We’ve been feeling the effects of being shut up here only seeing each other. Some of these effects are quite good, actually – it feels like sometimes the sun shines brighter through the dark clouds.
For the last few nights we’ve had forced family fun time and played various card games. It’s been a really good mental health break and we’ve done some laughing and sharing, which makes life feel a bit more normal.
Tonight we put on some old music from the 1930s and pretended to act out silent movies. I’m sure it’s just a step further down our descent into madness, but it brought a lot of laughs and lightened the mood of the house. We all need to keep our spirits up and look for our moments of happiness.
We’ve been practicing social distancing since last Wednesday which makes this day 9 of being home (we did go out twice quickly to get groceries which was an experience).
Last Wednesday I had a messenger chat with my cousin in Rome and began to understand what was on the way for us here in Canada. I let it roll around in my head until Thursday morning when I kept the kids home from school and headed out to get groceries (not to hoard, but for our weekly supply). And then we stayed home.
When things were at their worst in my marriage and our lives were in danger, this was the place I wanted to come to. This kitchen, this house, is my safe place and it always has been. So in the midst of global chaos it remains where I feel we are safest.
Which does not mean we aren’t missing the outside world. Even as an introvert I’m starting to miss the company of others. But I strongly feel we have a social responsibility to keep each other safe.
This kitchen that I feel so safe in – it was built after mom had polio and fell walking into their old kitchen using her crutches. So while it’s a safe and happy place, it’s a reminder too of what a virus can do and how it can alter a life forever.
In the midst of this uncertainty I’m working to remember all that I’m grateful for. I’m thankful for our home, our family, the people working at the grocery stores, truck drivers, doctors, nurses, our government, all the people staying home to let the virus pass. Humans have an infinite ability to show love and kindness.
Some of you may know that I started off my life with a beautiful blue blankie. Much like Linus I took that thing everywhere – it was my security and comfort. Until one day when blankie was stolen from our hotel and never seen again.
It was traumatizing. Seriously. I was 5. My poor parents had the hotel on high alert and even drove back the next day to look for him. But blankie was gone.
Mom tried to give me her old pink blankie that was the same style, and a few of her old stuffed animals, but nothing did it. I have mourned the loss of blankie my whole life.
About 9 years ago I bought a huge, fluffy pink blanket for the girl’s bed. It turned out that while she didn’t care much for it, that it quickly became my comfort. I’d take it to curl up on the couch, to lie in bed, and it even went on a couple of road trips.
The last few years it’s been a much loved tv watching couch blankie. The other day I noticed that it really wasn’t looking great and I had this strong sense that it was time to let pink blankie go.
But I didn’t get it out of the house right away and it ended up on the floor. Turns out that while I thought jasmine liked to cuddle with me, that she really liked pink blankie. And she’s got her own set of issues to deal with so maybe she needs a blankie too.
I think I’ll make her a little pink blankie pillow
I started the day out in tears. I saw that there was finally a posting of payment to MEP for our support (that was due by the first). It is $3,000 below his required payment for the month, so as you can imagine is not enough to pay the bills, buy the groceries, and do the other things that the kids need. This is on top of the over $75,000 he is in arrears for.
So I cried. I cried for me, I cried for the kids. What it says to them is how completely unimportant they are to him, how little their safety, security, and futures matter, and how his own enjoyment will always be the top priority. Just like it always has been. I cried because while the courts make orders, they aren’t enforcing them, and are thereby allowing and encouraging his behaviour. I cried because it affects my ability to do my school, to build a new future where I am able to look after us, to regain what I lost. I cried because it feels like God has forgotten about us.
On the way to school this morning we took the backroad like always, and laughed at how drifted over it was. About half way we stopped laughing and started to wonder if we were going to get through. My girl said it didn’t look that bad when we started. And I laughed and said that’s what I say part way through all my bad ideas.
And then we noticed the biggest drift of all, with a car off the road, a school bus stuck in it, a truck behind that (not stuck) and trucks on the other side. And we were stuck figuratively. We couldn’t go back because I wasn’t sure we could turn around, forget make it through the drifts again, we couldn’t go ahead until the road was cleared. So we had to wait.
We sat, watched, laughed, called the school to say she’d be late, and just were. Then finally the bus was pulled out, the truck got through, and it was our turn. There is no way my car should have made it, but we barrelled through and made it to the other side laughing. The tow truck driver waved us over to tell us how amazed he was at our car.
And just like that I thought – never give up– that’s my motto for the year. It needs to be applied to everything I set my intention to. He will not win in destroying my family, my future, my dreams. I will not give up. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I will keep trying until my kids and I are where we need to be.
Usually I don’t get too excited about New Year’s Eve. My birthday is in January, and instead I celebrate that as my personal new year. But this year, I’m quite mindful of the fact that we are closing the door on the most difficult decade of my life. I had a friend jokingly say that the 40s were supposed to be the “fuck-it” forties, where you do what you want, no matter what people think. For me it was kind of more a “fuck-you” forties – but lots of growth and change happened.
I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine at the beginning of the decade as I dedicated myself to dealing with the anxiety disorder that reared its ugly head during my marriage. My (now ex) husband lost his job not once but twice, which had us move from Rhode Island to Virginia, and then him to northern Virginia without us. The rage and abuse went from a mild simmer to a full out explosion of hatred and eventually the kids and I were able to get out and return home to Alberta. Then my dad died, I got divorced, my son became very ill, I broke my shoulder, my mom died, and my daughter also became ill.
Through this I learned about Ayurveda, studied it in a course to become a practitioner and became connected with a healer who guided me through my life changes. I started attending church regularly in Virginia, made a connection to my pastor who was integral in helping save me and my kids, and for the first time really learned about having a relationship with God. I took a health coach course that helped my interest in healthy living return. I started riding again, which has always been my soul connection, it helped me learn how to be brave again, how to keep going, and how to enjoy life. And finally, I was accepted into a masters of counselling psychology course, and now I have some direction for my future.
I’m happy to say goodbye to this decade, but I’m grateful for all I’ve learned about myself and about my family – immediate and extended – in this time too. When I say how blessed I am to have the family I do, they’re not just idle words. They literally helped save our lives, and have held us up ever since.
So when I think of where I want to go next, what I want to take with me, it’s what I’ve learned from these last few years.
Today was our official day to do absolutely nothing, and we’ve done it well. I introduced the boy to Will and Grace (the new version) and we have binge watched it all day.
Already my mind is starting to think about the next course that starts next week, and I can see that he’s also thinking about his next bunch of classes. It makes these moments of nothingness even more important.
Tomorrow is the last day of this year, and the last one of what has been an extremely difficult decade, but one filled with immense growth. One thing I have learned is how important it is to be with the ones you love, and to let them know you love them.
I find myself spending a quiet afternoon in Canmore with a cup of Murchie’s Christmas tea, a new book, and a window with a spectacular view. Life has been hectic lately – good but hectic. These moments of quiet are precious, it’s what allows my brain to relax and the anxiety monster to quiet to the background of my mind.
Christmas was good, it was lovely in fact, but there’s a twinge of sadness that accompanies it now. Loss of people no longer with us, loss of people who have chosen to leave, loss of the life that was expected. And yet there’s a lot of hope, hope for a brighter future for all of us, hope for joy, hope for peace. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that it is as important to feel the yucky feelings as it is to feel the good ones. They all need to be absorbed and processed, keeping hold of the happier ones, making sense and letting go of the sadder ones.
And so I sit here, looking at the mountains, hearing kids run about and laugh, and I think – how fortunate we are. The good, the bad, the ugly, we are still so incredibly fortunate. Our pastor talked about how in moments of chaos you often see the light of God shine the brightest, and I feel this has been true for us. Sometimes it’s hard to see, or easy to doubt, but it’s always been there.
I’ve been so busy with life and especially with school that I’ve let my spiritual connection lapse, and I really am feeling the consequences of that. It is what grounds me, what keeps me focused, and what provides my hope. It’s almost like I needed life to get to a point where I understood how much it was missing from my life so that I could stop and refocus my priorities.