Okay, I know I’m slow, I only just discovered the Holstee Manifesto! But I’m in need of some positive inspiration today, so here it is.
It’s been a crazy and stressful week, with more emotional ups and downs than the Tower of Terror.
I knew it would be a bad week at the Day Job, as the other nurses were both off at a conference and I was in effect doing two jobs all week. Monday didn’t disappoint. Crazy busy, no lunch, ridiculously late off, the expected chaos. Still managed my morning pages – 61st day of my current streak on 750words. Still managed to do my at least twice daily touch typing practice- painfully slow but improving. Still managed to write a few pages of the Wrong Bed story on the train- I’m only plodding along, also painfully slowly, but having fun with it. I’m letting myself be as outrageous as I want with that one! So overall, the day could be ticked off as a success.
Tuesday, started the same.
Then the week unravelled. A phone call from my sister- an ambulance rushed Mum to hospital early the day before after she collapsed with a dangerously slow heart beat, and worse, Dad, who’s been steadily getting more sweetly muddled but normally copes fine, hadn’t been taking care of himself without her there, forgot she was in hospital, and was out frantically looking for her. Worse, he firmly believed a whole convoluted and completely untrue story he’d told himself for why Mum wasn’t home. My brother found him, gave him a meal and took him home. My sister planned to drive down from where she lives three hours away to stay with him, and I was on the other side of the planet.
My immediate urge was to jump on a plane and go there, but that would leave my workplace seriously in the lurch, and things seemed stable for the time being. My sister and I decided I should wait until she could report just how bad things really were. It might make more sense and support them better, even if they needed help now, for me to trust my sister could do just as good a job of that as I could. maybe I should wait until my sister had to go home and stay with Mum and Dad them. I strongly felt I should go, but I’d wait. Still, I worked back to 9pm getting everything as done as I could in the office, just in case I had to leave in a hurry.
I spoke to Mum on the phone. “Everything’s fine now.” She definitely didn’t think I should fly over. But she is the world’s biggest minimiser.
“We can manage on our own” is her mantra. Even if the house collapsed around them, she had two broken legs, and Dad was somewhere in the rubble, she’d be saying it. Having other people in their home distresses them, interferes with the routines their lives run by. They are happy living their own life in their own little world and don’t want anyone or anything to mess with that. An email from my brother’s girlfriend suggesting me going could upset them more than help decided me. Despite the inner conflict I felt, despite my gut feelings telling me to book a flight and go, I’d wait a day longer. At least until Mum was discharged from hospital or my sister needed to go back to her own place.
I spoke to Mum on the phone again. She’d been moved to a bigger hospital to have a pacemaker inserted and was just back from the procedure. She sounded good. But I went to sleep on Wednesday night still feeling conflicted and unsure what was best for me to do. Pain gnawed at my stomach, as it had since the first phone call. The pain of feeling helpless and so far away.
Thursday morning, I explored my conflict in my morning pages. My need to rescue. My nurse/ older sister bossiness and belief no-one could do it as well as I could. I came to terms with the fact that my instinct to go could quite well be based on my own needs to “do something”, and might not actually be helpful to my parents at all. I trundled off to work feeling at peace with nt going charging to the rescue.
It didn’t last long.
I got to work early and called Mum from there, as I’d planned. Juggling the time zone differences made it hard to find a good time to call earlier. It was evening in Sydney. She’d been discharged, was home already. Dad couldn’t remember why she’d been in hospital. Mum sounded confused too, unlike herself. she couldn’t remember the name of the thing she’d had put in at the hospital.
“Pacemaker,” I told her.
“Oh yes, that’s right,” she replied, but she sounded vague.
I tried not to worry too much, she’d been given strong pain relief, had only had anaesthesia not much more than 24 hours earlier. Sometimes those effects can take two to three days to leave the system.
Then, a series on increasingly worried and upset emails, texts and phone calls from my sister through the day. Things sounded bad.
First we decided, I had to go, but not for a couple of weeks, when my sister went home herself. Then, a couple of calls later, by mid-afternoon, we decided I should go soon. We came up with some plans for what she could do in the meantime, who she could contact in the morning. I worked late again, knowing I wouldn’t be in the next day and probably the next two weeks. Home at 11pm. Straight on to the airline website.
Damn, how could flight prices now be £400 more than they were when I looked yesterday? Well, it couldn’t be helped, I had to go.
But an email from my sister gave me pause. She seemed more reassured this morning, more comfortable with the situation. Mum’s confusion had passed. Things didn’t seem so bad. Still bad, but not as bad as they did the day before. She wanted me to wait until she’d made some calls to book my ticket. We talked about what we saw as the needs in the situation. We both made calls and emails to various aged care agencies who might be able to offer help. Late, very late, I went to sleep, still thinking that in the morning I’d be buying a ticket to fly tonight.
This morning, I called my parents again. They sounded back to normal. My sister and I spoke for hours on the phone. Made more plans. Decided that it really wouldn’t add anything to the situation to have me there now. I’d be on stand by instead, ready to jump on that plane if things got worse.
Tonight, we spoke again. It’s clear I will have to go, it’s just a matter of when.
So it’s been a roller coaster ride of a week. Lots of drama and stress and anxiety. The main thing is, my parents are kind of okay, emphasis on the “kind of”, but still, okay.
My productivity has been shot though, completely and utterly. I did do my morning pages every day. I did do typing practice, at least once, so I didn’t completely neglect my long term goals. But actual storifying has flown out the window. A few notes. A few story words. That’s it.
I didn’t manage to find a still centre where I put aside the drama to write. I didn’t achieve anything for myself. I didn’t achieve anything that actually helped my parents either. I did support my sister, which is a good thing. Sometimes, the personal goals have to come second.
But today, I’m in need of encouragement and motivation.
I found the manifesto. And I found this-
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.”
In choosing to write, you must choose the pain of discipline. Good news: it’s not that painful, once you get used to it. You just have to make it more important than other things you could spend time on.
Make your art your obsession. Fall in love with it. Experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t give it your attention.
This weekend, I want to stay available for my parents and my sister, but not get caught up in the drama at the expense of everything else. I want to get my focus back. Because I’m having story withdrawal symptoms.