I was sipping my coffee on a morning after my Traveling Partner had returned home from some trip or another. It was quiet in the room, and in our home, and even out on the street beyond. I woke ahead of the alarm by quite a bit, and there was no hint of dawn-to-come in the sky. Not at that point. My coffee was too hot to easily drink. Based on a couple hesitant, testing, sips, it was also not very good. I pondered the variables in a cup of coffee, mystified and still groggy; how is one cup so crappy, and another so sublime? Don’t I make them all the same way? Do the tiniest subtle differences in timing or process make that much difference? (Are the differences, perhaps, not with the coffee, itself, at all?)

I sighed quietly, a measured, careful, observed exhalation, slowly released following a deep breath. I felt my chest expand as I inhaled, contracting as I exhaled. A cough interrupted the quiet. Another sip of coffee. That moment was okay, and I remained with it, centered and calm, for a while.

(This particular moment was almost a year ago – a blog post written, never published. It finishes thusly…)

It was an okay homecoming. I knew, when I arrived home, that my partner was wholly exhausted, having driven 1800 miles straight on home, then on arriving, unable to actually sleep (coffee is an excellent tool to keep one awake for a long drive, and the risk to our sleep, later, is often one we find acceptable at the time), until much later – shortly before I went to bed, myself. I made dinner. We ate it. Shared a couple of anecdotes. Managed to be contentious and at odds with each other for a moment, and got over that. We are, unavoidably, quite different people, and also quite similar. Neither of those things is an assurance of always being comfortable together, or always being in genial shared space, or even holding the same opinion about literally anything. We’re individuals.

The evening passed gently after dinner. We entertained ourselves with conversation and videos. Eventually, he called it a night, and later so did I.

I woke easily, and well-rested. I’ve already forgotten some useful habits for shared space. lol I think about the commonplace usefulness of any basic tool, whether it is a screwdriver or a habit; lacking the most appropriate tool for any given task is likely to result in greater than average difficulty, increased task complexity, frustration, and time lost to struggling with pieces that don’t fit. In the same way a screwdriver isn’t the correct tool to fit a pipe, good self-care practices are not likely to also be good communication practices (although good communication is a part of good self-care, when it comes to boundaries and expectations). It has been a common (and way too real) experience on this healing path that my own wellness does not change the general state of wellness for any one other person – and they still live their life, and see things through the lens of, their own perspective on life, on circumstances – and on the relationship we share. We are each having our own experience – and we’re not all using the same tools to get any given job done. It’s pretty complicated stuff, and a lot of human beings are barely managing their own bullshit; it’s a lot to ask that people also be kind, compassionate, patient with one another, assuming positive intent… it starts to feel more like juggling than living, at some points. It’s still worth making that attempt, in my own experience.

…It also takes practice. As with using any unfamiliar tool, it definitely takes practice, and some basic knowledge. Your results may vary – particularly where relationship skills go! (You’re not doing that job alone, and even such things as “getting along” and “communicating” and “sharing” require practice, and a commitment to learning and growing, and you can only do your own.) It can be seriously frustrating, however familiar and commonplace a task seems, to grab that screwdriver, and once already frustrated, realize that the damned thing is a Phillips-head screwdriver not a flat-head. Well, shit. That got complicated fast. True in life, love, and home repairs. LOL

So… I guess I keep practicing. 🙂 Honestly, in every practical way, I only need to practice my own practices, and handle my own self-care. The relationship stuff works out much more easily when I give other people room to be themselves, care for themselves, and we’re open to both the differences, and the things we share – while still understanding that however close we are, or may become, we are nonetheless quite individual. I smile and drink my coffee; nothing new here. I struggle, mostly, when I forget to let go. Attachment to assumptions, expectations, or internal narrative can quickly sabotage an otherwise good time.

…Strangely timely as we two individuals prepare to move. I found it “by mistake” (or at least not looking for it) moments ago, as I considered writing something that, oddly, feels pretty well-covered by the draft I opened with an errant mouse-click. Helpful circumstance. One that puts me gently “back on the path” feeling I’ve understood myself just a bit better in this moment right here, right now… I settle myself into work, and begin again. 🙂