There are some nights that I fall asleep quickly, early even. These are the nights after a night or two or three spent wide awake, tossing and turning and searching Craigslist for everything and anything in the hopes that I will become drowsy and eventually knock off to sleep. I thought tonight might be one of those nights but, here I am, wide awake again.
There are some nights, very few and far apart, where I actually sleep the entire night through without even waking at midnight for a potty run. These nights are exceptionally rare. Most often, I sleep soundly for about three or four hours, then I’m wide awake for most of the rest of the night. Tonight appears to be one of these nights.
Tonight my mind is spinning around the possibility of my 11-year-old completely rejecting me and going to live with her father. Now, I know it sounds a bit exaggerated to say that she would reject me, but that is exactly the choice she would be making, though I doubt she would understand that at first. The reality is she would be making a change for a completely different way of being. She would be choosing a life that would not allow her to tolerate me (yes, her dad is one of those ultra-religious and very judgmental and not-very-nice Christian types). She would be taught and would learn to hate me because I don’t attend church every single Sunday and because I sip a beer or two occasionally. She would, I fear, become a disrespectful, ugly, intolerant, and unloving human being if she were to live with him most of the time. I hope to avoid this by teaching her the difference between having a relationship with God, and being religious. Further, were she to live with him, she would be prevented from staying with or seeing me. I cannot worry about this. Though it would crush me and grieve me for her to make the choice to live with her dad, it is ultimately her life.
To distract myself from this, I decided to cruise Craigslist. Tonight’s category: bikes. This did nothing to help. It just made me feel badly because I have no money.
The other day a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she tried taking NyQuil just so she could sleep. A few minutes ago, I tried this. I emptied the last of the cold medicine, just enough for one dose. This might be working, so I’m signing off for another night.
Sweet dreams, or if not, then here’s wishing you a deep and restful slumber.
The days, months and the first few years immediately following my second divorce were, as I look back on it now, terrifying. To be honest, they were nothing compared to the angst and trauma I endured before deciding to seek a divorce from the nightmare that was my second marriage. I was terrified that I would not be able to survive on my own. I was even more concerned because I was responsible for four children, two dogs, a big mortgage on a small shack, a car payment, and student loans.
I soon learned that I did, indeed, have much to be frightened of. I didn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, have anything scary enough to keep me in that marriage as long as my fear kept me there. I should have gotten out earlier. Looking back, there are a number of things, I should have done differently. Isn’t that the way it is with life? We look back thinking what we should have done differently, but we look back with different eyes than the ones we viewed the situation with in the first place. We look back, older and wiser, hopefully, because we learned from the experience.
I remember agonizing over finances. The ex was irresponsible with money, and, among other things, routinely overdrafted the checking account we used to pay bills. This became a downward financial spiral of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Add to this, the fact that he was hard on things. For example, cars he owned somehow always wore out quickly due to negligence and abuse thus requiring costly repairs. He was just as careless when it came to our home. By the time the marriage ended, I was over my head in debts I could not on my own salary pay, and living in a house which had been damaged by his misguided attempts to “improve” it. I bought a house that was a fairly nice ranch home in a quiet neighborhood. Three years later, you almost wouldn’t recognize the place. It looked like something out of hoarders. It was one disastrous unfinished project after another. I was left to dealt with the debt and clean up the mess.
All of this went down in 2007, and by the time my divorce was final, I was also upside down in a house that I’d never have the capital or cash flow to improve, let alone sell for what I still owed. I should have called uncle then. Instead, I went on a debt repayment plan and for the following six years I struggled to pay off debt, had no credit, no savings and more bills to pay than income coming in. I also had four very hungry children, and because my income was $50 over the guidelines, my children couldn’t qualify for free and reduced meals or any other assistance. I was awake many a night wondering which food pantry or church I could hit up next.
During this time, I also experienced blown engines on three cars (obviously not all owned by me at the same time), a failed rear-differential that dropped right out of the vehicle as I was pulling a load of firewood gleaned from a friend’s property. Of course, there were also the normal maintenance repairs and things that come up. I remember being so destitute that when gas went up to well over $4 a gallon a few years ago, we ended up walking to the store. Were it not for the assistance of friends and the kindness of strangers, I would not have survived those years. (Note: I didn’t mention the help of family members…that’s because there was none, though my first ex and his wife were angels to me on numerous occasions.) I should have walked away from it all early, applied the financial atomic bomb of Chapter 7, and then moved on.
Six years later, I’m finally getting a clue. That bomb has been set to detonate and I look back now and wonder, what was I so afraid of and why didn’t I do that much earlier?
I fought to keep my home, now I’m surrendering it. Here’s the kicker, I moved into a place that is much larger and newer than that house, has all the modern amenities (the house needed updating in the worst way), and costs less than half the house payment. I thought that I’d be hit hard with taxes this year due to not being able to use the house as a write off, but because of having a child in college, it turns out I’m getting money back. And I have to wonder why didn’t I do this earlier? Why did I try to stick that nightmare out?
You could say that if I’d known better I would have made different choices. I don’t think that’s true. I knew better about the bankruptcy. I had good information about the pros and cons. I still hung on trying to repay debt that both was not mine and which I wouldn’t be able to repay in three more lifetimes at the rate I was going. I think the real thing holding me back all that time was fear. I was afraid of the stigma of having a bankruptcy on my record. I was so worried about what it would do to my FICO score. I was worried that I wouldn’t survive.
I ask myself why I didn’t do all this earlier? Sometimes I can beat myself up about it because, after all, I’m six years older and as you get older you begin to realize that both time and money are precious commodities, but time is more valuable. I forget, that I’m looking back with different eyes than the ones I viewed the situation with first. My eyes now see that in this economy, these days, sometimes bankruptcy is not only the only option, it’s a very smart financial move. My eyes now see that if you live on a cash only basis, you don’t need to be ruled by the FICO. More than anything my wiser vision recognizes the strength and courage born of enduring. I know I will survive.
Sure, there will probably be things that come up down the road that terrify me (the second ex seeking a modification in the child support order comes to mind as it seems to portend a costly and futile legal battle). I also know that there are certain things that just won’t ever scare me again. Things do always have a way of working out, they aren’t always disastrous, and somehow I will survive. I’m wealthy in ways that can’t be measured in currency.
The cats are at it again. Sometimes I really wish I would have paid attention to the fact that cats are nocturnal creatures before I allowed my children to talk me into getting one. I really wish I would have realized how wild their behavior can be at night before I signed on to take in four of the homeless creatures. Tonight they are flying around the house like they’re on speed, claws fully bared, tearing the place apart and me with it. It’s not cracking up to be a peaceful night of slumber.
In addition to that, finances have me tossing and turning. My daughter needs to apply for financial aid so she can continue schooling and because my cash flow and ability to help is zero, it’s creating some stress. No, it’s creating a lot of stress. I’m filing for bankruptcy, which is a smart move, but the paperwork burden and getting the right documents to the right people in the right amount of time has me twisting up the sheets as I toss and turn.
Then this cancer thing, yes, it is cancer, gnaws at me. While it really is the least of my worries right now (early stage, non-invasive), it still has me wondering sometimes about how much time i really have left on this earth. I hate thinking about that. Then that thinking leads me to realize I have no life insurance, and that I probably couldn’t get any now anyway. Then that leads me right back to stressing out about money that I don’t have now,and the lack of it I’m likely to face after I can no longer work. If I live that long. Then, of course, that spins me into a cycle of worrying about the kids, which takes me back again to the money. And so on.
I swear this all giving me dementia. I forget things more often now. I can’t remember where I put things. I can’t remember entire conversations, sometimes. This is terrifying to me. Today, I had $40. I stuffed it in my pocket until I could get it into my wallet, which I wasn’t carrying with me at the time. Between then and an hour later, that money completely disappeared. I retraced my steps, searched everywhere. No money. Now my mind is obsessively reviewing my day trying to figure out where the money went. I didn’t spend it. This I know for sure. Where is it?
There appears to be a momentary lull in the cat craziness. Now the place feels like a tomb, and the silence is problematic. I can’t win here.
I think there are some of those pain pills left from my last surgery. I didn’t use them for pain since I didn’t really have any pain, but they were rather effective in helping me sleep. Something I can’t do when wearing a bra to bed and after breast cancer surgery, that’s exactly what one is instructed to do. In fact, I was instructed to sleep but also to wear the bra. These two instructions were really mutually exclusive orders. I blew through the pain meds using them as sedatives. I think there might be one or two left.
I think I’m going to have to go find out for sure.