FINDING SPACE: Writing When Life is Chaotic

Written by A Guest Author | June 27, 2017

By Julie Guirgis

It was 3:00 A.M when I woke up to my dad calling out from his room down the hall. Half asleep, I laid in bed, hoping he would fall back asleep, but his yelling got louder. Rubbing my stinging eyes, I forced myself out of bed.

‘I’m hungry. I need food,’ he said with the helplessness of a child. I fumbled through the pantry, grabbing the first thing I saw: crackers. I handed him the packet, and he devoured a handful. I went back to bed, but within minutes he woke me up with another request: water.

Later that day I cringed at the putrid stench of urine in the longue room, which was now set in the carpet fibers. While vacuuming I found day old food scraps hidden in crevices of the room. I sigh deeply at the realization that this is my life.

The constant vigilance, broken sleep, despair and frustration had taken its toll. I had to deal with the constant arguing; pleading, guiding and daily grind while ignoring the knot in my stomach.

Since dad’s insidious decline into dementia, I feel exhausted and running on empty. A small still voice says to me ‘It’s time to get away for a couple of days.’ I fumble through my phone until I find the St. Mary’s Towers number; a retreat center I have been going to for over a decade. It has been my place of refuge whenever I need respite from caring. Since dad’s diagnosis of dementia five years ago this place has been my home away from home.

When I arrived at my assigned room I surveyed my modest surroundings. I placed my writing pad and pen on the wooden desk. That evening I lit my favorite candle, and opened my journal. The pen’s rhythm scratching the page was in unison with my racing heart.

When my identity becomes wrapped up in being a caregiver writing helps me find myself again. Initially the retreat’s purpose was to provide respite for me but it transformed into a writing oasis; a place where I could get away to focus solely on my writing.

But sometimes it’s hard to get away, these days; every minute seems precious especially when there are a myriad of responsibilities, deadlines and chores that we need to tend to.  It’s difficult to carve out a small window for writing. And it’s even harder if you’re a parent or caregiver.

To find more time to write be aware that it takes some trial and error. Everyone works differently, so what fits into your lifestyle or meshes with your personality will differ from another person’s. Try some of these tips:

  • Whether we’re wasting time on social media or TV, there are portions of our days when we could be more productive. Look at how you can replace time-wasting activities so you have a chance to write instead.
  • Consider creating a ritual or a dedicated space for your writing. Look around your home, inside and out, for places that can become secret retreat spots even in a busy day. Shut yourself into a spare bedroom at the back of the house. Play some soft music or light some candles.
  • When free time is rare, use it wisely. Think about times during the day when you can focus on your writing. For example when the kids are at school or at night when the person you’re caring for is asleep.

Achieving a balance between raising your kids, juggling the household and working outside the house can be challenging. But with good organization and clear goals it is possible. Be tenacious, be focused, and you will continue writing even as a busy parent or caregiver.

Bio:  Julie Guirgis is an international freelance writer living in Sydney, Australia. My writing has been published in several publications. Some of these include Writer’s Weekly, Coffee House for Writers, Transition, Majellan, Madonna, Eureka St,The Nathaniel Report, Signs of the Times, Adventist Review, Unity, Significant Living, Caring Times,Vibrant Life, Alive Now, Now What?, Insight, Guide, The Aquarian, The Edge, Creation Illustrated, Kaleidoscope, Insights, Compass,Woman Alive, Spotlight on Recovery, and have upcoming work in The Narcissist’s Playbook Anthology, Friend and Splendry.