Don’t Look Down

I cannot say I understand why a person would choose to run with the bulls. I suppose it is a cultural value difference. I feel like I am running “with” the bulls every day. Among the galley of major life changes currently on display, I have been displaced from a home multiple times, recently worked with three different lawyers regarding three different legal matters, received a crash course in finance and real estate, and, most recently, am starting a new career while simultaneously going back to school, losing my car, and trying to find a more permanent living arrangement. Problems and issues and changes; oh my!

If you are out of breath just reading that sentence, my point is made. It is exacerbating living this way. I am in a constant state of sleep deprivation and stress. I do utilize various support systems to help keep me going, none of which include relying on blood “family,” and somehow I just keep on plowing through it all. Helmet on, head down, one arm out in front and the other clutching everything I hold dear in life; I run, jump, and spin through the day searching for that place I can collapse to the ground in victory. I can’t see it, but it’s out there ahead of me somewhere.

When I start running out of steam, after it all starts to weigh down a little heavier than it should; I try to steal a glance at the hoard chasing close behind me. I loose focus and momentum. Often I trip, struggling to maintain forward motion, and sometimes I’m tackled to a bone grinding halt by my own terrifying emotions. Gasping for air with tears streaming down my face; I can either get back up or dare to lie a few more moments before I’m crushed by the weight of my heart into oblivion.

I don’t even like to take the time to describe these moments of break down. They don’t last long anymore; mostly because they annoy me so badly. Also, I know I am flirting with death if I wallow in self pity and anger for too long. It’s a waste of energy anyways. But if I don’t at least acknowledge these moments, I’m setting myself up for a catastrophic meltdown. So here I am, processing, evaluating, and moving on. I’ll keep running past the edge of the cliff with the drive of the road runner and the warning of that coyote to not look down… Just don’t look down.

Whenever I’m Disturbed…

I am in uncharted territory again. I feel excited at the possibility of returning to school and pursuing a degree in something that will enable me to affect positive change in our world. Yet, I am completely irritated, and I don’t really know why. I can only surmise that changing my routine, focus, and the way I think to be more productive and driven has left me intolerant to old habits and ways of thinking. It seems counter intuitive. The more self understanding and focus I have, I would assume would instill further compassion and understanding of others. Instead, all I see are unhealthy thought patterns, time sinks, and bad habits that need to be quashed.

When I first wrote this blog, and WordPress.com’s lovely block editor ruined everything by deleting two thirds of it, I spent a bit of time venting about my mother’s entitled, childish behavior. I am not, however, going to retype all that as it is a huge waste of time and energy. That is who she is an I can’t expect anything different. She is stuck in her ways, and the chance of that changing or her doing any real personal development is slim. It is still extremely frusterating, but I will try not to linger on it too long.

Why am I so irritated? I guess I just want better lives for everyone I love, but know I can’t force-feed anything to anyone. This will be problematic as a social worker, and I will have to figure out a way to deal with the frustration. It’s almost infuriating once you start applying yourself and learning how easy it is to turn your life in a different direction. Perhaps this is just my experience. It may completely inapplicable in other regions of the world, but for most in people in the USA, a little focus, drive, and no BS attitude with yourself and things get clear real quick.

This is not to say anyone can be an astronaut or fairy princess. If you really want to be rich, there is a way. If you want to be healthier, there is a way. If you want to have a better relationship with yourself or another person, there is a way. It just takes an open mind to change and a willingness to apply yourself and sacrifice what you have to for the things you really want. This does not require sitting, doing nothing, doing the same things over and over, or living in self pity and denial. It takes action, breaking old useless habits, self restraint and self discipline. It only sounds hard. It is not any harder than being miserable with your life. The more you change, the easier changing other things becomes. Life is always changing. Either change with it or face the notion you have, in essence, accepted you life for what it is whether you realize it or not.

Here in lies my frustration. After lifting a blindfold off my eyes, I’m stuck looking around at everyone else with blindfolds on, wishing desperately I could rip them off. It’s something only that person can do for themselves. I have to accept this. So, instead of getting annoyed at other people, I am going to go back to focusing on improving my own life and eventually find a way in which to help others in a different way.

Ego be gone!

 

 

Out of Sync, but Happy

Most days I am just trying to pass time at work to get through the day to crawl into bed. It’s a sad state of life that many people share. It is not a routine I plan to continue until I retire. I do plan to obtain my Masters Degree in Social Work to get headed down a more engaging career path. Today, however, I feel like I want to tackle every tiny problem or project I can think of.

This happens periodically when things start falling in place, in terms of my plans and responsibilities. It’s like a snowball effect. One thing gets done or goes right and then another and before I know it my fingers are tying to keep up with my brain as I type and I’m focused on things thirty steps ahead. This happens in stark contrast to my exhausted body. It’s very strange. On one hand, I could totally crawl into be and fall asleep immediately. On the other hand, I could just as easily clean the entire bathroom like I wish I could be doing right now. I am very out of sync.

So many things have been going right lately. We are finally getting settled in to my mother’s place. My partner and I (but mostly him) have been getting things sorted and put away slowly but surely. We have new furniture (which he also put together by himself), and a the mattress platform has worked miracles for getting a better night’s sleep. I have a plan for saving for college for my son after listening to a webinar hosted by the bank who handles my 401K. I gave myself a hair cut, not for the first time, but with better than expected results and new techniques. I officially have no use for a hair stylist ever again. I have started bringing my lunches to work and have backup breakfast items here for days I’m running late. I have killed my ice cream addiction. That’s not that I still don’t enjoy it, but I don’t HAVE to have it every single night. I’ve grown tired of my kombucha lust, again, and am drinking water at night instead of plowing through 3-4 cans of seltzer. All this means more money in the bank; more money to save and invest in the future. How exciting is that?

I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had control of my finances or financial future. Honestly, I don’t think I ever have. I have always been so stressed about money. Barely scraping by; buried under debt. I paid my own way through college, scrapped together a little bit for a wedding, bought a cheap condo with $1000 down, worked multiple jobs at multiple times just to get by, and became super-ultra-mega coupon lady to get groceries as cheap as possible when I had the time as a stay-at-home mom. Now, the condo is sold, my divorce lawyer is paid, and my bankruptcy lawyer is paid. Once the bankruptcy is over with, I will buy a used car at some point and spend the next year-and-a-half to two years saving, working, going to school, and getting ready to launch life the right way. Getting a second  chance with so many lessons learned is amazing, and sober no less! I am so very grateful for all of this.

I know I will hit bumps in the road. I am not invincible, nor am I doing this on my own. I have more help and support in my life now than I could have ever asked for. What I am driving at, is that the future looks bright. I am optimistic, happy, and hopeful. I don’t know what I did to deserve this chance to get it right. It was far from easy getting here, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like life isn’t too heavy to carry. I have a footing and believe in myself, my higher power and the support of others to keep moving forward toward an even better future.

 

 

 

 

 

Nine to Six Feet Under

I was never cut out for the corporate world. The thought of 9am-5pm jobs made me shudder. I could hardly handle 8am-3pm in high school. When I was little I would tell anyone to their face I would “NEVER” work for someone else. I was going to be my own boss. Reality really likes to kick me in the teeth.

Before I knew it, I was working for my high school as a tech intern, then Dominos for one “glorious” summer, then I started my brief job at Best Buy around 4:30am on Black Friday that year. Finally, I found myself with a 9-5pm job at the company my mom worked for, Adventist Midwest Management Services. This company was bought out several years ago, but I spent ten years there; on and off during school breaks and finally as a full time employee after graduating from college. My Bachelor of Arts degree is in English Literature. I graduated, however; at the end of 2009, and the job market was not doing well. I fell back into the world of medical billing/collections and haven’t been able to get myself out since.

I jumped to a different big medical billing company after I got married hoping for a challenge and upward mobility, but I just found more of the same monotonous boredom that tortured me all day long. So I made the decision to quit and become a personal trainer. I got certified the same night I passed another test; a pregnancy test. Back I went to the world of medical billing to save up for the bundle of responsibility now on its way.

It was hard to tell  I was pregnant until month 7 or 8. I was running right up until I got put on bed rest. One long night in the hospital with steroid injections and magnesium sulfate fun, and then I was home. But my son was impatient to get out into the world. I was back at the hospital in for a ten day stay with talks with NICU doctors as well as a surgeon in the even I started hemorrhaging after giving birth. Due to a low lying placenta, I was at risk and a hysterectomy would have been the only salvation. Three weeks prior I’m running in the fall breeze, now I was hoping my son and I made it through alive.

Blood pressure medication, of all things, kept contractions under control. As long as I took it and was on bed rest, the little bugger would keep cooking and I got the first chance I had in years not to be working full time. I knew that as soon as I went off the medication it was “go time.” So my pregnancy was kind of unique in that I could time when I was going to go into labor. It was a Saturday morning when I stopped taking the medication.  I went out with my mom to go buy a baby blanket and get some food and fresh air before the big event. My son was born at 5:43 am the next morning. Everything went fine aside from major game plan change of getting an epidural at 6cm. I wanted an all natural birth, but for all intents and purposes, I had been having contractions for a month and a half. Enough was enough and god bless that anesthesiologist!

Anyway, back to the topic of work. I found being a stay-at-home-mom to be far more work than a 9-5pm job, but it was much more rewarding and far less boring. I was fortunate enough to have almost two years at home with my son before I had to reenter the workforce full time. It was necessary as I had filed for an order of protection against my ex and (obviously) planned to file for divorce. In the span of a week and a half, I got a brand new car without a penny down or a job, found a daycare I wasn’t completely terrified to leave my son at, and found a job that started the Monday after I interviewed. Talk a bout a whirlwind; It was a crazy, stressful, and challenging time.

After the initial anxiety of leaving my son in the care of strangers for 9-10 hours a day, I found some appreciation for being back in the world of adults; working to support myself and my son. Alas, it was again in the field of medical billing, and after no more than six months I was, once again, bored to tears. A mixture of infatuation with my new love, hatred for my cubicle jail, stress from the divorce, and lack or relying on AA for support lead to a period of relapses. I missed too much work and lost my job because of that. Despite a solid month of looking for something in a different field, there was nothing that would compensate me at a rate I needed to survive. So, I wound up at my previous company’s biggest competitor; once again, in a cubicle.

Part of me thinks that I stayed with my ex as long as I did for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom. I hated him, but I also hated working a 9-5. Eventually, I saw that if I was going to survive and do what was best for myself and my son, I had to get away from my ex. So now we are divorced, I am working a job I don’t love but need and can’t complain about, and I’m moving back in with my mother. I suppose I am hoping in the interim, I might find a way to carve out a new career path. If I stay on the course I am currently stuck in, I am certain it will eventually kill me spiritually. That may sound over dramatic, but you don’t know how much I loath the ice box rat maze in which I spend 40 hours a week.

Crash and Burn

More than once, I have let all my problems weigh me down so much I have been crushed. I did this again recently. Broke, divorcing, my little one acting out constantly, losing my home, debt ever rising, credit score plunging into the depths of hell, several sleepless nights in a row, and waking from vivid nightmares in cold sweats shivering; it all crushed me. I forget about self-care, there isn’t a drop of optimism in my heart, and I slowly get closer and closer to insanity. The flame of self-destruction ignites when I can’t carry the weight anymore. Exciting at first, it burns until I think I might die. At the breaking point, I surrender; accepting help or death. Time and time again, I feel I might die. Yet I always find a helping hand.

The journey of restoration is slow and painful. I used to picture it as a phoenix rising from the ashes; a beautiful image in my mind. Now, I just feel like a zombie crawling out of the grave yet again. Broken, bruised, worse for wear; slowly picking up pieces of myself try to put it all back together. No beautiful phoenix, I’m just a Frankenstein girl/woman/mother/partner or whatever.

This cycle leaves me more dizzied and drained each time I go through it. Coming to the point of accepting death if it is fate, being pulled back from that state of surrender, it’s just painful. As said in one of my favorite shows, Altered Carbon, “…coming back from the dead is a bitch. Every single time.” Despair to renewal to complacency and back to despair; why can’t I just stay happy, healthy, and at peace? I understand life is not always wonderful, but my dreams fade further in to the blackness. I’m not thriving. I’m only surviving, barely, and I am tired of it.

Gloves Off

I don’t know what I expected. Nothing was ever easy when it came to dealing with my husband. I was hoping he wouldn’t be a complete a$$hole when it came to getting through this divorce. That was a stupid assumption.

The judge has appointed a GAL for our son, which is not inherently a bad thing, but I have literally no money to pay for this third lawyer. $5000 retainer off the bat. I have to come up with half of that, and I cannot even pay my own lawyer. I’m not sure where the judge expects me to get this money. You could turn me upside down and shake me to see if any change fell out of my pockets, but it would be a waste of your time.

As I have said, my credit cards are maxed and closed out. I make just enough to pay for the mortgage, association fees, car payment, car insurance, and my son’s daycare. I buy clothes at Good Will. I shop for super clearance items as Big Lots and Jewel. I spend very little on anything besides the bills I absolutely have to pay. I am constantly searching for a second job, and I’m just flabbergasted at this point. My husband lawyer proposed he only has to pay $98 in child support a month… Um what?! I take care of our son 99% of the time. How did his lawyer pull that calculation out of her backside? My lawyer estimated $610. Something is severely off about both his lawyer and this judge.

I have been trying my very best to compromise, against my wishes. I do not want to drag this out, but you can only push a person so far. The gloves are off. Let’s go to trial. I will be in debt for the rest of my life, but I’ll be damned if I am going to let him/his lawyer go about this like he’s some poor, mistaken father that everyone should feel sorry for. He is an abuser. He is a master manipulator. He thinks the world is out to get him and he has never done anyting wrong in his entire life.

No. Just No! I’m not going to just take it for the sake of getting the divorce over with. I have way to much self respect these days to let that happen. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to fight this, but I will find a way.

Court: Money for Justice?

Today is yet another court date. There is always a 50/50 chance whether or not opposing counsel will show up, or the judge. My attorney is always there, which is good, but it also means I get charge regardless if anything gets done or not. Every phone call, e-mail, court appearance, proposal drafted, motion created/submitted, all of it I gets charged. I absolutely think that my lawyer should be paid for her hard work. But some the charges seem like I’m being taken advantage of. What can I do though? I absolutely need her services.

So we do this slow, painful, stress inducing dance called divorce proceedings. I have broken down in to tears countless times in frustration and feeling powerless. The judge has made it clear that since there was no direct abuse by my husband to our son, he should keep his parental rights despite never exercising them. Never mind that he fought with me in front of our son as I constantly begged him not to; hours on end, almost daily. Never mind the knife he brought in the room with us. Never mind throwing my phone against the wall. Never mind trapping me in his car, or the bathroom, or the bedroom so I couldn’t move freely and was forced to engage him. Never mind threatening to kill himself in front of our son and I so we could “watch,” and then deny it to anyone else.

I have hours of phone calls with this asshole recorded so people would believe me. None of it is usable in court. His ex-girlfriend even reached out to me on Facebook, completely unsolicited, to apologize and detail how she had no idea how manipulative and dangerous he was. Again, it is not directly connected to my son. So, according to the judge, none of this matters.

I wish he would have been physically abusive instead of committing so much emotional torture. At least if he hit me, everyone could see with their own eyes what a piece of shit he is. Oh well I guess. It is what it is, and all I can do anymore is try to take the best care of myself and my son as I can.

Cubicle Prison

Sometimes, I feel very disconnected from the world. I’m like an actor in a play who never got the script and has no clue what lines to say. Quick to smile and even quicker to walk away; I’m not one for prolonged contact with strangers. I have to wonder if I was always like this.

To an extent, I think I can say I’ve never been much of a people person, but that hasn’t exactly kept me down. I aced my honors speech course. I was a student aid for my professor in college helping freshman with literary analysis.  I’m not one to wait a stupidly long time for the waiter to come back to tell them something is messed up with my order. I don’t avoid interactions in which I need to do or say something, but other than that, I couldn’t care less about basic human interaction. Give me a book, a bottle, or scalding hot bath, and I am completely content to not deal with anyone.

What the hell does that say about me? It’s not that I implicitly don’t care about other people. I do deeply care about most people. But in my daily life; the boring monotonous drudgery that is working in a cubicle for 8 hours a day in a state where going outside in the winter months can literally hurt you… I could not care less about the people around me.

“Stay warm!” “The day is almost over.” “It sure is cold out today.” “Boy, he is getting so big! How old is he now?” “It’s almost the weekend!” “How are you?” “Fine.” “Good.” “Did you have a good weekend?” “How was your vacation?” “Oh my gosh you looks so good! How far along are you?” “Good morning!” “Good night.” “See you tomorrow.” “Drive Safe.” And my new personal favorite… “Happy Friday-Eve!” All of this, I am happy to live without. I smile, I nod, exchange pleasantries, pretend to care, but really, if I disappeared to Alaska tomorrow, I would feel no sorrow. I would not miss this congenial pergatory.

I do understand that there are many other jobs out there that are perhaps worse than mine. Physically demanding and/or dangerous jobs, far more monotonous, thankless jobs, or no job at all could all have any person worse off than I. I’m not asking for pity. I am simply stating that this kind of job, for me, slowly kills my soul day by day. If I do anything else right in my life, it will be to get the hell out of this industry and find a job I actually give a damn about.

The Twisted Middle Part Two

One minute he would threaten to take everything away, the next, he was going to leave and never return. It was exhausting and it felt like I was watching some animal caught in a trap fighting for it’s life. But he was fighting for control back, not his life. He constantly threatening to kill himself if I left him. After saying it so many times, his mother, our second counselor, and I managed to get him committed. He was not happy about it. He took all the money out of our joint account and said he would only put it back if I got him out. I felt sad knowing he wouldn’t take advantage of the help provided in the hospital.

I knew it was only a temporary reprieve. It was a holiday weekend, and on January second, I went to court for an emergency order of protection. Since my husband was in the behavioral health unit, the judge did not see an imminent threat and did not grant it. However, a plenary order of protection was set for status.

It was granted by the skin of my teeth. The sheriff had attempted to serve him with the notice many times, but he was never home at his parents. I finally got a hold of the Sheriff’s office and gave them his work address. He was served at noon the day before court. Two years he was ordered to stay away from me, my home, and could only have supervised visitation with our son. I could breath again. I bought a new car since I didn’t have one, got a job, put my son in  the best daycare I could find, and spent two months trying to get free legal representation through the county. Free legal aid in my county is overburdened, and I realized nothing was going to happen quickly if I went down that path. So, I asked my dad for money to pay for a retainer, selected a lawyer I liked, and filed for divorce.

I was told in my consult, that I had a very good chance of getting soul custody of my son. This did not turn out to be the case. Since the abuse was only between my husband and I, the judge believed he should have rights and access to our son. I never kept our son away from him, but he would never spend time with him if I wasn’t there. If I was, it inevitably turned into a fight, and my son witnessed all of it in our small, one bedroom condo. No, my husband did not directly or physically abuse my son, but indirectly, he sure as hell did. In the eyes of the law, however, that doesn’t carry any weight.

So here we are, almost a year later, there have been multiple court dates for status, visitation proposals, unsuccessful mediation, and the money is all gone to fund my representation. What has been accomplished? Nothing. No parenting agreement, no debts nor assets divided. Only more court dates and fees to pay. I don’t know how this will all turn out, but the one thing I do know is that I am a million times happier today after taking that first scary step to get away from my abuser.