(Ignore that cheesy man on the left. It's just Sarge.)
As I sit here and type this, I have finally unburdened to a friend how I've been feeling the last several months. I feel pretty good about getting it off my chest, but now worry that it will soon be all over Madison (since that IS the small-town way). She would never tell to hurt me or spread gossip, simply tell out of wanting our other friends to know what I've been going through, add me to their prayer lists, etc. Since I let the cat out of the bag to her, I might as well write it down here. Share it with whomever chooses to read this or happens upon it by mistake.
It all started in August. I had been working at a job for friends as an Administrative Assistant, where an I.T. guy and an attorney shared me. It wasn't high paying. It wasn't high stress. It paid me enough for our family to have dinners out and trips to concerts and such. It was incredibly family friendly. These guys know me and know that during the week I am the lone parent to my child and as such have to be there to drop off/pick up/volunteer/go to the doctor, etc. My parents are fabulous about helping out, but I have this thing about being the one to raise my child. But, I digress.
In August, my I.T. guy lost a major client. This eliminated the funds he had to pay me to do what it was I did. I was going to have to start working part-time for the attorney. Which was fine. The Army was continuing to pay my husband well to do a job he loved. Then, two weeks later, the attorney I was working for (who specializes in real estate law, and we all know how well the real estate market is doing) decided that he could no longer afford to keep me, either. I hold absolutely no anger toward these men. This is business and with this economy, I totally understood that the part-time help had to be the first to go. And besides, the Army was continuing to pay my husband well to do the job he loved. I decided I would just stay home again and look for something to open up, as it always has tended to do for me.
Then, my husband's orders ended. And the State of GA decided they didn't have the money (yet) to continue him on similar orders. They would be happy to pay him for day-to-day work while a Technician position came available with the D.O.D. He worked everyday for those four weeks of October. Everyone told him he'd be on orders before he knew it, they'd pay him for the days he worked, and if nothing else the Tech position with the D.O.D. would come through eventually. While all of that was worked out, my family went without income (other than my child support for Baby Girl) for SIX WHOLE WEEKS. And when all the money finally came in, there was a week of pay that was lost somewhere in the system and has never been made up. He had to take the Tech position (which to be truthful is the more steady position, you don't have to rely on someone to decide that you need to be on orders, it is just a job). This Tech position pays pretty much what he was making before. With. One. Huge. Exception. No housing allowance. The housing allowance for my husband's pay grade equals about $15,000 a year. THAT pays our mortgage, folks.
So, since November, we've been playing a mad game of "catch-up" with bills, etc. Just when it seems we are there - BOOM - something else hits. I know this is life, but I've had about enough of this, and I'm waiting on my Lottery Win to happen anytime. But then, I'd have to waste at least $1 on a ticket for the lottery, and I've gotta tell ya, that just ain't gonna happen.
Since October/November, I have basically shut myself off from all my friends in Madison. I have been embarrassed and ashamed because I can't do the things that we've always done together. Lunches out. Birthday presents. Little trips out with our girls. I quit going to Bible Study, Sunday School and Church, because at any point, I might just bust into tears and then everyone will want to know what's going on with me. I'll tell them and then spend a week or more worrying that I spent what little time we had together with it focused on me and my problems. I don't want to be the subject of later conversations, and I do constantly wonder about if I really have friends, do they think of me as a friend, blah blah blah. (I have issues from High School. I still struggle to move on from those issues. I need therapy.)
When I have seen my lady friends out, I try to always be smiling and have "the jokes". On FB and Twitter I'm full of one-liners and how excited I am about seeing my husband. I've told no one that this financial struggle has taken its toll on my 3 year marriage, and though we are still very much in love, we are both stressed and strained and have actually fought alone and in front of our kids (and we swore we'd never do that). We have talked and talked about things and our marriage is as strong as ever, and it's a good thing... cause we don't have the money for outside attractions. It's just us. And as it has always been, "just us" is pretty darn good.
I guess to end this, I should say that in general I am pretty happy. Thanks to my wonderful parents, we will never do without and we will always have a roof over our heads. We are lucky. So many have lost their homes.
I told my friend this afternoon that today was an "I opened my bedroom curtains type of day", because so many have seemed so dark that I have holed up in my room and wanted to disappear in the darkness. I am determined to move through this and I want to do it with my friends at my side.
I am writing this today to get all of it off my chest and to move forward from here. I will either find a job or not. I am seriously considering going back to school to be a nurse, because I am and always have been a caregiver at heart. Mostly, I just want to put it out there to say, "If you haven't seen me much, this is where I've been." I'm doing everything in my power to get back in my social and church activities. And hey, we can sure eat lunch together, but I've got some salad and sandwich fixin's at my house. Let's just head over there!