Friday, August 3, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: What My Life Is Actually Like

When I started this blog, I didn't want it to have too much of my personal life in it. I wanted it to be fun and happy and crafty all.the.time. I wanted my life to appear so lovely and perfect and I wanted readers to think, 'Oh wow. She has such a fabulous life!' But the truth is, I need this blog to be more. I need to show more of my true colors. And I need some love and support from others.

I'm posting this on Friday, but I've been thinking about this stuff for months, weeks, and days on end. I gave this a catchy little title because even though it's such a trend right now, I've actually always done things like that. And I also want to give myself the option to vent one day a week if I need it. Boy do I need it. You'll see why if you continue reading.

This post might just make you feel better about your own life situation. My own can seem very depressing and hopeless. But there is still hope--just enough to keep me going and keep me from throwing in the towel.

So here's the story.

My husband, Bob, and I moved to San Diego about a year ago, where he's originally from. We had been contemplating the move for months. I asked him tons of questions to make sure we had things set in place--an income, a plan for where to live, and deadlines and goals to work toward. We found out I was pregnant about a week before the move. It was not entirely unexpected, but still a bit of a surprise.

When we got here, the plans all fell apart. His plan for a meager income while schooling fell through. We moved in with his parents. And worst of all, there was no way out.

My mother-in-law is a sweet lady. But she has her own issues to deal with. She's a bit of a hoarder. I am a neat freak. And back then, I was a pregnant neat freak. For the past year I've had my all time worst lows and more depressed days than ever before in my life. And my poor husband felt like such a failure. He still doesn't have more than a semester of college underneath his belt because of all of this. He had to find a job--anything just to make ends meet. So he got a dead-end, full-time job that didn't pay very well and turned out to be a terrible environment to work in.

Meanwhile at my in-laws' house, everything is a mess, disorganized, and dirty. My mother-in-law (bless her heart) has a frustratingly unorthodox way of doing just about everything. I can't ever find anything I need, so I have to ask where it is. And then I can't put anything away because I don't know where it belongs. It's like living in a real life Tetris game. There are boxes and things stacked everywhere. I can't get the broom out of the closet without first moving an ancient highchair, the recycling bin, a laundry basket with paper bags and a cardboard box in it, and a couple of boxes full of junk. That's just one example, but that's what everything is like. I can't make dinner because the counter tops throughout the entire kitchen are completely cluttered with mail, dishes, papers, obsolete appliances that nobody uses, and random junk. And when there happens to be a square foot of counter space, there are always crumbs or dried food on it that has to be wiped off first.

Our stuff has been stored in boxes inside of our covered trailer since we got here a year ago. We have a bedroom, bathroom, half of a living room, and luckily I have a small area in the office for all of my craft stuff. Graham, my now four-month-old son has outgrown the Moses basket he's still sleeping in, but there's no space for a crib or pack-n-play in our room. We'd talked with my mother-in-law about putting Graham in the spare bedroom ever since we cleaned it out and made it actually livable (and we even bought a crib off Craigslist), but shortly after that conversation she piled several boxes of her junk in there and moved a rolling rack of clothes in the middle of the room as if she were claiming her territory without saying a word to us about it.

It constantly feels like her things are of more worth to her than her own family is.

I could go on and on.

And then Bob was laid off at work. No reason was given, they just fired him. And when it happened we had a two-month-old baby.

It seemed like life couldn't get any worse. I considered going to work full time, but the thought broke my heart because I'd miss so much of my son. I hit rock bottom. There were many days that I just didn't get out of bed except for when Graham needed me, because no matter how terrible I felt, that sweet, innocent boy deserved the last little bit of love and attention my steadily-disappearing self had left to give.

I felt worthless, hopeless, unimportant, and useless. I have a disorder that caused me to feel that way for most of my life, but I had finally gone to therapy and overcome most of that before moving here.(That's another story for another day.) It was as if all of my therapy and progress had never happened. I digressed drastically and turned back into that sad girl who had so much inner turmoil and trust issues that it was impossible to have close friends.

I needed something to make sure I still had some talent or skill left inside of me, something to make sure I was still of some value. Even though it's impossible to stay organized in this house, and even though I have next-to-no space to take care of myself, I still remember my mom and my childhood church leaders telling me that I am a child of God, and that alone gives me worth. Though I may not feel like it, I still believe that. So in a matter of two or three days, I set up this blog. I designed everything myself--the background, the header, the pages, the buttons, and of course--the posts. I've also hoped that I could help us earn some money with this, but first and fore-most, this is for me, because I am important and I do deserve something to feel good about.

And then I began to see that there's more to be grateful for and recognize as good in my life.

This blog isn't the only thing I have going for myself. My husband and I are still madly in love with each other. We've got a handsome baby boy. We're a family. We've got the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. I am a virtuous, talented woman. Those are the few bits of joy that I have left to cling to right now. And so I do. Those are the things no one can take away from me because they're eternal and can't end--not even if life itself ends.




We'll get out of here sometime relatively soon. We do have a plan, and it's in the works, even though it can't happen any quicker. If nothing else, this whole experience will make me truly appreciate every other place we live for the rest of my life.

17 comments:

  1. We lived with my in laws for awhile waiting to buy our own house... It's hard. It's not YOUR house, or YOUR things and no matter how hard you try it never will be. But I'm glad to hear you're on track with a plan and here's to hoping it all goes better for you girl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kassi. It's nice to know that others have been here before and have made it out. I'm glad others are hoping and wishing the best for us. It means a lot. <3

      Delete
  2. Janae - I'm stopping by from RevolutionizeHer. I wish I could reach out and hug you, tell you it's all gonna be okay. I've never been in your shoes, but I know sometimes life really kicks us in the gut. Hang tight to your faith and your love, because as long as you're together with the man you love you can do anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Stacy! I'll keep holding on as long as it takes for us to make it through this. I know we can. I appreciate the love and support. It means so much that generous strangers would offer that to me. <3

      Delete
  3. I am so sorry you're going through all of this. I won't pretend to understand your situation, but know that I will keep you in my prayers. Things always have a way of working out - God has a way of making sure of that. His timing is not our timing. You have a beautiful family. I am glad you are taking joy in that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sarah! The reminders of God's timing really hit home to me. He knows what we can handle, so he knows how long it'll be until we need to get out on our own. I'm trying to learn everything that I can while in this situation, because I figure that once I've learned what I need to, we'll move on to a new place in life. I'm just having faith and doing my best to show gratitude for what we do have. I'm grateful for your loving words and the spiritual reminders you've given me!

      Delete
  4. I haven't had to live with my in-laws before either so maybe I don't understand that exact situation. But I can fully understand those feelings you described: worthless, only getting out of bed to take care of your son, helpless, trapped. My heart just broke reading your own feelings because my own emotional struggles are still very fresh in my mind. I'm so SO sorry you were going through that and feeling that way!! It is the worst kind of feeling that I don't wish upon anyone. I'm glad that you are staying positive though and counting your blessings. That can be the hardest thing to do in times like that. I know I always have a hard time remembering my blessings... Coincidentally though when I was feeling at my lowest is when I also started blogging more and reach out to others. It really does help so much!! Please let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do to help! I am willing to help you with whatever you may need just let me know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Megan! Your blog has been such an inspiration to me and has helped me to be able to feel the things that I do and understand that it's okay, even if the feelings are negative. I just have to push through those tough times and something brighter is always ahead. Thanks for your sweet words. It's so helpful to know that if I need a little extra support or encouragement, I have a few people I can go to. Even if I never take you up on it, just knowing that the offer is there is usually enough to keep me going on those hard days. I can't thank you enough for that.

      Delete
  5. I never lived with my in-laws...but we lived in a house my mother-in-law owned. Talk about awkward. Neither of us were working because we had made an arrangement with her (an amazingly generous person...I have never met anyone like her) to go to school full time so we could graduate and get jobs. The week we were moving in I found out I was pregnant with Liam. I took 3 pregnancy tests and cried...a lot. But the deed was done ;) and we were going to have a baby. Drew graduated with his Chemistry degree and got a job in Nashville but I stayed at home with the baby and went to school part time. My mother-in-law watched Liam while I was in class. Did I mention that it took Drew (my husband) 5 months to find a job and we were living off a monthly stipend of $1000 from said maw-in-law plus what was left over of my inheritance from my own mother who had passed away 3 years before? Also my husband's car broke down on the highway during his first week at said job and his mother bought him a "new" car (used but still expensive!) in full without batting an eyelash. Mind you...I was in class during all of this and was not happy about it..let me tell you! One day we heard that the $8000 tax credit to first-time home buyers was being extended and we jumped on it. Found a house and closed and haven't looked back since. In April 2013 we will have lived here for 3 years and will no longer have to pay back the $8000 to Uncle Sam. Granted things are still tight and my mother-in-law has never pressured us about paying her back which we fully intend to do! But we learned from our mistakes and we learned to appreciate what we have. Which I know that you are learning from this experience. It is hard and it, for the lack of a better word, sucks. But you will get through this and you (and your beautiful little family) will be all the better because you will know what it is like to be at rock bottom. And try to think of it this way (which is what I do)...IT COULD BE WORSE! lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Might I add that even though it is not your house and she is generous to let ya'll stay there...no one should live like that. Perhaps an intervention or a less drastic tactic may be in order. Has she ever been confronted about her hoarding? We recently had a talk with our in-laws because my father-in-law's mother was recently put into assisted living and he had to go through all her stuff...and has (much to mine and my mother-in-law's dismay) kept a lot of it. We (being Drew and I) pretty much told them look...if you don't go through it now...we will when you are gone. I developed this mentality not because I am a neat freak (man do I wish I was) but because we had 24 hours to go through 17 years worth of stuff in my junior year when the bank evicted us from my childhood home. My mother had terminal cancer and couldn't work to pay the mortgage...the bank didn't care. If it sits in a tote for more than 3 months without being looked at or used it needs to go! Of course there are certain keepsakes that I can understand...baby albums and trophies, etc. Just a thought...I will stop rambling now!

      Delete
    2. Well, part of why we moved in with my MIL was to help her get the hoarding under control. This house was nearly unlivable when we got here. 85% of the house was basically used as a storage until full of boxes, stacks of papers, furniture she doesn't need or use, etc. My poor FIL has just been trying to survive and do whatever she wants to make her happy (which, ironically, what she thinks makes her happy is actually making her and everyone around her miserable). We've helped her to clean and make the house easier to live in, and we've also tried to teach her better habits. She has improved a little bit, but she still has so far to go. Part of the problem is also that she can't even maintain her home both in cleaning and repairs. She has a bad hip and can't get around very well, so her to-do list is always growing and she can't keep up with much of it. What she really needs to do is move into a smaller house or, better yet, a condo that requires far less maintenance. A 4-bedroom house is kind of unnecessary since her two children are grown and married (and why anyone would need a 4 bedroom house with just two kids is beyond me anyway). There's so much more that factors into the issues here, like her unhealthy marriage and living outside of her means for her entire life. It's just extremely frustrating.

      The fact is that we just need to get out of here somehow, especially now that Graham is going to be crawling soon since this house is full of injuries waiting to happen to a curious baby boy. Bob is working on getting his real estate license, but that probably won't happen until December or January. So do we try to deal with living here for several more months or do we move out and spend all of our savings in the hopes that Bob will be able to start earning enough? It's just a matter of doing what's right at the right time now. I just can't figure out what exactly to do that's best for us both now and in the long run. I'll keep praying that it will all work out.

      Delete
  6. I personally would wait it out until he has a stable job. I would sit down with the MIL (love that abbr btw!) and explain to her that for the safety of her grandson there needs to be a designated area that can be sectioned off (like a living room) where he can crawl around safely. Not to mention you NEED a place for a crib...there is no exception to that.

    You could move now, but as you said yourself you don't want to use up all your savings...especially on a condo unless that is what you are going for...I don't know what housing is like on the coast. But that seems risky, you may end up back at the in-laws house. It is a tough decision that you shouldn't have to make on your own (though I'm sure you aren't). The fam should have a pow-wow at the dining table or couch and talk about this.

    I don't mean to come off as authoritative..it is so hard to convey emotion in a post. I really feel for you girl and I know how hard these decisions are to make. I've kind of been there. If it wasn't for my inheritance from my mother (and the insane amount of assistance from my MIL) we would not be here now. Granted...all that money is gone and I wish I could have spent it differently. But that isn't how things played out. It will all work out as long as you don't give up.

    On another note...is your MIL claiming you on her taxes...if not! then you will get a nice check for little Graham in your return (at least $3000). Unless you owe a bit which I don't see how since you aren't paying any property tax (a benefit to now owning a house yet) ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Courtney, I know you too well to ever get offended at your bold nature! I've sometimes got that 'authoritative' spark to my words too. ;) I really do appreciate your advice and comments.

    After I wrote this we did have yet another family meeting to discuss it all. I feel like we meet and talk, and afterward we all feel motivated and inspired and then the very next day it's like it never happened. She does want to get rid of the boxes that are overflowing in her bedroom and in that garage. It's just overwhelming to her. She doesn't know how to let go of the things that are really unimportant. My poor FIL can't use his closet in their bedroom because she has both of the closets in there filled to the brim with her clothes and things. I've been trying to get her to go through her clothes for nearly 8 months now, but she just can't seem to understand the notion of how to eat the elephant (you know, one bite at a time). We'll get there somehow, and if not, we'll just finally move out of here and she'll have to get to the point where this house becomes such a hazard to herself that she can't live here anymore either. Or she'll end up going to a retirement home or passing away and then we'll get to torch the place... Metaphorically, of course... ;)

    Oh, and taxes will be fun next year... We're going to have to get an accountant since we'll each have been self employed and earned over the amount we have to report on. Joy of joys! But hopefully we'll get some kind of a return from having a baby. Here's to hoping!

    ReplyDelete
  8. "How to eat the elephant" !!! That is GREAT! Never heard that one before. Y'know sometimes outside help is necessary but depending on her it could be horribly embarrassing and I could understand not wanting to alienate her. Have ya'll ever seen the show 'Hoarders'...I mean I doubt the house is as bad as those folks but it could help her see the damage she is causing...to herself especially. I can totally understand the overwhelming aspect. There are days when I get up charged to start cleaning and then I look at everything that needs to get done and end up sitting in the floor with my boys all day instead >.< I found that the only way for me to get things done is to make a small list each morning of what to get done that day so I feel like I have accomplished something and am not overwhelmed by a GIANT list of crap to do. Like for her...Today I will go through these 4 totes or this small section of the closet and if I haven't used it ''__'' amount of time and it is not a true treasure like a pair of my kids baby shoes then it goes to the donate/trash pile. It isn't practical to get rid of it all in the span of a week but if she is encouraged and really wants to make a change (which a reality check may be in order) it can be done.

    Of course I could be too optimistic and she could be a hopeless cause...in which case save your money and get your butts out of there! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! I don't think she's completely hopeless. Well, some days I do, but but I really know she's not.

      We've been through all of the possible solutions, believe me! She just feels like she has so much to do that she can't go through one box or even half a box a day, mostly because there isn't any space to put the things she wants to keep. In my head the solution is, 1. If you do not have time to go through it because trying to maintain your house and watching 6 hours of tv a day are using up all of your time, then you need a smaller house; and 2. If it's been sitting in a stack of boxes for a year and you haven't touched it, you don't need it! But what do I know... Plus, everything she owns has some sentimental story to it. And when I try to help her go through things and decide what to keep, it takes FOREVER because she tells me in detail about every single thing she pulls out of each box, even when I try to hurry her on and ignore it. It's not like we haven't tried! We've just kind of given up because it's so exhausting. We have literally tried everything. When we make rules or compromises together that she agrees to start living by she never holds to them. When we tell her to ask us for help she never does.

      One day when we get out of here, I hope she comes to our house and gets inspired or something, because I can't wait to take care of my own space again! I'll try to be patient until then...

      Delete
  9. INTERVENTION! She seriously sounds like those people on Hoarders...poor woman. My mother always told me, "Patience is a virtue...and a learned behavior." Usually when I was being impatient and annoying :D But I'm rootin' for ya! We were together for 4 years living in various apts and under others assistance before we got this house and could finally be on our own. I can't wait to see your space so you can inspire me!

    ReplyDelete
  10. That deep despair that nothing is going right and there is no light at the end of the tunnel... I know what you mean. I'm so sorry. *hug* It WILL get better. It may be a long road, it may not come the way you think, but it will get better. I know because I've been there. More than once. Platitudes only help so much, I know, but I wish I could hug you too!! Keep letting that adorable little man pull you out of bed. You'll be out of it longer and longer. I called my first boy my "Happy Pill" though that sounds awful now, he really did make everything better somehow!

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget