Re-Training for Success

Source: geograph.org.uk


Life is good. I’ve been quite active, for the past few days, and I’m settling into my job better each week. My office got moved closer to the rest of my team, so now I’m in the thick of it, which is really good. I’ve been taking excellent care of myself, physically, continuing to exercise and enjoy the summer while it lasts. It’s all good. Have had a few minor flare-ups, but I’ve rebounded pretty well.

Learning… keep learning.

And it occurs to me, as I look around me at my life and see how much better (!) I’m doing now than I was, only a year ago, that I’m not just lucky — I’m also very determined and fairly disciplined, and it’s paying off in a big way. I’ve found a good balance in my life between recognizing my issues, and dealing with them. And through the process of dealing, I’ve managed to develop a sort of re-training “system” that has helped me get myself back on track.

It’s as much of an orientation, as it is a system — I take the approach that recovery from traumatic brain injury requires re-training… slow and steady and regular and consistent. Like the training I did for races and sports events when I was in high school. I didn’t start out being able to run 5 miles, but I gradually built up to it. Along the way, I didn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t shorten my race times every single race. I just looked at my performance, gave it a lot of thought, and then worked on my problem areas.

Same thing with TBI recovery — it takes time,and I’m literally rebuilding neural pathways and connections as I go. This takes time. The brain is in a state of constant activity, so it’s not like I can just shut everything else down until I get certain functionality back in place. I need to keep breathing, I need my blood to circulate, and I need to keep on with my life. I can’t just take my brain offline, while I repair the trouble spots.

So, I have to repair while I’m going through the motions of my different activities. That means I need to pay extra close attention to what I’m doing, at the start, to make sure my form is proper and I am developing the right habits.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a complete idiot, because I have these “training wheels” of lists and reminders and routines I go through. I want to be a lot more fluid, a lot more normal, a lot less dependent on my notes and helps. But the thing I have to keep in mind is that I won’t need them forever. I just need them, till I get things straightened out and get in the habit of doing things the right way.

It took me close to a year to be able to go through the motions of my morning routine without the help of a checklist that detailed every single thing I had to do, from brushing my teeth and taking my shower and washing my hair and getting my breakfast and vitamins. And while I was using that checklist, I felt so incredibly deficient. I’m a grown-up adult. Why do I need this friggin’ list? But I did need it — better to have the list, than remember later (when I was at work) that I’d forgotten to wash my hair.

I did what I had to do, and it worked for me.

I retrained myself to do certain things that had me completely thrown. And I’m still doing it.

I’m doing it now with my new job. New role. New people. New – new – new. I have to be very careful to not mess up. Be deliberate and careful and cautious about things that “should” come easily to me. I have to really rein myself in and get myself to step back. And make sure I have plenty of sleep and rest on the weekends.

Because nothing derails me more than crazy fatigue. And I *really* don’t want to get derailed.

Well, anyway, that’s the latest that I’ve been pondering. I am realizing that I need to establish more structure in my days, and now that I’m more aware of the flow and my responsibilities, that’s getting easier to figure out.

It’s all a process. And it’s a good one. And when I think about all I’ve gained from my regular work at re-training, I don’t mind the slow, plodding feel to it. It’s what gets me where I need to go, and that’s alright by me.

Being better than that

Source: u m a m i

Well, this has been a mixed week. On the one hand, I’ve been settling in more and more at work, taking on more projects and getting synched up with my team and the larger department.

I’m making good progress, and it feels great.

On the other hand, I’ve been very erratic at home, perhaps because of the pressure I’m feeling about this new job, making sure I don’t screw up, and keeping my facts straight. I’ve noticed a few times, already, that I’ve gotten facts and figures turned around — not for lack of trying… I was really trying to get it right — and now those incidents are looming large in my head, taking up space and making me feel like crap.

Which hasn’t been helping at home. I’ve been volatile and cranky and have blown up a few times over the past week. And my spouse is only too happy to spend most of the day away from me today. They’ve got a job they’re doing later today, so they get to be with their “posse” while I spend some quiet time at home getting my act together, catching up with myself, moving at my own pace, etc.

Some good has actually come out of this fairly challenging week. Both of us have been looking at our behavior and our parts in the fights and squabbles, and we’re both taking responsibility for our less-than-helpful habits. Both of us know it takes two to tangle, and we both know that we’re each as high-strung as the other, at times. We both have our issues, and at least we’re both willing to take steps to do something about our behavior.

And we’ve been deliberately mindful of our interactions, in the aftermath of the electrical storms. We’re both making an extra effort to be responsible and not fly off the handle over every little thing. Unlike times in the past, this week, we’ve been able to rebound and treat each other with dignity and respectful consideration, which is really the cornerstone of any healthy relationship, whatever its nature.

Bottom line is, we know we’re both better than how we’ve been acting. We’re not total jerks, but we do really good impressions of them at times ;) The thing to remember, is that what we do and what we say is not who we are. We’re much better than that. And we know it.

I guess that’s the main thing — knowing who you are and realizing that you’re capable of a lot more (and better things) than you are currently engaged in. There are all sorts of strategies one can apply to motivate oneself to better behavior  – thinking about what’s in it for you, if you do such-and-such… thinking about how you want your life to be and deciding if what you’re doing now is going to help you get there… having compassion for those you’re dealing with and being willing to extend them the respect they deserve.

Those are all great, and they work for a lot of people. But in my case, that’s a lot more thinking and a lot more abstract than I care to get on a regular basis. For me, it boils down to What sort of person am I… really? And would that sort of person be doing this sort of thing at this point in time? What kind of character do I have, and what principles matter most to me in life? Am I acting in a way that honors those principles and is a true reflection of my character — or the character I seek to develop.

Now, I know that the whole “character” discussion is not something people often talk about. But it matters to me. It matters a whole lot to me. What other people do and how they behave is one thing. It’s not my concern. But how I act and what I do, is my concern. It’s a big one, too. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m just a throwback to the last century when these things mattered a whole lot more than they do now. But the bottom line is, character matters. My character matters. And when I keep that uppermost in my mind, it keeps me out of the mire.

Another thing that keeps me out of the muck of self-destructive behaviors, is realizing that as important as character is to me, my brain has been jumbled up enough to want to go off and do its own thing. And it’s up to my mind to keep my brain from derailing my life.

I share Dan Siegel’s belief that the main is a guiding force that directs energy and information throughout the system, and the brain is the organ that generates and conducts energy and information.  Brain and mind are not the same. Character and behavior are not necessarily equivalent. They are connected, but behavior can go off the rails temporarily without making a permanent statement about my underlying character.

No matter what I do, no matter how badly things go for me, no matter how many things I confuse or how often facts get turned around, the bottom line is, I’m a good person who wants to do right. If I weren’t… if I were a total jerk and a-hole, the problems I have wouldn’t even bother me. I’d just go on with my life, as though none of it mattered.

But it does matter to me. And I know I can do better. So long as I keep trying, I always have the opportunity to show — yet again — that I am better than the things that try to bring me down.

Exercises in frailty

… and humanity, too.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what I’ve recorded here in this blog over the past few years. It hasn’t always been pretty, it hasn’t always been very smart, and in places — looking back — it’s been downright embarrassing.

But it’s been human.

Honest, too.

We’re all just trying to figure things out. This is my way of doing it, within the context of my injuries.

We all have those — injuries. And we all have our burdens.

I heard it said recently that by the time you get to a certain age, if you’ve lived your life as a regular person, you’re bound to be a survivor of something.

Indeed.

Onward.

Everyday focus, everyday samadhi

Source: nmazca.com : fractalism

An interesting thing happens when I focus on my breath. I get distracted. Seriously. I count my breaths, and I get to about 14 or so, then all of a sudden, my brain “changes the channel” like it’s handling a big old remote control in my head, and before I realize it, I’m off thinking about something that has nothing to do with counting my breaths.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with anything in my present life at all.

And it can take a few minutes before I even realize I’ve wandered off.

Very interesting…

I’ve been reading some writing about zen and zazen, with a special focus on learning techniques for helping my mind better manage my brain. It’s been tremendously helpful to me over the years. I first started actively practicing silent meditation decades ago, and I started getting more into zen back in the early 1990′s.  I credit it with helping me get back on track, after a number of years of confusion and frustration after my car accident in the fall of 1987. Learning about zen and zazen from someone who practiced it regularly and showed me how it was anything but a dull, dreary way to fritter away the hours, and I learned a lot from sitting in silence regularly.

I also credit it with helping me after my car accident in 1996. I had a regular practice by that time, and I was able to get very deep and very quiet. I think the zazen really helped me get back on my feet. Between changing jobs to something that had me interacting more with stoic computer screens, and having an active zazen sitting meditation practice… and practicing intentional, mindful observation (instead of off-the-handle knee-jerk reactions) at work, it truly helped me handle the intense changes that were going on with me.

Alas, my fall in 2004 totally hosed my practice in a really severe way. I had been getting more into the “samadhi zone” (where you experience oneness with everything, and you’re in a place where no time and no space exists, there is only now), and it was  good. But then I fell down those stairs, and within a few weeks, I was swearing off the “fru-fru” meditation routine, journaling, or doing anything other than just living in a very reactionary way, taking cues only from outside me, not inside.

It was truly weird. I couldn’t figure out why, all of a sudden, I wasn’t at all interested in sitting in silence. It was the last thing I wanted. Very uncharacteristic for me, actually. And the sudden lack of ability to focus on things intentionally, along with the inability to just get started with what was in front of me, not only hosed my zazen practice, but also screwed the rest of my life in general.

Now I’m back at sitting zazen, after being convinced I had to give it up for good. I had been thinking for the longest time that there’s no way I can get back to my practice – my brain is too jumbled up, and I can’t manage to sit still for longer than 5 minutes. But then I dug up one of my old zen books (the only modern zen book that has much meaning for me, actually), and I started reading it, and I started thinking about my practice in terms of the Samurais of yesteryear, and something clicked.

TBI doesn’t make me less suited for zazen and that sort of focused practice. It makes me more suited for it.

Eureka.

So, now I’m back at it. I am realizing that I probably have to spend a lot of time building myself back to where I was before, but these things take time. I’m also reading more about how the kind of belly breathing that you use when you’re sitting zazen is extremely helpful for balancing and stabilizing the autonomic nervous system. It actually helps get heart rate variability under control and synch up circulation with your respiration. It works on all levels, and in Eastern and Western contexts. There have even been western medicine studies about how slow, controlled exhalation helps to balance out the autonomic nervous system, bringing the sympathetic (fight-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-digest) into good balance. Not too little of each, as that produces what one person calls a “puny” and weakly constitution, but more of each — in balance with one another — so that you can live your life in a good way. With balance.

That’s really what I’m seeking. Balance. Stability. Oneness of samadhi. And an even-keeled autonomic nervous system. I’ve had some pretty severe blow-ups in the past week or two, and when I look back on them, I can see very clearly the physiological sources of them — it wasn’t just emotional or mental — it was physical issues I was having. Too little sleep. Not enough rest. Letting my system get all revved over good things… only to have it get revved in the opposite direction and blow less-good things all out of proportion.

Molehills into mountains — and then I fall (and push everyone else) off the mountain.

Ugh.

So, I need to focus in. Spend the time in zazen and focus on my breath. Take care of my body, my physical vehicle, and stay present in the moment. My system is accustomed to fight-flight dramas and being fueled by the  biochemical cascade of stress hormones — so it naturally seeks a place where I’m in such a state of alarm and distress that I’m blocking out all “extraneous” stimuli that feel like they’re too much to handle. And if I can’t find that… I’ll actually create it. Because that’s what’s familiar and comfortable and useful to my system, which tends to get low and irritable without it.

But that unconscious biochemical “strategy” is a recipe for a nervous breakdown. I need an alternative — and I have it. I can create that 100% total-focus state in my mind in a positive, non-self-destructive way by deliberately focusing on my breath and counting… counting… counting… and making sure I don’t lose track around 14… and then 27…. and then 38… It’s really, really hard. It takes all my strength and focus to do it. And the deeper I go into it, the more I can replicate that present-only state which typically comes with a dramatic emergency. This way is cleaner, smoother, and it actually strengthens me instead of wiping me out. Granted, it is not as extreme and it’s not like the quick sugar-high of instant drama alert. But the high is more thorough and it lasts longer. And in the past I found that the more I worked at it, the easier it became.

So, I need to resume that practice, be patient with myself, and just breathe intentionally. Intention especially involves focusing more on exhalation than inhalation. That focus stimulates and puts the emphasis on the parasympathetic nervous system, which I can use, as I’m skewed towards the sympathetic.

Well, it’s all good, it’s all fascinating, and it’s all an excellent opportunity to learn.

Now, what is the most present task at hand? To get on with my day. Focus in. Let’s go. Onward.

Choosing hope, requesting help

Red Sunrise - Source: Wikimedia Commons

I woke up today in a state of total, unremitting despair. All the world, it seemed, was caving in on me, and there was no place for me to turn. Looking around my life from the central point of my bed, all I could see was difficulty and challenge, no help to be had anywhere, and I was convinced that I am utterly alone in the world.

How could I help but weep uncontrollably, which is what I did. I was alone in the bed — my spouse and I have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for over a year, now — and even if I had been in bed with my beloved, it would have just made things worse. I would have set them off. And then we’d be off to the races.

I haven’t talked much (at all?) about the health issues my spouse has, but they are fairly serious. Life-threatening, actually. Life-changing. They’ve pretty much been disabled and unable to work since 1996. I don’t talk much about it, because it’s a never-ending saga of two steps up, one step back, one step up, two steps back. It’s exhausting even to think about it, so I don’t write about it or talk to others about it. It’s actually much easier for me to be a caregiver mostly by myself, without needing (with my confounded communication and organization issues) to explain in detail to everyone around me what I need, what they need, what will help, what will make things better.

One of the big drivers behind me trying to figure out this TBI business, is that my injury in 2004 severely curtailed my ability to be a decent caregiver and provider. If I hadn’t realized just how much my injury was mucking up my composure and my ability to earn a living — if those hadn’t been a problem at all — I might not be on this journey, right now. I probably could have let it all slide, for a time anyway. That’s what I’ve been doing for years, after all. It’s landed me in all sorts of trouble, but somehow, when the trouble only seems to affect you — and you can still make a living and slide by in the rest of life — it’s much easier to gloss over it.

When you’ve got an ill partner to care for, that changes a lot. Throw in a whopping mortgage and a bunch of other financial and logistical responsibilities, and you’ve got a hell of a compelling case for figuring this sh*t out.

Anyway, enough about me. The thing with my spouse’s health issues is that flare-ups with physical issues tend to trigger extended cascades of panic-anxiety, which are even more debilitating than the underlying physical problems, themselves. And when they are down or in a prolonged panic state, they neglect their physical upkeep, which exacerbates their physical condition.

Their “regressions” can be months-long drawn-out dramas of them needing almost constant positive reinforcement and support, as well as consistent reminders and motivational pep-talks about why it’s good to stay away from multiple packages of high-carb junk foods, and high-fat, high-sugar “treats”. It takes a mammoth effort of will and radical compassion to steer them back on track. They know they should do it, but there are a large number of complications that come into play. It’s just not a simple cut-and-dried case of steady-on. They’ve got a whole raft of issues from many, many years of awful, violent, immediate-family situations and bad relationships, so we’ve got that to contend with. Ghosts live in our home, and my spouse at times seems to have more of a relationship with them, than with me.

Now, once my partner is back on track, it’s good, and they can carry on in the world with relative normalcy. But I never know if they’re going to stick with their routine or if they’re going to feel like “taking it easy” and go off on another bad-food, bad-habit binge… and stay there for the next six weeks. Eating wrong and stopping the exercise and getting away from regular sleep-waking cycles might not seem like that big of a deal, but believe me — mind and body are totally connected, and if they neglect one, the other starts to go. Pronto. So, I tend to be on-guard a lot. Like a little Shetland sheepdog trotting around their perimeter and nipping at their heels to keep them away from the cliff, as best I can.

As best I can… which is not always that great. Over the years, we’ve had some better and worse times, the better times being when both of us were working and fully engaged in life. We have not had the easiest time of things over the past 20 years. We’ve been in extremely dire financial straits several times, nearly got evicted a few times, were on the run from angry landlords and creditors a few times, and along the way we’ve had our share of trashed relationships with people who purported to be our friends but then turned around and screwed us royally. We’re both trusting sorts with big open hearts. That’s the risk you run, when you’re open to people and you see the best they have to offer — you sometimes see a side of them that’s not their “default”, so you end up expecting one sort of behavior, but are the recipient of another.

But that’s another post for another day.

Anyway, lately, my spouse has been a little worse for wear — as have I — over money and work circumstances. They’ve got a couple of jobs coming up that will bring in money, which is great… but they need help doing it. In the past, I’ve helped — I was their main support. But I also over-extended myself, and one of the reasons I’ve gotten brain-injured several times over the past 15 years, is that I over-extended and exhausted myself and I didn’t take good care of my own safety.

Now, all that comes up again — if I don’t help my spouse do these jobs, the money may not come through. Or they may have some sort of breakdown without me around to stabilize them. But if I do help them, I may be compromising my health and possibly my safety. They’ve done events when I wasn’t there, and when the going got rough, they fell apart – which is not a good way to attract new business. So, the pressure is on for me to pitch in and help. Meanwhile, I’ve got this new job and I haven’t accrued enough time to take vacation to help with these gigs, and I worry that the exhaustion is going to impact my performance at work. I’m feeling like if I don’t rob Peter and pay Paul, we’re totally screwed. Both of us. Either way doesn’t look like a good thing.

The most frustrating thing is how none of this can be separated out into my-stuff-their-stuff. When you’re living with someone who has some serious physical and mental health issues, and you’ve got your own TBI complications to deal with, the problems one of you has never just stays your own — you both have the problems.

And that’s a problem.

Which is where I ended up this morning, weeping bitterly and desperately in the isolation of my room. Alone. Completely alone. Screwed. Totally screwed. All the world was closing in on me, and I could see no way out.

How much easier it would be, I thought, if I weren’t around. If I died, my spouse would get my life insurance, could pay off the mortgage, have the place to themself, and wouldn’t be bothered by my outbursts and “rough patches”. The thought has occurred to me a number of times over the years that they’d be better off without me, and it came up again this morning.

But after I’d completely abandoned myself to the despair for a while, eventually I got to thinking…

And it occurred to me that I/we have  been in much tighter spots, with far less resources, far less knowledge, and with far fewer tools to deal with everything, than we have today. Things may look desperate, I may feel desperate, but is that really the whole story?

Let me think…

I think not.

Looking back, I can see — plain as day — how things just manage to work themselves out over time. Things change. It’s the nature of the world, the nature of life. And even though the shit may hit the fan, shit always turns into something else.

Compost.

Or dried chips you can use to build a fire.

What’s more, when I look objectively at my life and compare it with the lives of others in dire straits, I know for a fact that I am not alone. I may not be personally acquainted with everyone who is having a rough time (though many of my friends are), but I know that I am not the only one in this world who suffers. And I know that I am not the only one in search of answers.

No, contrary to all appearances, I am not alone.

And I realized, as I got outside the confines of my poor-me head and really thought about my situation, that the main reason I was in so much pain, was that I was dwelling on the pain. I was dwelling only on the pain. Nothing else.

Which was not the whole story.

The whole story was also about the sun coming up outside my bedroom window, and there was a beautiful pink tint to the clouds.

The whole story was also about me having the presence of mind to plan a nap later today, so I don’t get too depleted.

The whole story was also about me being tight and cramped because I wasn’t taking care of myself — and me knowing what to do about that: get up and exercise.

The whole story also includes the simple, simple fact that doing something as basic as breathing can bring me back into my body, get me out of my head, and infuse me with energy and life that gets me out of the bed with ideas about what is possible — not what’s “impossible.”

The whole story is also about how these friends of ours who are having tough times too, are available to help with some of the things that need to get done, and I am not, in fact the only one who can help. And my spouse, when they’re in a steady place and are actually in the midst of their work (instead of fretting up in their head all the time), is indeed able to tend to their own needs and get help with what they need help with.

They have that skill. They are very in touch with their needs and wants and wishes, and they aren’t shy about speaking up about it. So, I can trust that. I have to trust that.

The other part of the story (I now realize) is that I’m just tired. I’ve had a very busy week, and Saturday was a continuation of that. I’m still in the process of adjusting to my new job and the company, and if I dwell too much on the unknowns, it does a number on my head. So, I need to not do that. Just focus on the work in front of me, immerse myself in that, and get on with living my life.

Do what’s in front of me. Dwell on that. Take things a bit at a time, and just be smart about how I budget my energy. Don’t run around like a chicken with my head cut off, because it’s summer and it’s not going to be a beautiful day forever. Pace myself. Use my noggin and all the experience I have. Chill.

And ask for help when I can.

Things really do have a way of turning around… so long as I stay open to them, and I spend as much time — if not more — dwelling on the possibilities, instead of the dread.

None of us knows the whole story about what is and is not possible. None of us knows how much we’re capable of doing, contrary to all indicators.  None of us has it all figured out, and we probably never will.

Lucky for us.

Making up the difference

The road to Lalu Farm, Bredon Hill

Things are coming together. The weeks are passing, and I’m getting more and more into the swing of my work. I’ve gotten past the initial worry of not keeping up, and I’m going with the confidence that I have in the unseen, seemingly mysterious ways my brain wraps itself around experiences.

Because it does. I can’t explain exactly how or why, but it manages to take care of itself, one way or another. And when I mess up, which I tend to do (being human and all), I sit up, pay attention, learn… and move on. I keep going. I’m a little like a shark, that way — I have to keep moving, or I’ll drown.

Thinking about the unusual ways my life has unfolded, I was marveling this morning at how well I’ve actually done for myself, despite having a very different perspective than most people I know. I guess I’ve had my synapses and axons mixed up often enough, to end up with a brain that’s obviously not like everyone else’s. Or maybe I might have turned out this way, even if I’d never been injured. What-ever. The point is — and I was contemplating this today while I was driving to work… I heal.

I adapt.

I figure this sh*t out and move on.

I always have… even when I couldn’t understand what people were saying to me, and I couldn’t decipher the words on the page in front of me, and people were tormenting me for fun, and when I had a heck of a time staying vertical, and when I would completely freak out at the drop of a hat (literally), and I couldn’t sleep past 3 a.m. for months and months on end.

One way or another, I figured out how to heal, how to move on. I figured out how to abandon the strategies and ways of doing things that used to work so well for me, but suddenly no longer did, for no reason I could decipher.

I think in a way it was lucky that I never fully realized why it was that I was having so much trouble. It forced me to not look outside myself, but to look within. It forced me to buckle down and just figure things out. Not many people were  cutting me any breaks, coming to my assistance, etc. And the ones that tried often screwed everything up. And then they’d get pissed off at me(?)

The usual expectations of growing up and performing on par with everyone else were totally on me, even though I was often not up to fulfilling them for a very good reason. I didn’t start out being up to it, but eventually I often figured out how to get myself up for it. The same pressures, the same tasks, the same responsibilities as everyone else around me had, were laid squarely on my shoulders. And I had no excuses. I had no reason for my start-stop life. I had no explanation for why I was the way I was.

So, I had to make do. I had to figure out a way to make up the difference.

There was no point in struggling to hang on to old ways of doing things. There was no “old” way of doing things, because countless things I tried and did often ended up in the crapper before my activities could become habits. I’m not sure my life has ever allowed me the luxury of developing certain habits for long. Something was always happening to screw things up — little did I know why.

But that’s not important. The important thing is, I adapted. I changed. I shifted my focus. Because I had to. No excuses. No explanations allowed. Not even a plausible reason for my track record of underachievement was permitted. It screwed me to the wall countless times, but it was also necessary for my growth and development. No matter how hard it was, no matter how much I struggled, no matter how intensely painful it was, none of that mattered.

All that mattered was the results. That I did what I was supposed to. That I lived up to basic expectations — and paid the piper, if I didn’t.

It’s interesting — I’ve been having ongoing conversations with people here and there about our “culture of accommodation”. And the same people who publicly support accommodating people with disabilities, secretly admit to not wanting to cut everyone a break just because they have a tough time of things. Sometimes, you just gotta suck it up and get on with your life.

Now, I’m sure I’m going to ruffle a few feathers with this little missive, but I have to say, if people had accommodated me throughout the course of my challenging life, I doubt very much that I would have gotten as far as I have. Truly.

Making up the difference. It’s made all the difference.

What she said

http://karaswanson.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/cast-it-on-out-there/

It just seems to take forever…

Source: Robert Thomson

My neuropsych is away this week, so I didn’t have a regular meeting to debrief the changes I’ve been going through. Work has been really good, but home life is extraordinarily difficult. Money problems will do that. We’re going through a lot of changes around me not being willing to sacrifice everything I have and am for the sake of others.

All my life, I’ve always put service ahead of my own survival, but in the past few years since I realized what a toll it’s taken on me — and I realized why it’s been that I’ve been so willing to put myself in harm’s way — I’ve changed a great deal in this respect. I’m just not willing to cut my own life short for the sake of the team anymore. And that includes my “home team”.

My spouse is going to have to figure out if they’re going to stay with me. They say they want to, they don’t want to leave. But they have been talking about moving in with friends. I really don’t know what to think. We just don’t have the kind of money they want for all their activities, and they’re struggling at finding work.

It’s not as if we’re the only couple in America with this problem, but it feels big when it’s this close to home.

Not to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I’ve got this great new job, which I am really getting into. The people are good and are getting used to me. The work is engaging and keeps me on my toes. And so far I’ve been able to interact pretty positively with most folks.

They just need to get used to me and my odd ways. Nobody needs to know why my ways are odd. I work in technology. Most people around me have odd ways. So, I keep under the radar, and it’s fine.

It really is.

But it seems like it takes for friggin’ ever for things to sort themselves out.

For real.

Driving home from work today, I had to stop and marvel at how … normal… my life has become. It’s really something. Not at all what I’ve been expecting, or even used to. All that old drama crap running in my head all day long. Now, it’s quite low-key, inside my skull. Compared  to how things used to be, well, this is a change.

Outside my head, things are all in a whirl, in no small part because I’m not so busy keeping track of my crazy brain, that I have no bandwidth left to pay attention to what people are saying or doing to me.

I’m standing up for myself. Not doing it so well, a lot of the time, but still learning.

And that’s something.

But it just seems to take forever.

I’m too tired for this right now. I’m going to bed.

So I went to a zen meditation group last night…

Strangely enough, they wouldn’t be quiet.

Either it was chanting liturgy or “discussing” some heady facet of zen/buddhism.

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We sat in silence for 25 minutes, which was good.

But other than that, it was a very noisy evening.

Odd…

I hadn’t expected that at all.