Archives for posts with tag: the traveler returns

Today my traveling partner will return home. I will likely be asleep when that time comes, and with work tomorrow that is as it must be. I’m content that he will be here, and I will see him tomorrow. I will spend some portion of the day quietly making our home ready for his return. My at-home partner will head out to spend an evening gaming with friends, and she’ll return with our traveling partner, and a house guest who will be among us for at least a handful of weeks. In principle, I’m entirely comfortable with that. In reality, my PTSD may raise its head to express a different opinion on the matter, at some point, and the knowledge that this is a potential part of my experience would have once set me up for failure by spiking my anxiety level simply from contemplating it. For now, I’m calm and relaxed, and looking forward to sharing time with a new friend; I have skills that support my needs, these days, and find myself generally able to practice them when I need them most. Growth. Change. Choices. It all matters.

I will paint today. It feels good to say it without also anticipating having to tidy it all up, and put it all away, simply because it is Sunday, and I’ll have to spend the week working elsewhere. I’ll pick up enough to be tidy, but without disrupting work in progress. What a luxury!

I’ve had an exceptional week with my at-home partner. I feel good about life and love. I’m eager to be in the arms of the traveler-returned-home. We have each taken time to work on what we needed most to deal with, address, or resolve within our own experience. We’re each, based on the things we’ve said to each other, made great strides along our individual paths. These are beings I love, cherish, and enjoy; being together matters to me, and although love endures time away, it thrives in company. I am eager to see where love takes us now.

It was a beautiful day for love. Today is too.

It was a beautiful day for love. Today is too.

This morning was an odd one. I woke quite early, around 4:00 am, and as is my practice, went ahead and got up long enough to take my morning medication and go back to sleep for a while. I was groggy and a bit off-balance, not fully awake, and none of that felt amiss – it felt pretty normal for being not-quite-awake earlier than I wanted to get up on a Sunday.  That wasn’t the odd part. It got weird when I woke up a bit later, around 6:30 am; I was incredibly dizzy. I don’t mean ‘dizzy like I turned my head too fast’. I was dizzy like I’d had a LOT to drink, dizzy as if I were wasted on alcohol, or ‘still drunk in the morning’ dizzy… it was a very specific and quite severe amount of dizziness. (I don’t drink these days, and haven’t for a long while.) Vertigo. I rarely experience it, but I’m familiar with the concept, and it didn’t freak me out. I had turned over in bed, possibly quite quickly…it’s never had that outcome before.  I waited for it to pass, observing the effects calmly and soothing myself with deep relaxing breaths until my balance was restored; the room spun wildly for several seconds, perhaps as much as 2 minutes. I was grateful in the moment that I hadn’t also tried to get out of bed straight away.  That wouldn’t have gone well.  I make a mental note to make an appointment with my doctor; taking care of me means following up on changes in my health that may be a cause for concern, rather than blowing them off and hoping for the best. I jot down some quick notes about the experience, and the moments afterward, to share with her.

I consider the return of the traveler in the context of also taking care of me, and as so often happens with me, the ideas collide and get jumbled up together. I find myself considering what I can do to take care of me, each day, as a traveler returning home, myself. I leave the house each day to work, returning later with little remaining of the day. There have been many days in my life when that homecoming hasn’t been an easy one, or particularly pleasant for me, because I didn’t do small things in the morning to be ready for my own return. I think it matters; I am starting the day fresh in the morning, and I will return home tired and needing to relax and take care of me at day’s end. Mornings when I take time to quickly make my bed are followed by evenings returning home to a space that looks more orderly. This nurtures and supports something within myself that I value. If I toss my towel on the bathroom floor after my morning shower, it’ll be there when I come home, most likely, and the resulting sloppiness and chaos are unpleasant for me, where the moment of effort, the small action, of either hanging it up to dry, or dropping it in the laundry, would likely be unnoticed in the morning routine. These are simple things. I look around my room and observe the disorder that has crept in over time: a couple stacks of papers unfiled, unsorted, and balanced on books, a small assortment of miscellany that hasn’t been properly put away, my still unmade bed…I can do better. I have. I even prefer it.

Small details matter.

Small details matter.

I smile, still relaxed, and enjoying a personal change; there’s no self-directed judgment or criticism, no nastiness or blame. This is new for me. I’m just sitting here contentedly observing opportunities to treat myself with greater care and courtesy, and contemplating how to best make that happen straight away – because it matters to me, and I matter to me. When did I get here? I like this perspective; the view is pleasant.

Today, yoga, meditation, laundry, housework, and some aquatic gardening – and painting.  Today is a good day to enjoy change.

Homecomings are special moments, at least for me. Even the small everyday homecoming of arriving home from work is a potentially beautiful and deeply connected moment with loved ones. When a homecoming goes wrong it hurts so much more than it probably requires, once considered with a full measure of perspective and compassion. I know this, because I have ruined a number of them, over the years. Along the way I have learned some things about homecomings:

1. Everyone is having their own experience, and has their own emotional investment in the outcome; making assumptions about exactly what it is, is a proven poor choice.

2. Unstated expectations are highly likely to be a factor in a homecoming going awry.

3. Everyone wants to share what’s been up with them during the time apart.

4. Being attached to an expectation, an outcome with an emotional investment behind it, or an internal narrative that no one else shares, is a shortcut to an unpleasant experience.

5. Even homecomings are about some very simple things: being accepted, being heard, and connecting.

Last night the travelers returned, and somehow managed to be unexpectedly early. Rather than being stressed out that I didn’t get to the house ahead of them to clean frantically (and mindlessly), I was delighted that they were home and safe. I arrived minutes later, and enjoyed my usually-at-home partner’s appreciation that I had stopped for cat food along the way (and she would not have to do so). I kept The Big 5 in play while they were away, and truly my partners are rarely far from my thoughts; the house was decently tidy, and small details matter. All weekend, I sought out little things to do that might result in a comfortable pleasant experience when the traveler’s returned.

It was a lovely homecoming evening, filled with laughter and shared stories, new art, and quiet conversation. I didn’t spend my solo time wracked with anxiety about housework; I painted. They didn’t come home to a disaster, because I also made a mindful effort to take care of things like dishes, and laundry, and routine chores (hey, I do have to live here, too! lol).  We didn’t ‘lean in’ to each other, allowing the greetings to be natural and comfortable, and the evening to be relaxed and leisurely. It was lovely.

The evening was short, of course. Both their arrival, and my return home from work occur slightly later in the evening, and once the car was unpacked, and calories were handled, showers finished… it was well into night. I spent some precious loving moments in the arms of the traveler returned home, too meaningful and valued to overlook, to personal and intimate to share further. I know I am loved.

Quite a nice homecoming.

I also slept incredibly badly, restlessly, and drenched in sweat – hot flashes? Misery. I woke with a headache, stuffy sinuses, and arthritis stiffness that renders my movements almost puppet-like. Still, no complaints from me, because those are not the details that define my experience.

"The Stillness Within" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas with glow.

“The Stillness Within” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with glow, 2014

Today is a good day for love. Today is a good day to change the world.

It was wonderful to welcome a traveler home. I missed my partner while he was away. Interestingly, there was no real stress to it; I knew where he was, that he was safe and in the company of people who wish him well, and had I needed to reach him, I easily could have. “I need a chance to miss you once in awhile.”  He said it to me early in our relationship, and it resonated with me. We all need a chance to ‘miss each other’ now and then, perhaps…like a favorite food, or a favorite book, or a favorite movie; eventually it is necessary to do other things, if only for variety.

I like routine. I admit it. My life becomes emotionally and logistically incredibly chaotic without it, in part because of the TBI; it effects how my memory and thinking work. I work hard to build habits that care for me, that care for my environment, that keep things orderly and keep me ‘on time’; without them, I am all over the clock and all over the calendar without any particularly predictable result, and a lot of things just don’t get done.

On the other hand, creativity isn’t especially ‘routine’, and inspiration isn’t tied to a calendar event, and intimacy and connectedness don’t always follow through on an invitation. Routine can easily slip from ‘planned’ to ‘stale’. Routine can as easily halt growth as support it.  Change and choice and novel stimuli all contribute to being interesting, fun, engaging, and ‘having something to say’. Once again I am faced with a balancing act…

interrupted by an unexpected moment of clarity

interrupted by an unexpected moment of clarity

…And a poorly chosen metaphor. My consciousness is jarred by how often we dismiss what is important in our lives with a diminishing word. We express so much of our experience as ‘an act’, ‘a game’, ‘going through motions’, ‘measuring up’ or ‘checking a box’. How serious am I about who I am and what matters to me? Serious enough to be honest with myself? To be vulnerable with other people? Am I serious enough to look a coworker in the eyes and say “Actually, I’m having a terribly difficult time with life, these days, and I’m not sure I’m up to it” when that is what is true and real in the moment? If we can’t be honest with someone else, what supporting evidence is there that we are honest with ourselves? How honest are you with yourself about who you are, and where you are heading in life, and what you really want out of you? Every day.

Balance is a big deal for me, personally, and I’m suddenly irked with myself for allowing the trite figure of speech to diminish how important it actually is – in my own thinking! Words have immense power to guide us, and to mislead us. We quickly learn to continue to punish and hurt ourselves, furthering the damage done by others, through the use of language. It’s no wonder I still feel so much pain from events in the past; I continue to hurt myself through the use of language. Guilt, shame, social anxieties, fear, resentment, chronic anger, chronic frustration, a sense of being held down, held back, and diminished – all these things can be byproducts of the shitty way I sometimes treat myself…out of habit, having learned to do so from others who also treated me badly. I see it in others, too, and while it can be tempting to criticize or judge, or suffer the pain they inflict as intended; we’re all so incredibly human. Each doing what we think, in the moment, is ‘right’ or ‘good’ or ‘necessary’ or some other combination of still more words to justify the shitty way we’re treating that other human being. Very few people think of themselves as ‘the bad guy’, however heinous their actions.

What are your relationship values? Have you chosen them wisely? Do you practice them willfully? Can you state them in simple language? Are you ‘one of the good guys’ – or are you…not? If your relationships are generally contentious and unpleasant and fraught with anxiety, perhaps embracing and cultivating different values is something to consider? Choice. Change. It isn’t really likely you can control or change the behavior of another human being, unless they choose to allow it. Certainly you have no particular direct influence over their thinking, but no one out there has as much power over yours as you do. I’m just saying…make your choices for you.  Unhappy? Choose change, but choose it for you; you have no real right to force change on someone else.

Don’t forget Wheaton’s Law. “Don’t be a dick.”

Today is a good day to remember that other person over there is a human being, too, with all the rights I have myself. Today is a good day for kindness. Today is a good day to be who I am. Today is a good day to appreciate what I have to offer the world. Today is a good day to choose wisely. Today is a good day to change the world.