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Same Song, Second Verse Same As The First…Other Side

I must confess. I have not been up late at night…much…lately. I’ve been sleeping very well and feeling good when I wake up the next day. Never mind that I was sick for two weeks with food poisoning. My bills are paid. There is food in my cupboards. And there’s a wee little bit to offset the unexpected thing that might come up. It is amazing how having a little extra cash in the bank and a car that is reliable changes one’s outlook on life. It’s also pretty incredible how that makes it easier to sleep. It’s been a good month. Or rather, a good couple of weeks. I can’t complain. And I won’t start now, even though, life has turned on the proverbial dime for me, once again. Read the rest of this entry

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Uncle

Ever had one of those weeks when you were a day ahead of yourself?  You thought it was, say, Thursday, but it was really only Wednesday.  All day long, you’re excited as anything that tomorrow’s Friday, then somewhere, oh, around 4:00 pm, you realize that you were off by a day.  Welcome to my world.  I don’t know what I was thinking in my last post.  Eleven days left till payday?  Ha!  I don’t even know how I arrived at that number, except that I must have been so exhausted when I wrote that post.  It registered today, when someone mentioned that it was only 14 more days until Halloween.  I then remembered my 11 day thinking and got myself all in a wad trying to figure out how I even came up with the whole 11 days until payday thing anyway.  Early onset Alzheimer’s?  Clearly, this was more than just a minor soon-to-be-senior moment.  Even so, the disappointment was not nearly as great as it might have been, had I been a day ahead of myself.  I’m in the same place I was when I wrote Countdown.  Nothing much has changed, except, I’m adding another thing that I’m counting down to.

A few days ago, my daughter arrived home late from an activity.  She was in tears.  She’d just rear-ended someone.  It seems that her little sister had texted her, the phone vibrated, startling my daughter.  She glanced down to see where the noise was coming from (the car had been totally silent) and when she did, she hit the car in front of her, who apparently had either slowed or stopped.  I don’t know many more details than this.  The accident happened so recently.  My daughter is 18, so she will be dealing with the insurance company, the DMV, and whatever entities she must in order to resolve this, as much as possible, on her own.  Fortunately, she is fine.  Our vehicle, however, is not. Welcome to another completely unexpected financial disaster.  This time?  The $500 deductible.  The best part?  This is the third time this vehicle has been in an accident like this, this calendar year. (Each incident involved a different driver.)  In fact, I just had the same repair done on this car in January.

This year has been, for me, the absolute worst on record.  The year my dad died, 1984, was pretty bad, but only that part of the year.  The rest of the year had some pretty wonderful aspects to it.  All of the years between 2000-2005, when I was married to The Evil Ex, were completely disastrous. This year, however, I just can’t catch a break. There has been one disaster after another each month, all year long.  Just when I hope life might let up just a little and grant me a reprieve from the deluge of bad luck, another crisis occurs. I’m finally calling “Uncle.”  I really can’t take another disaster.  I’m going to be glad to be done with this year.

I’m counting down the days to January 1, 2013.

2 months and 13 days left.

Unless the world ends in December.

Irony

It isn’t supposed to work this way. Life isn’t supposed to be bad, really, really bad, so-bad-it-sucks bad and still be enjoyable.

So, go figure. My finances suck. We’ve been over that. My love life is non-existent. I just had a guy I supported walk out on me after two years. He gave me three days’ notice and he was gone. Haven’t heard a word from him since. After my two epic fails at marriage, I don’t know which hurt worse, to have the marriages end, or him walk out after I invested so much financially and emotionally for two.fucking.years. It is now all water under the bridge, but at times, it still stings.

I’m at an age and in a demographic where there isn’t much dating action, and if there is, it isn’t serious, nor is it even remotely authentic. Face it, after 45, there are so many obstacles to overcome, so much history to wade through, so many people’s scrutiny you have to undergo before a relationship can even be viable, let alone long term. I’ve given up on that area of my life ever being a source of pleasure or happiness. People who really know me, will know what a big deal that is. Most people tend to understand that it is the nature of the beast these days. Dating after divorce is, at best, a difficult thing, and unlike wine, this does not improve with age. Oh, to be 35 again. Before the wrinkles. Before the mistakes. Before the calendar reveals the stigmatizing number of years you’ve been on this planet (because you cannot lie about that).

In spite of all that, the little surprise I’m experiencing is this: I’m actually having fun. I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. I’m happy, in spite of the fact that nothing (except my delightful children) is as I would have expected it and most of it reeks of pathetically miserable failure. I can’t keep a relationship. I can’t catch a break financially. I rent, on purpose, instead of owning. My car is ready to self destruct at any moment. I should sell the thing and try, if possible, to get some money out of it to put down on a more reliable car. But…how to do that? It’s crazy. I have more problems facing me than solutions. I have experienced more endings in the last year than beginnings. I have more reason than ever to despair, instead of hope. Read the rest of this entry

It’s Raining Again

Life turns on a dime. One moment, you are sailing along enjoying everything, even though everything might not be perfect. You’re thinking to yourself that, even though things may have been rough, they are now looking up a bit. You worked a little extra, got a little money set aside for Christmas; something that hasn’t happened in years. Then one wonderful day, as you finally, just barely, allow yourself to begin to believe that there might be hope for a brighter financial future for you and your family, you get an email. Read the rest of this entry

What’s Holding You Back? Could It Be…Reality?

Lately, I’ve read a great deal of people writing and exhorting things like this: You can be whatever you want to be.  You can do whatever you want to do.  You decide.  If you don’t like  your life the way it is now, make the necessary changes and create the life you desire.

Okay, seriously?  This is 20-year-old thinking.

I mean, when I hear someone say that I am in complete control of my destiny and that any minute I can just unilaterally shelve everything and make a change (that works for me and me alone) then, well, I’m thinking this person is young, and so very optimistic (I do applaud this) and they do not have children.

So, let me dial it back about three decades for you.

I was one of those who believed exactly that:  I was in charge of my future.  I was in charge of my life.  If I didn’t like something, then I could make decisions and change it on a moment’s notice.  It could be the 7:30 am class I’d signed up for which I hated so I figured I’d change it, (I’m so not a morning person) or it could be the fact that I’d rather be living in the San Francisco Bay Area instead of the Pacific Northwest, or the Southwest, or the East Coast, take your pick.  It could be any number of things.  When I was younger (24+)  and had no real obligations, there really was nothing holding me back. Nothing.  I’m not kidding.  I made great money as a 25-year-old.  I was making bank and had no obligations.  The few credit cards I had, I could pay off in full each month (gross amounts of money I wish I now had). In addition, I had time.  I had time to regroup my losses.  I had time to correct my errors and regain my losses (if there were any).  I simply had time…or so I thought.  But…we don’t ever really know how much time we have…and we are never an island unto ourselves.

The reality is, you can’t always make the decisions you’d like, because you aren’t always completely in control of your life, unless you are an island.

I know.  That sounds blasphemous to many.  Sorry, but it’s true.  As much as I’d like to send it out to the universe that I am this or that…the reality is…what the reality is.

Think of it this way, if you are your own person and you have no obligations or commitments to others then, maybe, you can just up and do whatever you like whenever you want and, possibly, there really is nothing or no one holding you back. This is, at once, the best argument for remaining single forever and, at the same time, for leaving the single state as quickly as you can.   I feel for you if you are in this place.

The reality is, that as life goes on, life becomes less and less about us and more and more about those we love and what is best for them.

For the average 25-year-old, there aren’t many people you have to consult to make decisions about your life.  If you are lucky, your parents will support you in whatever adventure you take on.  You also, if you are lucky (meaning you did what you needed to do to make sure you were employable at a better-than-minimum-wage rate) have an income that provides for your basic needs and allows you the ability to make some choices with your life. In addition, you have the golden opportunity  that I call “TIME”.  At 25, you have an entire lifetime ahead of you.  If you make a bad choice, you have time to regroup and mitigate the losses.  It’s a very different story when you are say, 50 or 60.

So, let’s consider the mantra of “What’s Holding You Back”  (clearly a 20+-year-old perspective) from a more seasoned stance.

As a person well over 40, let me tell you “What’s Holding Me Back”:

  • I would love to consider another career field.  While it isn’t entirely impossible that I make the switch, the reality is that I am currently in a field where I am required to have at least a graduate degree.  The cost of this for me: $46,000. I have about 15 years to pay this off while I try to feed and clothe my children on a salary that is a fraction of what most other professional people make. I can’t possibly consider taking out more loans for a career field switch, especially when the likelihood is that I cannot have these loans paid off before I retire in my current profession.  It is wishful thinking to believe that I can completely jump ship on the professional field I’ve been in since 1985, and think I’m A.) going to be able to fund this life change, and B.) be able to pay off the debt in the time I have left to work.  This is just not going to happen.  The reality of economics and time hold me back here.
  • I would love to sell everything I own, find a job in a BIG CITY (read San Francisco Bay Area or something really decadent back on the East Coast), but the reality is this:  I have children.  My children have friends and lives that I have to consider in every decision I make.  I can’t just quit my job and move.  I have to consider how that’s going to roll with the kids that the respective ex’s.  (Yeah, I hate that part.)

The  reality is, no one is completely in charge of their destiny.  At 20, I might have had more freedom to make more choices.  At a much older age, this is not the case.  I now have children, ex’s, significant others, and employers to consider…and if you think considering the employer isn’t important consider this:  I work in a career field where, if I move, I take a significant pay cut and I lose the security of knowing I have a job in years to come. I’m sorry, but I have children to feed, clothe, and hopefully prepare and send to college.  Me, as a single mother of four,  taking a pay cut, or even risking it, is so not an option.

So…what’s holding me back?

Really?  You’re kidding me, right?

Because that’s the question a 20-something would pose.

What’s holding me back is my obligation to the other people in my life that I am responsible for and the reality is, I can’t just ditch that for something that works for me, but fails them. So, I remain in a place, that I like, but I don’t “LOVE” and I do a job that I love in a place that is, at times, troublesome and which makes me wonder if there isn’t something  better elsewhere…yet…I endure it, not because I have no desire to change, but because it is best for those who depend upon me.   All of this is holding me back from what I would personally love to be doing…if I had my druthers.

The reality is, I am responsible to others and for others, and it is no longer just about me. I cannot make these  decisions in a vacuum, excluding their input or perspectives.

So, here’s what’s holding me back:  It’s my decision to recognize that it isn’t always just about me and that sometimes, I must think of others before I think of myself, even if those choices aren’t ones I would choose in isolation.

What’s holding me back is my love for the other  important people in my life versus me choosing to make life all about me and what works for just me.

Humorous…Or Not

The beginning of love is always fun, exhilarating, scintillating, exciting, happy.  The end of it, if analyzed, is bound to be many things.  Sometimes volatile, dangerous, and painful.  In my case, this ending is interesting, if not completely humorous. How can I possibly refer to the end of a relationship that was (or so  I thought) the love of my life, certain to go the distance, as…humorous?  I mean, after all, I am devastated.  I really am.  I would never have considered living with a man if I wasn’t 100% certain this was the real deal. We really had so much going for us in so many ways. I can’t even begin to explain or list the ways this relationship seemed so right.  And yet, apparently, it wasn’t.  I have yet to learn all the lessons from this.  Much of what has transpired and will yet transpire will teach me important lessons only after the throbbing pain of loss has subsided and I can try to look at what happened with a bit less emotion. I get that.  But right now, I’m riding an emotional roller coaster that rivals anything Disney or Six Flags could come up with.

So, in spite of the pain, how can I view this as humorous?  Well, having two very stiff drinks helps.

The truth is, I am crushed.  I am hurt.  I am in all sorts of pain.  (So much for that “calm before the storm.”)  I’ve cried a lot today.  He does not know this.  I will continue to brush back the tears, to sob silently behind closed doors (read in the shower), until he is finally gone from my residence and, sadly, from my life.

Since there is now no “faking it” in our relationship (I never did, but I know he did…if not in the bedroom, then certainly elsewhere), we’ve had some very interesting conversations.  He is one who likes to dodge issues; pretend like things are fine when, in fact, they are not.  I, on the other hand, prefer to know the truth straight up.   So, as people do, we had yet another conversation about the details of unwinding this thing.  Mind you, we aren’t storming around tense and antagonist.  We woke up this morning had coffee together, and began talking about the “unwind” like an old married couple might discuss the return on their mutual fund or the sale of some property or the latest developments with the grandchildren.  Since the Non-Boyfriend (NBF), is not exactly one to be direct and honest about his feelings, and since I for some idiot reason felt I needed to know where he stood (this is critical, because I have absolutely no clue how he feels about me and how he feels about “us” in general and haven’t for a very, very long time). So…I started out asking questions and got some good information.

He admits to being such a neat freak that he makes Felix Unger look like a slob.  He admits that this is not healthy, has created problems for us, but he’s at a loss as to know what to do.  (Read:  He’s unhappy with me because my teenager doesn’t leave his room Better-Homes-And-Gardens perfect every day. )  Here’s what my son’s room looks like…normally.

This is my 17-year-old son’s disastrous room

And the downstairs guest bathroom that he complains that my older daughter leaves a disaster (Yes, this is normally how it looks, not cleaned up for the picture.) :

This is the downstairs bathroom that is, apparently, always a mess. Hmmm, no one has been in to clean it. Is this messy?

And here is the kids’ bathroom, another source of contention for him:

Again, I did not clean up for these pictures and they haven’t been photo-shopped. Is this a messy bathroom?

He says he just cannot deal with the mess anymore and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone.

Whoa!  Screeeeeech!

Let’s make it very clear, folks.  This man is NOT paying rent.  He is NOT contributing to the bills.  He only pays for anything when asked and NEVER volunteers. And he DOES NOT clean up after anyone.  Lately, even though he’s making more, he doesn’t even pay when asked. He comes and goes as he pleases and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone?  (I was careful to point out to him that he had done absolutely nothing to clean or contribute to this place, without being directly asked, for the last two months.  He agreed with me.)

I responded to his above statement, by reminding him of the fact that he pays nothing to live here and, lately, he contributes nothing, and he comes and goes as he pleases.  I told him, if I were in that place, I would consider it my rent to do whatever I could around the house to keep the landlord (read: me) happy.

I pressed him further about his perspective.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Me:  So, how long have you known that this relationship was a dead end and you weren’t willing to go to the next level? (Read: how long have you known you wouldn’t every marry me?) Has it been, what?  January?  December?

Him:  Oh not quite that long.

Yeah, end of conversation.

I have only two words for him at this point:  GET OUT!

Actually, that’s not true, I have four words for him:  GET THE FUCK OUT!

Instead, what I said was this:

“Well, then.  You could have at least have been a gentleman and gotten out once you were sure, instead of taking advantage of me.  I’d like you to work on finding a place where you can stay immediately.”

He mumbled something about working on it and named the 10th as a deadline.

I followed up with, “Well, since I just paid your rent, your utilities and your car insurance, and since you have absolutely no ability or motivation to pay me back, you will make sure this house is spotless.  You can start with the floors downstairs and making dinner tonight.”

I’m changing the locks on the afternoon of the 10th, maybe even before. (He does not know this.)  He cleaned the floors and made dinner tonight.

He can’t leave my life soon enough right now.  (And, yes, obviously, he is not telling me the entire truth about where he is with things, which is really the reason we are breaking up; he simply cannot be honest, not with himself or with other people.)

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

~ William Shakespeare

I find it humorous how relationships can turn on a dime.

I find it humorous, how, when a relationship end, the emotions can turn on a dime.

I have one week…just one more week.

 

 

Surviving Difficulty in 20 Not-So-Easy Steps

Yes, I’ve bemoaned my pitiful luck this month here on several occasions.

No, this is not going to be another down-in-the-mouth, woe-is-me bitch session.

I’m actually going to be positive for a change and since I have only small change, I guess that’s a good thing.

I’ve bemoaned my financial fate of late and poured out my misery as to how deplorable and desperate I really am…economically…right now.

I’d like to make the following observations of the data of my financial life this month:

1. I began the month by ending last month in the negative numbers…oh…about $300. (This is NOT normal for me…at least not since those first few months after leaving The Evil Ex.)

2.  At the end of last month, in addition to the negative bank balance, I had to post-date two checks to my mechanic one for last month and one for May for the water pump that broke.

3. I am still trying to pay off utility bills for the rental unit (aka, my old house that I am walking away from).

4. I started my month with about $200 to pay over a thousand dollars worth of bills.  (That was after I paid some of the other bills first.  I don’t just have a $1,000 overhead.)

5. I was looking forward to a $3300 tax return, the first in 5 years, which would have been a nice windfall, allowing me to get caught up and all and I was required to turn this over to the bankruptcy court trustee.  Thanks to Ms. Trustee, I was allowed to keep the money I received from my partial rent payment I recieved.

6. I put everything possible up for sale on Craigslist.

7. I did have to write one post-dated check to The Good Ex for a hundred bucks to get through this week after the cat started oozing mysterious pus last Friday night. (Please, do not tell me I should have let the poor cat die.)

8. I sold nearly everything I put up on sale, except the stupid juicer, and paid all but two bills, small ones, which I will double pay tomorrow because it is payday in exactly 10 minutes.  At midnight that paycheck will dump in and I can start over for another month. The bills were the water and garbage and I’m writing the checks now for double the amounts.

9. I just checked my bank balances.  I have exactly $7.49. 83 cents of that is my savings.

10.  I have no credit cards.

11.  I have 83 cents in savings.

12. I am NOT overdrawn, in spite of this nightmare of a month.

13. Someone just called about a coffee table I had advertised on Craigslist.  20 minutes after answering that call, I now have $27.49 to my name.

14. I still have a $200 post-dated check that my mechanic will cash on the first and a $100 check that The Good Ex will cash tomorrow coming out of tomorrow’s paycheck, but…

15. I’m not overdrawn!!!!!!!!

This, in and of itself, is a huge step forward for me financially. It is small, but very definite, progress.

16.  I have not had an unexpected car repair this month…and I won’t because the car is parked and I’m not going anywhere tonight.  If it breaks down tomorrow that will come out of next month’s pay.  Let’s hope it does not break down.

17.  I had to pay $150 to an attorney last week on top of having to pay bills, put gas in two large gas-sucking vehicles, and feed a family of five, two of whom are teenagers.

18.  I got all my paper work in to the District Attorney’s office in response to The Evil Ex’s request to review the child support order. I feel better now.

19. I made a decision about what to do about the tenants in my house. I’m terminating the agreement, because I can.  The money and the stress are not worth it.  I feel even better now.

20.  I paid my bills, didn’t go into the red again, and I survived this month.

April 2012 was, by far, the most financially stressful month I’ve had in four years and I made it.

I can, for the first time all month, breathe deep, relax…and feel very, very good about being very, very strong.  Lesser people would’ve slit their wrists or swung from rafters if they faced my difficulties. (They do this because they have life insurance.  I do not have life insurance because I cannot afford it…yet.)

My Life on The Titanic

Someone once stated, “All we have to fear is fear itself.” For the most part, I’d agree. I have my own statement about fear, “Fear never made a good decision.” Today, as I faced my first of 33 sessions of radiation, I wonder if facing the unknown isn’t also a valid enough cause for fear. By unknown, I don’t mean the unknown where the possible risks or consequences are relatively minor. I’m talking about the high stakes unknown where the risks are great and the consequences unknown or potentially damaging, lasting, or life threatening.

My life is a convergence of unknowns right now. This creates a great deal of stress for me. Stress is not good for our health and even more so with those dealing with cancer or pre-cancer.  I liken my life to a vessel like the Titanic, which is large and carries the responsibility for the lives and futures of many. I’m not a control freak, but I do like to have my cake and eat it too, whenever possible. I like everyone to be able to do their life and attend all their events. With five or six schedules to deal with, this can be a challenge. I find that if I know in advance, I can usually plan things or get the needed help or money in order to make it all happen. As long as I know far enough in advance, I can maneuver around the icebergs in life and make sure it is smooth sailing for everyone.

When navigating icy seas at night, charting a course that is mostly unknown is, to me, terrifying in many ways. Of course, not many are gifted in seeing the future. This unknown is always with us, and for the most part, I don’t worry a bit about it. But today, lying in that treatment room, both arms frozen over my head, alone, with only the buzzing, clicking and spinning of a very large, intimidating, flat-faced one-eyed machine to keep me company, I felt my first really strong emotions since this whole breast cancer journey started. it wasn’t panic, but it was something close. It wasn’t fear, but it was something close to fear. There was great sadness there, too, along with wonder and a substantial dose of gratitude, which is always part of my emotional palette.  Maybe it was just the fact that I was tied down in a room with a very large and intimidating machine that seemed to move of its own volition that spooked me.

The radiation treatment took barely 25 minutes from the time I walked in the building to the time I walked out. I feel nothing…yet. More blue ink drawn on me to ruin my clothing and, with no great fanfare, I’m off to a day of making life smooth for everyone; dodging icebergs along the way and retorting as needed.

But I’m scared.

What if I have made and am making devastating choices with irreversible consequences?

What if the results of these decisions, intended to make the sailing through life smoother for us all, actually make things worse?

And…the question that plagues me and can really make me crazy if I let it…what if…instead of getting better, things don’t ever get better…or they get worse?

Then of course, there are other unknowns, more practical ones.

What is my schedule for radiation treatment going to be?  Will I need to take more time off?  How will my body respond?  Will I be able to continue work without having to take any time off?  My last treatment is scheduled to be June 5.  That is three days before the last day of school. How will this impact the rest of the school year?  How long will the effects of radiation last and how will that impact my summer?

Then, there are issues about the school district discovering my recent move and insisting I complete an inter-district transfer, since my new address is out of the district where my two older children attend school.  This gets tricky because it means both districts must approve the request.  If they do not, then I have a daughter, who within seven weeks of graduation will have to face finishing her senior year at another high school.  Now, I can’t imagine any school district official being so evil as to insist that this happen, but budgets being what they are, school districts are less likely to grant transfers than they have in the past.  I will also have a son, who at the end of his sophomore year, will have to attend high school where they have none of the activities that he is currently involved in.

On a side note, you might wonder why I moved if the high school in the district I was moving to was inadequate.  The move was a good one, for my youngest.  The entire family, even the high-schoolers were, and still are, in favor of moving to where we moved.  I just didn’t imagine the transfer issue would be a big deal.  I’m now hearing that it could be. I don’t yet know. I filled out the paperwork and we will just have to wait and see.  It’s an iceberg I can’t exactly dodge or move right now.  I’m kind of hope it’s a mirage and it will evaporate as I approach.

Then there is the added stress of the Evil Ex seeking a modification of the child support. The unknowns here were more frightening until I met with my attorney this afternoon.  I had to part with $150 hard earned dollars, but it was money well spent and good information I received. She was able to paint a picture of the worst likely scenario (bad, but not intolerable).  She was also able to paint a realistic picture of what was likely to happen.  This helps me chart the course through the iceberg strewn sea of Post-Divorce Dealings With The Evil Ex.

In other posts, I’ve mentioned the financial iceberg that creates stress as it slides along the ship that is our family.  I worry that any day now an edge will puncture us and we will sink.  For now, we remain afloat.

The icebergs continue to converge with no relief.  One after another appears out of the fog of unknown possibilities and they are all frightening in their own way.  I can’t do anything about them right now…I can’t even see them clearly enough to know which direction to turn the ship.  All I can do is survive today.  And after today, tomorrow.  And after tomorrow, the next day.  I hope that, by so doing, I will eventually find that I have successfully maneuvered my way through the icy currents I’m experiencing to warmer, more pleasant waters.

Summer

It’s August.  The still midnight air hangs heavy like a thick comforter that won’t move, suffocating in its stillness.  The air conditioner is ineffective in my badly-in-need-of-updating 1970’s-style ranch home. You could say it’s a fixer-upper.  The windows, the single-pane aluminum type, gather condensation on the inside during the winter and do nothing to keep in the cool air during these sweltering hot nights.  Back in the days of the last marriage, a second-mortgage was taken out, the amount of which was originally intended to finance the much needed home improvements, however, the ex’s coercive tendencies along with my fear and intimidation of him, combined with my desire for a great deal less chaos than we had at the time, resulted in all that money going toward his custody battle.  It was a losing battle on all fronts.  Custody was not awarded, the resulting parenting plan divisive and chaos-inducing, and it ate up all the second-mortgage money; a total of nearly $30K.  The house remains a fixer upper,  just like my life.

I’m awake tonight, thinking of the summer nights four years ago, when I was homeless, having left my house and my ex under a civil protect police escort because the tension between the ex and I was at an all time high. I’d been advised by the officers to get out, since he wasn’t leaving (and he was much bigger than I). One officer said, “I’m concerned that if you don’t leave, this has all the makings of something tragic we will read about in tomorrow’s paper.”    In the 30 minutes I was allowed to gather the most important essentials, I cut cable wires, grabbed technology, clothing and only the essential toiletries.  Not one of my more glorious memories. In fact, when I have to define the word shame, that episode is one of the top five in my life that come to mind.  In times like that, you quickly learn how little stuff you really need in this life.

I ended up living in a small travel trailer in a trailer park borrowed from friends while I waited for the court hearing to see which of the two of us would end up with the house that I had purchased on my own, without him.  Tonight, I remember those nights.  In the trailer, with my daughter, then six, hardly a lock of any protective value on our flimsy trailer door, a hundred yards from the interstate with the incessant rumbling noise of semi’s barreling by.  There was little sleep to be had during those nights either.

I’m back in my own home now, but on the verge of leaving it again, this time, for good and by choice.  When and how, and where my final destination is, I don’t yet know.  These uncertainties occasionally keep me up at night.  When they don’t, they certainly gnaw at me all day long and re-surface in my dreams. When I was younger, I only had myself to worry about taking care of, and though I wasn’t always certain of the destination or the outcomes of my choices I didn’t have the ever-present concern for another human being’s physical survival and emotional well-being.  These things, these parental worries, nag at me all.the.time.  The worries always end with the final, culminating question: Will the children be all right?

So much has happened in the last four years.  On the surface I’ve gone from sleepless nights frightened behind flimsy travel trailer walls to sleepless nights behind sturdier, but deteriorating, stick-built walls. I’ve rebuilt a life after a very traumatic second marriage and subsequent divorce. My children and I are working on healing, a process which I will forever regret that they have to endure and for which we will all likely be healing from for the rest of our lives.  We’ve established routines and created a new way of being together.  It is a way that emphasizes honesty, respect and consistency.  This doesn’t mean things are always calm and quiet, but they are stable and they are much safer for us all. I have to say, “No, I can’t afford that,” much more often than I used to, but after four years, things are getting better…or they were until the latest recent developments on the job front and with the second ex transpired.  The thoughts traveling through my consciousness vary greatly from details of how I will make ends meet with these new colossal expenses looming on the horizon, to knowing deep down, that somehow we will survive because we always have.

Among the thoughts of financial worries, dealing with the fallout of divorces, job stresses and the well-being of all my children swirls the heat, the deep silence of the heavy night punctuated by the yowling of neighborhood tomcats, there is the knowledge that the bad times don’t last forever, the good times will return though they won’t last either.  This set of challenges must be faced and endure,and though it won’t be easy or fun, at some point in the future, I will be able to look back on these nights, the way I do on those trailer park nights and realize, “I made it through that.  It’s going to be okay.”

Stress

3:27 a.m.  Wide awake, even after taking a vicoden that was prescribed for me a while back when I had pneumonia and a kidney infection.

Stress is not a good way to endure a day.  It isn’t a good way to end a day.  And my entire day was stress-filled.

Actually, my entire month has been stressful.

It was going so well, too.

But then, the creditors are calling…this will end soon.

And the mortgage companies are trying to call.

And the mortgage people are driving by and sending representatives to the door.

And the boyfriend lied to the guy and told him I was not living here (The truth?  I looked like sh** and was still in my pajamas. There’s no way I was going to answer the door.  What part of “Tell him I’m not available right now” did he miss?)

And…while I know all this will end…the question is when and how long?

I know I’ll have to move…the question is when…and how long…and will I be able to rent anywhere…because I sure as heck am not buying.  I won’t have the credit to do that again for a while.  That’s okay. I haven’t needed my FICO score at all for the last 4 years.  Everything I do these days is on a cash only basis.  I’m stressing about the where to move, the when to move and the “will I even be accepted” parts of that picture.

A few months ago, I made the decision to radically change my life.  Well, it is radical for me.  I have a great job, but I’m taking yet another pay cut.  I have great insurance, but soon, I’m going to be paying more out-of-pocket for that insurance.  I’m already kind of getting overwhelmed with the existing out-of-pocket expenses created from the insurance changes last year, and now this year is going to add more to that part of my adult plate.  When the real estate market collapsed, my house, which I purchased on my own (read not with the aid of a spouse’s income), decreased in value just like nearly everyone else’s.  Problem is, I could work for the next three lifetimes and never earn back what I owe on it.  Result:  I can never sell the thing in this lifetime for what I owe on it.

It’s a no-brainer, right?

But the financial transitions are not the stressful part.  Okay, they are part of the stressful part.

The boyfriend telling the mortgage company that I no longer live here was kind of stressful.

The ex serving me papers ordering me back to court so he can have more parenting time with our child (not a good thing, in this case, and I’m usually an advocate of dad’s rights) was VERY stressful, because this means, I’ll have to cough up another $3K-$10K to deal with that issue.  Wonderful timing.

Impending responsibility changes at work are stressful because I just don’t know how or if I will be successful or if I will be provided adequate support in order to even attempt success…or is this a carefully designed “set up to fail” plot?

And then, there’s all the stuff on the home front.

Moving, even if it is in the foreseeable-but-not-certain-when future, is a great time to ditch crap that has accumulated.  I’m still digging out from the crap accumulated by my last ex.  He seriously could have been the star of that TV show “Hoarders”.  The junk he left behind has taken me four years, countless numbers of trailer loads to the landfill, thousands of overflowing garbage canisters, and endless trips to Goodwill to dispose of it all. I’m still digging out from under it.  Mostly, though, I’m down to the place where I’m getting rid of the excess, the broken stuff, the no-longer-used stuff.

Anyone want to buy a juicer?  How about a table saw or a lawn mower?

But try to get my kids to go through their cluttered rooms and actually part with anything? That’s got stress stamped all over it.

First, it’s the fight and the whining about having to do something even remotely akin to “work” when it is “their” summer vacation.

When did my kids become so resistant to cooperating?

Then it’s the mere organization of the task.  Get a garbage bag and put all the trash and broken stuff in the bag.  Get a box and put all the stuff you no longer use or want in there.  The whole process required that I stand guard over them all day.  The minute I went to try to work on anything else, they were suddenly done with the job.  Wait, just a minute.  It took them almost 8 years to create that mess and they are done sorting through it in ten minutes?  No.  I don’t think so.

Arguing with my children, especially my son, who is having the most difficult time with the impending transitions lately, is the worst.

Then one daughter, while at work, sprains her ankle, ends up on crutches and I happen to be the world’s least nurturing parent for things like that.  Add negative image of self as parent to the whole stress pile.

Then the boyfriend begins criticizing my kids again (his are perfect, you know, since they only ever have to be told once and they don’t make messes).  So, then, I begin thinking…that along with all the other stress that we are having to manage with no definite end in sight…that this critical demeanor…can’t go on much longer either.  In fact, it needs to stop really, really soon.

Of course, not sleeping at night is not healthy nor is it good for my weight loss program…so, of course, I worry about that now since I’m up and thinking about it anyway.

And when is that Vicoden going to kick in?  I took it three hours ago.  With my luck…it will kick in at about 3:00 tomorrow afternoon (I guess it is today now)…when I have to take the youngest to her dentist appointment. Great.  I’ll be falling asleep in the waiting room.  Like that’s not going to screw things up at all.

Stress.  Not a great way to endure a day.  An even worse way to spend the night.

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