Catching up and some context
Keen-eyed Gentle Readers will have noticed that I have been rather quiet here on the blog of late, but there are some good reasons for this which I explain today.
Thank you all for your understanding while I have been taking a bit of personal time. There have been some longer-term aspects of my life which are - rather interestingly - all coming to a completion point simultaneously.
Firstly - we are moving house
Hubs, Cully and I are in the process of moving interstate, and the house we currently have went on the market recently although the move has been in the planning stages for over a year. As real estate demand in our area is currently quite high, I staged the house three times in a single week for viewings, and the prep to pack and stage the house took several weeks. Staging and cleaning for viewing is time-consuming, but paid off; we accepted an offer after the house was on the market for seven days. We are now waiting through the cooling-off period, which is standard in NSW where we currently are.
The packers and movers are coming next week (happy birthday to me!), so there will be almost two weeks where we will be living with virtually no furniture or belongings, then Cully and I will drive down to Tasmania to our new home. This will involve taking the Spirit of Tasmania ferry and not seeing Cully for 12 hours during the overnight crossing as pets travel on their own deck and humans travel in their own cabins. In fairness, a lounge chair can be booked for the crossing rather than a cabin with a bed, but lets be honest, I am too tired and stressed to travel that way. Regardless - while the ferry will be an adventure and pets regularly travel on the night crossing, neither Cully nor I are looking forward to this part of things...
Hubs will stay at the old house until the sale is settled, then drive down to join us. On the plus side I will be able to set up the house and work on some important online training and website content projects uninterrupted - and Hubs will arrive to a fully-functioning house, which is good. On the downside, we will be separated for several weeks, and this will be a challenge.
Fun fact: in terms of stress on the human organism, moving house is second only to the death of a spouse or partner.
Secondly - a legal process is ending TRIGGER WARNING for childhood sexual assault (CSA)
When I was quite young (pre-teen) I was sexually assaulted by a family member on my stepmother's side of things, and so was my younger sister. As it turns out, the perpetrator also assaulted a number of other young, vulnerable girls and a legal action has finally resulted decades later. I won't go into the details, but it was awful and I was not believed and nor was my sister. The historic childhood sexual assault case was launched against the man in question last year, and while he tried to plead down I personally refused that option and in the end he admitted to everything. The sentencing takes place tomorrow, 10th November.
I have taken a good deal of time for myself as this legal process has unfolded, because I have needed to. The initial police statement took over 2 hours, and even with a highly supportive detective, the memories - including somatic (body) memory - was exhausting. I took a few months to recover from that stage alone last year.
Giving a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) for the court about all the ways the assaults - yes, multiple - have impacted me throughout my life was also exhausting. And sobering. I had not listed all of the effects together at one time, and the extent of the impacts surprised me even though I have extensive experience in working with complex trauma survivors. I am also grateful for a very empathetic social worker who assisted me with creating the VIS, as well as the Victim's Redress form. Actually, aside from anything else, the admin required of a victim/survivor by the state is tiring just on it's own before any emotional and psychological effects are factored in.
Thirdly - COVID is amplifying everything and we are all tired
I am honest when I say that all of us are tired this year. COVID and the restrictions around COVID have taken an individual and a collective toll on us all, which is important to recognise. I will also be honest and say that as I live in (for the next two weeks at least) regional NSW our restrictions have been very light. I can wear a mask and move freely, unlike many friends and colleagues in Melbourne and the state of Victoria. I have good friends and students who has been in lockdown for eight months, so it could have been far harder for me. But the social and cultural changes have been so rapid that we are all worn down and our resilience is not as strong as it would be in our pre-COVID lives, and I am certainly no exception.
Taking this third point into account, and the multiple significant stressors in my life right now, I think you can see why I needed some time away from my keyboard.
I thought long and hard about including this information to you all, but I am an advocate for honesty and breaking silence and I do try to walk my talk.
It is important, I think, to acknowledge the challenging stuff that happens in life, as much as it is important to celebrate the wonderful and positive stuff. That was a deciding factor in being open about all the causes of stress in my life lately.
Yes, the students in my course and in the university lectures and tutorials I give see me being polished and very professional - of course they do, because in my end of life training course I get to edit the recordings before I load them up and I have professional headshots for my website. When I lecture and teach at uni I am teaching content and theory I know very well, and I have decades of public speaking to draw on when I am faced with a question I don't know the answer to. Spoiler alert: I always say 'I don't know' and then go about trying to find an answer, and in both educational situations I am also in the lovely position of being able to learn from my students, too.
I also recently had a student confide to me that they felt a little intimidated by me because they thought I had everything sorted and they weren't sure that they could ask basic questions. Then the student found my FailureLab talk and was reassured that I am human - and I happily sat with them for an hour answering questions and assuring them that I am imperfect and have learning curves, just like all of us!
Healthy self-care. Because we're worth it.