I know, it’s been 4 months.
Give me a break, if you can wait 11 years between Avatar movies, then surely 4 months isn’t that big of a deal. Unless you have no intention of seeing Avatar 2…but why wouldn’t you? You saw all of the Harry Potter movies, and the Star Wars movies (even when it was obvious that they were hi-tech pablum) and you probably watched all of the Twilights (admit it)…and all of those required waiting for unreasonable and contrived delays.
Why should my blog be any different?
When we last left our heroine, I was waxing poetic about cleaning the laundry in my head and implying that there was mountains of it. Fast forward 4 months…the laundry piles are still there, but there has been progress made in sorting them.
Here’s the interesting thing, much like the real laundry I do, I realized that many of these piles are not mine. However, unlike real laundry…I can’t deal with other people’s stuff.
2017 has probably been one of the most challenging years I have faced on many fronts: professionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and whatever-ly. Part of that is dealing with my own issues, but another significant part has been dealing with supporting others with theirs.
I have done a pretty good job of keeping my blog focused on myself, my work, or other non-personal things. Every once in a while I will write about my family in a peripheral way, partly because they did not ask to be part of this and mainly because they are not aware it exists. However, today I am going to break that rule in a respectful way.
My husband has been a paramedic for over 20 years. That means over 20 years of repeated exposure to tragic and traumatic situations. That means over 20 years of working through shifts, bodily fluids (other people’s), exhaustion (his own), anxiety, stress, anger, and frustration. These are not independent situations that are resolved, documented, filed and forgotten. These are cumulative, haunting, and heartbreaking experiences that do not stay at work…they follow you home, they live under your skin and in your brain. They taint how you see people, how you speak to people, how you respond to situations, how you cope…and taking a couple of days off or calling your Employee Assistance Program is not going to make it go away.
There is defintely a price to pay for doing this type of job and when it comes collecting, you better believe that they are carrying a baseball bat.
That is my husband’s pile of laundry that I cannot do it for him. I see it, I can help him work though it, I can support him when he needs to face it or walk away, I can hold him when he gets overwhelmed, and I can remind him that no matter what…he is not that pile of laundry. But that’s really it.
I have never wanted so much in my life to be able to do laundry – to take care of this for him, but I can’t and dealing with this has been cumulative, haunting, and heartbreaking. It follows you to work, it lives under your skin and in your brain. It taints how you see people, how you speak to people, how you respond to situations, how you cope…and taking a couple of days off or calling your Employee Assistance Program will not make it go away.
Post-traumatic stress is insidious and the impact on the individual, as well as their family, can be significant. Fortunately, in many cases it is reversible… with help.
The tricky thing with help is that you generally have to ask for it and that’s not always easy to do. However, sometimes someone steps in and unexpectedly offers help – they make it that much easier to step forward and accept. And that is where we are now…accepting help and beginning to turn things around. Breaking that pile of laundry into smaller batches and washing by hand when necessary. We have reached a point where we can see that the idea of being healthy isn’t as impossible as it felt as recent as 6-months ago.
I have struggled about whether or not I should write about this because I felt it wasn’t my story to share and because it is so personal. However, I have come to realize that I have a supporting role in this story and it is for that reason that I am sharing…as for the personal part, yes it is, but that is all the more reason to share it.
I recently exchanged tweets with the wonderful @MJCarty who, in response to my vague comments about 2017 being a challenging year, offered me his help. He had no idea what the issues were or what I would ask of him, but he offered nonetheless. So I decided to take him up on it.
Given everything that is going on, you probably guessed that I would ask him for words of wisdom to help me get back to blogging. Because yes, at a time like this – blogging is an obvious priority. Well, actually for me it is. I mentioned how writing has been very cathartic for me (it purges the sarcasm, which is for everyone’s good), how I missed it, but that I felt like my voice was frozen. He honoured me with his support and encouragement and gave me what will probably be one of the best Christmas gifts I could get this year.
So here I am starting again to put words down to help myself and at the same time, I am putting this out to the universe to see what comes back and what I can offer.