Looking back on 2022 is like trying to peer through fog... Unsurprisingly, given the effects on trauma on short term memory (hint: it interrupts the development of memories). 2022 was not a good year for me. There were some bright spots, but overall, it was a not good very bad year (TM). However, I will say that the challenges that slammed into me turned out, largely, to create a better situation (once they'd passed), even if they wrecked my ability to create and caused me so much stress, and felt pretty terrible at the time.
My world shrank. I stopped using the office/studio I had in the apartment because it usually meant that I would not be left alone. When I did use it for live streams or conversations with family, my flatmate would start doing the dishes in the adjacent kitchen; which felt like a deliberate act of interruption. I couldn't speak freely or honestly to my family overseas, because I was acutely aware of being listened to. Mostly, I came home and hid in my bedroom because I needed to feel safe (but even that didn't give me the distance I needed). I wasn't allowed to cook meals, because it irritated the woman I lived with. I gave up all my favourites - grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon, pan-seared salmon... I was not allowed any of it. The tools I bought to avoid the claimed smoke that irritated her so much were immediately banned (my air fryer and toaster). The rules of living in the apartment continually changed, robbing me of the certainly and routine I need.
My mental health was suffering a death of a thousand cuts.
Then, because the stress was not enough, I was evicted in the middle of the year. She noted that she wanted to live alone. Rightly, I think. To her credit, she wasn't awful about that, given me a couple of months to find a new place... which was not an easy task, given the restrictions of my wage and the price of even tiny studio apartments.
Those living in Ottawa know, however, how difficult it is to find an apartment. Everything was too expensive for me to live alone; the thing I needed the most to heal. I would have had to move in with friends again... something I dreaded more than anything. Not because my friends aren't wonderful people - they are - but because I'm very much an introvert and, having had my space invaded and unsafe for nearly a year, I needed time alone and in isolation to recover.
It didn't look like it was going to happen for me.
Until it did.
Before I continue with my blessings this year, I would like to note that I don't think my previous flatmate was evil. We were terribly incompatible, though. I highly suspect that she had a romanticised idea of what it would be like to live with someone, and tried to force it when I wasn't ready for what she had in mind. Further, living with someone suffering depression cannot be easy. Also, I much prefer to live alone, so I cannot blame her for wanting the same for herself!
For starters, my friends, who will be called T2, who lived in the same building as I did in the first half of the year were a bloody godsend. Their company and gentle reassurance, and their listening skills were wonderful. When I first moved into the previous apartment, they made sure I was fed when I was too depressed to feed myself. Their companionship was a boon and I am so, so grateful for them. Thank you so much for all you did while I shared your building.
The forced eviction, while it seemed at the time was just another curse of 2022, was also a blessing. Despite the stress of trying to find a place, and all the nonsense (last minute cancellation of movers etc) that followed, I moved into my current apartment. While it's not perfect, my current place is fantastic. For the same price as much, much, much smaller studio apartments, I have a two bedroom flat which gives me both a bedroom and a studio/office. I've made full use of that room (though not as much as I would like, given my time constraints). Best of all, I live there alone with my cat, and that is such a necessary, perfect arrangement for me. Despite having to work the whole time, thus slowing down my healing time, coming home to space that is mine where I don't feel caged and constantly on the verge of a panic attack is wonderful. I got the space I needed to recover not just from the first half of 2022, but the later part of 2021, which I still hadn't managed to do because of the above.
It's a bit of a mess at the moment, but it's still a slice of heaven, and I'm so, so grateful for it.
As an aside, I'd like to thank Jim for his very kind offer of a place to live when it looked like I was going to be homeless for a while. It was incredibly kind, and it really did help to know that I wouldn't have to give up my cat in order to find a place. While I ultimately chose to spend more money on a monthly basis for a much-needed place of my own, that offer made everything so much easier for me. It's not really possible to explain how wonderful that was. Thank you.
I also managed to finish a manuscript. The Lioness of Shara Mountain was the first full novel I wrote in a long time. And it's not a terrible story. I am a bit biased, but still... It's decent. I'm looking forward to releasing it in 2023.
I created more art than ever before in 2022. Not since my art class in high school was I this productive with art. I learnt new skills; including watercolour, which I'm enjoying. Going from not being able to create at all to all the paintings I've done - whether or not they're any good - is amazing. I'm incredible grateful for it.
Similarly, I gave Soldier another chance. It has been sent away to a publisher I really like, which was open to unagented manuscripts for the first time in something like five years. The email that confirmed receipt of the manuscript listed the pronouns of the sender, and I found that extremely gratifying. I'm not trans, but I have trans friends I care a great deal about, and the inclusion of pronouns lets me know that these folks are at least mindful of inclusion. I found myself wishing harder that they become my publisher, because the kind of people who are mindful of inclusivity are the kind of people I want to work with.
I also rejoined my martial arts school. Reconnecting with those fine folks and getting my body moving in fun ways again was a balm for my soul.
And lastly, I was able to attend the wedding of The Amazing Flatmate. It was beautiful and fun, though exhausting. Socialising is always exhausting for me, and I was wildly out of practice. It was great to be there though. She looked stunning and so happy, and it was quite touching. My heart was very full.
The last blessing was you. All of you. You stuck with me when I was an absolute mess of a person. You supported me and kept me sane. Your kindness is an incredible blessing.
There's a lot I want to get done, and next week, I'll be picking up the objectives list I used to do for the new year.
Thank you, everyone, for being with me when I wasn't very nice to be around. You're all lovely.
Have yourselves a brilliant holidays. I'll see you in a week.