The Palinode and I took a trip out of town to see family and old friends last weekend.
If you're in Saskatoon, go to Turning the Tide Bookstore. They carry consciousness-raising literature, and you'll care about stuff more afterwards.
I had no time whatsoever to be stepping away from my computer, but I'd been working 12- to 15-hour days for weeks running with no weekends jambed in there to bookend the stress, so I didn't really have a choice. I value my sanity at least as far as it can keep me out of the poorhouse.
My eyes needed a break, too. Spending that many hours staring at a computer screen does a number on the retinas. Everything had taken on that sparkly, migraine aura, disco ball effect, which normally only happens prior to a migraine or when one is on psychedelic drugs. I was just half-blind and unable to read.
Things I Am Terrible At
Knowing when to stop working and start playing
Valuing this meat suit that lets me walk around and do the stuff I like
I let myself go enough over the weekend that I even forgot to take photos, which is pretty much a reflex for me at this point. I was surprised at the end of the weekend to find that I had taken only one photo since my panic-avoidance self-portrait in the back of a car at the beginning of the trip.
I keep saying over and over in different ways that I want to make a daily practice of letting go, and then I get busy trying to make the whole world happier and forget to eat my next three meals, lose myself to anxiety dreams, and start my old pattern of beating myself up for not doing all the things all over again.
I can see it clearly, though, now, and pattern recognition is 90% of this part of the struggle.
Clearly, I'm feeling reflective. It's annoying the hell out of me.
And just like that, Oskar snaps me out of it. He whines all the time all over the place, because he's an anxious monster just like me. I tell him to shut up, but he never does. Instead of shutting up, he just tries to whine more quietly, which makes his voice thin and wavering. He sounds like a tenor whining balloon crossed with an 80-year-old lady in church choir.
I need to find my bootstraps and pull myself up by them.
Cat two of three, Onion, is a bigger cat who galumphs around the apartment on heavy feet with a loud yowl, so it's easy for me to forget that he responds best to a gentle hand.
I tend to give him rougher affection and speak to him in a louder voice to match the size of his presence, but that is thoughtless. It's a reflex.
He doesn't know how big and galumphy he is, and he finds it confusing to be met with such volume. When I touch him lightly and speak to him in a soft voice, though, he leans into me with a genuine affection that he can't show me when half his energy is being spent reacting to my assault.
It is often this way with people, too. When I am faced with someone who I perceive as being larger physically or energetically, my instinct is to react with at least the same level of perceived aggression, if not more. I am learning, though, to pause for a moment, breathe, and move more gently if the situation allows. It gives me time to think, and it gives them the space to communicate with me without having to fight against my bluster.
A gentler hand makes room for both us to be who we are beyond the volume of our reactions to each other.