Perhaps, too, hesitance overtakes me because when I think of writing I glimpse the world I left behind. The world beyond, that when my thoughts drift toward it at all, is a hazy, indistinct sphere radiating a weak light, riddled through with discordant voices and images that cut across eyes and minds like a razor blade, and none of us able to even blink. It seems a myth, a kind of mythic tragedy, a lie, that I once lived there or that anyone lives there still. Someday the fish and the falcon, the fox and the owl, will tell tales, in their way, of this disembodied globe of light and what it contained, all the poison and all the grief that leaked out of it. If human language meant anything, I might even recount it to the waves or to the sky, but what’s the point?
- Acceptance (SRT #3), J. Vandermeer
Getting over a lingering rattle from last week’s cold, watching a movie, writing up notes from another low-key weekend.
Rob invited me to his post-work going away (to another job) party at a bar with the boys on Friday. Boys I professionally like, get along with, would like to know more about. My avoidance of him, that event and virtually immediate impulse to go home instead is a solid indicator that, for better or worse, my internal life is close to the way it used to be.
Regan and I spend unintentionally significant amounts of time communicating about the ridiculous things guys have done and how we don’t like that we have to deal with being attracted to them. The briefest exchanges with other women turn up the same conclusions without my even trying to get there. If I could get through to a meaningfully paired life without dealing with the whole of the dating process, I would set it on fire and not look back. We muse that good ones are out there, read literature and trade songs written by women who know this to be true about such seemingly elusive beings. And sound mad throughout, though we are trying and more hopeful than anything.
Most of the day outside running errands, enjoying the silver glint of the lake, in the sun. Part of the afternoon engaged in playing a game, which at the moment is self-aware and reflective enough to be a satisfying post-work play routine. Wouldn’t you like to rewind life back from time to time to change choices that you made? Give this to me.
Jamie saw me online this evening and emailed straightaway, joyful that my gameplay showed one of his suggestions (the game noted above). I get up at 5 a.m. and still can’t seem to make words work until mid-morning. So tomorrow he’ll mock my pain at being interfaced with before 10 a.m. I’ll make tea and think about when I can leave and go home.
1 : to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly
2 : to engage in contemplation : reflect
1. A deep or considered thought about something:
‘philosophical ruminations about life and humanity’
1.1 [mass noun] The action or process of thinking deeply about something:‘this film stuck out, demanding attention and rumination’– EOLD
Use the noun rumination when there’s thoughtful consideration going on. If your grandfather answers every question by saying, “Hmm. Let me think about that,” he is a fan of rumination. It comes from the verb ruminate, which means “to think deeply,” but also means “to chew the cud.” Both words come from the Latin word ruminatus, which has the same meaning and which is rooted in rumen, or “gullet.”
When you ruminate you chew something over, either literally or figuratively. Literal rumination may seem a little gross to humans, but to cows, chewing your cud (that’s partially digested food brought up from the stomach for another chew) is just a natural part of life.
Ruminating is repeatedly going over negative thoughts in your mind. It could take the form of thinking about your perceived flaws, rehashing a painful experience, or persistently thinking through a problem with no identifiable solution… Although it may feel like you are taking steps solve a problem, in reality ruminating removes you from participating in rewarding activities and increases isolation and passivity.
Reflecting on past experiences can be helpful in problem-solving and overcoming dilemmas, but brooding rumination takes this to the next level. It offers few new insights and often serves to intensify our negative feelings.
– PC LF
By letting the problem replay over and over in your mind you are engaging in a process which is called “rumination.” Rumination refers to the tendency to repetitively think about the causes, situational factors, and consequences of one’s negative emotional experience (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991). Basically, rumination means that you continuously think about the various aspects of situations that are upsetting.
Post-event processing is fancy talk for dwelling and fixating on a negative social interaction long after it’s passed. It’s a form of rumination about our interactions with others… Like rumination, productive self-reflection might bring up negative emotions but it yields benefits. Self-reflection might involve thinking about an embarrassing social situation but it can lead to recognizing your overly critical view of yourself, or it might lead to new insights that help you avoid this awkwardness in the future.
– WoP JD
N-H has also studied the opposite of rumination: adaptive self-reflection. When people practice adaptive self-reflection, they focus on the concrete parts of a situation and the improvements they can make.
– PC WoP
6. Mindfulness. We spend so much time thinking about past mistakes or worrying about future events, that we spend very little time in the here and now. A good example of this is every time we find ourselves on “autopilot” while driving a car. The practice of mindfulness is a great way to reduce our “thinking” selves and increase our “sensing” selves in the here and now. For example, ask yourself what you hear, feel, smell, see and taste. This can help ground you in the present moment. Mindfulness is an important skill for enjoying the significant moments in life.
– WoP LF
Harris points out that human beings as a species are technically classified as “Homo Sapiens Sapiens,” which means “the man or woman who can think and knows he thinks.” Unfortunately, the second “sapiens” has been dropped from our name over time. That said, the ability to step outside of ourselves and “think about our thinking” calmly and non-judgmentally is something that will always make humans unique.
– PT CB
This afternoon is comprised of a tikka masala-wheat cracker meal, parmesan chicken breast cooking up in the oven, an overcast day and a quiet indoors.
It’s in sharp contrast to the environment of the march yesterday, as well as the evening I spent with Graham as he cooked half of what I’m eating right now. I made it home with a headache from the people-ness, having reached my limit in a relatively pleasant way.
My Wonder Woman shirt is missing somewhere in this house. Every nook and cranny has been turned up with no result so its whereabouts remain a mystery. I should sort out the next game to play. Graham is kind, private, and my rudimentary interest in him measured against a kind of indifference often triggers this reminder that I still can’t quite casually go to the comic shop during the week where my ex works without it likely costing me something. I blame him and resent him deeply, and while less so as time passes, from time to time stay in my feelings about that and everything that happened before it by association.
Sister is in good health, which carries an invariable reminder of the healthcare law that could be stripped apart anytime over the next few months-years. The “rally” was invigorating and encouraging while I remain reserved about the commitment to meaningful action and long-term change required by all of us who participated. My job is calm at the moment though I don’t think that will last given the trend, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I do not like my coworker. At all. So I stay in my feelings about that, the decision to leave, and the decision to stick it out.
Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers are STUNNING to chew on. My mind can’t figure it out.
I’m far enough away from a trip involving picking up the sister’s dog’s crap 3 times a day to actively want a dog again.
There are unicorn slippers on my feet. UNICORN. SLIPPERS. Retrieved during a white elephant Christmas exchange. So comfortable.
I want to find a way to actively make the week a good one, and one to remember.
Least favorite part of dealing with the last two things: me. So switching tracks and looking at the outside.
Apparently 6.5 hours is the golden ticket for this body. The doc and I worked out going to bed around 12:45 a.m. as he immediately called me on the bullshit concept of me being a morning person. Every iota of activity in the mornings shows I am not a morning person. Speaking to anyone before 10:00 a.m. can be counted as the equivalent of a Herculean effort. Data is good for mornings, but mornings aren’t data. Mornings are people. Lots of them. Who speak. And… speak.
The upside of staying up for a million years is the existence of plenty of time to fuck up the day then bring it back around before the lights go out. It also means more time to ignore any useful house duties like dishes and laundry with fewer excuses for Not doing both. As long as the time spent sleeping is satisfying, the extra time awake is welcome.
What to do with the night though? Long ago there were friends in time zones west of me who could help chip away at those long dark nighttime hours. If I can get into habits that can create – and maintain – a calm state in the evening hours it’s All Over. Those books that have been sitting on the shelf untouched for 3 years won’t know what hit them. In the meantime, comic books, podcasts and word search keep me company.
My across-the-hall neighbor left a Christmas card on the doorknob. I – in response – have done absolutelyyy nothing. He’s friendly and distantly awkward and during the warmer months all I can think about is how to avoid him so we don’t have to speak.
Our outdoor spaces have no barrier between them and both of us fiddle with our plants April to November which leads to straight up avoidance or awkward platitudes. Awkward. So awkward. I hunted for an extra blank card to give him like the ones I gave coworkers the other week but I’m out. So I can use the mad-libs cards remaining – nope – go to the store and buy one – it’s been almost a week – or awkwardly say hi and thank you in the hallway. The hallway I scuttle down to get outside so I don’t awkwardly make eye contact with anyone.
Today was comparatively warm. Wonderful to get in a number of good strolls and take in that ever elusive sun. Just now I’m recalling sitting in the outdoor nighttime, listening to a podcast and relaxing before bed.
Social event recovery mode.
Monday, post Christmas and the beginning of a standard week off. Spent 24 hours+ with a friend, happy to not be alone while hoping for a tad more alone time then. No hard feelings there though – that sort of subtlety is difficult to negotiate around people in any case. Always too hot or too cold! Lucky to even have the opportunity for that sort of complaint (ha!). The night was full of people and I stole away with a full stomach for home and the comfort of bed.
This week offers the chance to crack at hobbies relatively untouched since the last winter season. Reading I, Robot once again, which is so satisfying. Attempting to keep up with the news and respond in meaningful and productive ways.
Listening to a variety of podcasts – such as this one on the lighter end – to keep my attention focused on the here and now instead of fixated on the past that by definition cannot be fixed. This means virtually 24/7 audio engagement. Least favorite activity option but as it stands with my current mental state, thems the breaks. All for good, all for progress.
Haven’t dipped too much into what happened at work between the summer and now though it’s critical to understanding why grasping on to some sense of balance and normalcy all these months has been so difficult.
I have so long felt my work life creates the structure – reliability – and my personal life holds all the unscheduled and unpredictable opportunities for making a future and infusing meaning. Work for me is supposed to be the anchor, for better or worse.
We lost two teammates to jobs on different teams, which created an opportunity for me to take a higher level position with greater responsibility. While my personality has never really been a good fit for the team itself, this was kind of confirmation from the team supervisor that my perspective had value and offered a chance to help facilitate putting together a new team where I could fit.
Long story short, that did not happen. Not only is half the team’s work style different, the highly emotional and inescapably reactive responses To Literally Everything has gone waaay way up. As some one who does not operate in an emotional and reactive capacity at work – and if I’m completely honest, I don’t even find value in operating that way for most of these tasks – I find difficulty landing in middle ground with one coworker in particular, two by default as the second coworker just goes along with it, and three if you count my supervisor who has now demonstrated the emotional and reactive work responses always receive precedence.
I think middle ground can be found for us to work together, but it would require my boss backing that dynamic and setting some parameters for us which she is too conflict-avoidant to do. If I am to take the cues from what I’ve seen these past few months, the preferred course of action is avoid it and wait it out for a change to be determined. That change, again, if I’m putting two and two together, would mean restructuring the team so I am technically not on it anymore.
It has made for a considerable amount of insecurity due to uncertainty on my part. Any efforts I have made to create a structure or work from it has caused conflict or separation. And any clarity I’ve sought from my supervisor has been met with vague answers and frustration. If my position is changing to another team – which should have happened at some point over the years really – I’m OK with it. But it is maddening to be avoided on any topic even remotely edging toward this point.
Having all of that happen on top of the relationship stuff just left me at a loss for what to do. Both situations seemed to be telling me that I as a person am not accepted. I am too much. Or not enough.
The type of team I work on often means (re-)evaluating talent, personality, and fit. The latest round of evaluation “tests” more or less confirmed what I’ve been told about myself: the closest personality type fit for me is INTJ (though the breakdown of my results suggests ISTJ may come at a close second).
While this type does not describe me perfectly, it’s close enough. The value found in this sort of descriptor, especially now, is in the process of reclaiming acceptance about who I am as a person. In that reclamation is the really big small truth of saying
This is who I am and that is totally, 100% OK
If I am to drive away from the hyper-emotional friction of the above, I can at minimum focus on the fact that the way things have been conducted on this team has been tremendously problematic and I can’t function under a supervisor who prioritizes avoidance over constructive feedback that could change things for the better. I have a fierce desire to learn and always always always want to improve so there needs to be someone who can tell me I suck at ___ and ____ and at least gives me a bar to reach for.
In the meantime I will take it day by day and see what I can do to make things easier for myself and my team. There’s at least one work colleague who has been there to equally support me and call me out when necessary in a professional and hugely beneficial way. I appreciate her because she shows me what can work and where I can improve. I would be so lucky to find someone like her as a manager some day.
I’m so out of practice with writing these things down. I don’t know how it’s going to come out here. It’s always one thought tangled with ten others, and tackling one means branching out all the gnarly shit I need to think about.
There were three really big things I had to deal with this summer and fall:
- A complicated and broken relationship with my work and team
- My personal relationship start and breakup
- My really fucked up sleep cycle coming to a head
The thing taking up most of my attention from day to day is #2. I keep beating myself up about that. It’s something I feel like I should have long been over, and it’s hard to be kind to my own heart and mind.
I’m not going to unpack the relationship itself here now, but touch on what came before it and what I have to deal with after.
I keep telling myself it was only two months, but that wasn’t it. It was an intense two-month relationship with a 1-year precursor of familiarity, a very casual and unhurried build-up of at least 5 months, all of which resulted in a two-month relationship that had a definite “finally!” attached to it. All of that – the build up, the familiarity, that ease – was gone inside of a day. It has taken me months to really start to get a grip on how to get over it.
The start is addressing how I felt about relationships and my prospects for happiness in the first place.
Before this happened, I’d given up. In practice anyway. The last guy I was interested in and involved with couldn’t decide between me and another woman, which was not the first time I’d been in that situation. It was already a complicated before even getting to that piece. That was 7 years ago.
The following year, someone I’d known for a long time expressed feelings for me and, after wrestling with it, I said I didn’t feel the same way. I said I wanted to be friends and he cut off all communication with me immediately. Having been on the other side of this, I understood why he didn’t want to speak to me for awhile – at the same time, I lamented the loss of that relationship.
It was at that point that I decided no matter what I did I would not be able to grow my social circle in a meaningful way with people I cared for and who cared for me, especially as an introverted person with an already super tiny set of friends – themselves introverts I saw and spoke with infrequently – and that I would have to be content with a life of solitude. But in the back of my mind, I recognized that I, as a then-26 year old, had time to interact with people who would make me feel differently. I was surrounded by people who either met their partners when they were very young, or sometime in their late 40s and 50s. I understood realistically that relationships could take all kind of formats, even if I didn’t emotionally feel like possibilities that involved meaningful and long-term romantic interest, safety and faithfulness were out there for me.
By the time this last relationship came around, I’d formed routines around alone-ness, but that dependence on those routines for maintaining some type of meaning had long since been wearing thin. I wasn’t just an independent, solitary person getting on in my life without anyone else; I was alone and more often felt that way. At the same time, I’d found myself not just wanting someone physically around me, but appreciating the relationship-friendly displays I saw around me. Meaning, I was finally in a space where I could see those things – like people holding hands, or Valentine’s Day balloons – without being bitter about them. There was a maybe to it; maybe not today or tomorrow, but sometime. And in the meantime, it was great to see other people take part in those activities.
When he asked me out, it was perfect timing. We’d been around each other for a long time and both were already predisposed to being friendly. He worked in a place I considered my “escape,” the place I’d gone to get away from all the work shit and other things taking up my mental space. After two months, this highly affectionate, seemingly genuine guy who had just gone out of his way to celebrate our two-month anniversary and treated me like a stranger the next day came over to my apartment and told me he hadn’t been telling me what he was feeling after waffling about it and in a somehow exhaustive yet roundabout way that being together is not what he wanted. But I had to say it. And it was over. That two years of casual familiarity and safety was done.
At this point, we’ve been apart longer than we were together as a couple. Today is not the day I unpack all of what happened, but since it’s been over I can say I’ve realized and have been dealing in a pretty concentrated way the following:
- I’d internalized the fact that he said we would have each other to get through the winter, which has always been really tough for me. I’d taken that to heart and, right or wrong, I straight up resent him for not following through
- My safe space is ruined/off limits because he works there and our dynamic is messed up and the loss of it has been pretty devastating on top of everything else
- This is the fourth time I’ve been in relationship status with a guy who is weird and cryptic about another woman and can’t decide what to do between her and myself and
- There is no way I can put away what happened with him without dealing with all of my pre-relationship hangup shit
The upside of this moment is that I’m coming back around to the understanding that I can only be myself. I may not be able to fix anything else, but I can grow comfortable in my own skin again. At the same time, the truth is at my core I don’t think I will ever find a partner who will care about me and be there and stay there to express it, let alone love me in that way. I can hope these are the emotional spillings of a youngster fresh off a short tour on the relationship boat, but still, I cannot imagine love. And I can’t help but wonder if pursuing dating and relationships for the rest of my life is going to mean dealing with men who can’t make up their minds about what they want because I’ve rarely seen anything else.