On this day last year, I lost the job I had just completed training for and had worked my first full month, unsupervised. That was my job with Handy Dart.
I didn’t really know what was going on in the world. I don’t watch the news much or even listen to it on the radio. The reason I don’t is because it aggravates my cptsd. I did know that there was a virus in China but that it hadn’t yet hit Canada. And to be honest, I didn’t believe it would. At least not in the way that it did. And that is it hit us - FULL ON. That was the extent of the news I was in touch with.
It was a relief to not have to wake up at 430 AM to wait to be dispatched to drive for Handy Dart. Although that job was a great job in so many ways, it was my intense Empathy that was doing me in.
Driving seniors to their homes, where they had no one to welcome them there was taking its toll on me. I wanted to help in ways we as drivers are not allowed because of work safe BC regulations and policies. I carried wheel chairs and let clients hold onto me while we climbed stairs they could barely climb. I listened to sad stories of isolation and loss and I couldn’t do anything about it. I helped clients find keys they couldn’t remember they had so they could get into their house and I wondered, why are these people so alone? And then on top of that, management was not great and I will leave it at that.
I would get home from work emotionally drained and unsure of how on earth I was going to get out of there and back into film, where I belong. My dream of being a truck driver in film and tv seemed to be getting further away from me.
There was a film maker’s assistant job offered to me but that vanished into thin air without a whisper. This left me depressed and full of self doubt.
“Did I do something wrong? Did I try to communicate or get answers too much? What did I do?”
The thing I recall most fondly of March 14th is the sound of the birds in the morning. There was the beautiful sound of nature. I could hear birds landing on the branches outside my bedroom window.
“How wonderful that sound is to me right now! Why does it sound so peaceful out there?” I pondered dreamily in my warm bed.
It was the sound of having no cars on the roads outside. No one was driving!
“How surreal!” I told my husband beside me. “There are no cars driving on the roads!”
One of the best things about the city being shut down at first was the silence. The slowness and softness I could feel in myself and all around me.
Finally, I could keep up with everyone because every one had to completely slow down. It was wonderful for me.
The fear I felt for catching the virus was palpable. I didn’t go outside unless I absolutely had too. I had just started a new medication — a biologic for my rheumatoid arthritis. If I got sick, I could die. Literally. I mean, that is true of anyone but especially for people with incurable autoimmune diseases.
My husband went out to get the groceries. We wiped everything down when he brought them home. He changed his clothes and washed his hands and face. We just didn’t know how serious to be about all of it. I was scared of getting sick.
In 2018, I got a flu. It was the most brutal flu I have ever had in my entire life. It put me in the hospital, that’s how serious it was and it was a basic flu. I was terrified that if I got Covid 19, I would surely die in suffering and agony. Which is one of my worst fears in life. Because there has already been so much suffering and agony.
Time went on and things got a little easier in the fear department. I worked on my trauma responses to the situation we were in within our city and home. I was so relieved and grateful to not be living in the house on Nanaimo Street any more.
We had moved to the West End Just in time before the shit hit the fan. This is the perfect place to be during a pandemic, as far as I am concerned. We could easily hole away in our apartment but still be able to get provisions from not far away, when we needed anything. Being isolated in the West End is not very isolating at all.
Once I realized I would be getting CERB, things got even more reassuring. My husband still hadn’t received his permanent residence and was unable to work in Canada at this point. So my losing my job was pretty stressful.
Thank Creator for a somewhat social democracy in Canada. If I had moved to the US like I was planning to do before I got sick, I don’t know what we would do or how we would do it.
Having the time to allow my medication to get to work on my arthritis, without having to work, has been a major boon to my health and recovery. Being able to take the time to pin-point the results and response my body was having to the new medication has been amazing.
Very happily I can tell you, the medication is WORKING. I knew it when I went for my first 3 hour walk in cute shoes — without my orthotics — and my feet weren’t in agony. If you know me, you know I love walking. I could walk for days and not get tired. And rheumatoid arthritis took that away from me.
As a street photographer, losing the ability to walk endlessly was a huge blow to my process of recovery from cptsd. It is doing street photography that saves me from getting lost inside my head and stuck in the trauma response loops that can catch me — when I am not busy enough with my creative and passionate street photography endeavours.
Because of Covid 19 and losing my job, I suddenly found myself eligible for a truck driving program I had been wanting to get into since I first heard about it in 2016. The Changing Gears Program through the YWCA. That program started at the end of August ‘20 and I graduated this past Feb ‘21. I finally have my class 1 truck driving license!
Isn’t that amazing!?
I think so!
It has been a weird past year, for sure. Most of all though, for me, it has been an incredible opportunity for self reflection and deep personal work. Also, having so much time to spend with my husband has been pretty great. We get along awesomely and like each other a whole lot. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be locked down with. Even though I don’t believe we have ever really been locked down in this province. Unfortunately. I think if they had just locked everything in the country completely down in the first place, we might be over this mess we are still in. I don’t know, really though.
My EI runs out in 4 weeks and I have yet to find driving work in the industry I want to work in. I am ready and just have to find that one person who will be the one to let me get my feet in the door. If you know the film and TV business, you know that is basically how it works.
I am optimistic, as always. The present looks good and future even brighter.
I started 2020 with having work that I am passionate about being published in an anthology of Indigenous writers and artists and a new job I didn’t love. I ended the year with my photography being published in a print magazine and the Class 1 Truck Driving License that will get me the jobs I love. I
have big goals for what is next for my writing and photography work, now that I feel I am getting back on track with those dreams and goals. I had to deal with some life altering things first.
I am full of love, compassion and kindness. Now I just need to be full of paid work!
I feel grateful for 2020. My life shifted in so many positive ways. I will always cherish 2020 as the year that my truck driving dream came true!
I hope you are well and safe and feel loved.