I had to laugh a bit when I read this week's @ecotrain question of the week; “with all the craziness in the world, how do you maintain your sanity?” The first thing that popped into my head was “I don't!” I’ll be honest, just when I think I'm getting a handle on things, something else crops up and I'm back to trying to deal with what life is throwing at me again. So I hope you don't mind if I take this opportunity to have a bit of a rant and maybe wallow in a little self pity.
The climate crisis arguments seem to be last year's news now, but in all honesty I'd reached a point of just ignoring it all and getting on with what is within my control anyway, before I ended up chasing my tail on all the guilt trips coming from every direction. You see at home my immediate concerns were coming to terms with a less than ideal situation which many are finding themselves trapped in with the economic collapse which continues on its downward spiral.
The situation in Australia has an interesting dynamic, possibly due to the size of the country compared to its small population. Unemployment is at an all time high, so Centrelink, the Australian welfare system, is overwhelmed and making cut backs wherever it can.
You can probably imagine what complaints that's getting. I have no love for government, but the fact is that a welfare system can only run if it's getting an income stream from the workers. Can you tell I'm sick of hearing that whinging too?
Anyway, getting back on track, more and more families are being pulled apart as one parent ends up having to travel across the country to find work, because there's nothing available locally. Since mid November, my husband has been working halfway across the state. That means a 6 hour drive each way each week. It's been really hard for us being apart from each other, but it is at least close enough for him to come back each week. My friend’s husband has just left for Perth, which is half the country and a flight away. They won't see him, other than on Skype, until Easter. This isn't an uncommon theme, it's happening with a few people I know.
For someone who isn't big on consumerism and cares about the environment and sustainability, our current lifestyle feels hypocritical and is probably a joy for the taxman and oil companies. My husband is actually on a really good wage. It’s higher than it should be in order for him to be able to afford to work there. Unfortunately, it doesn't benefit us, because at the end of it all we are no better off than the last job he had which was only just making ends meet. Because it's his “choice” to work so far from home (sure Centrelink, like you wouldn't have cut us off if he'd refused it) we can't claim a tax rebate on travel, so IRS is pulling in a nice high tax bracket income tax. The cost of fuel for him to get there and back, then out to where he's legally allowed to camp is more than our mortgage payments. He fills up 6 times a week, lots more yummy taxes and profits for oil companies right there. Then if he can finally get a rental, there will be some more money hemorrhaging. Yay for contributions to the economy! Perhaps the Australians desperate for work will save Australia's economy. The airlines shouldn't be going out of business any time soon.
If we were a little altruistic I suppose my husband could avoid travelling back so often, but one week with him away is hard enough as it is. We had a two week stretch once and that about destroyed us. Okay, I'm probably exaggerating, but it was shortly after he started working away and we've never been apart from each other for more than a couple of days before.
While it was to be a big change for our family, I was pretty confident in getting through it having my daughters with me who are in their late teens. Unfortunately, about a week before my husband was due to start work my eldest revealed something to me that made me realise that she no longer felt the need to confide in me like she used to and that her life was on the road to parting with us as other things become more important and she longs for full independence. For a mother who has always been with her children and from a child that always craved my attention, it was a hard to realise that she had found others to fill that need and I am no longer needed. I knew this day would come, especially with my extrovert who feels like she doesn't fit in or understand this introvert family she was born into, but I thought I would have my husband by my side to support me through it. Instead I felt like two of the people I'm closest to were leaving me.
I know that it's not permanent and had to keep reminding myself of that. It was always something I was going to have to adjust to, but couldn't I please handle one thing at a time?
In the meantime I finally figured out that those night sweats and heart palpitations are signs of peri-menopause and probably also what's contributing to most of my anxiety.
So while we try and deal with this upheaval at home, we listen to the news on the Covid19 and try to decide if the media is fear mongering or we should be really taking this as serious as some seem to think we should. For our own sanity, it's best to think of it as overreacting and carry on with our lives while being a bit more stringent with hygiene and hand washing and keeping up the vitamin C. Happy to avoid too many trips out to crowded places too.
Then the other day a heated discussion took place at my younger daughter's gymnastics club. One of the gymnasts is currently holidaying in Bali and another gym mother felt that the girl shouldn't be allowed to come straight back to training, but be quarantined for two weeks first, and it seemed that she wasn't the only one with that opinion, despite the fact that Bali is not in one of the countries considered high risk for the virus. It brought to mind a comment about the fact that people are being quarantined in detention centres and locals are so fearful they're supporting it... week maybe more like complaining about them being detained too close to their town. I think they’d prefer them moved offshore.
Currently people are panic buying and stocking up on none perishables (in particular toilet paper for some reason) in case we have to self quarantine in our houses. It made me wonder, what happens to the homeless if this is implemented? Do they get rounded up into detention centres? Even without a virus doing the rounds, instances in history when this sort of thing has happened and people are crowded into small spaces, sickness becomes rife. With the homeless often considered the lowest in the hierarchy and disposable, authorities often don't care what happens while they're being detained. If lots of them die then it can be blamed on the virus anyway, because they would have been weak and undernourished and of course it had nothing to do with the appalling conditions they were forced into! And the reason the question arose for me as to how the homeless could be quarantined is because my husband is currently still living in a tent and the back of his car.
Now let's pepper this all of what's going on with a call from my sister-in-law letting us know that on the other side of the world my mother-in-law has had the news that her breast cancer is back and has spread into the glands under her arms. Then the friend whose husband had just departed to work halfway across the country has been getting tests, scans and biopsies followed by the news that she'll be having a mastectomy. Then from the other side of the world again, more news from my sister as she struggles to cope with a 5 year relationship ending and it's breaking my heart reading her messages.
So how am I keeping sane?
Often I have to just avoid thinking about it all for a bit and try to enjoy the little things; have a laugh and a joke with friends, even if it's poking fun at things that some people think we need to be more serious about:
Focusing on one problem at a time makes things less overwhelming and its usually the more immediate and close to home problems that get priority; the ones I might have a smidgen of control over. A cup of Tulsi tea each morning is helping me through it too. I did start out with St John's Wort until it was pointed out that my recently tender skin might actually be a reaction between my consumption of it and the sunshine.
I have been throwing myself into mending and altering clothes, to feel like I can achieve something useful at a time that I'm feeling completely and utterly useless. Then writing on Steem has given a bit of consistency to my turbulent life...
...who are those new witnesses?...
...excuse me while I go do some more sewing...