Honoring the strain…
I’ve refrained from writing for a moment, at least in this context. My reason for doing so is legitimately suspect.
If I know my friend Charles, and I hope I do, he would at the very least raise an eyebrow to hear the reluctance to share due to the fact that the news is quite reasonably considered not good.
Let me explain. (Not, of course, for the purposes of any reprieve for such miscreant behavior, but even so…)
This channel is largely to mostly red by individuals close to me whom, by virtue of this proximity are more susceptible to emotional impact brought on by any conditions described here.
While certainly, the choices of what to read and how to feel in the reading are the sovereign domain of each individual, but nonetheless in such an intimate context – my own emotions speak to me of how my words might land and, for better or for worse I do make choices on those feelings.
And so I’ve been quiet. The road bumpy, the heart smiling, lips sealed as much as they can be while still maintaining a responsible accountability.
I was prompted to share this this morning, upon receiving a simple news update by regular publication to my inbox. From Fortune Magazine, on the subject of “the labor shortage.”
A short article, filled with graphs and statistics revealing a national condition which has felt deeply personal to me, and I suspect quite likely so too many others in a similar condition relying on “labor” for the simple things like getting out of bed or eating.
October this year started with a 40% reduction in my care support capacities (the departure of two caregivers.) This compounds an already deficit condition where 100% support still covered only 93% of needed care.
This is just been the continuation of a trend felt since the beginning of the pandemic, not only have care partners been fewer and further between, but this is necessarily translated as well to lower levels of fit.
I was encouraged to see this article. While I knew intellectually the reality of the hiring market, and as experientially through my own efforts, it can still feel personal when the absence of care support has such a material impact on my day-to-day activities. More so, I am cognizant of the kind of constant pressure it places on anyone who chooses to be close to me in my life as I call on them for “little supports,” like meals and other seemingly inconsequential moments.
Each time the ask comes through, these people get to feel at some level the not in substantial weight of the request which may infer distance traveled, time in traffic, and general schedule disruptions to our already busy lives.
Even asking this, and a more extended community to “put the word out” that I’m looking for help carries the implicit weight of what the absence of that help implies.
On occasion, well intended and loving friends step forward to assert how important this challenge of my life is to them. From a sincere desire to help, they go out of their way to make efforts and ease some of the burden. And yet…
The effort required is truly difficult to overstate. Inevitably, lives catch up to us, and where once it was easy to drop everything and make room for a friend, it is not the nature of our cultural condition to sustain these efforts indefinitely.
From here I can sense the strain picking up on these beloved angels, and from there side it grows gradually easier (and more necessary) to be less available than their initial torn heart once suggested they MUST be.
Today I have three formal care partners, and one friend regularly committed to showing up. This is to cover 14 “shifts” in the span of a week. By grace and miracle, and no small amount of effort on the parts of real people, 13 of these windows are covered.
There is next to no room for error in such a configuration. Perhaps more importantly, those four individuals standing forward know as well that, should they themselves need to step back, even for a moment, there may be no one to aid me in their stead. Again, more strain on the community at large.
I have been posting and reposting ads on the leading care support site. I have made and distributed flyers, both along social media and physical locations (with much support from others.)
From the article: “To combat the labor shortage, businesses are trying, well, everything.“
The article was a bit of a balm to my soul, putting it in black-and-white for me just how impersonal this circumstance truly is. It can be hard to remember that while sitting alone, expecting an absence of care, or reaching out to loved ones “yet again,” knowing that they have done already everything they know to do.
Having seen the article, and resolved to write on the subject this morning, it seems only fair and apropos that I should receive the message I did today. One of my standing partners, twice vaccinated, is showing signs of the covid end will be unlikely to have test results in time for their anticipated support commitments this week.
The challenge is real.
I have refrained from saying so, because I don’t want people to worry on my behalf. More so, in a world as challenged as ours today, I am reluctant to be yet another data point contributing towards feelings of stress and anxiety. Of course how others feel about the state of our world, anxious or otherwise is not my responsibility.
I myself live mostly in a state of gratitude, with a sense of global accountability for this and future iterations of life. For better or worse, my focus is less upon sustaining patterns of the familiar past, and more towards responding to the predictable sufferings of tomorrow.
The challenges I’ve described here, while material and practical in a very real sense, as much as anything provide me with the opportunity to live more honestly the intention of my heart; to be a radiant source of love, compassion, lightheartedness, and perhaps above all else, trust.
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…