March 31, 2012

Six months and seventeen days

I'm slowly tapping the pitifully un-manicured fingernails of my left hand, in a rhythm that has now become hypnotic, on the table next to my laptop. I'm thinking. Hard. Or hardly thinking. I'm not sure which. 

Twenty minutes prior to this tapping finger trance ensuing my laptop creaked eerily as I slowly opened it and blew off the layer of dust that has slowly, and deliberately, accumulated on it over the past six months. Well, six months and seventeen days. But who is counting? The anxious and neurotic tapping of my fingers calms me in a most peculiar way yet does not give me the answer I'm looking for to the question swirling in my jumbled brain. Or what's left of it anyway.  


Where to start writing about the past six months and seventeen days, or if I even should? Some stories are better left untold. Or are they? Tap. Tap. Tap. The drumming of my fingers doesn't help me think more clearly after all. Neurotic fail. 


I finger through the play list on my iPod looking for inspiration. There has to be something in here to motivate me and throw me from static inaction to inspired action. I must have a thousand songs in this electronic cabinet of musical mood enhancers yet the perfect song escapes me. I need a song. A great song that will serve as emotional morphine so I won't quite feel the awkward cringe as vividly when I pull the rope and begin to lift back the velvet curtain. The heavy curtain that has been hiding the rock under which  I've in turn been keeping time while hiding. 


Keeping time just like the music that I just can't seem to find to fit. This shouldn't be so melodramatic or difficult. Shit, I really need a chill pill and to get over myself. Then it occurs to me that every song in that iPod costs about ninety nine cents each. As I use rough math I quickly add up the investment in my head. Rough because I admittedly had to take Algebra twice, Well, this was a bad investment because now this useless menagerie of music and it's rough cost made my insides churn. I really should have paid better attention in math class. And in my Economics classes for that matter. Wait, I got an A in both Micro Economics. That professor must have been a complete asshat. OK, focus. The only music that now comes to mind is the whimsical bounce of a circus theme. That's it! Entrance of the Gladiators by Czech composer Julius Fucik. Even his name is appropriate. Indeed. 


The past six months of radio silence have been humbling, terrifying and, more importantly, needed. I think. Life happens and things happened in particular that I wasn't ready, or even sure, I should write about. I've always spoken from the gut, even if it was cringe worthy. I have been honest, to the point of being painful. I've made fun of myself, to the point I've peed my pants and increased the stock price of Depends. And then I took a back seat so that I could regroup, refocus, prioritize and reset my inner GPS because clearly it was leading me way off course.. 

I had nightmares for months and couldn't sleep. The puking, that was the worst though. You'd think that stress hurling would be a perk and a great counter solution to the accompanying stress eating. It wasn't. My life was a house of cards once built with aces that I drew myself, that slowly, without my noticing, had turned to jokers. But these jokers weren't funny. They called non-stop, they even knocked on my door, literally. 

I was broke. I was behind on my mortgage, slow on my bills, I had student loan debt up the left side and old credit card debt crammed up the right side. Then before I knew it my pay  went down and the house of cards did what houses made of precariously balanced cards tend to do, it fell. I failed. I had to do what I swore I would never, ever, do. I cried Uncle Sam and had to file bankruptcy, chapter 13 to be exact. And with that my independent, stubborn, fiery ego crawled under a rock and stuck out one arm far enough to pull closed the velvet curtain of defeat. Except I did it quietly and in a much less melodramatic fashion as I state it here but I couldn't breathe. 



I couldn't figure out how it happened, but it had. I didn't spend my money on clothes, shoes with names I can't even pronounce, hair cuts or mani/pedi's. I'm not a clothes horse and I loathe shopping. I hadn't used a credit card in three years, purposefully moving to cash and paying down cards that never seemed to go down even though I wasn't even using them. I wasn't over mortgaged, my rent used to be more than my mortgage. I live modestly. But it happened and I"m not one to find someone else to blame for what could have only been my own failure even if I didn't know how. And it crushed me. 

It has taken me six months and seventeen days to decide if I should write about something that was so unbearably embarrassing to me and that I was so ashamed of that I wanted to hide. From everyone. It took me a really long time to admit it to the most important people in my life who were also the ones who were the most proud of how I've done as a single mother, my parents. They were proud of me while I was quietly, covertly, drowning in stress. Pride is a double edged sword that can be use to defend and preserve yourself or it can be used to slowly and methodically torture yourself with. I turned the sword on myself. 

Six months and seventeen days is a good amount of time to quietly, and alone, come to peace. To make amends with what is and not what one wishes they were is a dubious sojourn. It's a bath in ice cold water that awakens one to reality in a most uncomfortable but necessary way. It stings. 

Things have turned around. I've saved my home, my sanity and myself from, well, myself. My sense of humor is slowly returning though I am not the same person as I was and I can never be. I've learned to let go of my guilt, let go of the ego crushing shame and to stockpile the unexpected and invaluable life lessons. I am reminded that, like my joyful and beautiful yet sometimes nauseating carousel ride as a single mother, my experience is not at all unique. I do not take comfort in that but instead I am also reminded that is the very answer to my question; should I write about this? That I know I am not alone in this is why that at the end of the day, or that at the end of two hundred days, give or take, I came back here to share my story. It's not the mistakes I've made that I'm proud of, I could never be proud of those, it's the lessons learned and that I have allowed them to change me for the better that lift my head back up. The lessons that aged me, humiliated and humbled me, also made me wiser, calmer, stronger.  

And without assuming it matters to anyone but me, I live to write another day. Shove another embarrassment.lesson in a virtual glass bottle and shove it out into the unknown. And save another home. This one. 

20 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you're back. And you're not alone..

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've missed you. I've also been where you are financially (still digging out) and if you ask me you should be proud of yourself! You took care of what needed to be done for the survival of you and your kid. There's not a better mom alive. Kudos.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm glad to see you posting again! We're here for you

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm right there now. Got evicted from my beautiful downtown loft in November, filed bankruptcy in January, am currently trying to make a falling down house livable. And I didn't spend money on anything! Haven't had a mani/pedi in I can't remember when. Hang in there. You have nothing to be embarrassed or guilty about.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You know? It happens. You will NEVER find yourself in this kind of a panic factory again. My ex left me with almost $100,000 worth of debt. I, too went the bancruptcy route. It sucks, but we are young enough that we can still me out okay (b/c yes, a single mom survives)Glad to see you are coming out from under your rock. We missed you. Bunches.

    ReplyDelete
  6. been there done that and got the paint splattered t-shirt to prove it.
    sometimes hiding out behind a dusty laptop is just whats needed. sometimes, it's time to come on out and share with the world.
    thanks for your honesty:)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your honesty is greatly appreciated. I am right now beginning to live these very early (and painfully similar) chapters of this next stage of my life. Some days are easier than others, but I know "i-got-this" --- dammit! The way I look at is: the last 12 years of my life were on-the-job training for dealing with sh*t, so there is no way I'm going to fail now. Thank you (all of you) for sharing. It helps me find the strength I need to get out of my pajamas on those really suck-ey days. : )

    ReplyDelete
  8. Appreciate your transparency

    ReplyDelete
  9. i feel like this except i'm still in the .. i-haven't-done-anything-about it stage. i don't even have a home or a place i rent. i live with my mom and i am barely making car payments. i got the opportunity to live for a year in atlanta (1.5 hrs away) for a year to finish school but the only want to do it is to NOT work for the year.. and pay for an apartment. do i take out that massive loan or forgo the only thing i've ever want to "be"? .. i don't know what to do.

    .. .and thank you for the honesty. i'm an "all in" girl but i never ever tell people about my finances. i'm too prideful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. So glad to see you back! Hang in there ((hugs))

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yesssss! Glad to have your smart-ass self back! I've been clinging to tweets to get by and now I finally get long run-on sentences of whoop-ass humor and smart-as-a-whip commentary on life. Thank God!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I feel like I am one paycheck away from this happening to me. It's so hard, and I don't want to give up.

    Glad you are back! Like Laurie, I have been following your Tweets!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I hear you loud & clear sister! I'm a single Mom, 54 years old with a 12 year old daughter. I just filed for Ch. 13. We lost our house but grabbed a lot of the flower bulbs and perennials from our beautiful backyard garden. They are just starting to bloom in big ceramic pots on our apartment patio. They say humility is good for the soul...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Welcome to the club. And welcome back.

    And anonymous just above me? You made me cry. When I left my home 2 1/2 years ago, I took hostas and lilies and tons of other things I'd spent 15 years planting and watering and growing. And now, when they start to poke out from the ground in the spring at our "new" house, I'm reminded of how I'm a lot like them. Bloom where you're planted, ya know.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Welcome back and we missed you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have missed reading your smart and witty writing. Many times, I found myself wondering if you were okay. I'm so glad that you are and you have nothing to be embarrassed about. You are an amazing mother and you will survive.

    Diana =)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for your wonderful story. I too have made some horrendous mistakes that have haunted me financially for about 10 to 15 years. I finally went the bankruptcy route and hoping to see the light at the end of this tunnel. Thanks for sharing, I found you from Single Mom Rich Mom

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for being so forth coming. I am a place of decision right now- and it's nice to see that whatever the outcome, I will survive. :) Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't even know how I stumbled onto your blog tonight but thank the Lord I did. My boys and I narrowly missed eviction today and only due to some painful humiliating begging family and friends for money. I've been laying in bed wishing... well, thinking about whether it's ever going to get any better and then I found you. Tonight sucks, but I am not alone, am I? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

Leave a message at the beep...