2020 – the year of The ‘Rona… and a lot more
It seems woefully inadequate to say “what a year it’s been,” as 2020 draws to a close.
I see friends in yet another lockdown in various parts of the world, lives still ending prematurely due to COVID-19, many governments still botching their handling of the pandemic, and (worst of all) many people still yelling ‘hoax’ or ‘cover up’ or thinking that in their fantasy world every government on the planet has conspired to use the coronavirus as an excuse to make them slaves (or some variation on that theme).
It speaks not only to a planet in crisis, but a people sick of being lied to and disenfranchised and – even more-so – over-privileged and self-involved.
Personally, I have been happy to surrender (temporarily) some civil liberties if it helps protect the vulnerable in our society. As I have said many times, here in Western Australia we have been very, very lucky and our lives are pretty close to the old normal. We may arguably be the safest place on the planet right now – apart from the ability to travel, we have lost very little, and been mostly shielded from the effects of the virus due to strong state leadership.
Life, literally, goes on over here. Lady Boomboom and I feel for all of you who are struggling with the hyperanxiety, loss of career or income or freedoms – including the conspiracy theorists, for we know that anxiety and doubt and fear (and ignorance) is at the root of their disbelief. If there is one thing I have learnt this year, it’s that those most likely to believe such theories are the least likely to open even one brain cell to reasonable discussion contrary to their irrational doubts. Quite a few people have been snoozed by me, and I’ve been unfriended by quite a few. C’est la vie. I’ve had to protect myself more than ever this year, and I don’t need that crap in my life, simple as that.
It has been another turbulent year of ups and downs – sadly, far more of the latter. I carry a deep sadness which envelops me like a cloak every day, and not a day goes by without thinking about my maliciously estranged daughter.
A couple of months ago I started back with the psychologist I saw three/four years ago, because I was not coping more than I was coping. She quickly diagnosed me with – in addition to the eternal depression and anxiety which I can never fully seem to shake – CPTSD, which is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What that means, in as small a nutshell as I can cram it, is that I have suffered fourteen years of emotional abuse and torture by my daughter’s vile mother – which hit its heartbreaking apex when she managed to brainwash the child to run away from our home and my legal fifty percent custody.
We have not seen so much as a photograph of the child since February 11th, 2019. On the infrequent times we’ve had a text or email from her, it has been abusive, or manipulative, or passive/aggressive, or obnoxious, or false and wanting something, or more often a combination thereof. We have serious suspicions that some of these messages were written by her mother, or at least dictated by her. We have never been sure the child gets our replies. She tried to persuade the school to address her by her mother’s surname rather than her legal name (which they unbelievably agreed to until I kicked up a tsunami of trouble for them). We’ve been called a bunch of names, and there is no light at the end of that eternally long and dark tunnel of abuse to her, or to us.
The CPTSD manifests by triggers – sometimes seemingly irrelevant – causing anxiety or panic attacks in me. We have had to become extremely vigilant and selective when doing something as innocuous as choosing a movie to watch. Anything overly sentimental – especially with parent/child tension or affection – might be a trigger. Any kind of emotional reminder of that appalling woman, or the constant arguments and unhappiness she delights in causing in her wake, and boom, I’m off the deep end again. Unfortunately, understanding that is only a tiny first step in addressing it, and I have a lot more work to do there – and I can’t do it alone. I literally have no idea how to get past this all-consuming sadness. It’s crushing me, my confidence, my ability to create and even, some days, function. Much (most?) of the time I just want to hide away, me and my misery.
The constant reminders – a generic email from the school, or seeing friends share wonderfully happy moments or memories with their kids (not that I begrudge that in ANY way, but it’s important to note that some days it hurts because it highlights all that she and we have now lost), or my own memories of happier times (which is why I have mostly stopped looking at my Facebook memories) – are a constant source of unhappiness. I am riotously conflict averse – even though it has a habit of seeking me out (like at work), but I do my best to disengage from as much outside of our house as possible. The dogs may be selective of hearing, but at least they don’t actively argue with me.
My family have been spectacularly unsupportive and devoid of understanding about all this. I am sure that in their own way they feel they are trying to get their heads around it, and to offer support, but in reality their efforts are woefully inadequate and cause more upset than comfort. I’ve had to take a few steps back from them for my own protection.
This was especially hard in the case of my Dad, whom I visited in Perth twice after he had massive surgery to remove both his bladder and prostate in the wake of yet another tustle with cancer. I saw him at his lowest in hospital and held him while he cried from the anguish and discomfort of it all, suffering a bloody viral infection as well as everything else. Heartbreakingly, in return he and mother hid the fact that they had been talking to the child for a couple of weeks, and there is no way I can see that other than as a betrayal.
In that moment – at the end of my second visit to see him and help him out – I felt completely alone in the world, betrayed by them, abandoned by everyone. I know that wasn’t the case literally, but that is exactly how it felt. I have never in my life felt so alone, nor been so scared.
Dad is recovering well, though. The doc says there is still cancer in him but it’s not aggressive or threatening at this stage, so it’s a wonderful result. Especially when you consider that he was told almost fourteen years ago that he would probably only have two years left.
I am receiving professional help ongoing, and I will probably be in Perth sometime in January (if I can find a cheap unit to hole up in) for a series of EMDR therapy to hopefully start addressing the CPTSD intensively.
After addressing COVID-19, CPTSD and Dad’s cancer, everything else seems relatively insignificant, but that certainly isn’t the case.
Lady Boomboom completed her Masters degree. For six years she has studied the University course part time as well as working full time. There were moments when she raged at it, fought it like a Godzilla fighting Gojira. There were moments when it drove her to tears, to drink, to near-hysterics, and to the verge of quitting. But she nailed it like an absolute boss and will be rewarded with a High Distinction for the course (Masters in Health Management), not to mention some fancy letters after her name!
We relocated to Kalgoorlie for her work on New Year’s Eve 2019 – exactly one year ago today. It has been an unusual place to live and COVID has made everything surreal, but she’s loving her job and been crucial to maintaining the health frontline against the virus.
We’ve started to explore around the Goldfields a bit, and we’re fascinated by the history of the place. Now, if only we could stumble across a few nuggets of our own…
Despite the anxiety of COVID – and I felt much – I funnelled some into making a pretty impressive Coronavirus Garden. We’ve had a zillion cherry tomatoes, baby zucchini, herbs, silverbeet, baby leeks, beetroot, radish, carrots, malformed corn and more. It has been rewarding on every level.
Living here – over an hour’s flight to Perth, or 7 hours drive – has pluses and minuses. We have work, we have sunshine, great tracts of bushland to let the dogs run in, history aplenty, and a mellow vibe for the most part. I miss live music (as does everyone around the world, but there’s not even any local music that I’ve found), friends, shops (curse you, shipping costs!) and water – as in rivers and beaches.
I published a couple of short stories (now available at Bark Side Books, FYI www.barksidebooks.com ) but the year got away from me due to the ‘Rona anxiety, so I failed to finish editing and publish my second novel. 2021 for sure. I have 1/3 written the next one, though, and have decent amount of a start on two others! Stay tuned.
Resolutions… nah, not this year. It’s been too fucked up, and we’ve all made too many of them that we never keep. I shared a meme earlier from UK comedian Miranda Hart, saying that she would just take it one day at a time from now on – no more unrealistic resolutions, no applying unfair pressure to oneself for immediate change.
To one and all, all around the world, I say Happy New Year.
To suggest that I hope 2021 will be better than 2020 again, seems woefully inadequate.
Undoubtedly, the virus, travel restrictions, bad management, antivaxxers, denialists, conspiracy theorists, quarantine evaders, blah blah blah – all the idiots – that will be the biggest problem as we enter the new year, in my opinion.
So I’m raising a glass. Cheers to a better year. Cheers to a solution, to worldwide travel, to sensible compliance (which is neither surrendering freedom nor communism), to international concerts, to seeing family and friends, to putting petty problems aside and working together for the betterment of all things and all of us.
From me & Lady Boomboom to you – love, peace & happiness.