Archives for posts with tag: use your words

It’s definitely Spring, now. Tiny green leaves are unfolding from swellings that became small buds on so many of the trees and shrubs! There is a green “mist” of unfolding forming in the view beyond the deck. Green things sprouting from the damp of the forest floor. Swampy ground becoming more firm. Little birds everywhere. My flower beds still reflect the sales-appeal-focused (simple, but hardy and low maintenance) plantings that were in place when we bought the house. (I’ve added very little, so far, planting only some dahlia tubers and a bare root rose that arrived a bit ahead of my expectations.) The primroses reflect a lack of care in color choices. They are still lovely, and blooming like they’ll only get one shot at it, ever.

Simple, lovely, enduring – and so beautiful in the Spring sunshine!

There are other wonders to come; flowers that have sent up leaves, blades, stalks, some with buds… I wait to see what flowers open next.

Next weekend seems the likely one for planting the rest of the container roses into the garden beds. It would be nice to tell them so, and know whether they are eager to stretch their roots, or have any thoughts on placement… fanciful musings over coffee on a Sunday morning.

My Traveling Partner has spent much of this new Spring cleaning things, tidying, bringing order to chaos – even “tuning the sound stage” in our living room, and finishing some dΓ©cor and design plans we’d made when we moved in (all delayed by the unexpected water damage and resulting fuss and bother after the AC was installed). He’s added acoustic treatments that removed the notable echo in the living room, and refined the placement of various objects to even further improve our listening (and viewing) experiences. It’s gorgeous and sounds wonderful.

…Every time I step into the living room, now, I grin so hard my face hurts. I feel very loved. I’m enjoying our considerable collection of music all over again, as if it were new. It definitely feels like Spring…

Pain? Pain is pain. That’s still a thing I live with. I shrug it off when I can. I attempt to be patient with myself and people around me when I can’t. I try to be consistent with my self-care and pain management. Work? Work is still work. I still work – it’s a necessary part of my life, for now. I like the new job – honestly? I like it enough that my enthusiasm for the work collides with my desire to hang out with my partner, and sort of drains away any time I may have planned for writing, for painting, for most endeavors that are not work, or time with my partner, or necessary housekeeping to keep those parts of life running most smoothly. lol Self-care fail? Yeah, admittedly. Small now… but it is the sort of thing that can fester over time and become chronic resentment, utterly without ever intending it. I keep an eye on it, and this morning, in a small inconsequential moment of disharmony, I acknowledged the opportunity and stepped away to write a bit.

…French toast later…

There’s often a new beginning just ahead. A choice. An opportunity. A whim. A change – desired, chosen, or inflicted. A moment of inspiration. A moment just being.

…This coffee is good, itself a new beginning of sorts…

…What about this moment? This blog post? These words? More beginnings…? I think maybe, yes…

I think about photos, songs, moments… and I think about love.

Thank you, Love “Contemplation” 12″ x 16″ acrylic and iron oxide. August 2011

A new beginning can be a bit scary, sometimes. Too often I have found myself hesitant to walk away from something that just doesn’t work for me. You too? I admit, it’s also often true that once I’ve taken that first step, life unfolds with less effort when I choose well – based on my values, and the real truths of my heart (and reality), and take those steps in the direction I actually want to go. Worth the moment of anxiety, doubt, insecurity, or fearfulness? Very much so; that’s just a moment, and it doesn’t last. Life, when we’re most fortunate, continues on beyond that moment. πŸ™‚

…This coffee is just about gone… French toast is sounding pretty good… it may be time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I remind myself that “we don’t grow from comfortable situations”, but it feels hollow. Tears well up, and I grit my teeth and stifle them, frustrated, angry. With myself, mostly. With the circumstances, definitely. There’s too much good fortune in my experience right now for this bullshit, I tell myself, echoing something my partner said to me moments ago, from his own pissed off, frustrated perspective. The feeling of futility I am presently mired in is a painful challenge to overcome. It’s all too human. It’s also baggage, and bullshit, and probably almost entirely self-imposed, if I could get to a clear-headed place to examine it with less visceral emotional involvement.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

My writing stalls. My coffee just sits. There’s no eagerness to embrace the moment. No acceptance from with which to step forward, walk on, and begin again. I exist, presently, as a moment of pain. A living, breathing, emotional wound… but I’m not quite sure what this hurt is truly about, and so don’t know how to comfort myself or heal me. I think about my partner, doing his own best in another room. Cross words exchanged before we could even enjoy our coffee. I’m disappointed with myself for losing control; I know how much damage emotional volatility can do in a single moment. That delicate balance that is feeling the feelings while also holding oneself to a standard of appropriate behavior suitable for all circumstances, that lives my values moment to moment, in spite of whatever emotional storm is blowing in… is hard. It’s a feat that requires steady practice, and it has to matter… and, and this is the hardest bit, the win nearly always comes in spite of someone else’s volatility, turmoil, or provocation. It’s not enough to be steady, calm, and to listen deeply alone in a silent room. It’s about a practice that makes that possible in the face of someone else’s storm of emotion. My results definitely vary. This morning I failed utterly. I’d barely woken up. I honestly don’t even understand how or why everything went sideways so suddenly… nor do I think there is much value in troubleshooting that. It would be a distraction.

…From…? I don’t even know, right now. This headache is complicating my ability to think clearly and reason well.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

I’m annoyed with myself. That’s not helping. I said some ridiculous (and vile) things, and it’s not okay, and at some point, how much does an apology really help? I take a deep breath. The breath “timer” pulses on my desktop out of the corner of my eye. I don’t know how much it really helps. I’m so frustrated with some of the challenges I face each day… I keep expecting at some point any part of this will feel properly routine and effortless, but any amount of study makes it immediately clear that my results may “always” vary – for any practical definition of “always” – and some damage is lasting. Frustrating. (Incremental change over time is a real thing…but some increments are too small to see individually.)

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

I’m struggling to be positive. I look back on my own words – recent, and less so – and there is so much positivity reflected there. So much will. This morning, right now, I just feel… bleak and defeated. I struggle to find meaning. I find myself reliably “missing the point”. The promising morning ahead that I was facing so eagerly has morphed into something less enticing. I’m eager to see darkness return, to go back to bed, to start over tomorrow… on a work day. That saddens me, further, and I feel my hopefulness sort of just trickling away.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

It’s all very dramatic, is it not? Fucking hell. My head aches (partly from crying). “You’re creating this experience,” I remind myself. “Let it go,” I suggest, more helpfully than not (I hope). I feel a bit like a mechanic facing an easily repairable problem… without tools or parts to work with, and too stupid to look behind me to see that the tools are neatly laid out on my bench, with the parts ready to go. I suspect my partner feels a bit more like a parent in a grocery store trying to discreetly deal with a toddler having a screaming tantrum over something they can’t have; their love for their child is undiminished, but fucking hell – right now? Seriously? What a shitty experience all around. I could choose differently… couldn’t I?

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

Damn, I fucking failed hard this morning. My brain reaches for The Four Agreements, because… yeah… this could have gone a lot better, even if the only thing I’d done differently was these four things. For real. Not fancy.

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

11 years is a long time to work on something without seeing lasting permanent verifiable results that have positive impact. If that were legitimately where I were standing this morning, feeling this despair become futility would make a lot of sense. That’s some real shit. BUT, and this is important (for me to observe and acknowledge, for myself), that’s not where I am standing this morning, at all. I take another deep breath and let it out as a loud sigh. Life is very different now than it was 11 years ago, this morning’s drama doesn’t even show on the same scale. Yes, I’ve still got challenges. Yes, the brain damage creates some headaches (literal and metaphorical) that continue to trouble me (and complicate my relationships). Yes, the PTSD complicates things rather a lot, and I utterly rely on every good health and emotional wellness practice I can master to maintain my balance day-to-day – and my results do still vary. I’m just saying, if you are mired in despair right now, feeling a profound sense of futility and hopelessness… I hope you take away from this reading the following things:

1. You are creating a large part of that experience, yourself, and you can choose to change it.

2. It won’t feel easy or comfortable to make changes, possibly ever.

3. What you practice you do become.

4. When you fail, however horribly, you can begin again.

Yeah, okay, I’ll be honest on that last one – there are no guarantees regarding the outcomes of new beginnings. I can begin again a million times, and likely will – it does not provide me any assurance that my relationships will be unaffected by my chaos and damage, or that every traveler on my path will choose to continue to travel with me. I’ve lost friends. Some I chose to let go, others turned away from me. Relationships come and go. People are human and it’s not fair or reasonable to expect they will endure our bullshit indefinitely, ever. So… the value in practicing the practices that allow me to become the woman I most want to be is in becoming the woman I most want to be. Period. End of goal-setting. Be a better human being, generally. Would I like to live that experience in the company of my current partner? Definitely. Do I have any guarantees? Nope. Not ever. Gotta just let that one go, too. There is a ton of work involved in lasting sustained love, and no guarantee of success. Definitely makes sense to treat each other well along the journey.

I take another breath. I sip my cold coffee. I think about The Four Agreements. When I am “impeccable with my word” I refrain from saying vile upsetting shit when I’m angry, because I’m committed to truth and working to keep my raw emotions separate from the words I say about my experience. That would have been an improvement this morning. When I avoid taking things personally, I am less likely to escalate emotionally when my partner is frustrated with me, or when I am frustrated with him. That would have been super useful this morning. I could certainly use more practice there. When I avoid making assumptions, it opens to door to listening more deeply, and requires me to ask clarifying questions, and leaves room in my awareness to appreciate my partner’s affection for me, in spite of his emotional experience in the moment. It would have been very helpful this morning to have refrained from making assumptions about my partner’s thinking, and to have given him a chance to share it in words. I suppose all these things are true for both of us, really. Good practices often work that way. I’d love to insist I was doing my best, this morning…that is, after all, the fourth agreement referenced in The Four Agreements… but… was I really? Pre-coffee? Less than an hour after waking? I give that a “maybe”, and a very frank admission that it’s quite likely I could have done better by being more willful, more present, and by taking my own bullshit less fucking personally, myself. So… Yeah. I could have done nothing more/better/differently than to have practiced the 4 simple practices outlined in The Four Agreements, and the morning would likely have gone very very differently. Maybe it wouldn’t have… but… did I really give it a chance? I see room for improvement.

…Breathe… Exhale… Relax…

I’m not in this relationship alone. That’s true. We’re in this together – and we’re each also having our own experience. We’ve each got our own personal demons. Our own chaos and damage. Our own trauma to heal. Our own baggage to lug around. Our own intolerable bullshit that we’re both each working individually to resolve or to master. It’s very human. It’s not about fault or blame, though, and it’s not about who is guilty or wrong, or who said what to whom… there’s little value in that. I can’t really work on anyone’s issues but my own, though, so I sit down and reflect on what I can do, what I can change, and how I can be the best version of this particular human being that I happen to be. Love asks us to unpack our own baggage.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

…Begin again.

I’m sipping my Sunday morning coffee in solitude. Best that I do so. I’m in a lot of pain after a long walk on a windy winter beach, yesterday, which, while it provided wonderful time to reflect and listen to my own thoughts, was also physically taxing. I’m definitely glad I wore base layers, too; it was chilly!!

Windy, rainy, cold, and the tide coming in. There’s no stopping the tide.

Things went seriously sideways Friday night, and Saturday’s walk on the beach was moody and bleak. It felt wholly necessary, but there was little joy in the moment. This saddens me, even now. It is, at this point, just something I’m adding to the recollection. I breathe, exhale, and let that go.

…I got some great pictures…

Friday might not have turned into the emotional shitstorm it did if I had been paying more attention… or… if I were altogether someone else, I suppose. My Traveling Partner woke in pain Friday morning, and was in an absolutely foul mood as a result (not unlike where I find myself this morning). He made a point of saying so, and was very kind and careful in our interactions all day, although he was cross and irritable. I finally ended my work day and … the whole delicate considerate assembled-with-care framework crumbled. I’m still sipping my first coffee, right now, this morning, and my brain is not yet entirely “on line”; I struggle to recall specifically what went wrong. Something I said, or my reaction to something he said, and suddenly we were lobbing raw emotions at each other in the form of angry words. I wept. We took turns shouting. We both ended up triggered – and triggering each other – and just fucking mired in our individual pain and heartache. To call it “unpleasant” seems insufficient. To make more of it than that seems simultaneously disrespectful of any underlying legitimate concerns that ought be addressed with love and consideration – but also seems likely to elevate those painful hours to something more important than what they were. Chaos fueled by emotions. Emotions that had less to do with the moments we found ourselves in than other moments, in other relationships, that left us scarred. Both unpleasant and unfair. How is it “unfair”? Isn’t it always unfair to ask love to sweep up the mess left behind by circumstances that had little, if any, actual love in them?

Friday morning became a painting, instead of an argument. 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas, untitled.

Yesterday was strained and awkward. This morning I woke up in pain, and found myself saying so, much in the same manner that he had on Friday morning. A cold chill rolls up my spine, and my mouth goes dry, and my anxiety spikes over fear that today will be another Friday, and end poorly. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I do it again. Then another breath. Followed by another. I keep at the breathing until the hinted-at-future-but-not-now feelings of anxiety recede. I definitely don’t need to invite or cultivate that shit.

I sit with my coffee this morning, thinking about my walk, my work, my relationships… I consider how my TBI affects the way I communicate, not just the part where I talk (a lot), or interrupt (too much), but also the part that is the step beyond listening; my ability to make sense of what I am hearing, and to correctly reply to what has actually been said. I do pretty well, generally, but… when I am tired, or in pain, or distracted, I’m not just “less good at that”, I’m pretty horrible – and when I look at that, and also consider the “performance pressure” I tend to feel that pushes me to answer any question very quickly, I see how easily this can go very wrong, leaving someone trying to have a conversation with me feeling perhaps I am not listening at all. It’s rough. It can go a bit like this:

“Did you hear from your friend about that painting?” someone asks.

“No.” I say, “Well, they texted me. I didn’t feel up to talking right then, so I said I would call back today after work,” I add, followed by “They did say they really like the painting, in their message to me.”

(no shit, a real conversation I had)

So… yeah. What the hell?? When I see it written down, I totally get why that would be not just incredibly frustrating to wade through to get a simple “Yes, they liked it.” It also tends to seem potentially … dishonest? Misleading? Manipulative? Crafty? Vague? Withholding? Dissembling? A whole bunch of adjectives could apply. It’s not actually about any of that, though. I started answering the question I was asked before I actually understood the question at all. Along the way, my brain mixed up “hear from” with “speak to” – similar but quite different – and entirely missed the point of the fucking question until I’d provided a bunch of utterly unsolicited other information. So… slow down? Fuck yes. Easy, right? Well… maybe? It’ll take practice. I’ll say very bluntly that I’ve had “reply immediately” literally beaten into me (first marriage was a domestic violence nightmare I’m lucky to have survived). It’s hard to change behaviors that were heavily reinforced with violence or trauma. It takes more work and practice and commitment and awareness and encouragement and kindness and support than I can describe. It can be done. My results vary, though, and every failure is heart-breaking for at least a moment of pure distilled disappointment with myself.

…This isn’t “all about me” though. This particular challenge is very specifically the sort that commonly affects the people interacting with me, most. I’m kind, honest, open, and well-intentioned, but I’ve also got PTSD… and I’ve got brain damage. That’s going to present a combinations of characteristics some people just aren’t going to be willing to deal with long-term. So far my Traveling Partner still chooses to share this complicated journey with me. I’m very fortunate, and very grateful. I know it isn’t easy.

Caution.

So, yesterday, I walked on the beach alone, reflecting on my challenges, my abilities, love, and life, and work, and gave some thought to life’s curriculum on the topics of boundaries, and of communication. I was missing my partner long before I noticed my knees were aching, and headed home when the rain began to fall heavily.

I find myself, now, bringing my thinking “back to basics”: breathing, listening deeply, my “Big 5” relationship values (Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, Openness), and the book my own beloved recommended to me, early in our relationship…

It’s hard to go wrong with good basics…

Yep. I am re-reading The Four Agreements, again. Sometimes beginning again is simply a step forward, with new thinking. Sometimes beginning again means a new commitment to something that is proven to work well, when applied consistently. Now there is a day ahead of me… I see sunshine through the window shade. The aquarium needs maintenance. There is housework to be done. In spite of aching knees, I’d enjoy a walk in the forest, now that the storm damage from the recent ice storm is cleared away. All of that, and Love to nurture besides… looks like a busy day ahead.

…I guess it’s time to begin again…

We don’t necessarily choose where we start our journey; our starting point is what it is. We can choose our direction. We can choose each step along the way (although we often trudge through our lives more haphazardly than that). We can choose (and embrace) change. We often don’t. I know I too frequently endure what could be changed… endurance has been sort of habitual for me, and often seems “easier” as a result.

Enduring misery seems kind of stupid when choices can be made. If a job or relationship feels miserable, why would we not choose to change it? This could mean walking away, it could be taking a new approach or setting new/different boundaries and expectations. So many choices. So many opportunities to use the power of choice and change…

Choosing can seem pretty difficult, itself. I’m not sure I have good insights on why that is. Change feels scary sometimes. Choosing it brings that fear into prominence, up close, intimately connected with how I see myself, and what I may think I “deserve” in life. Weird, right? I mean… how strange that one might choose to endure misery rather than face one’s fears about change, or reflect on what we can or should do to care for ourselves.

Some weeks ago, I admitted to my Traveling Partner that I am not happy with my current job. Commonplace enough. His response to that, looking back, seems pretty rational and practical, too. “Maybe it’s time to look for something different?” I replied “Maybe. Probably.” I reflected on that conversation, and my circumstances… new mortgage…a desire for stability…fearfulness of change…and a job that I was not finding satisfying because I’m not finding success in it (based on my own definition of success, which requires – for me – that my best work also be effective). Endure? Or… seek change? Could the needed change be achieved where I am? Do I even want that based on all the information at hand?

These sorts of questions work whether the struggle is to do with jobs, projects, relationships… pretty “all purpose” for contemplating purposeful change in life. πŸ˜€

One morning, I made a choice.

Anyway. The “tl;dr” of the thing is that I started looking at other opportunities, and found something that suits me better. Time to make that change happen. Time to walk on. Time to live with purpose and time to choose.

…And it’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I slept deeply through the night, and woke gently ahead of the alarm clock. I sat quietly with my coffee for almost an hour, simply breathing and reflecting. It was a pleasant gentle moment with myself, and a great start to my day.

I found myself reflecting on the yearning to be heard that so many of us feel, so chronically, and the way we once channeled our voices into writing – on paper, I mean – journals, manuscripts, letters to far off family, friends, or colleagues. Letters to editors. Letters to legislators. Letters to businesses and institutions. It’s a slower pace of communication, for certain, and one that presents an opportunity to reflect on our words, and reconsider them. Contrast this with the “shouting into the void” sorts of experiences we find on social media platforms of various sorts; we can drop our remarks into a quick post or tweet, and fire them off into feeds everywhere… so many more opportunities to be really heard! At least… that’s the marketing hype. Be heard. Share your voice. Share your opinion (however poorly supported in any factual way). Share your outrage and your anger (without regard to the completeness of your understanding, or how well-informed your perspective truly is). Likes, clicks, and views are monetized. Profits go to the loudest most “viral” voices. It’s not a coincidence that we discuss such things using the language of contagion; it’s less about the truth, and more about spreading that shit around.

I definitely “want to be heard”. This? Here? It’s not really about that, for me – it’s more about a long conversation with myself (and with you) that I can look back on, refer to for context, and gauge progress over time, or reach back in time for “help from a friend” I can generally count on these days – myself. I still find myself, often, disagreeing with an article or commentator and wanting to “answer them” or reply… I know I’m not alone in that. Twitter is undeniable proof that we’re a society of folks who shout at their televisions when the talking heads on the screen say something we find disagreeable. lol

…Sometimes it’s a better choice to simply “shout into the void” and then just let that shit go. Seriously. I mean… is every opinion I don’t share worth challenging? Is every bit of objectionable content worth actually objecting to? I bet you know what I think the answer to those questions is… Opinions don’t become facts just because a fuck-ton of people share one (or many). Still just opinion. Still no more valuable than that. Too often we allow ourselves to be persuaded to adopt an opinion or stance on some subject without properly exploring the facts – the real facts, the documented known facts – and we’re far too reluctant to accept uncertainty or a lack of knowledge. We’d much rather “know” something… even if it is patently and obviously and demonstrably provably incorrect. No kidding. It’s actually pretty challenging to fight off the inclination to “know” something I don’t truly know, and based on what I see in the news, and on various news-adjacent or purportedly informative platforms, it’s a common affliction among human primates.

We could do better.

I know I can do better… that’s something I’m pretty certain of, and I find quite a lot to support that supposition factually. So. There’s that.

Our emotions get ahead of us so often…

Don’t drink the poison. Don’t pass it around. Don’t practice “being” an emotional condition that could be a moment (instead of a lifetime condition). Just saying. There are other options. πŸ™‚ Share kindness. Be there for each other in difficult times – in the most positive way possible. Assume positive intent. Take care of yourself – and make it a priority worth your time and attention.

I sip my coffee reflecting on other moments. Smiling. Breathing. Ready to begin again.

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. πŸ™‚