It’s been awhile since I’ve been writing and focusing on gratitude. It’s not that I’ve been lazy or unmotivated or too busy. It’s just been that I’ve been thinking about my life. A lot.
And to be honest, I am not happy with my life right now. My life is not supposed to be the way it is now.
Now, that is a bold statement, and I have never really subscribed to the American Dream of a white picket fence, cruising up the corporate ladder, buying a house, etc. Obviously, by just looking at my life choices, one can see that I have not followed in any particular path.
And that has always been okay. I have two kids from two different fathers, I chose a career that would not make me a millionaire (or even close to it), I enjoy being single and have not been on the lookout for a “husband” to make my life complete. And of course there are a million other small ways in which my life looks different from the American Dream.
But the thing is, I have worked so hard my entire life. I started working at the age of 14 and haven’t stopped since. I had Maddie when I was 22 and persevered to finish my college degree, get a master’s, and land a job in a field that I really enjoy–teaching (ok, mostly enjoy. Grading can sometimes kill me). Then I had Luke. And I still persevered. I have sacrificed graciously for my children. I actually enjoy them. We might not be taking fancy holidays to Europe or Hawaii. We might have lived in some pretty run-down rentals. Maddie has never seen the snow. BUT–they have been loved and provided for and I hope they have never felt that they were “less-than.”
Of course, I have made mistakes. Many, many mistakes. And I take ownership of those mistakes. I go to therapy to become a better person, mom, employee. I have bitten my tongue on so many occasions just to have peace between their fathers. I love my family more than anything.
Yet, this past year I have been riddled with anxiety–I’ve had several severe panic attacks in the last few months and have developed insomnia (which is the worst!). I worry constantly and am always almost always feeling like I’m losing some sort of life game. I’m stressed more that I ever have been in my life.
The overwhelming cause? Money. While I have never made a large salary, I’ve always been able to get by. But now, suddenly, I find that I’m just not making enough. Our local paper just published an article that stated to live in my city, $61,000 is considered lower income. Ummmm…my yearly salary doesn’t come close to that.
By September 20th I have to move out of my house. Sadly, I am priced out of living in my own town. Since Maddie will be attending college in the Fall, I am looking to rent a one-bedroom. Just a one bedroom! I would obviously sleep in the living room, so Luke can have his own room, and you know what? The average price of crap one bedroom in my town is going for about $1500/month. And many landlords will not allow pets and like hell am I giving up Baily, my 17 year old dog.
There is the possibility of me moving into my sister’s back house which is a one bedroom, but after I factored in her rent and my commute to and from work and the kids’ schools, it pretty much equals almost the same.
And then, of course, my kids cost more money. Luke is in several therapies that don’t take insurance. Maddie is going to college. I just canceled my dentist appointment because Maddie had a cavity that needed to be filled and I can’t afford both. She also has to see a gum specialist in June because something is up with her gums, even though she takes excellent care of her teeth. Even the dentist was confused.
There are, of course, other stressers in my life that don’t focus on money–dealing with my ex, living with my brother (which can be wonderful and horrible at the same time but damn, I love him), figuring out how to fix certain things that break in my house, finding some time for myself to just BE.
I always believed that as I got older, life would be come easier. I would be wiser. More financially stable. And I do think I am wiser. The problem seems to be that I no longer make a living wage. Inflation has gone up and my income has remained stable.
I have this constant day dream that I just take off–me and my books–to live in a more affordable city and just work at a coffee shop. But I can’t. I would never leave my children no matter how wonderful this day dream seems.
This is the reason I have been a bit off the writing grid. I’ve just been so stressed. I do know, however, that I am incredibly lucky. My mom has been periodically filling my refrigerator. When I had a MASSIVE panic attack last week, I was able to call my dad and he rushed over to watch Luke until my medications got into my system and calmed me down. At the end of the day, when Maddie gets home and Luke is in bed, and I open up a book to read, I can find some peace. Others have it so much worse than me. My health is good, I have wonderful friends, Maddie IS going to a great college, and Luke is a love bug.
So I don’t mean to complain, but there is something terribly wrong with the fact that I work–and have worked–so hard and yet I’m wracked with anxiety and stress constantly.
I’ve never believed in the American Dream, but I always thought I could make it. Now I’m just not so sure.