I feel ready to get back to volunteering! (For new readers: I'm a public education/community mobilization volunteer and a survivor speaker, and BARCC stands for Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.) But I feel like a damn slacker, because the stated goal of my leave was a) to take care of my vicarious trauma and b) to write Cicatrix, and I did not get far on the latter. I added maybe 6,000 words to the damn thing in my six-month leave. And I've been beating myself up over that. So I figured I'd post here for my own purposes, to reassure myself that it's okay that I didn't accomplish that.
This is what I did on my leave from BARCC.
Huge things first:
* Our cat Jack fell ill in July, and declined rapidly. For two months, I had to medicate and force-feed him every day, and I knew he was dying but I didn't have proof until I did, so I was continually and horribly whiplashed by "he licked the food himself!" and five minutes later "he has lost all muscular control and can't move and he's crying oh god no." He was a good boy. We let him go the very day we knew for sure that he would not get well, the day of the ultrasound, but I'd been sitting with him for a week at that point saying "baby, I know - you have been such a good boy - you can go if you need to go." (I still can't say "put him to sleep" with regards to Jack, and I can't figure out why - maybe it's coded to what happens to unadopted animals in shelters? We released him. He went quickly.)
* My grandmother fell ill the very week Jack died. With the same symptoms. She, too, lasted two months. A lot of the heavy emotional stuff there had to do with my mother, who had never in her life gone a day without speaking to my grandmother, and lived within ten minutes of her her entire life. Communication with my mother has an emotional weight to begin with, and this very quickly became me adopting a caretaker role for her, on an emotional level. We went from speaking once a week to almost daily, and I flew down for an extended weekend to say goodbye to my grandmother and then went down again for a week for the funeral. During that two months, I was in a state of emotional suspension and also did not know if I'd be called upon to fly to Florida on any given day.
* I discovered that the hideous mood swings, massive anxiety, and agoraphobia I'd been dealing with were due entirely to one of my medications. This included a lot of the things I'd been attributing to vicarious trauma! Also some of the depression, although I'm sure not all, because I did go through four months of Everyone Dying Horribly. I got off the medication and am feeling much restored.
Okay, smaller things!
* We visited many colleges, narrowed down which ones Elayna's applying to, and those applications are ready to go as soon as we have the arts supplement video edited together. This is a lot of work.
* I did three cons and traveled out of state four times. (Travel is a stone bitch for me.)
* We survived a huge boundary-trampling impact and did a hell of a lot of processing, assessment, and a bunch of posts. (Again, so much better now!
* Arisia Lit Track. Lots of work.
* Several houseguests. A lot of events.
I did not finish my novel. But I did write three short stories. (I usually pop out one of those a year, maybe.) And I did write a bunch of poems, almost all of which have gotten purchased by lovely magazines, some of which have already been released. I had a new short story out, too. And I won the Rhysling - that's not due to anything I did while on leave, but I'm including it because it happened. :P I started submitting stuff for the first time in ages (see also stuff what has gotten and will be published).
I did a hell of a lot of thinking about a hell of a lot of things.
I feel a bit less like a slacker now.