Archives for posts with tag: The Big 5

I’ve got a headache. The usual. “Nothing to see here.” I’m also feeling aggravated, frustrated, and annoyed with commonplace (fairly ordinary) communication challenges with my partner. Right now, I don’t really know what to do with that, besides my very best to maintain a cool head, a calm demeanor, and a better than average attempt at “holding my tongue”. Allowing things to escalate, over something so incredibly petty, would not be a good demonstration of adult communication. So… okay. Working on that.

It’s not the communication itself, in these circumstances, that is petty – it’s very much the small shit that so easily gets out of hand, becoming a source of conflict. Manufactured conflict. Unnecessary conflict. Pointless conflict. It’s the sort of thing human primates are super good at. (Creating conflict, I mean.) I snarl quietly inside myself. I’m so completely fed the fuck up with human beings creating drama. I’m fed up with us/them bullshit arguments that are little more than territorial pissing matches, and ridiculous vortices of righteous anger and outrage used to justify terrible behavior. Unclear expectations. Untested assumptions. It’s not even about my partner, or our relationship in any direct specific way. It’s… all of us. People. “Society.”

It reaches me unavoidably through the limited media I consume, and even in the behavior of passing strangers on city streets, in unexpectedly crowded shops (“There’s still a pandemic going on, ya fuckwits.”)(I’m shopping, too.), and in parking lots. Most people think they’re right – about something. Mostly those same people are not actually “right” about the things they are so invested in being right about. They just have a fucking opinion. I’m no different. We’re each having our own experience – but we’re all human beings. We’re not very good at being our best selves. We treat each other – even our loved ones – pretty fucking badly, rather often. It’s incredibly shitty and I’m feeling cross just actually being a fucking human being, at all. We kind of suck, as creatures, rather a lot. We mostly don’t even make a fucking effort to be better today than we were tomorrow. I’m saddened by that.

A thoughtless harsh word, a moment of frustration or anger, of disappointment, or hurt feelings, and my whole experience feels colored by that moment. How is it that moments of intense joy don’t have similar impact, across an entire day or experience, in the same way? That seems unfair to me, sitting here right now. I feel chilly. The room is not cold; it’s me. I’m fighting back frustrated angry bullshit tears I don’t choose to indulge. My headache worsens with the effort of pure will at the end of a long day and week. I’m alone in this room, in this moment, because this is not about him. He’s got his feelings and experience, too; those are his. This? This right here is about me. Me, seeking to be and do my best, struggling with some things that are definitely not me at my best. Me, working to get over my bullshit and baggage, and manage my chaos and damage. Oh, I’m not being an ass to myself, and there is no cruelty here. I’m not being down on myself, but this is hard emotional labor, right here, and I need focus and concentration, and some quiet space to do it.

I practice being better than this petty moment of provocation. It’s just not very easy, as practices go. I love my partner. He’s earned my respect, and has my enduring affection. He’s my best friend. My lover. My Traveling Partner. My spouse. I’m still just fucking maddened by some of our small challenges, now and then. I’m sure he feels similarly. It can’t be easy living with me. I’ve… “got issues”. (Who doesn’t?)

I take a breath. Exhale. Relax. Let it go. Let all of it go. Just… breathe. I listen to the computer fan spin up, slow down, cycling as I type. I listen to the steady ring, chime, shimmer, and ping of my tinnitus, in the background, louder than any sounds from the other room. This too has started to become an impediment to good communication; I watch people closely when they talk to me to avoid missing an important detail. I often mishear things when I don’t see them spoken, like when I am walking away. It’s frustrating. Now and then it gives the impression I’m “not paying attention”.

I’d planned – considered? – writing something quite different, but the idea (which I really liked) was washed away by my irritation. Another bit of aggravation, this evening. I take another breath. I blow it out fiercely, childishly, crossly. I take another breath, and insist on exhaling it gently, without hostility or resentment.

My partner sticks his head in the door. He smiles and there’s so much love there. We’re in this together. “Still cranky?” he asks. Yeah, yeah I am – but it isn’t so bad. I feel very loved, and that matters more. Even when my head aches. Even when I’m cross.

…I guess I’ll just begin again. 😉

Sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall.

I’d been watching the rain fall, through the open curtains of the patio door, but in a careless moment of conversation with my Traveling Partner over our morning coffee together, I managed to inhale when I meant to swallow, with the end result of choking on a mouthful of coffee, about half of which ended up in my sinuses. While also hilarious, sort of, this disrupted the flow of conversation, and also made me incredibly uncomfortable and cross. Emotions spread like a brush fire in this household, particularly when we’re both so open, and vulnerable, and still sipping our first coffees early in the morning. Rather than attempt to pretend it away or struggling with it, I took my uncomfortable self and my coffee into my recently thoroughly tidied up studio to write, and reflect, and hopefully get past this (physically) uncomfortable moment. 🙂

He sticks his head in the door of the studio, and asks how I’m doing. I’m already okay by that point, and say something mind numbingly uninteresting about clearing out my spam folder. lol

This week my partner had taken time to hang curtains in the rooms that didn’t have any. All the windows had shades, so it wasn’t really a privacy thing – more to do with comfort, quiet, and temperature control. I am impressed with how much difference it makes! My wee library? Sounds like a library; there is so much quiet in there. The other household noises don’t really get through, if the door is closed, and the addition of curtains over the window have made the space somehow more finished looking, and even quieter than it previously seemed. The window looks out into the space between our house and the one next door, where both have air conditioning units placed, and also where the trash bins are located; it can be noisy on trash days, or when our neighbor comes home in the wee hours, or when the a/c cycles on… I mean… yeah. It’s noisy along that wall. Well, it was. Not so much now and I don’t really understand how a couple panels of soft fabric make so much difference. Hell… I’m even okay with not knowing how this works. I’m frankly delighted, and that’s enough.

I’m fortunate to be in a partnership that results in pretty reliably good quality of life. We each do our part. Our skills and abilities overlap in a few places – which is handy sometimes – and even more of our skills and abilities complement the other’s. Where things get super exciting (for me) is those areas of life where we just don’t have much common ground, skill-wise. I’ll likely go to my grave seriously impressed by some of the things my Traveling Partner has done to ensure we live well and comfortably. Partner. Husband. Lover. Friend. “Battle buddy” on days when it feels like the world is against us. I sit here sipping my coffee and feeling wrapped in his love. It’s nice. I’m fortunate.

Another sip of coffee, considering my good fortunate in life, these days, and generally… I take a moment to also be appreciative of the choices I’ve made, myself, to be in this place. I’ve made changes. I’ve grown. I’ve faced traumas and done much to put my chaos and damage to rest. I’m for sure not perfect, but I’m also not a passive observer of my experiences; I’m living my life, with my eyes open and my arms spread wide to embrace my circumstances on this journey to become the human being I most want to be. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always as I expect it to be – but I’m not a passenger in this journey; I’m in the driver’s seat, in my own life, and that feels so good to me.

Another sip of my coffee, and I find myself wondering and hoping if I do enough to provide an emotionally safe environment that my partner and I can both thrive in. I’m aware that it isn’t “all about me”. Ups and downs are real enough. There is emotional weather – and emotional climate. (I chuckle quietly, grimly pleased that our relationship is not facing a “climate crisis”, in spite of occasional “stormy weather”; the sentiment and experience please me, the metaphor strikes a grim chord.)

I find myself back at the titular recommendation. “Let the rain fall.” Yes, definitely do that. Honest tears falling in a moment of stress can be an enormous relief. No tears this morning. 🙂 I’m just saying – it’s not a reasonable expectation that we would be reliably able to “control the weather” – even emotionally. Especially emotionally? I’m often surprised (and yes, horrified) that we treat our emotions as enemies, so often, pitting them against our ability to reason and be “rational”. As if rational thought alone was some sort of super hero, and emotion the exaggerated all-powerful bad-guy our hero fortunately defeats in the end. Emotions are not the enemy. Maybe fear of them is? Maybe the panicked free fall that sometimes happens when we’re swamped by emotion, or “flooded”, or “triggered”, is the greater threat? We don’t make a point of educating children (in public schools, as part of structured curriculum) to deal with their emotions skillfully, such that those powerful feelings are an advantage, and something to value and appreciate. Isn’t that odd? Considering what a huge part of our experience of living our lives our emotions happen to be? We experience emotions long before we begin to reason skillfully, or think critically. We experience emotions without having to be educated to do so. Emotions require no training to have them. There they are. Being.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

Emotions are part of who we are. Easy to take “personally”. Tempting to dismiss as lacking value (particularly negative emotions). Sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes at odds with what we “think”.

Let the rain fall. Feel the feelings. Acknowledge them. Be there for yourself. Continue to make the best decisions you are able to make. Continue to practice healthy self-care – and also to treat others well – without regard to the content of your emotional experience in the moment. I don’t say that as any sort of “telling you what to do” thing – I’m just saying, this approach seems healthy to me. I work on it. I fail more often than I’d like to. We live in a world where there are a lot of people so thoroughly uncomfortable with emotions – theirs or anyone else’s – that it can feel uncomfortable to be honest and open with our own emotional experience. Still, seems worth doing to make the attempt. I’m far happier as a human being, treating myself with consideration about my emotions, and really giving myself a moment to understand them, feel them honestly, and working to make actions and decisions dependent on a balance. Emotion and reason. Not either/or.

My coffee is cold. I’m rambling now. It’s time to begin again. The morning feels pleasant, and I feel merry. 🙂 This is a lovely place to begin.

Weird few days. Headaches. Neuralgia. Vertigo. Not my best experience, honestly, but I’m fortunate to have it in the context of being loved and supported, so… there’s that. It could be so much worse. I hold on to that and sip my coffee. Sunday morning. Low key day to chill and get some housekeeping done, gently, patiently, and with self-compassion and respect for my present limitations. I can do this. 🙂

“Doing my best” is a slippery construct, sometimes, and I’m often hard on myself when I fail to live up to my own expectations – which are sometimes higher, sometimes lower, that the expectations other have of me may be. Very human. I don’t “look unwell”, generally. I’m going about my business, often smiling, probably seeming relatively relaxed. It’s an appearance. I put almost as much effort into “being okay” as I do into getting shit done when I’m not entirely okay. I don’t guess that’s a requirement, it’s just something I’ve tended to do. Admittedly, it doesn’t always serve me well, but it does tend to improve shared experiences, mostly. It has the major drawback, though, of routinely putting people in the position of expecting more of me than I may be up for. I think about that as I sip my coffee… how to balance “transparency” and openness with staying positive, and enjoying life every minute I can… it’s tricky.

I listen to the rain fall. It’s not “my” rain. It’s not actually raining this morning. It’s a video of rain, soothing and beautiful.

My Traveling Partner has been kind and helpful, and maintained considerate awareness of my current health concerns. It’s hard to keep those things in mind, I know. We had a great day out and about yesterday, a rarity in the pandemic to go out at all and together has been rarer still. Yesterday was fun, and also exhausting. We napped after dinner for awhile, and enjoyed a relaxed quiet evening of videos later. I smile every time I think of some detail of yesterday. Good time together.

I’m trying to stay out of the news feeds. I’m frustrated by that. I enjoy reading. I value being “current” on important affairs. The news industry has become so tainted by social media practices chasing likes, clicks, views, engagement, and ad revenue that I don’t get much positive value from reading the news. Repeats of repeats of shares of Twitter quotes masquerade as “news”, with click-bait headlines and thumbnails that often have no relationship at all to the material in the article is not a useful way to stay in touch with the world; it just drops of fuck ton of emotional baggage on me in my own living room. I’m very much over it. It’s not good for my emotional wellness, and life is too short to waste it in that way.

I am already thinking about the holidays. How best to spend limited holiday funds is on my mind. What does my partner truly want, really need – what would delight him on a Giftmas morning? (Yes, dammit, I’m thinking about Giftmas already. I blame big-box home improvement chains, but also? I plan ahead and with the postal service being slowed down intentionally, I don’t think I should wait until December to order anything that would need to be delivered.) Something big? Something small? Blow all the funds on a single item? Several somethings? Something practical? Some luxury doo-dad he might not buy for himself but would enjoy? (I mean, “luxury” is relative, obviously – there is no sports car on this list, no diamond cuff-links, no Saw-Stop table saws; all of that it entirely out of reach, for now, but there is no shortage of smaller luxuries left to consider.)

…And “what about me”? What do I want for the holiday? What I’ve got, really. A bit more of that, a bit easier, a bit more relaxed, more laughter, more smiles, more hugs, more loving… I’m at a weird unsettling place in my life where more good exists than bad, more comfortable moments than uncomfortable ones, trauma being healed rather than inflicted, and generally, day to day, enough of all that I need to thrive. I often feel a bit of a jerk when I’m having a rough go of things (emotionally or physically) because of that; it seems unreasonable to struggle when things are so generally good, you know? That’s what got me thinking about “taking it easier on myself” and being kinder to the woman in the mirror. Treating myself badly because it “doesn’t seem right” to have a rough time with something in the context of a good life only leads me down the path toward treating others similarly poorly. Not helpful. This year? I want a kind, loving, genial, tasty, joyful holiday characterized by appreciation of the small details and shared experiences that make is so warm and wonderful. It’s the sort of gift that requires my own effort and consideration as much as anyone else’s. That’s okay with me, too.

Seems a good day to tidy up, and maybe to bake something. It’s certainly a lovely moment to begin again.

Always with the taking, eh? 😉

I’ve got a couple days off ahead of me, and a long weekend to enjoy with my Traveling Partner. I hope we do. We’ve had a couple heartfelt, heavy conversations about intimacy (in general, and specifically) recently, and it’s on my mind. I don’t question that we love each other, or even that we’re “right” for each other. Love simply requires some work and attention and there are verbs involved, even in matters of love and loving. It’s not a romantic crisis, so much as a reminder to put in the time, the attention, and the work that love requires to thrive. Coasting on the magic is unfair to a partnership, and it’s a poor way to treat love. The pandemic has been hard on the two of us. We are each having our own experience, walking our own path, and sharing a complex journey. It takes some balancing, some yielding, some compromises, encouragement, connection, and willingness to repeat what works, and also to face what doesn’t. 🙂

I may not write much this weekend. I don’t know. I guess I’ll see where the days take me. I have this interesting intimacy-building exercise tumbling about in my thoughts… maybe “cocktails and questions” would be a fun pandemic date night? There is a whole universe of classic and modern cocktails I’ve never tried (I don’t drink much)… could be fun.

My vertigo seems to have cleared up. I just have this headache, now, and it is familiar. My arthritis pain is also as comfortable as an old friend in comparison to the frightful chaos of the vertigo. I’m almost happy to “just be in pain”.

Anyway. The days ahead are likely to be introspective, intimate, and deeply personal. Maybe romantic. I’d rather enjoy those wholly that attempt to juggling reflecting on them with the real-life experience of enjoying them, so I may be quiet for a few days. That’s a good thing. 🙂 Another way to begin again.

Happy Monday, y’all. It’s been hours since my morning coffee, and the afternoon is heating up quickly. I’ve got my bottle of cold water at my desk, and a covered mug of hot noodles for a quick lunch. My Traveling Partner is in his shop, doing shop things. I’m staring into an abyss of spreadsheets and a to-do list that is frankly embarrassing in length. I take a long drink of water and remind myself it is a job, and I’m being paid to do it. This time is not my own (well, I mean, right now is my lunch break, so… that’s mine).

I breathe deeply. My exhale becomes a heavy sigh. I’m mostly fine. I’m just sort of cross. This has, so far, been one of those days that seems as if every attempt I make at affection, appreciation, positive connection… any bid at all really, directed to my partner is met with… a surly, rather terse, somewhat parental tone. I’m annoyed with that. It’s not at all where my own head is at. I’m finding, as a result, that I’m just irked with the whole fucking day I find myself wrapped in. I’m okay with saying I’m annoyed by it. Real enough. What to do about it is another matter. So far, continued attempts are not being met well, so I’ve sort of given up on it for the time being. I’m in “task processing mode”, focused on practical matters and getting shit done, one step at a time, without becoming emotionally invested at all. Considering how much I enjoy my partner’s appreciation, affection, and approval, it’s sometimes very tough to let it go and hold on to the awareness that we’re each having our own experience.

Honestly, we’re a hilarious partnership. We adore each other, and generally manage the day-to-day with humor and delighted affection for each other. Sometimes it’s not that easy, and my brain injury definitely gets in the way of things now and then. I try to be patient with myself, even when he’s having trouble being patient with me, himself. I work hard on not taking his impatience with me at all personally; I know that it is not. I can be surprisingly clumsy sometimes, or awkward, or hapless, or somehow offset from his understanding of whatever the hell is going on at the moment. We are each having our own experience, that’s unavoidable. We are not one being, one mind. We’re two entirely separate human primates, making a go of life together. 🙂 A shared journey, not an identical one.

I give my noodles a chance to cool a bit. I don’t really feel up to adding a burned mouth to my list of bullshit to deal with today. lol I have choices. I can change my experience – and change my perspective on it (I was pretty irritable and on the edge of tears when I started this, now I’m just hungry*. lol). Resilience doesn’t seem to be about never reacting, or avoiding the occasional bad mood, so much as being about shortening that period of time between when a feeling or experience develops, and when I’ve gained useful perspective on it. It’s enough to be able to make that journey. I sometimes even feel that I’m getting pretty good at doing it with a measure of skill. 🙂

…I sure know how to begin again… 😀

*By the time I finished writing through my lunch break, and having a bit of a pleasant chat with my partner about shop-related matters, and connecting in a loving way, I was once again in a comfortable place emotionally. Feels good. Didn’t honestly take that long to get from “there” to here, and the lack of residual negative emotion clogging up my experience of self (and this Monday) speaks volumes for how far I’ve really come since 2013. I’m sometimes pretty blown away when I reflect on the likelihood that a bit of emotional weather of this sort could have been days or weeks worth of feelings of despair, futility, and irritation. That’s a long way from where I am now. 🙂 Worth celebrating. I slurp my noodles contentedly. This works.