IT IS NECESSARY TO CHOOSE TO DUMP STRESS
I’m walking around fearing sudden death, sudden incapacitation, and the need for more time-sucking procedures/tests/doctor visits/hospitals…
It’s too stressful to LIVE THIS WAY.
But after a certain number of life hits on the head with a 2 x 4, there comes a state close to ‘learned helplessness,’ where, if you’re not careful, you LET the stress have free rein – and, while you can’t change reality (whatever that is for you), you have forgotten that you CAN change your attitude.
It never stops, the stress from life
In addition to the medical stuff, which came unbidden and must be dealt with, willy nilly, I now have some dental stuff – and what the dentist thinks is necessary to do.
And I’ve accepted the job of ‘person who locates and chooses our permanent abode.’
Permanent, as in ‘where we – husband and I – will live the rest of our lives.’
The permanent solution to life
We are looking at the particular model of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) for a bunch of reasons, the main one being that we want to spare our children (none of whom live close to us now) the ‘problem of mom and dad’ – basically, what to do with us when we’re no longer competent to manage our own affairs, and they have to step in and make decisions FOR us.
We have seen, first hand, how our parents dealt with this.
First hand – and at a distance.
And it is an interesting general problem which we’ve now seen proceed four different ways!
In Mexico City, my four lovely younger sisters have done the ‘huge extended family takes care of mom and dad’ – and are continuing to date with Mother. Done with love, it has still taken a huge amount of resources, and I have been in no position to help with much – I barely manage to visit every couple of years, and do the tiny bit of US paperwork (still incomplete) because my parents are both US citizens.
In the States, my lovely sister-in-law, who has always lived much closer to my in-laws, has undertaken the huge and complete burden much of the time, shepherding her parents as they wished and she could, and pushing for more permanent solutions when they had to be undertaken. By herself, with occasional help from her brother – as she requested it – she is still supervising all the care for my FIL.
We will have no child close, geographically, unless we move close to one of ours (and that child doesn’t move following professional opportunities, the thing that took them far away in the first place). We have no extended family in the States.
And I, with my disabilities, could provide little help to them, even if I lived close.
Making our own choices requires an enormous amount of work NOW
Evaluating places to move to, figuring out finances (husband is doing most of this part), comparing the amenities – and the long-term healthcare options – at each place has become my additional task, added to trying to write, learning to advertise – and the energy-sucking cardiac rehab exercise.
The additional task that comes when you decide you no longer want to be in charge of a suburban NJ house is selling it. Which require getting it ready for market. Which in turn requires fixing a number of ‘little’ things which, while they don’t affect the quality of living in a house all that much (such as a bump on the driveway from a tree root), WILL affect either the salability or the eventual sales price.
And the final task: dejunking a house we moved into in 1981 and reared three children in (and homeschooled them in).
Even with an assistant – whose time has been mainly spent lately helping the Master with the annual gardening tasks, not me with the dejunking – the decisions are mostly mine. And I don’t make decisions easily (that brain fog thing you have with CFS) or quickly, even with help.
There are twin mottos to keep me going: ‘If it doesn’t give you joy, out it goes,’ and ‘If it won’t fit in a two-bedroom smaller apartment, out it goes.’
Even then it is hard to make the decisions, and they must come out of my tiny daily supply of ‘good time’ – which is also my WRITING time.
Compartmentalization – and all the other tricks
The stress accumulates. I notice. I poke holes in it, take the time to do my de-stressing yoga-type breathing. Repeat.
Because there IS too much stress right now, even if the ultimate goal is much less stress.
To Do lists. Using a Scrivener Project for each of the tasks.
Doing the required things – I will not give up the cardiac rehab exercises, even if they are not yet providing anything much in the way of extra energy.
And letting go of the guilt, including the guilt that pops its head up because I can’t contribute what I should have been able to contribute to this household, had I not gotten sick all those years ago. A hardy perennial, that guilt.
And the guilt of actually spending that money we have carefully been not spending all these years, so we could take care of our needs in retirement.
And, almost daily, talking myself down from the ledge of ‘Woe is me!’
Writing suffers when the writer is stressed – normal
Blog posts have suffered, and will continue to, but, ironically, I need this outlet – because it de-stresses me to pin all this stuff to the ground in its little cages, where I let one problem child out at a time, on my better days.
The writing happens most days – though not as long. I have learned to accept that pinning something down on a timeline I haven’t looked at in two years WILL take that day’s energy – and is a GOOD use of that day’s writing time – because it MUST be done.
Most of these are from things I probably should have figured out long ago, but 15 years writing the first novel was already long enough!
I think there aren’t too many left, but have just dealt with a doozy.
And am very pleased with myself because it DID work out – and locked in, again, that odd feeling I have sometimes that I am a chronicler of an actual story. Good if you’re writing mainstream fiction with a long timeline, many characters (64 NAMED characters as of the last time I counted), covering locations in several different countries and states.
My solution to stress always includes writing it out
That’s how I make sense of the world, take the circling thoughts out of my head and acknowledge and record them, and eventually find ways to deal with them.
It is also part of my usual process to… I don’t want to say ‘cheer myself up,’ because that somehow implies putting a false face of happiness on top of the real problems. To talk back, to the stress, to the situational depression, to my feelings of inadequacy, to the long list of things I SHOULD have done and SHOULD be doing which get ignored.
Basically, the MORE dysfunctional I become, or allow myself to become before I notice that it’s gotten me again, the LESS I can do to change anything that’s causing the dysfunction, and so I have to get out of that state. And I’ve already proved – by trying – that I cannot accept chemical help and still get anything done.
So it’s my own resources, the written process after the thinking, and continuing to chip away at everything as long as God give me life and any ability to do.
And it’s a good time to prioritize (which I’m not doing as well as I need to).
MY motto is: “I’m working on it!”
Thought you’d like to know – and me to record – what ‘it’ is right now.
I’m working on it. You?