June 23, 2003
Six long days. Has it really been that long? I feel all constipated with words. As I've said before, I write to you guys in my head all day long. This journal is the soundtrack of my life, even if so little of it hits the keyboard.
When I look at the picture above, I see the house that I'll have some day. I wonder if that creek smells bad. I wonder if the house is all lit up because there's a person in every room (which makes it not my dream house after all) or because it's on fire (ditto) or because they have their own windmill farm and they have a surplus of power and are selling the excess back to the electric company. Maybe I have the house because I made a killing as a windmill farmer. I don't think that front yard is all there is to the acreage. The house itself is on at least 10 acres and the creek runs around back and borders the back yard for an acre or two, then it curves around and creates a natural boundary for the mowable part of the back yard. There are flowers and fragrant herbs like mint and rosemary everywhere. There is a play area with a big 10x10' sand pit and a giant swingset and jungle gym. It's away from the house a bit. There is an area to the left when you're standing on the back deck that dips down naturally. There are steps in the little bank that leads down to the circle area. Trees line the path for about 300 feet and the trees have white twinkle lights in them wired to a switch on the porch. When you flip the switch in the dark of night, the beauty takes your breath away. You walk down the steps, through the twinkle-lit path and the trees open into a large glenlike area. A circle is delineated by 4 tall iron torches and two large stone lions stand guard at the entrance. In front of each torch is a plain stone bench. If you move past the circle, there...
Dammit. Dr Greene died on ER this episode and now I have to cry a bit.
...is a labyrinth that Eric made himself. It's extensive and cathartic to walk. The whole area is sacred and holy and hushed.
The house itself is in close enough to town that I can hit good restaurants and stores, but has a remote feel to it because of its acreage. In the town, but not of it.
I guess everyone dreams of a special place to love (yes, "love" if not literally "live"), so I'm definitely not unique in that respect. Sometimes, when things are nutty, I take a few minutes, lean back, close my eyes and go to that house. I plan every room, from the huge red and grey kitchen (my mother always wanted a kitchen in red and grey and my father wouldn't let her do it because he said the colors didn't go together) with the big walk in pantry filled with plenty of food to the bathroom with the steeping tub and open shower (another bathroom has the clawfoot tub with the nicely slanted back for reading and soaking) to the master bedroom suite to the kids' rooms with bunk beds and lots of shelves for toys to the library with floor to ceiling heavy wood shelves made from old planks. There is also a nice office with a huge corner unit desk and lots and lots and lots of drawers. Ahhhh
You can see what I'm doing, right? I'm looking at that big, beautiful dream house to keep from talking about the confessions I need to make and the few inches taller I need to stand to remain in this world with any kind of dignity. I even mentioned in my last entry that I didn't want to talk about the things that are going on with Eric losing his job and being in this place again, but it wasn't any kind of higher calling to not focus on the scary bits. It was shame, pure and simple.
I haven't been handling this very well and so I was hiding. When Eric lost his job, he and I had a huge rush of excitement at the adventure that was beginning with his new business. It all seemed so fated. He was being gifted with so many opportunities just out of the blue and it seemed assured that they were going to not even miss a beat out of the chute. In a matter of just a couple of weeks, it all turned around. They encountered one obstacles after another and Eric began to get discouraged and very quickly, angry. It all felt like a big joke that was being played on him by The Universe, as though his dream was being dangled in front of him and then snatched away. We watched as the money we'd shored up after his layoff trickled away and soon we were left living off his unemployment benefits. Eric was gone 12-15 hours a day. He and his partners spent the days going to construction sites, talking to general contractors who might need low voltage work, sending out introductory packages to companies via fax or mail, going through the phone book one contact at a time. They meet with electricians and plan out bids and set up accounts with supply houses.
As one disappointment led into another and as the bills got higher and the bank balance got lower, his spirits went into the dumpster. That was when I started letting him down, letting the world down and mostly, letting me down. We had such high hopes and when it became obvious that we were quickly sliding into the same situation as last Fall, I crumbled. I just didn't have it in me to do this again. I started to sleep a lot. It's great escapism. I spent a lot of time with the kids, giving them cuddles and drinking in their delicious, gentle oblivion to anything being wrong. I couldn't handle Eric's eyes, demanding that I do what I did last year: get it all to make sense and help him find a stone on which to stand in these rapids that were knocking us both down. It all caught me by such surprise and the tenets on which I'd constructed my life over the past year or so crumbled under my feet and I felt like I was falling all the time. I guess when you're thrown into the deep end, you can't really tell which way is up until you start to drown, the air comes out of your body and you can watch the direction the bubbles go (that would be up). Find your strength and follow them up. You gotta take in some water to live sometimes.
On Thursday of last week, I hit rock bottom. Some bill from three years ago that I thought had been handled suddenly reared its ugly head and I'd just had all I could take. Why in the world were we having to go through this same nightmare crap AGAIN? Hadn't we shown our faith and meddle enough last time? How many times do I have to earn this merit badge? When is it my turn to live a life where the Wolf isn't banging on the door demanding a meal and a pound of flesh for the road? I went to bed and pulled the covers up to my chin and refused to leave.
Eric came back from an unsuccessful attempt at getting a payday loan (his pay stubs were too old, seems they want you to actually *have* a payday) to cover the gas bill and he was just destroyed. I thought about how the last time had been such a sacred experience, through all of the challenges and setbacks. I'd always felt a deeply set knowledge that everything was going to be fine. This time, I just felt empty and alone and so very tired. Defeated.
My pain and Eric's didn't mix well together. He started talking about what he doesn't deserve and that he's been living this poverty since he married me. That brought up my defensiveness, which didn't help. Before me married me, he was a single Air Force man who lived in the barracks and had no bills. Pfft. Of course, his poverty started with. Our income would have been double had we not decided I would quit my job to be a stay at home mom. He stepped into a ready made family and we did our best. If you measure success in dollar signs, we barely had enough on the best days and the rest was handled with a kiss and a prayer and a lot of creative financing. We had just started to reach a stable point when he was laid off this time. I asked him if there was any part of him that blamed the kids and me for holding him back of resented us because he didn't have more. He admitted he did feel that way. He was raised in a wealthy family and never knew about not having enough until he met me, so it stands to reason that he would blame the person who brought it to his door. Before long, we were discussing the kids and I leaving. We could take his upcoming unemployment check and we could fly up to see Joe (my son) in Canada for a while. After that, we could take another unemployment check or two and fly out to Kentucky to see my family in Kentucky, maybe later, my friend in Southern California. I know enough people that we could use the unemployment checks to visit a new person every month until he decided he'd gotten what he wanted out of life. Meanwhile, without the cost of the house, he could camp out on his business partner's floor and live off of his VA disability checks ($200 a month). It was the first time we'd ever seriously talked about splitting up.
He left for a while and came back saying he didn't want us to go (*swish*), he just wanted someone to blame and some action to take when he felt so helpless. We talked for a while and I actually managed to come up with some half-hearted wise words that seemed to make him feel better for a while and give him some hope. I sent him off to his friend Mike, who lives in the woods so that they could bang their mighty chests together and make barking sounds and think man thoughts. Since Mike is one of his business partners, they can plan and plot and dream while I lie on the couch with a cold cloth on my head and think about the 458 car pile up in my throat chakra.
Friday was better. He got some good leads on job bids and felt better. We went with the "accept the things we cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference" mode and hoped for the best. I had no motivation to do anything. Breathing seemed like too much work.
On Saturday, we did things to get ready for our public Summer Solstice ritual on Sunday, which was a tremendous success. We met a lot of really wonderful people and had a great time. They all really seemed to like the celebration, which is always a nice feeling.
After the dust settled from the big park event and the last of the people were gone from our house (friends come over after the big events), I settled down to write my columns from the weekend that I'd procrastinated about for a couple of days and to post whatever my writers sent in. The previous day, I had received a column from Carolyn, one of my newer columnists. Since I wasn't posting yet, I hadn't opened the document, so it wasn't until I started posting what she'd written that I really saw it. I was floored.
I started to cry about half way through it. I didn't know what to say and I couldn't even recognize the person she was talking about. Here I was this wretched, miserable lump of exhaustion and fear and self-pity and nothing like what she was describing. That's when it fully dawned on me that I was deeply, deeply ashamed of how Eric and I were behaving this time around. How in the world had we come so far only to end up wailing, "Poor Us! Why have we been forsaken?" We should be old hats at this by now.
One of the things Carolyn mentioned that hit me like a ton of bricks was the new interpretation I'd felt for the song "Amazing Grace." When I heard the lyrics during that time, ("Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now I'm found! Was blind, but now I see!") they took on a whole new meaning for me about how during the difficult times, we are being challenged to exercise our muscle of grace (and patience and faith) and in that, we will be saved from ourselves. It might not be about God/Goddess' grace, which is eternal and enduring, but about our own grace when the times can be so hard that it feels like we'll never see the sun again. Finding the strength within to weather the storms that will inevitably come with grace, dignity, patience and faith allows us to jettison the worry and keep our minds sharp and unclouded so that we can see the little directionals along the road that The Universe provides. I didn't forget that I needed to do that, I just forgot how to do it. I forgot to stop thrashing and look for the bubbles.
I also forgot to think about the second verse of the song that goes, "Twas grace that taught my heart to feel and grace my fears relieved! How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!"
After surviving the maelstrom of last Fall, I guess I somehow got the idea we were bulletproof or something and that anything we did from there on out was a cakewalk. Not very bright of me at all. So when things got hard AGAIN, it wasn't just that situations had occurred to move us to a particular place and a particular opportunity that might not come on my time table. It wasn't that I might have further lessons to learn and this is just another installment in that great correspondence course of life that would ultimately leave me in a better place. Oh no! It was personal persecution and a cosmic beat down for good behavior and something deserving of much wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth.
I really want to thank Carolyn for reseating me into who I want to be when I grow up. One day, I hope I'm that person she saw. They say that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior and so I really have no precedence to believe that The Universe has anything other than my greatest good in store and that this latest adventure, which I colored with fear, doubt and anger instead of grace, patience and faith, is just another step on the path of this wonderful walk called life.
I feel like I'm *back* for the first time in a long time. The fear is gone and instead, I'm just going to enjoy life and let life want what it wants. I apologize to all of you for being a dipshit and losing my focus. I'm back on track and doing great!
To celebrate, tomorrow, I'm going to post a survival kit for anyone else who hits this situation!