Chaos has become the norm. My blood pressure, usually a healthy 110/60 shot up to 140/70 at my Orthopedist appointment last week.
Struggling to sell my home, and further struggling with the loss in value with the decrease in the real estate market, as well as the impending doom of East Coast water towns after Hurricane Sandy, my home has lost serious value.
Sucks for me…. that was my share of my divorce.
My usual streams of income, have taken a hard hit with the loss of my primary job and along with it, my benefits. I have written about my strong belief that single moms should have multiple streams of income. Nothing has changed there, but I have spent the summer attempting to dig in, and restore myself to that place of shaky peace.
Like a Jenga game, near the end, my tall tower came crashing down in these past few months. Attempting to retrain and learn some new skills, I spent the season of summer in school. Coming to the end of my training, I have learned to pray that my efforts will pay off.
Labor Day gone, a chill in the evening air, I have some random thoughts that race through my head daily. Probably all contributing to my elevated blood pressure, writing for me is cleansing and I hope that finally getting them down on paper will allow someone else out there to know that they are not alone. I am struggling too.
1. Take help when it is out there. I never ask for help. I am the lone wolf that “manages”. I do not know if it is result of experiencing so much hurt in my life, that I have learned avoidance behavior. If I don’t ask for help, no one can turn me down. Realizing that my unemployment benefits will only go so far, and running out of ways to “stretch the soup”, I applied for SNAP benefits. Degraded and tearful as I applied, feeling like a failure, I knew I had no choice. While I do not enjoy the process, and I would prefer to pay for my own food, I am feeding my kids. The pantry is full. To save pride, I only do self check out aisles, and I have learned to swipe the EBT card like a boss. No one would ever know. Inside, I cry.
2. Free lunch, same deal. This is a temporary thing for me. I know it, and I am fighting hard to get back to a place of comfort in my life, but in the mean time, my pride cannot interfere with the reality. I am a single mom who needs some temporary assistance. My kids qualify. Yes, I live in a rich town. I did not want them to be embarrassed. I called, and was reassured that all they do it give their student id number. No one needs to know my business, but my kids eat lunch, and that is all I care about.
3. Cognitive Dissonance- is in part, the state of having inconsistent thoughts. My daughter doesn’t quite understand what is going on. She knows I am struggling, and she gives the best hugs, but at this point, her life remains stable. Interestingly enough, the dissonance comes from seeing the differences in lifestyle between me and her father. Case in point, the little girl who gets free lunch at school, was given a $1200 silver flute by her father for her 12th birthday. SMH. I hope we make it through this time without their lives being heavily changed, but something is very wrong with this picture. I know that the financial lives of divorced women tends to decrease, while the financial lives of men who divorce tends to increase. I just never thought I would be one of them. I should write a book. The Girl With The Silver Flute Who Got Free Lunch. My kids see both sides. Hopefully, they each prepare well. The boys as Men, and my daughter as a wife? NO, as a Woman.
4. This all leads me to thoughts of my father…. Funny man, kind father… I miss him. As I remember him, I also remember something that he attempted to do for my sister. She was no student. She was the flirt, the one who always had a boyfriend, and several more waiting to ask her out when she became available. I was the quiet “book loving” artist who silently achieved the good grades without praise because my parents worried about my sister. My father felt very strongly that my sister should learn secretarial skills. His thought pattern was basically that she would always be able to take care of herself with some sort of sellable skills. He felt that my “smarts” would make me OK. The specifics do not really matter, but for me, the one who thinks too much, his goal begs the question: Should we raise girls in such a way that they “anticipate” divorce and spend their life preparing to not struggle should it happen? I don’t know the answer. I do know that I am challenged to not share my fears with my daughter. Over the years, I have casually said that she should always be able to take care of herself. Pay attention in school, save her money and basically know all that there is to know about money skills. She is 12, and I try to introduce lessons that I was never given. I hope she never experiences divorce, but if she does, I want her to be prepared.
5. So, these thoughts that have been spinning in my head have pushed me all summer. I fight through the bad times, and I fight to get back the self respect that I want others to give me. I want to be a successful single person, not a divorced person. I wrote about self respect last week, and it weighs heavily on me. I feel beaten up, but I am down, NOT OUT.
Time to clear my head… a new week begins. I am taking action… new training, job searches, caring for my health, and adding myself to the “to do” list.