The progress loop trends downward

I’m in a bit of a dip again. I was doing really well until a few days ago. Last weekend I was knocking it out of the park: quigong at the gym on Friday, a long walk on Saturday morning with a new walking group (social time and exercise!), all the eye drops remembered, sensible eating and drinking, and adequate rest. I had a fun time visiting with a friend in San Francisco on Sunday, and felt some good restoration from a weekend of self-care.

As last week progressed I started to lose my grip. My work days weren’t going as planned (Ha, ha, ha! When do they ever?!) and I’m worried about missing some deadlines now. The House passed that stupid healthcare bill and since I’m a walking set of pre-existing conditions these days and have several people I care about who are, too, I started to panic inside. I went to quigong on Friday again, but was having trouble maintaining my focus. By afternoon I had ENOUGH when a random dude on a bike stopped me as I was rolling my trash bins into my driveway. He offered “help,” which apparently consisted of telling me the best way to do it myself. I let him ride away a few feet before commenting out loud that I didn’t need to be mansplained how to deal with my trash bins. Later, as I pulled in the parking lot of the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions (of yet more eye drops, of course), some other dude tried to pull out in front of me. When I tapped the horn to get his attention he stopped, but then yelled at me through his open window that I needed to “Slow down!” I completely lost it at that time and hurled foul words in his direction out my own open car window (many juicy F-bombs were dropped) and continued to grumble as I exited my car that I was TIRED OF MEN TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!

I coddled myself Friday night by eating leftovers, not turning on the news (or the TV at all, for that matter), and consuming a stiff vodka martini. But I did myself a disservice by poking around too much online. I had bad dreams that night, and the imagery was pulled from my browsing history. I roused myself at some early hour from a dream where I was in a small camper/tiny house that was inside another building or warehouse and was being ejected through the wall by a malevolent force. The only good thing about the night is I managed to wake up just enough to break through that dream cycle, but not enough that I was fully awake and unable to get back to sleep.

Still, I dragged myself out of bed with the sunrise and managed to make the walking group again. I visited the farmers market and got some yummies, but didn’t buy more than I can consume this week, and then hustled home to cook lunch. I met with a (very strong) potential short-term renter for this harvest season, and had a short rest to make up for my broken sleep.

Last night’s social event was spent with a friend I’ve made through my local knitting group (and also the local UU church when I decide to attend). We spent the evening enjoying some take out Indian food, a small amount of wine, and working on our knitting projects while we watched a movie. I had brought over Moonlight, which I’ve had on request from the library for (seemingly) ages. Wow. I struggled with understanding some of the dialog, but still. Wow. I couldn’t help crying at the end. This poor young man was so lonely, and I associated with it maybe too much.

I had such high hopes that when sister had moved here for good that we would friends and I’d have companionship. But that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Of course. Those expectations were unrealistic, yet I can’t seem to shut off the part of me that has them. Just today as we discussed a possible outing together she started using a nasty, impatient voice and then turned around and denied her annoyance when I mentioned it and blamed me for having an attitude. The outing never happened, needless to say.

Here’s another thing: I’ve been dealing with a “crush” the past month. It’s stupid, really, really stupid to have an attraction like this. I’m too embarrassed even to write more details about it, quite frankly, but it’s there and I am trying to shut it down really hard and failing. The person I am crushing on has no reason to know that I exist, and I wouldn’t even approach him and make him aware that I do since I feel so rotten about myself right now and I know I just could not stand any rejection.

So, I really identify with this aspect of the main character in Moonlight. That longing for connection and loneliness that’s not there. That had been there for a brief time, but was lost. I wish I could just shut down any romantic notions I have and make them go away permanently. I’m swearing off any romance novels for the near future, at least. I just can’t let my subconscious get any ideas that I’ll be encountering someone as I go about my life where there is a mutual attraction and a plausible chance of a relationship. I’m trying to sternly keep myself focused on strengthening friendships and taking care of myself. Those are realistic goals, at least.

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Warming up and cooling down

From a literal perspective, we’re moving through a really short Indian Summer right now. It was warm today and will be warm tomorrow, but then we’ll be back to the cold again.

Figuratively, I’ve been moving through my own little weather front. Sometimes I’m so slow to figure what’s been going on inside my own head and heart. It’s almost maddening to realize something isn’t right, but not be able to explain to anyone else – much less myself – what’s happening. After all, I should know myself, right?

It came to a head last night, and that opened a door for me. I’ve been feeling increasingly uncomfortable in my own skin over the past week. Some of my discomfort may just be hormonal, but I’ve also been lonely, too.

I’ve written about my loneliness before.  It’s what leads me to feel jumpy and itchy and crazed. It has burrowed deep under my skin, and trying to avoid it has led me down many wrong paths:  like relationships with guys that went nowhere, and a marriage that ultimately failed. It led me to an increasingly disturbing relationship this summer that I finally found the courage to break off, yet still has lingering effects.

Last night I reached a peak of some sort. At first I thought of my restlessness as evidence I needed a goal or a plan of some sort, but just before I fell into a restless sleep I realized it was being lonely in a “hot” way. Then it all came together in my mind.

This morning I searched out and found my “Buddhist book“ (When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron). I haven’t opened this book in months. Once I passed through my crisis phase in the spring and I started dating someone, I set it aside. I shouldn’t have.

I need to practice the precepts of this book daily, just like an alcoholic must practice her 12 steps. Stuff happens and you have no control over it. Life is groundless. Life is lonely. All we can do is abandon hope, accept these fundamental truths and keep moving. On the surface this may sound like a negative approach, but it’s really not. Because what it leads to is compassion (for both yourself and others) and peace. When we stop trying to wrestle the universe into something it’s not, we find relief from our suffering.

This morning I paged the book open to the chapter called Six Kinds of Loneliness and I read. I’ve kept the book with me throughout the day and keep re-reading bits from this one chapter over and over.

So I guess I do now have a goal or a plan: to be more still and just sit in my cool loneliness.