Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Can't Stay Sad when Fall is in the Air

Today is such a gorgeous day. I woke up to the news anchor repeating over and over, "Get your jackets out! It's going to be a chilly one today!" I can already see some of the leaves changing colors on our maple trees in our front yard. I am ready for some turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie and whipped topping. Sigh. I love fall.

I've got to give you the synopsis of what's been going on lately:

Rob and I have been arguing since I came home from Georgia. Due to stress overload and simple frustration, we've taken to our own corners for now. Neither one of us can stand another argument at this point.

What is the main topic of angst? Money. Money. Money. Money. To paraphrase a Jeff Foxworthy point: Most couples don't fight about money at all. They fight about LACK of money. When have you ever heard a man come home and say to his wife, "What have you been doing all day? I'm tired of coming home and tripping over all of this money! Why don't you get off the couch and sweep it into a pile before someone kills themself falling over it?!"

Nope. Usually, as is our case, it's differing opinions on how to manage the tight budget we have right now.

We all sat down and talked last year. My grandmother had passed away. Her house...a cute two story home on one fenced in acre in the country would have to be sold. It had been in the family since the 1950s. We were already three years in to a five year land contract on a house in town, which was less than a mile from our places of employment.

Our city house had two bathrooms. The country house had one. The city house had no storage to speak of. The country house had an attic, a basement, and a barn size shed. The city house was a work in progress. The country house just needed basic upkeep. My grandfather built the country house from practically the ground up. Charms included wood floors in many of the rooms, and hand crafted cabinets made lovingly by my granddad, and a screened in front porch. The city house had very few charms indeed. A large laundry room, very large bedrooms and a new bathroom off the master bedroom were its highlights.

So, we debated all these pros and cons. The kids would have to change schools and go into a radically different school system. We would no longer be able to have high speed internet or a zillion cable channels. Only dial up would be available in the country, and the only cable available would be 27 channels in total. (Technology moves decades slower in the middle of nowhere.) Gas would cost more. We would no longer have a water bill, because we would have our own well.

Back and forth we debated. In the long run, emotions decided the vote. Losing the country house would be losing a part of me. It would mean re-grieving the loss of my grandfather who passed in 1995, and mourning my grandmother in the process. It would mean saying goodbye, releasing my childhood home, which meant stability in my life...to strangers.

Finally, we concluded: This would mean a huge tightening of the budget for 1 1/2 years. But could we manage it? Yes. If we were disciplined.

We could not rent or sell the city home under the terms of our land contract until it was paid off in February 2007. Until then, we would have two house payments. Things would be extremely tight.

Along the way, we had some bumps in the road. My Taz ended up with Parvo. That cost me an arm and a couple of legs to save him. In retrospect, I made some unwise decisions bringing new animals into our lives during this extremely tight time. My heart is too big for my own good sometimes. That was a setback. I ended up having to put most of his care on credit. I'd managed to avoid using credit in the past, but I was desperate to save my little guy.

Of course, as much as we'd like to discourage them, kids like to eat. They grow, daggone them, and they need new clothes. :) These are expenses good parents can't avoid.

We have not taken any real vacations, and when we did travel, we made every effort to do so cheaply. We went to Chicago for business, and made it a family thing. Then I took the bus to Georgia, but I went so far as to pack food and refill my water bottles at drinking fountains there and back to save cash.

Just as Murphy's law dictates, each vehicle we own had to have repairs. $300 here, $200 there. I ended up buying an old 1995 Mercury Cougar for $700 from a friend on payments during the fall of last year. We realized that out in the country, to be stuck with no spare transportation isn't fun. So, we had the Mercury as back up.

Then, of course, gas prices soared, leaving us scrambling around to keep our budget in tact. It became impossible. I was falling behind and barely keeping ahead of the energy bill and phone bills.

Basically, we've been living on this tight budget for one year. It's not like we were independently wealthy before that time, but at least we could go out to dinner or treat the kids to a day at an amusement park without wondering what bill would have to go unpaid.

I think both of our nerves are on edge. I've worked two jobs off and on, and he's put in extra hours at both his regular job as well as additional effort at making his toy shop work.

Yet, when he gets down, he gets the urge to spend money. He loves dvds. He doesn't see that $50 here and $65 there adds up. He feels he works hard enough and deserves to buy something he enjoys. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn't be a problem.

So, lately, we end up bickering constantly.

"If you didn't have all these animals, maybe we could get ahead!"

"I'm not the one who owns every dvd known to mankind!"

"Well, whose idea was it to buy this house in the first place? In fact, whose idea was it to buy the other house even though it needed a thousand repairs?"

"I guess we were supposed to rent for the rest of our lives? Is that what you wanted?"

Back and forth, this same conversation over and over again until I think both of us have become exhausted and sick of each other...and ourselves.

His strategy is sit down and figure it out, and in the middle of the discussion, get mad and stomp off. Mine is to ignore it, pretend all is well, and get through it day by day. He prefers to see the glass half empty...I prefer to pretend the glass doesn't exist.

So, that's where I'm at. This has caused me to struggle heavily with depression. Normally, my depression just manifests itself through physical symptoms. I get tired, or lack energy. Lately, add to the fatigue and lack of energy the following: feeling like crying, the urge to hop a bus to nowhere, a perpetual eye twitch, feeling helpless and hopeless, not feeling like doing the stuff I usually enjoy like scrapbooking, not wanting to socialize with my lovely group of friends, etc., etc., etc. There are days I don't feel like going home or even getting out of bed in the first place. Sometimes I can't keep a train of thought going for more than a few minutes because of the stress. I try to read, and I lose interest quickly. It's just overwhelming.

Fortunately, as usual, my blood pressure remains low. It always has been. I'm not losing any weight right now, but I haven't gained too much, either.

This beautiful day helps. The sun hasn't stopped shining just because I'm having these problems. After all, in twenty years, will I be worrying about two house payments and trying to raise teenagers? No. So why waste my life worrying about stuff I can't change, anyway? I'm really good at talking myself out of moods, so I have been working on that. With Rob and I not talking right now, it's easier to do positive "self talk." Sometimes I can't hear myself over his anger. So, I'm trying to pull away and allow some healing to begin.

I'm also thanking God again for giving me the need to work things out through poetry. One thing that has kept me going lately is entering poems online at www.poetry.com. I've enjoyed entering their daily contests and various events. If I happen to win any of the money prizes, great. It can't hurt. But in the interim, I'm working out my hurts and keeping my mind on something positive. It's just fun, and I need some (free!) fun right now.

You know, the urge is sometimes there to go pick up a bottle of alcohol and have a drink to calm my nerves. I haven't, because I don't want that to be a coping strategy that I begin to rely on. My birth parents were both alcoholics, and I know that puts me at a disadvantage. The stronger the urge to have a drink, the less likely I am to give in to that. I am not against having an alcoholic drink on occasion. What I am against in my own life is having one to cope.

So, that's what's going on. I hope that I will continue to feel better and make good choices. I want to eventually get back on track with doing devotions and having a set time for that in my life. So what I ask is for your prayers and positive energy, which I already feel at work in my life. I want to be 100% again so I can be the best me...the best mom, friend, coworker, and person I can be. I know I'll get there again.


PJ said...

Kristi I am praying for you. You're so sweet and I hate to think of you struggling. I'm praying for the enemy to back off and for the Lord to protect your mind and guard your heart.
Love you!!

Elliemarie said...

Argh! Sometimes I just wish I could pull out a magic wand and make things better for you and Neicy. It's heartbreaking knowing what a rough time you both are going through and not being close enough to at least offer you a cup of coffee and an ear to bend. Money is such a horrible cause of stress in most of our lives and I am sorry it is causing you so much stress and heartache. I hope you and Rob can work through this and get yourselves back on your feet. Know that you are in my thoughts.

pat said...

My thoughts are with you.