Posts Tagged With: living

each story is different

Thing 2’s restaurant closed and she’s without income.
She saved money, but during this time of no income, she’s had to dip into her savings. She needed groceries and vodka, she ordered some carry out, she bought loo paper and deodorant. You know, things we all need.

Before the world went sideways, she and two friends began looking at houses for rent planning to move in June.
Of course being out of work means no money coming in, and dipping into her savings means there’s less savings for deposits and pet fees and the like.

She was having trouble with the unemployment website and expressed her concerns. She had exhausted all her options and no matter how many times she tried, she got stopped at a certain point in the process. The error message was that her social security number was invalid. She said to me, “I don’t exist.”
Saturday afternoon, YBW and I did a bit of research and got on the phone with her. Together, the three of us were able to figure out how to get past that point. Turns out it had nothing to do with her ssn and everything to do with the reason for seeking unemployment benefits. Once she got past that hurdle, everything seemed OK.
Now she waits.
She’s applying for jobs.
Literally all the jobs. From grocery store cashier to the person who assembles the device that lowers coffins into graves.

YBW and I have each said however much it sucks, we’re so pleased she lives at her dad’s and doesn’t have to worry about paying to live with no income.
She appreciates having a roof over her head that she’s not financially responsible for. She understand some people aren’t as fortunate as she is.
I don’t write this as a comparison to another’s experience, I’m simply telling her story.

As much as Thing 2 desires and honestly needs to get out of her father’s house, the timing couldn’t be worse.
Her friends with whom she’s moving are both still working. Still earning money, still padding their savings.
Thing 2 said she doesn’t want to ‘get left behind’. She wants to figure a way to make this work.
I offered to help her financially, emotionally, etc.
I know I can only help her so much. I know she has to do things for herself.

It’s hard to watch her work so hard and be thwarted by circumstances beyond her control.
She’s talking about school. More seriously than she ever has before.
She wants to study funeral services. This is something she’s been talking about rather seriously for about two years.
She and I did some research and traded links in emails all afternoon Saturday.
She has anxiety about the financial aspect of going to school.
I can’t alleviate all that anxiety, but I can help.

She finally decided to get her mental and physical health in order. She finally decided to get her living arrangements in order. She’s doing some seriously hard work.
Sometimes hard work looks like one step forward, two steps back.
This looks a bit more like one step forward, five steps back.
She’s looking for work.
She’s applied for unemployment.
She’s hopeful money from the government will help.

We were talking about the differences between what’s going on here and what’s going on in Canada and I said I read that the checks from the US government are essentially tax credits meant to offset 2020 federal income taxes.

Sunday morning she sent this in the group chat.

You can see that Thing 1 has some pretty strong opinions about this.

The Things and I talked about how things work in our country. We talked about each other. We talked about the state of the world.

It seems to me we’re all so good at seeing things from our own point of view, especially now when we’re staying put more than ever before. But I find it helpful to experience things from other points of view. I like understanding what other people think and feel. Asking questions, getting answers, learning opinions.
I know so many of us are blogging about it.
I asked and received Thing 2’s consent to write about this.

Every story is different.
We each go through this in our own way.
Sharing our experiences helps everyone.
This is our life.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

fearfully and wonderfully made

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. I get bogged down in the mire of my own…what? Well, concept of self, I guess.
The way it has felt like just surviving and not really living.
My birthday is coming and it occurs to me I don’t feel as ‘old’ (worn out) right now as I’ve felt in the recent past. I believe it’s because I feel safe and can let myself go. For so long I had no place to root, no place to spread my branches, I was bundled in burlap struggling with just as little water and light as possible. But now, I am digging in my roots and opening up and feeling blessed by the light that touches me. This is me living.
Life is wacky. It might always be.
But I am not. I am alight.
I have the whole of the universe deep within me and also at my fingertips.
I am blessed, not by what I have, but by who I am.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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Debs Despatches

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