So what are the curve balls? While I can't give all the details, some of the most difficult things lately have included the fact that Norm has been unemployed since the end of May 2009. His unemployment benefits ended a year later, so we've been living solely on my income--essentially a part-time one--for the past six months. We switched from his employer's insurance provider to mine, and although we are grateful it's the same HMO and that we are all still insured, it does cost quite a bit more through my employer. I have had a couple of health issues this year, and we are trying to get Matt's chronic sinusitis taken care of, because it has affected his school attendance so badly. Both of our cars have some major repairs due and we have been limping them along with the hope that they will make it until February, when we should get a fairly decent income tax return.
Needless to say, I've been under a tremendous amount of stress. Today I took a "mental health" day off from work, and my boss--who is also a good friend--offered me the use of her house which is located right on Medical Lake. It was very quiet and serene there, with only the occasional meow of her cat and the honk of the Canada Geese swimming just beyond her backyard. I brought a small bottle of wine, some tea, and my lunch. I spent time crying, napping, taking a hot bath, and doing a lot of thinking. Some ideas came to me while I slept, others while I was pacing the floor, thinking. And again, while I can't share every detail here, I was able to come up with some epiphanies and priorities:
- There are choices I've made recently because I just gave up on life. In some areas of my life, I felt worthless and felt that there was no future ahead. Today, I chose to believe that there will be some good things waiting for me at the end of this dark tunnel, and that until I reach that place, I choose to be the kind of person that will be worthy of those good things.
- One of the things I had given up on was really doing my best as a parent. The past three years have been a real struggle as both kids have had poor attendance and poor grades, with Missy barely graduating a year and a half ago...despite the fact that both my children are bright, intelligent people. The daily challenges took a lot out of me, and I didn't want to deal with things anymore. When they were younger and winning awards for their school work, sports, and activities, I never would have guessed we would end up on this path. I felt like a failure as a parent.
- I decided I really want to be there for my son in the next 20 months before he graduates high school. And instead of fighting him when he makes choices I disagree with or that may be harmful to him, I will try to come alongside him and support him with love and understanding, while standing firm on my parenting principles.
- Now that my daughter is on her own, I am so proud of many of the choices she has made the past year and a half. She has become a lovely, responsible young woman who is really blossoming. I want to encourage her to continue to grow as an adult, as a woman, and to see her develop in a career that will be fulfilling for her.
- My health remains a priority, and I will continue to exercise frequently and eat right. The exercise (spinning on a stationary bike) helps to relieve a lot of stress as well as improves my knee. I'm starting to feel better about my body now that I am finally losing weight again, after being stuck in a rut for over a year. Matt's health is also a priority, and hopefully with a visit to his sinus specialist in December, we can make a decision that will improve it.
- Getting my finances in order is another huge must. I know how much money I have, but I am way behind on entering my receipts into my computer, due to a computer crash that happened a year and a half ago.
- Enlisting the help of professionals for some of the steps I may need to make in the future is another item on my list. These may include a counselor, an attorney, and of course, my doctors.
- I plan on going on a retreat every three or four months, just in a quiet place, like a friends' house, or if I can afford it, a cheap hotel room for the weekend to evaluate and assess where these goals are going, to keep me on track, and to just give me a respite. I realized I really don't take time for myself; I tell myself that researching my family tree is my time for myself, but really, I end up blogging about press releases that are sent to me or writing posts that are not quality writing. This makes me feel frustrated and feel like genealogy is a chore, not a fun escape.
I don't at all expect life to get any easier any time soon. But I know that if I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other while keeping my eyes on my goals, that it will help me get through to the other side with my health, my heart, and my dignity intact.