The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that distancing myself from blogging distanced me from my flesh-and-blood relationships and even from myself. When I first began blogging, the people around me commented how changed I was...so much more alive and engaged. It's almost like the process of intentionally listening for my own experience was creating me somehow. When I stopped blogging, loneliness kind of snuck up on me, but I was only aware of this in the most remote sense. The tree was falling in the forest, but no one was there to hear the sound.
But there's one more really essential piece of my life that will help you (and me) to understand the environment that I was living in when everything came undone. My 87-year-old mother-in-law (Lorraine) had been living with us for the past fifteen years. This had always been an easy arrangement. She was a sharp and active old woman with a quick wit. She was always very independent and helped us around our house. We loved sharing our lives with her. But that all changed in the last year and a half.
Little by little, Lorraine's memory and judgment became impaired. Dave and I began to hear things and see things that were disturbing to us, and we finally had to take away her car keys. This made her very angry and suspicious. Our relationship with her changed almost over night. It was kind of like having a toddler who wanted to drive and cook. Soon, she became delusional and started to hallucinate. She thought we were stealing from her and that people were looking in her window and sitting in her chair. She could no longer be trusted with a credit card or really with much of anything at all including her personal care. It's so hard to watch this happen over time to someone close to you.
Don't get me wrong: we still loved her like crazy, and she still had moments when things seemed fine. But mostly, we were constantly anxious and overwrought. There was even a time when she nearly killed us all by turning the gas on the stove while my grandbaby and I slept. By the time my son arrived and woke us up the house was filled with gas and we had to call the fire department and escape to the neighbor's house. She never understood her role in that incident, and I never tried to explain it to her. It would only have upset her and she wouldn't have remembered it anyway.
So my home provided no rest. I'm fairly sure that I could have sailed through the rest of this story with minimal damage if I would have had a home to rest in. But then I wouldn't have been where I am today, so I guess I can't complain. I'm glad the tree fell even though it was utterly silent. It cleared a path so that I could see more of the beautiful forest around me and the clearing beyond it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We've got a long way to go before we reach the clearing.