully them, or apply coercive tactics to their decision-making, or making demands on their time or resources without regard to their needs and desires. I see these things, now, all as subtle sorts of violation, and inappropriate uses of emotional force. It’s been hard to learn to respect my own boundaries enough to insist others respect them as well. More than once recently I have found myself moved to substantial anger when gentle insistence that my boundaries be respected was not honored…and I find violence an unacceptable way to address that…so…then what? And isn’t that how wars start? It’s a tough puzzle. I keep coming back to a solution of absolute personal freedom limited only by the absolute personal freedom of  each other individual besides myself, and the only honorable restriction being to do no harm to another through an act of my will, and an obligation to society to apply my will to prevent harm when I understand it is possible to do so, and to respect the consent of others as sacrosanct.  So many times, the prevailing attitude seems to be ‘sure, freedom for me – but not them!’  It’s pretty obvious it doesn’t really work that way.

I’m rambling a bit over my espresso this morning. I’m in a generally pleasant mood. I struggle to understand the violence in the world, and I struggle to understand how it isn’t obvious to more people how unnecessary it is. Of course, perspective and point of view matter, I guess. I think it is pretty grim that anyone’s point of view would allow them to justify bombing school children in their sleep, or laying waste to portions of our very small earth to deprive someone else of the use of it. It seems inhuman and monstrous.

It’s Saturday. I slept well. The morning sky evolved from pale gray to pinks and lavenders, and is now that sparkling clear summertime blue that hints at a hot afternoon to come, interrupted with fluffy clouds to remind me other outcomes are a possibility. Aren’t they always? This was a lot of words to say ‘good morning, please be kind, the world already has enough meanness, callousness, ignorance, and cruelty’ – but it’s really the only point I had, I think. 🙂

Each day is a good day to make good choices, and a new opportunity to be the woman I most want to be.

Each day is a good day to make good choices, and a new opportunity to be the woman I most want to be.

Today is a good day to do my best. Today is a good day to avoid taking things personally. Today is a good day to refrain from making assumptions, and give the other person a chance to use their words. Today is a good day for boundaries, and a good day for respecting them. Today is a good day for genuine kindness, and gentle frankness. Today is a good day to listen. Today is a good day to change the world.

It was an interesting weekend. Hormones, a homecoming, and the fun of a traveler’s tales wove a narrative with some ups and downs, some challenges, and some real delights. Spring in the garden and along the shorter walks I can manage on this knee gave up some wonderful pictures to enjoy, and some perspective on what matters most that helped me stay balanced and grounded as much as I could manage with the choices I made.

The loveliness of spring is, whatever else may also be.

The loveliness of spring is, whatever else may also be.

I am an imperfect being, human, alive, and more fragile than I expect to be. I suspect we all are.  I don’t make my best choices under stress; more stuff causes me stress than seems rational, necessary, or wise. From a distance it is comical, up close it is as likely to provoke tears of frustration. Hormone hell? Yeah, I still deal with it. I’ve got just 55 days now until I can ‘officially’ say I have ‘gone through menopause’. More hilarity; that doesn’t actually offer any real guarantee I won’t ever ever ever have a period, or that my hormones won’t turn some invisible corner and wreak havoc in my life for hours or days… just that it is less likely by far, and I am easily labelled ‘past my child-bearing years’. lol.  Not a great demonstration of medical precision. Still… 55 days left, and I am eager to be done with it.

A single raindrop doesn't say much about the weather.

A single raindrop doesn’t say much about the weather.

I’m excited that my partner returned from his getaway with restored enthusiasm for getting out into the world, into the wild, for hiking, camping, fishing… and I’m jealous, more than I want to share, more than seems fair.  I’d like to share those experience with him.  Arthritis. Knees. Ankle. I’m struggling with pain and mobility on a level that would likely make any sort of challenging hike not even a little bit fun for either of us to ‘enjoy’ together, at least for now.  The irony of it seems more than a little cruel to me. Damn, though, I love seeing him interested in something fun and energetic, and ‘all his own’. Newness and learning open the doors to fantastic conversation and connection; everyone needs to have their own thing, their own experiences, otherwise – what is there to ‘share’?

We serve love best when we are more than a reflection of each other.

We serve love best when we are more than a reflection of each other.

I approach life more fearlessly these days… which apparently has a down-side I had not anticipated.  For so many years I’ve kept my anger in check with fear… so… now what? It’s a scary question with some amount of urgency behind it because… I’m angry a lot.  I’d like to think not abusively so, but… anger is nasty shit. How is anger ever not at all abusive? I don’t know many people who don’t find someone else’s anger at least uncomfortable, and often ‘too much’ or ‘inappropriate’ to the circumstances or magnitude of the event. So… it’s now time to work on anger, and not just that, time to work on Anger, too. The big A. The anger that doesn’t die. The Anger that has festered over years. The Anger as a meta-emotion.  Rage. Fury. The thing that takes over and escapes my control; now is the time to unchain the beast and teach it some manners.

Stormy weather...

Stormy weather…

It’s a little scary to know that it’s time to face the Anger, best it, and move on to other things. Like a fearless hero in a legend, I am facing a foe and uncertain of the outcome – this is the big one. This is the demon I must conquer to take a next step to healing the worst damage, because that ‘worst damage’ to which I refer is the source and well-spring of that vast untamed sea of Anger. To set foot on that damaged shore, I must find a way to safely navigate that sea.

Vast, but sometimes not everything it appears to be.

Vast, but sometimes not everything it appears to be.

I wanted a more relaxed, gentle, calm weekend than the one I had, however as a student of life, and perpetually a beginner with practicing mindfulness, I value the lesson. I benefited from the opportunity to examine old problems from new angles.  I appreciate the real experience of being supported by my partner, and also seeing what that demands of my partner and that there may be more I can do for myself to alleviate the burden. A weekend with less easy delight and charm that I allowed myself to look forward to (and expectations are the motherfucker of all good times, without question), and a lot of intimacy, vulnerability and depth of connection, and opportunities to share, get close emotionally, and talk through hard stuff.  I’m inclined to call it a ‘great weekend’ in spite of the opportunities for tears.  Anyone taking the quantity of my tears personally, who wasn’t around in the 60s, 70s, and 80s is probably missing the point of my tears.

In general, life is quite lovely.

In general, life is quite lovely.

I miss my other partner, and it’ll be nice to have her home and hear her tales of adventure in the big city.  I allow myself to look forward to it with real delight, in spite of that wee demon whispering in my ear about things and other things.  We choose so much of our reality. Today is a good day to choose joy. Today is a good day to choose compassion. Today is a good day to remember – every time – that we are each having our own experience, and the irritability of that person over there (whoever, wherever) isn’t about us.

Perspective. Mindfulness. Sufficiency. Savoring the small delights more than I rail about the disappointments makes an important difference.

Perspective. Mindfulness. Sufficiency. Savoring the small delights more than I rail about the disappointments makes an important difference.

I feel pretty close to understanding something…