Archives for posts with tag: we’re each having our own experience

I’m still “work in progress” as a human primate. I’m aware of that. Lots of character – lots of “character flaws”. Sharp as hell… dumb as fuck. Filled with good intentions, infused with vision, sparked by inspiration, and eager to exert my will to create the life I most want to live… mostly. I’m also capable of unreasonable anger, making incorrect assumptions and poor decisions, and sometimes barely have the will to lift my hand to take a drink of water when I’m thirsty.

Sometimes I get wrapped up in a moment, and without realizing I’ve done so, I get lost in someone else’s emotional experience, vacillating between wanting to “solve the problem” and wanting to be emotionally supported – over an experience that isn’t even my own. I forget that I’m a separate person, and put effort into “centering myself” and my experience, and completely lose any comprehension that someone else has actually come to me for support. Not particularly helpful, and definitely unpleasant for that other person, who probably feels not only unsupported, but also regretful that they ever brought whatever it was to me in the first place.

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

Today my Traveling Partner came to me, frustrated, angry with a project going wrong, dealing with the challenge of the day. I managed – I think – to listen. To be available and present. To hear him out without trying to solve the problem (he did not ask me to solve the problem, just to listen). My only assertion, beyond sufficient response to ensure he knew I was listening (in spite of the busy workday just over my shoulder), was to acknowledge his obvious frustration, and to share that I was sorry I did not have some immediate solution I could offer (at all). He thanked me for listening. He went on with his day.

This was, for me, still a very deeply emotional experience – but it wasn’t mine. It was his. The intensity of the emotions I was feeling? A mixture of his emotions being shared, and my PTSD shrieking in my consciousness that intense negative emotion from a male partner is dangerous – “fix it, fix it NOW, or get out! Get away! Danger!” Today, I pushed my fearful consciousness into the background long enough to really listen and be there for my aggravated partner. I stayed present and engaged, in spite of his obvious emotion. It was hard. This is one of the most difficult things I ever have to do, even when my partner’s emotions have nothing to do with me or something I’ve done/not done – in spite of requiring only as much physical effort as it takes to not run away. (It surprises me how much physical effort that does take, though.)

I got back to work when he walked away. My mind still struggles to let it go and really move on. There’s this “sensation in my spine” that tickles my awareness with a lingering sense of urgency and restlessness. I know these things will pass. I keep “wanting to help” – in spite of my absolute lack of potential do so in this particular circumstance. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sit with the awareness that my desire to help is most definitely built on a foundation of terror; my PTSD reminds me of all the things that could follow, leftovers from another life and a very different relationship. Another breath. This is not that life. Not that relationship. I hear music in the other room, and the sounds of my Traveling Partner working.

Men have emotional lives. Men need to talk about their feelings (just as anyone else might need to do). It’s okay to listen – really listen. Be there. In the abstract, I know this, and it is “so obvious”. In the moment I’m actually called upon to be there, listening, it’s still sometimes quite terrifying. I sip my tea – made for me with such love, earlier this morning, by this human being who puts so much heart into listening when I need to talk. I’ve got a lot to learn about love, and I’m not surprised that there are so many opportunities to practice. This tea is pretty sweet, and I am pleased to “do more/better”, this time, even though it feels a bit as if I’ve done nothing much at all. I see the progress. I let myself sit with that awhile, reflecting on the moment over this nice cup of tea. Soon enough, it’ll be time to begin again.

…I wonder how things are going now? I will fearlessly check on things when I take my next break…

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.

Heat wave. Already hot this morning. Slept well, woke refreshed. Felt… content. Balanced. Merry…

…Whole.

Off to a good start on a hot day. Things slide sideways, slipping gently, somehow inevitably tilting toward irritation in spite of a great starting point. Best efforts. Humans being human.

I put aside my coffee and go for a walk before the heat of the day might stop me, or just make the experience miserable.

A favorite park has finally re-opened after all the damage during that last winter storm.

Muggy warm air filled with the sound of mowers, small aircraft taking off from the nearby municipal airport, and swarming insects seemed to cling to me as I walked across the parking lot to the start of the one open trail. It doesn’t really go far enough to satisfy the need, but it has been a long while and I have missed this place. I walk the trail twice. I take note of the wild roses in bloom – there look to be three distinct species growing in this wooded area. I spot ripe thimbleberries, but none within reach – too fragile for commercial agriculture, they are a rare special treat, tiny, soft, and mild. The birds will get most of them. Piles of cut up trees give some insight into how much damage the storm caused. Every few feet, there’s a pile of logs and branches on either side of the trail. The forest is full of huckleberry bushes, but I don’t see flowers or berries, yet. On my way back down, before my second walk of the trail, I realize I haven’t stopped at a favorite bench… I never saw it! Weird… I begin to really look for that thing, that expected thing, as I head back up the trail. My focus results in missing other details. Something more to think about.

Oh. Reality is what it is. Expectations are shit we made up, and cling to.

It was a lovely morning for walking, in spite of the heat. In spite of the changes all around me. In spite of a less than picture-perfect lovely summer morning. Expectations and assumptions can so quickly undermine a potentially lovely experience. I mean… I even know that. It still trips me up more often than I care to count.

I put on some music. Sip my rather delicious iced coffee – I’ve been planning this iced coffee on a hot summer morning for days. Really looking forward to this moment. I made coffee ice cubes to go in it. I sip it thoughtfully, savoring the moment that is, instead of yearning for another. It may not be what I expected, but it’s quite pleasant, and that’s enough. Maybe I’ll finish it on the deck…

My Traveling Partner and I both hurt today. Pain sucks. Aging is a mixed bag of qualities, and pain is just one of many experiences… We both try to avoid taking it personally, or lashing out at each other in a short-tempered moment of our frustration with the limitations of these very human forms. He says “maybe you should just avoid me today” – right about when I was thinking of saying gently that I’d give him some space because I’m hurting that much today. lol It’s generally an exceptional partnership, even when one or both of us is in pain, or just generally not being our best selves, together.

I sip my coffee and reflect. I think about the walk, the summer morning, recalling the sights and scents, and the feel of the air around me.

Just because there’s sunshine where I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’ll find illumination.

I walked, reflected, observed, and gave myself that time I need to spend with the woman in the mirror. It’s good to get perspective. I mean… I find it so, myself. 🙂 I don’t always do a good job of making time for me, and for what I need from and for myself. I could do better there. More practice? Obviously. I know where I’ll start, too; a familiar place.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Funny thing about The Four Agreements? It was my Traveling Partner who first recommended it to me. Good basic practices to practice that tend to heal a lot of hurts and limit a lot of negative self-talk. That seems so long ago now.

Treating each other well has reliably tended to start with treating myself well, and as it turns out that has nothing whatsoever to do with buying things, and everything to do with reflection, perspective, and practices that build resilience and emotional wellness. Boundary-setting. Testing assumptions. Confirming expectations. Being flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Being there for myself. Being kind, and treating the world as gently as I am able to. Good self-care. Getting enough rest. It’s a lot to juggle, and I suspect that I half-ass a lot of it, just trying to do all of it… but…getting things ‘half right’ or ‘half finished’ is still a more useful result than never making an attempt to be my best self at all. Incremental change over time. I get better at something each time I attempt it… eventually. Learning is a process. Change is often a verb. I keep at it. Incremental change over time requires both time, and increments.

Feeling frustrated and challenged can sometimes mislead me into thinking I haven’t improved – a lot – on a lot of little things that had been far more problematic before this journey began. That’s a shame; it robs me of my chance to celebrate small wins. I think on that while I sip my coffee, gazing into the sunshine beyond the window.

I hear the A/C come on. Then I feel it. I recall the heat of the morning as I walked the wooded trail, and think about the apartment in which my partner and I first began sharing our lives… and that roasting, horribly hot all-drama-all-the-time summer some 11 years ago; no A/C. I feel grateful for the A/C, definitely… but the love matters most. We brought that with us, to this place, across years of shared challenges, growth, change, loving moments, and petty arguments – it’s a very human experience, and it’s hard to imagine spending life differently and still enjoying it as much. I sip my coffee thinking about my partner (my lover, my best friend), and the pain he’s in today. Maybe I’ll bake oatmeal cookies? Would that help? (I don’t know why it would, it just occurred to me to wonder – sometimes I have a mind like a child. LOL)

There’s enough of this coffee left to enjoy a few moments of summer morning on the deck before it gets to hot to enjoy… seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

I’m in pain this morning. Routine morning in most respects, in spite of the pain. Maybe the pain itself has become fairly routine after all this time? I’ve lived with the arthritis pain in my spine for a pretty long time… about… 30 years. 30 years? Wow. It has been a long time. This morning I manage it as well as I know how to do with the tools available. Yoga and stretching, first. Meditation (it does help). An OTC pain reliever (it doesn’t help much, but it’s a “next step” that sits somewhere between the yoga and the Rx relief on the path of escalating steps).

My first cup of coffee is long gone. I drink water for some while before I move to make the second cup. My Traveling Partner joined me for coffee a little while ago. That moment is behind us, already, and the work day begins to unfold. The sky is a bit less horrifically altered by smoke, and the air a bit less foul. Progress. Still… the day manages to feel entirely routine, in general.

I drag my mind away from the physical pain I am in, and back to the work in front of me. I do that two or three times before I finally just take a break to deal with it properly. Probably a day of it ahead of me. I sigh out loud in the quiet room, reminding myself to be patient with people, and kind; we can’t see what that other person is going through, and often make fairly poor assumptions from a casual glance. I resolve to be “the nicest person in the room”, if I can…

…Sounds like a lot of new beginnings ahead of me today.

Life in the time of pandemic is sometimes hard on love and lovers. Those among us who want, need, or enjoy a lot of solitude to support their wellness may be feeling “trapped” at home, in the inescapable company of others. Those among us who want, need, or enjoy a great deal of community and many shared experiences to feel supported and fulfilled in life may also be feeling “trapped” at home – alone. There is variety to human experience, even in the time of pandemic. It is, at this point, sometimes a matter of real will, and endurance, to accommodate the limitations we’re each (all) faced with, and sometimes it isn’t “easy”. Tempers flare. Conflict develops (sometimes where no conflict truly exists). This shit is hard sometimes, to the point that otherwise (probably) rational people protest in the streets over the restrictions they face due to the pandemic, without any regard for the reason those restrictions are actually place. 0_o I mean, I get it, I’m frustrated too.

Let it go. It’s not personal. We’re each having our own experience – and we’re all in this together.

This morning I sip my coffee and remind myself that love matters most. I make a point of letting my (recognized, known) bullshit go. The moments of strife and discord are, in many instances, as imagined as any other bit of narrative we’ve created out of the bits and pieces of cobbled together fears, insecurities, doubts, assumptions, and personal baggage. Add some stress to that and it’s quite a poisoned cup of noodles, is it not? I remind myself to let that shit go, and to refrain from taking some one moment personally (that most likely is not personal at all, it just feels that way). Assume positive intent. I mean, for real, though? I’m not talking about assuming positive intent with regard to a stranger approaching me in twilight with a weird look on their face. I’m talking about love, here. I’m talking about my Traveling Partner; why would I assume anything but positive intent?? I know he loves me. I know I love him. We’re on this incredible journey together, building this beautiful life together, sharing these precious moments… how is anything but an assumption of positive intent appropriate? 🙂

…Silly human primates, always making up drama…

I smile and sip my coffee, grateful for the human being asleep in the other room as I start my day. Sure, it takes practice to be the woman I most want to be. There are a ton of verbs involved. My results definitely vary. You may as well assume positive intent, though, with regard to me, my words and actions, and my intent, with regard to love and loving and this partnership right here; I’ve no other sort of intent in mind, moment to moment. 🙂 Doesn’t make things easier when some moment goes sideways unexpectedly, and that’s just real.

Sometimes I’ve got to rely on my own recollection that we love each other, and trust my partner to do the same. If we both set down some of our baggage, and both work towards being the of who we each are, we can trust each other’s positive intent, and go from there. 🙂 Isn’t that enough to begin again, as often as we need to?

Another sip of coffee, a journey without a map, some perspective, and a lot of love; definitely enough on which to begin again. 🙂