My ducks require alignment

My father passed away on the 7th of January, a few months shy of his 80th birthday and nearly two decades after his diagnosis for multiple myeloma gave him a prognosis of between three and six months to live.

One of our favourite photos of Dad, even if you can’t see his face!

The last few years were very hard on both my parents, as Dad’s condition deteriorated and it became increasingly difficult for Mum to look after him. My brother and his family worked tirelessly to help them move to where they could access better support services and took care of the endless hospital visits, medical consultations and paperwork, while I couldn’t do much more than watch anxiously from afar. I’m going to miss my father terribly, but I’m grateful that his suffering is now done with and that the lives that revolved around caring from him can now move forward.

This post isn’t really about losing a loved one. At some point I’ll post something in Facebook for the family and friends, but for now I’m talking about myself.

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t have a great year in 2019. There’s no doubt that  starting therapy for my anxiety was the best thing I could have done for myself. There’s no doubt the medication I’m on is working. I’m nowhere near my dire emotional state of this time last year. I’m much, much better.

But I’m not cured. I’m not expecting to shed my cares and surge forward into the future with a glad heart bursting with optimism. My therapist descibes me as being “vulnerable to anxiety”, and lord, I’ve never been nailed so accurately in my life. This is how I’ve been forever. I’m so used to feeling like I’m one minor setback away from going over a cliff that I don’t know how to respond to just feeling okay.

I let a lot of stuff slide last year. I got behind in a lot of personal commitments, and I wrote very little. I never stopped tinkering with story ideas. Sometimes I even got a few pages down on paper here and there. It was always just pottering. Nothing was ever finished.

Will I do better in 2020? I want to. I’m ready to, I think. I miss the slightly wobbly amateur magician’s flourish of the weekly flash fictions. I miss engaging with other storytellers and celebrating their victories. So help me Jebus, I even miss getting rejection letters from short story editors.

But first things first. All the other business, that fell by the wayside while I was getting stressed, then getting treatment, then learning to function without whole-body jitters, needs to take priority. If I don’t attend to my tedious grownup responsibilities, they’ll be hanging over me whenever I try to write – and I know from experience that when I try to write without having given myself “permission”, it tends to produce poor results, if any.

My ducks require alignment. So for now, I will focus on the ducks.

(Okay, so those birds Dad is looking at in the photo probably aren’t ducks, but it was too good a line to leave on the table)

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