I cried all the way to work this morning.
Apparently the week that I have PMS is not a good time to converse with my husband about finances.
I used to be a crier, but it is pretty rare that I actually weep anymore, and the tears only come when I am extremely overwhelmed with something. Anxiety. Anger. Frustration.
This morning I was freaking out about the impending holidays, and how we are going to afford everything we need and want to do, especially for our children, without accumulating the insane credit card debt that goes along with it.
We are poor these days. As a freelance artist, my husband never knows when he is going to have work, and then never knows when he is going to get paid for the work he has done. I am a social worker, and even though I have a graduate level education and am independently licensed, I don’t make a fortune. I owe money to credit cards and student loans, as does my husband. By the time we are done paying our debts every month, there is not a lot left for groceries and diapers and toilet paper and deodorant, let alone holiday gifts. So we end up putting gas or shampoo on credit cards and the cycle continues. I’ve tried breaking it a few times, but then something big like a car repair begins the cycle anew.
It leaves us wondering if we can pay our rent. We scrape by, but the stress is toxic.
A couple weeks ago, I wandered Target, purchasing baby wipes and cleaning supplies. I found myself wondering if I could afford the four bucks and change to also buy toothpaste, or if that would bring the bill up too high and necessitate credit card usage.
WHAT THE FUCK!?
I am a hard-working, educated woman who can’t afford toothpaste? How did this become my life?
It is really hard to stay focused on the present, to thank the universe for my health, and not to follow after a whole slew of totally negative thoughts. Don’t get me wrong; I know I am fortunate in so many ways. But somedays, saying “Yay, I have my health!” feels as insincere and shallow as when I was a kid and was told to clean my plate for all the starving kids in third world countries.
Even writing this makes me feel like a crappy human.
Guilty. Pessimistic. Entitled.
I usually try to write balanced, mindful stuff, but today I just want to rant, and I’ll probably pick myself apart later for being such a negative jerk.
Taking out school loans and using credit cards is my own, damn fault and I take responsibility for that. But when I went back to grad school 13 years ago, the economy was different for both me and my husband. My financial picture was brighter. I went back to school thinking it would put me in a better position to support family and children. I didn’t bank on the fact that I would stop getting raises to meet the standard of living.
Or that child care would be nearly half my income.
Or that my husband’s work flow would become so unpredictable.
The holidays loom. I want to pay for karate for Jack. I want to buy doll clothes for Emily for Christmas. I want to relax and be able to buy a fucking tube of toothpaste without being sent into a financial tail spin.
All month, people have posted about their gratitude. While I’m not much of a joiner, I play along internally, thinking hey, I’m grateful for this or that. Hot showers. Laughter with co-workers. Fresh coffee. My six year old son appearing in the morning with his baby blanket and lovey to which he’s still attached. The sucky sound my baby makes with her pacifier in the middle of the night.
I get it. I have so much.
I know a lot of my clients come in and look at me like I must be Rockefeller. But the truth is, many days I am about one paycheck away from being on the streets, education and all. I wear hand-me-downs from my shopaholic mother, and bring my lunch to work every day. We don’t take vacations and I have two car seats crammed into the back of my dented, ten-year-old Corrola.
I feel intense fear that things are going to fall apart, and anxiety that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am needy and ashamed.
It doesn’t help that holidays bring out my neurosis in full force.
So, I’m sitting with it and venting and feeling whatever it brings up, which happened to be big, fat tears on the way to work.
What do the holidays bring up for you? Are they all merry and bright or do you have stress too?
Daily Prompt: Keeping up with the Jones’ | WordPress.com