It’s been a while… and it’s a long explanation.
I have been waffling about on how or when to make this post. And before I go looking through the cupboards for waffle makings, I should just write this post. You may or may not have noticed, I haven’t posted anything since this summer. Honestly, that’s really where my writing kind of hit a wall. I had finished a first draft of my main WIP (Work in Progress), then I set it aside to percolate for a bit. When I went back to it I saw So. Many. Holes. They amount of rework was daunting. I decided to let it sit for a wee bit longer while I thought things over.
Then life took a drastic change. Let’s back it up a moment. I had been helping to support my grandmother-in-law (Oma) for about a year and a half. She was living with my father-in-law (FIL), and we live a two minute drive down the road. I quit my main job and stepped up. I was there three days a week, and a few weekend days. While I continued to work my business two days a week. For a long time, her support needs were low. Basically I made her food, did her laundry, cleaned, snow blowing, and ran errands for her. I was able to write while she napped.
Her needs started to increase. It became difficult to balance writing, my business, and her needs. My writing fell further to the side. Then in December, Oma could not get out of bed. She was screaming in pain and we couldn’t touch her. We called the ambulance and she spent a few days in the hospital. Here’s another kicker. She was not a citizen, nor an immigrant. She was on visitor visa, so we didn’t have health coverage for her beyond emergency care. The resources that people usually used in our situation, wouldn’t come near us without provincial coverage.
Long story short: Very quickly I had to learn how to rent medical equipment, be there seven days a week (on top of my job), and hire private PSWs so I didn’t have to be there 7 days a week. I managed her pain medications, and rearrange the house for her needs. Then I learned how to do hospice and palliative care. All while still running my business and battling snow storm after snow storm, and trying to keep my husband and my FIL a float.
This went on for a few months. They were some of the most stressful months of my life. I watched a woman who retired at 94, traveled to world, worked for Lord Beaverbrook, and so many other amazing things, turn into someone who … wasn’t that. I watched her become confused as to who I was, asked who was standing behind me (no one), lose her ability to move at all, lose her ability to talk, drink, eat, take her pain medication. It was hell, and I had no other options.
I was the one who found her after she passed away. I had to put myself into unknown skills because I did not want my FIL or my husband to have to deal with certain things that comes with death. Thankfully our PSWs and Funeral director came over and helped us through it all.
The emotional toll this took on me was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. No family came to help, one came for dinner and sat with her to say her good-byes. That was it. There were phone calls, that meant the world to Oma. But as for the care work? It was us only us and staff. Only one friend showed up. She helped talk us through the end of life experience and the grief, which was her field of expertise. Several friends who lived away, would message me and check in. I had friends from away worry as they watched me spiral out of control. And I had friends who basically walked away and left me because they couldn’t deal with my emotions. And yes, I isolated myself as well because I was too much of an emotional wreck, or just exhausted. Someone’s life was in my hands and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was scared as fuck and so lost. I felt so alone.
When Oma died there was relief. She was no longer screaming in pain. There was also an obvious hole in our lives. Yes, we were now able to leave the town for longer than a few hours and there was no fear we’d have to rush home for an emergency. My FIL could go to the grocery store, and see his friends without being worried something would happen. There was a sense of freedom and healing for us all. And then there were some very painful moments. When her cat went into the empty room and cried. I lost it. That cat was with Oma every moment she was suffering.
I had been helping Oma for over a year and a half, and when I had my first day without needing to go over, I stood in my living room going “now what?” It was a strange and kind of scary sensation. It was being lost in a new found freedom. I tried to return to my music and art lessons, but there were days where I just couldn’t do it.
I wanted to get back into my writing, and I did start poking at it. It felt good to get back into it. A friend posted a themed submission deadline and I thought “why the f not?” So I did it. It did not go well. My beta readers said it was pretty messed up. I looked over their critiques, and my story. It was really messed up. It was not even close to what I was aiming for. I’ve let it sit and tried to understand how I got there. There was a lot of pain and anxiety in there. It dawned on me, I’m still dealing with a lot of pain and anxiety. I’m still grieving harder than I anticipated, I’m still hurting from the friends and family that abandoned us, and I’m still rediscovering who I am … again.
Being a care giver, takes a lot of your own identity away from yourself. I’m not sure how to describe it, but you put yourself and your own needs aside so you can be there for them. And you start to lose those parts you put aside. Like when you have an item that is super important so you put it somewhere special so you don’t lose it, then you forget where that somewhere special is.
This is why you haven’t heard from me for a while, and this is where I am right now. I’m not sure if I can really work on my main WIP at the moment. I may need to do some shorter stories until I can get things sorted out in my head a bit better. I don’t want my pain to damage my WIP. But who knows, maybe just the act of telling you this, will help me get my groove back. With being more aware of how my state of emotions affect my writing I can try to protect my WIP, and express my harder emotions elsewhere. Like video games and art.
I’ll get there. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for being on this journey with me.