Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, January 4, 2015

below zero

It snowed overnight on Friday and I woke to lots of snow yesterday.  In this new place, I share the snow removal with the couple in the lower flat, the ones who fight all the time and on whom I nearly had to call the police that evening.  They stopped, after an hour and a half without anyone getting hurt, but it was a really violent argument.  They resumed around 2:00 a.m., but more quietly and for a much shorter period of time.  This was the worst of the several they have had since I moved here a couple of weeks ago.

I was, truth be told, afraid to even get out of bed.  In that other life, all of the arguments were one-sided.  Well, there were two sides, but mine was to stay silent, not answer any questions with more than, "Yes, you are right."  "Yes, I am wrong" even though I rarely knew what caused those preludes to further abuse.  I keep thinking that after more than two and a half years that seeing or hearing violence, or even fighting, should not be a trigger for me to withdraw.  Cower.  Try to be invisible.  None of it ever worked, only he and the disbursement of his anger and behavior would bring that to an end.  For a while.

My plan was to talk to them in the morning.  Express that I was not judging, but that my experience working at the shelter has educated me about fighting with someone, doing that fairly...should such a thing be possible...and how what I heard that night and early morning was moving in the direction of fights that ended more violently than theirs, as shared by the women with whom I worked in the shelter and in support groups.

I knew what I wanted to say.  I still do, because as I was shoveling my part of the white stuff, the woman was outside smoking and she said hello and then told me that they were leaving for a city in the north of our state and that they would not be able to clear their portion.  And, oh, maybe his brother could come and do something.  Or something.  That is a quote.

So, I dug in and shoveled all of it.  Public access areas, all the walkways, and the driveway, so that when the husband returned home from work he would be able to get through.  Clearing it quickly also meant that his tires would not compact the snow (fairly wet and heavy), which would make my shoveling more difficult.

Turns out that he was already there, and they spent the two hours I was out there, chatting with their friends (traveling companions, as it turns out) and smoking out on the porch.  I gamely finished, and went to talk to them about the constant fighting.  Well, in retrospect, I have to admit that having that conversation was not all that great an idea just before they were off to have a little vacation.  In my defense, I was not thinking clearly about that, so it is just as well that they left just as I was finishing the driveway and parking area.

So, I came upstairs and made egg salad for lunch.  I am experimenting with eggs again because they are such an inexpensive protein source and I need to add cheap protein to my diet.  Meat is too expensive, even ground beef and poultry.

Anyway, it snowed again last night.  More than on Friday.  I wanted to go to church, so I went out early to at least clear the public space and the walkways.  Half an hour, and I was done, but I was also feeling sick.  Achy in a way unfamiliar to me, with a painful stomach and I was feeling nauseous.  I finished a bit more and came upstairs just in time to vomit.  I had not eaten, so it was all bile, and I have to admit that it kind of shocked me, as I never throw up.  Like never.

I had some water and vomited again, so no church for me.  I still had to go out for groceries, so I toasted some bread, ate it and waited.  It stayed down, so I got ready and left.  I was not gone very long, and when I came home, someone had plowed the driveway.  Yay, I thought.  Might even have said it out loud. 

Then I got to the back of the house and whomever plowed did only their four parking spaces.  There are five in the back.  I get one.

And, you know, this is really and truly petty, but I had this moment of hurt feelings that my space was still full of snow.  I got over it quickly, hauled my groceries and some over-the-counter pain and nausea stuff I bought at the drugstore, changed my clothes and rested. 

I have not yet been ill again, so I am guessing that the motions of shoveling were not as recently familiar to my body as I thought.  It has been a very dry winter so far and I think that I have moved snow around only once this season.

Life just keeps on bringing surprises.  My expectations about everything are not useful.  I feel as though I should be totally healed from that other life.  Ridiculous, as I know that it will take years before some things no longer trigger me right back, smack-dab back into those experiences.  All I can do is to just keep working on all that stuff, recognize triggers when they happen, pay attention to how I am feeling and what I want to do to transform that fear into something better. 

It is just that PTSD is only relieved by time, making changes in how I respond and cope with whatever happens to thrust me back in time.  What would help is more therapy, but that is beyond my means right now.  The therapy I received in my former city was affordable, and that kind of help is simply not available in this village. 

I work so hard at this.  I am exercising more; chose this upper flat for the default exercise I get from taking the stairs.  My grandson and I walked to the library on Friday.  He and I spent the afternoon having lunch and putting together a cabinet I had for the television.  We watched a bit of children's programming, and I found out that he has grown past many of the animated things he loved only a few months ago.  It was the kind of day I crave and now that I am living here, it will be more frequent.

You know, being here, close to them and all that provides to all of us was, is, a conscious choice I made in the process of healing.  Just sitting around and chatting with that divine (and kind of scary smart) boy was bliss.  Our daughter and her family were never welcome in our marital house, especially the boys.  When I left that life, I filled nearly all of my time with jobs and volunteering and other projects that it was not easy for them to come down here.  Beyond that, the trip was really not that easy for any of us, so they rarely came down and even more rarely spent the night.  It was better that I drove up

Now I get to see them whenever any of us want.  My daughter and son-in-love are being respectful of my personal space and I had to remind them again last week that any, or all, of them are welcome to come over any time they like.  This is a time of learning for all of us, especially in regards to not using them to fill my time, you know, so I can avoid doing the personal work I need to do. 

I had decided that I was going to give myself at least six weeks to settle in up here.  Turns out that since I have so much stuff to divest, that I am going to need a few more weeks to completely parse all of it out.  I have been thinking lately that I might try to see if I can spend time doing not much of anything after that is finished, if I can find the inner resources to help me be more comfortable with my own company.  I am already reading more, although the library system up here is much smaller that what I am used to using.  Going to have to read a wider range of authors and genres.

I have to admit that between vomiting sessions today that I considered that I might be having another small heart attack, even though the symptoms are not what I had before.  I think that I am mistaken about that, but it has reminded me that I need to find a new doctor up here, and quickly.

Everything in its time, except for the doctor part.  I am often amazed how helpful it is to write things out.  This kind of divesting is both easier and more tricky than getting rid of material things.

I have been longing for snow for months and here I am, wearied by shoveling and the below-zero temperatures and wind chill levels.  Or factors, or whatever they are.

1 comment:

  1. J, I can't imagine having to shovel snow every day at your age! That would be so very hard on your body. Look after yourself now and do find yourself a caring doctor really soon. Enjoy being with your family.