July 15, 2003
It's with a heavy heart that I'm dragging to the computer tonight. I seem to have lost my chi and the sniggling doubts and man-made demons are poking at me with their angry little pitchforks. I know I'm better than this and keep trying to find my stride to keep walking the positive road, but today, I've stumbled almost every time. I've been singing "Amazing Grace" all day long, trying to recapture the blessed assurance that never fails to wash over me when I hear, "and grace will lead us home." I've been listening to "Hallelujah," just to hear the line, "And remember when I moved in you, the holy dark was moving too and every breath we drew was 'Hallelujah.'" Well, that's what it says in my Rufus Wainwright version. There are other versions that say "the holy dove," but I like this one better. The dark is my friend. In it rests all possibilities because you can't see what's there. To me, that's the holiest thing of all, when every color is absorbed and the mysteries of life are bursting to be revealed. Today, nothing seems able to penetrate the realities that are staring me in the face.
Normally, I'm pretty good with the "this too will pass" approach. Unfortunately, as with a kidney stone, while all things may pass, some hurt like the very devil as they are moving along. As I mentioned yesterday, our car died on Sunday. No car = no work for Eric. Fortunately, the car is all paid for and is cheap on insurance, so it has served us well over the months we've had it. What looked to be a belt replacement situation ($200, so no cheap proposition in and of itself), turned out to be a water pump situation that quickly took it up to $700, ironically, the exact amount we gave for the car last year. It's like it's a rite of passage payment or something. Eric thought we might be able to work it out if we didn't pay any bills this month and put off our rent (the landlords had not cashed the check because the landlords LOST the check that had been put through their mail slot) for two weeks until his unemployment check came. That would also free up some money for groceries, which we desperately needed. Having basically solved and unsolvable problem, we high fived and worked on having a nice day today with as few bad things as possible. Eric handled the kids for most of the day and I laid around, feeling sick to my stomach. My shoulders and neck were still hurting, so I hit the Motrin and heat again. He was great about taking care of me. We were on Day #3 of no car and waited around to hear that it had been fixed. Eric's plan was to pick up the car when it was finished and drive straight to the landlords to let them know what was going on. Sadly, that was not to be. Around 4pm, the landlords saved us a trip and came to our house to deliver a 3 day pay or quit. Pay in three days or get out. The mechanics were well into working on the car and it was past the point of telling them not to fix it, not to mention that Eric had gotten a call that morning asking if he could put in a couple weeks' work at his old job that he loves (miracle!) starting tomorrow morning. No car = no work the next day. Eric talked to the landlord about what was happening, but he was pissed and seemed pretty sure that we had lied about making the payment that they lost. This is actually the second time they've lost our payment. The first time, a couple of years ago, was a money order which took 90 days to replace, during which, we had to make up the lost rent, so we paid double that month. After that, we paid with a personal check so that it would be easy to replace. They are almost never in their office, so it's nearly impossible to catch them there to pay. They are also both elderly, manage over 80 properties and their office is a total shambles. So the landlord wasn't hearing anything of it and gave us the notice.
When that happened, I felt the whole world crash down on me with the force of a nuclear bomb. For the first time in all of this, I started to cry. It was like all of my circuitry lit up red, then white as it got hotter and hotter and the "overload" alarms started going off like mad. I hit the wall. I just could not deal with one more thing, especially not something this big. How could I be going through this again? Was this some kind of bizarre ritual that we have to enact each year, like the swallows coming back to Capistrano? "Each year, the Matagamo natives hang themselves from meat hooks as a test of their bravery while handling rattlesnakes to demonstrate their faith." "Each year, the Rasbold family loses their home and eats rice for 3 months to demonstrate that they are above mundane emotions like worry and fear."
Normally, not knowing what we're going to do is invigorating. It's the big adventure and it's exciting to see how it's all going to work out and what miracles are going to surface to buoy us along. We have been richly blessed in so many ways and the miracles I have personally experienced have been really, really amazing. I don't doubt them and I don't doubt that more are coming. I'm just tired. I'm tired of smiling. I'm tired of having faith. I'm tired of looking for things to be grateful for ("Thank you for not burning my house down today. Thank you for not letting some company debit my checking account erroneously...") and trying to look at the positive instead of fearing the negative.
I'm just tired. My stomach is a mess. Anything I eat makes me sick and flows right out of me again in vicious cramps. I've stopped craving candy and started craving antacids. I see how this all is affecting Eric and THAT makes me want to cry. Until today, I've been the rock on which he stands, always reminding him that we have NEVER been let down before and we won't now. I point out all of the factors that demonstrate that we're making forward progress. I assure him that everything will be fine... just fine. When I started to cry today, I saw the terror seep into him. If I was this torn up, how bad must it be?
I guess I'm writing all of this just to talk it out and maybe believe some of those words again myself. When I write in this journal, I never feel like I'm writing to a crowd of people, but just one... I guess that's you.
The good news is that the car is fixed and Eric is all set to start work tomorrow. He'll get in a good week and a half to two weeks of work and hopefully, by that time, their company will have picked up a bid and have work on the horizon. So money will be coming in within 2-3 weeks and that's something really great. I'm praying we can tread water until then.
More good stuff. We did get our utilities paid up this month, so they aren't in jeopardy for a few weeks. I bought groceries tonight, figuring if we were assed out, at least we'd have food. The kids are blessedly oblivious, which is another real bonus. I'm sure that they've noticed we aren't doing our regular outings and such, but they've not asked about it and when they suggest going here or there and we say, "No, not this time," there have been no protests.
My husband is a hard working man and gives any job he has 210%. There isn't a single employer he's had from the time we first married who won't attest to that. He deserves a good paying job that makes the best use of his talents. I can really feel his frustration over that not happening. He has so many dreams and such a clear impression of how he wants our life to be and when external factors keep kicking that away, I can see how much it devastates and confuses him. I wish I could just hand it to him, not just so I could enjoy it as well, but so he could feel the embrace of that fulfillment and just relax for a while.
Under it all, I guess I still believe that everything will be OK. It always is. The wheel turns up and inevitably turns down again. It feels like I've gotten trapped under it instead of riding around in circles. I know there are plenty of people who have it much worse than we do. Of that I am very aware. I'm whining. I'm aware of that too. I'm extremely lucky in so many ways in that I have healthy, beautiful children and a handsome husband who adores me. I have this great site (for now) and wonderful netpals. I'm aware of those things too.
Given all of those blessings, I admit that I feel greedy asking for financial security as well. Regardless, I want it. I have clearly imagined what it would feel like to not have the axe hanging over our necks. Like other people imagine how a lover's touch would feel or what it would be like to work in the job of their dreams, I imagine having enough money to make it from payday to payday with extra left over. I imagine a broken washer or slightly-higher-than-normal electric bill not being a catastrophe. I clearly imagine what it would be like to have underwear that hasn't been progressively stained more and more each month from using the cheapest maxi-pads on the market. I think about buying clothing that no one else has worn before and cast aside because it didn't suit them any more. I picture myself buying stupid crap like the stupid Epil-stop deluxe package or going mad on E-bay and not thinking twice about it, just doing it because I can. Books. I'd buy more books than anyone could read in a lifetime and I'd have a giant room of floor to ceiling shelves to hold them. I'd have three curio cabinets, one of my cool Witchy stuff and two for my extra special piggies. I'd have a nice china hutch for my mom's dishes that are in the garage in giant boxes of packing peanuts. They are antique German things that are all dark green square. Square plates, saucers, cups, etc. Beautiful stuff that my father bought for her hope chest when he was stationed in Germany in the 50's. They were old then. Speaking of dishes, I'd like a set that will serve 16 and I'd like them to match. Same for flatware. I'd like heavy cookware that matches and has the nonstick coating still on the pan. I'd like a computer desk that isn't propped up with nails and books and a TV that doesn't have to be whacked on the side every few minutes to restore the sound. Whining. Still whining. A massage. A hot tub. A big yard with acres of garden area. A storage area for the crap in my garage. A washer and dryer that doesn't require being upended or rewired every few months. A car with two headlights and a straight front end. Medical and dental and life insurance. Preschool to work the wiggles out of Nathan. A car for me to have during the day when Eric is (in my fantasy) working. A gym membership. A weenie dog. Some Quaaludes. A trip home to Kentucky. A haircut and style at a salon that charges more than $10. Assurances that I'll be at the LA General Hospital fan even in August. A wireless keyboard. A cordless phone... God, this is a long paragraph, so I guess I've been in fantasyland long enough.
Anyway, Sage is always asking people in his column to contribute to the Eye on Soaps (the site where this journal lives) since the bandwidth costs for the site are beyond what he and I can pay for, so I guess I should mention it here too. If you have explored the site (www.eyeonsoaps.com) and enjoy what we do here, it would sure help if you could sling a dollar or two our way so that I at least know that the website is secure. I've gotten some good leads on cheaper web hosting and I'm going to be investigating those more fully. I get really antsy when Eric and I aren't doing well. I can handle a lot that comes with the tough times, but fear over losing the website because I can't make up the difference in what donations cover versus what the site costs is a real stressor. What also sucks is that the costs vary from month to month, depending on the number of hits we've received that month. It's so exciting because I never imagined when I started Eye on Soaps back in August of 2000 (after two months of creating it) that it would attract so many intelligent, wonderful people. This is another area where I am well and truly blessed. Our readers have been very generous about taking care of us over the months and that is one of the things in my life for which I am most grateful. Anyway, if any of you want to contribute to the site, you can do so by clicking on the PayPal logo or by going to this page for more options. I always hate asking this. Sage is so much better at it. I know that Eye on Soaps means as much to some of you as it does to me, so that's the only reason I'm even bringing it up. :) Thanks for tolerating my shameless solicitation.
I have been trying for some time prior to this post to not be whiney, to look at the positives, to hold the faith, not just for you guys, but for me and for Eric as well. When I write the good things, they are more real to me. Words, to me, hold incredible power and none are to be dismissed and none are more or less important than any other. Words that other people deplore (or don't know) are all the more delicious to me because others have not overused them. Affirmations prove that words have power and this journal is something of my affirmation station. It's not that the things I write here are not true or are just hopeful rantings. It's more that if I write it here, then it is so without question. If I say my affirmations to my self in the morning or at night (which I also do), the words drift away. If I write them here, they are more permanent and have been "heard" by more than me, so there is greater validity.
For this one post, since I seem to be pulling a lot of tension into my body, as is evidenced by the tension pain in my back, shoulders and neck and the jackhammer that is busy in my stomach, I thought it might be best to just go with it and let out the fear and the anger. Today, it's there. I don't know how we are going to make rent when the money is spent on fixing the car and groceries. I don't know how much longer Eric can hold it together if I don't get my shit reclaimed tonight (which is why I'm still up at 1am writing this). I don't know why today was the day that enough was enough and I crumbled like a building imploding. I'm not sure why this is so much different and feels so much scarier than going through the same thing last year. I don't know why I feel so alone when I know good and well that I have a lot of people who love me and even more who are sending us positive, loving energy to keep us afloat (and for which I am so deeply grateful).
There are some things I DO know. I know from plenty of experience with the phenomenon, that life can turn, for the good or the bad, on a dime and that all we can ever really hope to do is just keep up with some degree of grace and dignity intact. I haven't exactly been graceful or dignified today, but I'm allowing myself that for this one post. (If I've had to give up pedicures and meals out, I can at least be granted a day of unabashed, unashamed whining)
I know that based on the experiences I have had, when I go through the fire, I inevitably come out having found a new depth, a new facet or a new life view on some level. When I have been at the door of the Wolf and the teeth were bared ready to bite, I've always been swept away to safety (sometimes after he got in a nibble or two, but usually with all body parts intact, although I did lose a husband a few times - the same one, just not the current one).
I'm not sure why I have had this moment of doubt and fear or why, when I have this precedent of always moving toward my greatest good, I questioned the process and gave in to the negativity. Do I believe we are going to crash and burn? After writing all of this and purging my soul to you, I have to say that no, I really don't. I feel like by putting the fears out there and owning them, I've met the dragon (or the wolf) and stared him down. Like Dr Phil says, if you're going to play the "what if" game, play it all the way. If we lose the house, we'll get another one. If we don't have money now, we'll get money when Eric is working steadily. If we have to get rid of stuff, we'll get more stuff later if needed. If I lose my internet service. I'll die. Well, not really, but I'll be seriously pissy. I'll have my husband. I'll have my children. I'll have my faith (really, it's still there, it was just temporarily obscured) in the Universal flow. I'll have my faith in myself to cope with about anything that comes up. It will be OK.
So if it's going to be OK, can I just got to sleep for a few weeks until the tide has turned? Can I just wake up every few weeks, check in and then check out if it still sucks?
Yikes! I lapsed again. OK, I'm back. I'm centered. (I feel like I'm Rocky and you guys are Burgess Meredith, getting me all revved up to go out and beat the shit out of Apollo Creed again) Deep Breaths.
Final analysis: the miracles are coming, just like always. The Universe has never before forsaken us and will not forsake us this time either. (the stupid store was out of St Jude candles... must shop for them tomorrow!) This, like all things, is transient. I have to take what I can from the situation and let the rest go. I have to rise to the challenge and instead of letting the circumstances define me in a weak and victimized way, I have to stand tall and proud and bask in the good things that are so vital and prominent in my life. I have to breathe in enough good air to release this tension that is beating up my body and have faith that no matter what twists and turns and bumps are ahead in the road, we'll glide over them and keep moving. Breathe in the good, clean and blessed air; breathe out the old, stale and debilitating tension and fear.
Go placidly amid the haste and noise, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; ... listen to others even the dull and ignorant; they have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your own achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is. Many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially so not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Strive to be happy.
-- Max Ehrmann
- Found in Old Saint Paul's Church, Baltimore; Dated 1692
If someone could believe this way 311 years ago and write something that moves me to such a degree, then the concept I'm working toward has defied the ages. Of course, Max could have died a tortured death and cursed all that is holy as his flesh melted onto a death pyre around the stake to which he was attached, but I prefer not to think about that.
Instead, I'm going to go to sleep and dream that the guys from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" are taking over my house and turning it into a masterpiece while George Clooney massages my feet, back and shoulders.
Thanks for listening and for being there.
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