Thursday, June 12, 2014

Victory on the Journey: A Victory in the Making

The Picturesque Guelph (Ontario) Bible Conference Grounds where Write Canada! is held
Apparently this is a week that will go down in history as Victory Week in the life of Cassie Stratford.

The last two blogs have been about the amazing victory of last Saturday.  Venturing out in public, alone, unsupervised, unchaperoned, without my ever-present protector, encourager and supporter - my ever-lovin' and long-sufferin' hubby.  (He would have looked sort of out of place at a knitting thing attended by mostly women.  Especially as he doesn't knit.)

Today, I am venturing out again alone into the world that once contained so much fear.  This time for a three day writers conference in a nearby town.

The key word here is alone.

Except for very occasional short outings for counselling - which is a very safe place with a very safe person - and/or doing a few errands in the uptown core, I don't get out much.

When the damage hit its height around 2012 and into 2013, I felt safer and more comfortable at home holed up in the smallest room in the house - beside the bathroom that is.  Even I'm not so wacky as to want to hang out in the bathroom for extended periods.

This room which I later started calling my "safe" room has everything I need in it - except bathroom and cooking facilities - to maintain life as I live it:  my computer, phone, DVDs, yarn, patterns, needles, hooks, books, a space heater and a fan.

The only thing it lacked was people or rather socialization.  During that time period, most of my socialization needs were met either through my poor hubby, family members, or social media.  I even took a few writing classes via the net.

But healing has now progressed to the point where it's time to press the limits a bit.  To grow.  To change.  To expand.  To experience new things.  To start socializing.  With real people.

Always with a plan B and even a plan C which I hope I won't have to use.

So today, I go alone into the world.

I went to this conference last year - with a companion/caregiver who just happened to be a very special niece that I had bonded with along the journey.

Yes, I was scared.  Partially of the people.  But also of the affects I was continuing to have such as lack of balance which would come on suddenly, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty communicating as in sometimes the words wouldn't come or if they did they would come out wrong or I would start stuttering badly.

It had been a dream of mine to attend this conference and I had already put it off one year (2012) thinking that I would be magically better by the time it rolled around again in 2013.  But I wasn't.  So I decided to bite the bullet and find a way to go.

I wrote them, described my difficulties and threw myself on their mercy.  These gracious people made a way for me to attend.  They allowed me to bring a caregiver.  As she was there to support me and not to attend the conference as such, they waived the registration fee for her and she was allowed to attend paying only for her meals and lodging.  Because of the cause and nature of my difficulties, she was allowed to attend my classes with me.  We were joined at the hip so to speak.

My "caregiver", my niece, my friend.
I cannot thank you enough.
I cannot thank them or my niece enough.  Because other attendees came with a friend or daughter or whoever, a niece/aunt combo wasn't considered abnormal.  To the casual observer, we appeared to be two family members with a common interest who were out to learn more about their craft, thus not raising any red flags.  And because of her, I was able to act more normal, to feel normal, to relax a bit and enjoy.  She was there constantly.  Poor girl.  As I indicated earlier, the two of us were more or less joined at the hip.  Where I went, she went - except to the bathroom of course.  Even I have my limits - and pride.

We both had a great time.  I came away last year with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  I had faced a major challenge - and succeeded.

I was tired, very tired, exhausted in fact - but very, very happy.

To me, going to this conference was like facing my personal Mount Everest.

The 12 months between last year's conference and this year's has been filled with ... well ... life.  Good and bad.  Up and down.  Forward and backward.


The most amazing happening in these last twelve months is that my pre-workplace abuse personality has come back from wherever it went on its long vacation.

With its reappearance, a lot of the major affects either disappeared altogether or dwindled to much lower, more manageable levels.

I'm ready to embrace life again.

To meet challenges.

To see where it takes me.

Look out world!  Here I come!

Note:  This will be my last blog of this week as internet connections there are iffy at best with so many attendees trying to use their computers at once.

See you next week with hopefully another tale of victory on the journey!

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