Thursday, 24 December 2015

Leaving 2015 annus horribilis behind

It's almost Christmas Day and while my Christmas will be much the same as I've experienced for the last 5 years it comes in the wake of a difficult year; a year full of loss of things that were important to me, and still are.

It started with the loss of my home and belongings that I had tried to build up since arriving in France. Every year I have to find new employment because my contracts are ever only for a maximum of a year. They are not well paid because I have to fit in to an extremely limited  range of options possible for a foreigner like me. I discovered there was only one option this year and it was worse than any of the others I've had here.

With no assurance of being able to pay my bills I had to give up an independent life as an adult and live with JC within the confines of his systems, rules and environment. He has tried to accommodate some of my needs like giving me a vegetable garden to occupy me for 5 months of the year. He does many little things to please, he is a dear, but it remains difficult for me to truly settle as nothing is secure or even predictable past August 2016 at this point.

The instant I made the agonising decision to give up my independent life and environment (well, it wasn't really a choice) I felt serious pain in my neck. Life had become a metaphysical pain in the neck for me. There are structural/aging reasons for this pain which Xrays and MRIs confirm but I do believe that major stress has been behind the physical pains from problems I've experienced in recent years. There is no medical treatment for neck conditions due to degeneration. One minute I was pain-free, the next I was not and haven't been for 5 months, despite physio. I need to change my circumstances but there are no current viable opportunities to do so.

As a consequence of the debilitating neck pain I've had to give up playing the violin. I'd spent a year working hard to get back some of the skills and joy I'd had in my youth so I grieved. It had been a bright spot for me, physically entering into the music with my teacher and connecting with the instrument I acquired when I was 11.

I'd booked a trip back to NZ for the end of February for my daughter's wedding. I planned to spend time with her, meet her husband-to-be and travel down to Christchurch to see my mother who is 86 and suffering dementia in a rest home. My daughter had to cancel her wedding so I had to cancel my trip. I still have her wedding present, just in case. Getting back for a visit is difficult as I can't take time off during a NZ summer. I'm limited to the middle of a NZ winter. I grieved for that little ray of excitement extinguished.

Other negative things occurred, so I guess if the Queen can have an annus horribilis so can I.

I'm always looking at ways to minimise negative things and move forward even if the likelihood of success isn't great. I'm not one to give up, and anyway what's that? Giving up just puts you in a worse situation you can only blame yourself for so I counted the days until I could apply for French naturalisation. What will that give me? Well, the right to stay here in France. That means a choice even if I may lack the means to stay in years to come, less bureaucratic obstacles to employment even if the French think I'm too old to be employed. And tucked away, trying not to suffocate from all the problems is that soul-thing that brought me here in 2010. It's been months since I sent in my dossier but no word of an interview. That might be normal.

I look at all the happy posts from friends on Facebook and it gives the impression everyone is having fun times with holidays, colleagues, friends and family. And then I remind myself that not everyone is in those sorts of circumstances. JC does his best in the situation dictated to me and I appreciate the little things he does but I really need my situation to positively change. I just can't seem to change myself any more. All I have left for 2016 is hope. Maybe that'll be enough.

To everyone having a less than terrific time - Merry Christmas and hopes for a brighter New Year. Please take care of yourselves and those you love.