Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just Surviving

This is an email I sent out this morning to a select group of people. It is pretty much self explanatory.

Dear, “Insert your name here” (You know who you are and rather than individualize letters to each of you... Well this is just easier.)

You are receiving this because, well… because I consider you a friend and I added you to this short list of people in what is possibly going to be my last email.

There are only nine days until I have officially defaulted in my home loan and the foreclosure process begins. I’m really tired of begging my creditors for more time as nothing has really changed in months. Each time the phone rings I hope it is a job, full/part time employment, or work but ends up being a collection agency. Alas…

I can’t tell you how hopeless I feel at this point. Really hopeless.

I could go on and on about how I’ve had the same two $1 bills in my wallet for over a month now or go on to say even the Dollar Store is too rich for my blood, but instead of cracking jokes about how poor I am… ((How poor are you)) I’m so poor… blah blah blah…

Instead I’ll be serious here. I know, Not something I’m used to and for those closest to me will think it odd of me not to crack a joke here and there or make light of the situation.

Well it is serious.

I’m broke. And I’ve done everything I can to keep from becoming this poor. I’ve hustled and moved and tread the murky financial waters for quite some time now…

I know this may come as a disappointment to some of you or possibly a shock. Just because one lives in a big house doesn’t mean they have money. It just means they have a big house. It didn’t look this luxurious when I bought it six and a half year ago. I worked hard at making it beautiful inside and shared it with most of you through the years. My doors were ALWAYS open. My food was always there to share with those that were hungry, my roof there for your shelter. Hopefully you will remember the happy times we had together here.

Many of you know me as a hard worker and a survivor of sorts. I haven’t had an easy life and have pretty much been on my own for most of it. It has always come back to basic survival and through the thick and thin of it the fact is the only person I can rely on is me. So I survived. Sometimes putting up a pretty good front about the inner pain I’ve endured for far too many years now.

When my daughter was born 18+ years ago my life completely changed. Was it for the better, well, for the most part, or so I had thought. I even tried to make a go of it with her mom for a little over a year. “From the moment of her birth I knew one of my prime reasons for living and breathing here on this earth was to protect, nurture, love, and teach my daughter right from wrong.” Those of you that are parents can relate to that statement.

I fought long and hard for custody. I stayed involved with the school systems in both the city where my daughter first attended school while living at her mom's and here in my home town once she came to live full time with me. I was a member of the PTO/PTAs, spoke at district wide meetings, volunteered at various school functions, and never missed an open house or parent/teacher meeting, not one! I volunteered not only my time but gave my hard earned money at helping ensure the education she was getting was fair and just. I was even awarded a citation for leadership in community involvement in a school district 4 cities/towns away from where I lived. I made the effort and went above and beyond. I gave 110% not just some of the time, but all of the time.

I wasn’t that way just in my daughter’s education and life but in everything I did. I’m dedicated, I’m fair, and I’m trusting. I call them the way I see them and yes, I do speak my mind at times and when I see something not right I’ll call you on it.

The tragedy that began to unfold before me in the midst of December of 2011 has all but reduced me to the man I am today. Quite broken. Emotionally, physically, and monetarily.

After the shock of it all, I went into survival modem Something I am all too familiar with. It seemed every step forward I’d end up two steps behind and the truth of the matter is I’m tired of “Just Surviving”.

But I have tried…

There have been no nibbles on my ad for the rooms I’m trying to rent. I have posted it across the tri-state area broadening the field of viewers and hoping to find someone. I feel I’m doing everything I can to try and stay afloat but I feel it is not enough.

I haven’t paid my gas and electric since November since they can’t shut me off in the winter. A friend who works for Comcast has been letting the bill slide for me but won’t be able to for much longer, hence this email. I haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store in months and although I have a ton of canned foodstuffs my body is beginning to breakdown due to the lack of getting the right nutrients.

I can’t recall the last time I’ve had milk as the only liquid in this house these days is beer, wine, and hard alcohol. Well there is also water from the tap too, it doesn’t taste very good compared to the alternatives. So I’ve learned to drink coffee black and make a pot last for three, four, or more days. (That’s what the microwave is for.)

On the upside, by NOT paying my other bills gave me the chance to focus strictly on the mortgage and prepaid cell phone I currently use. (The VERY BARE essentials) With the total of $170 I have made all this month… Yep that’s all I’ve made this month, I just don’t have enough to survive even in a minimalistic capacity. With a mortgage at $1800+/month, the $170 is not enough to even make a partial payment to the lender’s bank. They won’t take it. I’ve called and asked already.

Now there may be some of you who have been wondering why I haven’t been around or stopped by to visit over the holidays. Well, I haven’t started the Jeep since before Christmas as I haven’t had anywhere I can afford to go because I haven’t had the money to buy gas either. That, and the front axle still needs work. The Jeep currently has a safe top speed of 30MPH. For most, a $300 fix to get your vehicle running seems like a no-brainer. Well, when you don’t have the funds, it’s sort of tough to do even that.

It is surprising what you can learn or condition yourself to live without. In a way now… I feel like I’m just fading out slowly. I’ve already peaked and this is the end journey.

For those that say can’t you find a job? I’ve tried! And if you or any one you know of is hiring then PLEASE give them my number listed below! Because, I’ve applied for jobs, emailed out hundreds of resumes, and mailed dozens more. I’ve gotten really good at writing cover letters. I’m not entitled to any state benefits because I don’t pay into the system. (Unemployment, SSI, etc.) I’ve enquired about it just the same.

Like I said hopelessness. L It’s what I’m feeling.

I know there isn’t anything anyone is going to do for me at this point and that Is just the reality. I’ve tapped my church for all the free meals I’m going to get and sold some things I thought I’d never part with just to pay bills that won’t really matter in the end once it’s all gone.

I’m not saying the system failed me. I’m not saying the court system failed me, nor did Bethany fail me. It… It just wasn’t meant to be. It was a combination of a lot of different things. I just couldn’t catch a break and no one wanted to help me out back when I thought they would or could. I’ve let all that go.

I hope that whatever happens and wherever I end up down the road that you the reader of this email realize that I consider you a close friend and not just some person who helped me out with a little work here and there or with some emotional support. Maybe you did what you could and are hurting yourself. Somehow I don’t think it’ll get as bad for you as where I am now and am headed in the very near future. I just wished things were different and I was able to survive. I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone.

A quote I want to be remembered for is this: “Wishes are for dreamers and dreams are not a reality.”

Therefore I don’t “wish” any more. “Hope” is for fools and “Faith”… Well we shall see where that journey leads me.

I guess I’m telling you this all now before my Comcast gets shut off due to nonpayment. (Easier to do in an email then through a text or two to a dozen or so people.) My friend let me know she can’t extend my shut off period any longer. Will I miss the Internet? Sure… But I’ve lived without a TV for 6+ years now. Shrug.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this. You can pray for me if you are religious. I’ve had many churches praying for some time now and haven’t had any results that I can clearly see. L

As an interesting read I have tacked on an attachment that made the front page of my local paper yesterday.  It discusses how the system and state has failed so many families in these tough times and how it has led to at least 40 deaths in the past year alone due to the neglect of what the state calls a functional system. Attached is the pdf. Hopefully most of my friends receiving this are tech savvy and know how to open it. If you don’t, Well then I guess we failed each other in that aspect.

This article just brought me down even lower than how I already feel. There’s only bad news out there anyway.

Well this is it.

For some, you may not have my phone number or have possibly lost it. I don’t know how long that it will be good for but at least I’ll have it for another month provided I can make the $40 for that bill. For those that don’t have it, it is: XXX-XXX-XXXX. This # is for voice and text.

Thank You to all my friends that read this.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It Hurts - Living In My Head

It is 2:30AM and I'm not even tired. Not even a little. It seems I have gotten out of cycle with the rest of the world.

Most nights I lie awake restless from the fact that I am not exerting enough energy throughout the course of the prior day to make me tired. What keeps me up mostly though are the thoughts in my head.

I keep replaying particular days and certain moments over and over in my head. Most of these moments involve my daughter and her sudden and tragic disappearance from my life. I'm no longer doing the "what if" scenarios in my head. I'm just replaying the events over and over and reliving the painful outcome.

I've done a lot of reading and a ton of writing in the last twenty years. I'm currently reading a book about forgiveness that was recommended to me by my current and latest therapist. It's divided into a few sections while those sections are subdivided by chapters. The first half of the book is a step by step self-help on helping us understand why we are the way we are. It explains what a genogram is with various examples and helps the viewer see that there are patterns in families and that these, healthy and unhealthy patterns, can go back many generations. It goes on about the different types of dysfunctional families and the many complex layers of relationships are in each.

Well after reading the first few chapters in this first section I was ready to put the book down for good. I have no way of creating a genogram of my own family and although I did see some patterns beginning to emerge I wasn't sure if it was enough. I already knew my family life sucked and there was no love or nurturing going on in that household between any two people for as far back as I can remember.

What I did get out of what I read thus far was a diagnosis or two of past girlfriends and even some strong opinions on the family dynamics of the woman I am currently seeing.

When I voiced all of this to my therapist she simply stated that the intent shouldn't be to formulate opinions or try to diagnose others perceived issues but that I should be reading the book for myself.

Last night... A few hours ago, I reached the halfway point. The book is finally getting into the steps of forgiveness. The reading isn't any easier but for different reasons. Much of what is in these chapters DOES apply to me and I can completely relate.

I've worked my 12-steps of recovery in the past, been to meetings, etc. I know all about how forgiveness is supposed to set you free and the fact that you can never forget your past. I get all of that. What I'm tired of is being a survivor. I want to grow and learn and break beyond my mind's grasp of what this current perception of reality is.

This is when the movie in my head starts to play the same loops over and over again, especially in the middle of the night.

Because it hurts living in my head.

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 - Just another year?

So hear I am in the year 2013. We've had a bit of snow but it's all but gone. Just the lingering traces in the big box store parking lots. It has been nearing 45 degrees this past week locally and hit the 50's in Boston this past weekend.

I hate the winter. I hate everything about it. I hate the cold, I hate the snow, the shoveling, the plows, the ice storms and downed branches. I hate the fact that my Jeep doesn't have heat or defrosters making it near impossible to go anywhere when it is at, near, or below freezing. The dealership said that it has something to do with a flapper valve that got stuck in the wrong position and that it'll cost too much to fix. It involves removing the entire dashboard and takes many hours. I also have a right front axle that needs replacing and I don't have the money for that either.

In fact I don't have the money for anything these days. I haven't booked an hour of employment thus far this year and the days are starting to blur and blend. The hours drag on and I sleep most days until noon or later.

I hate being broke and not working. I hate the word "hate" as it is what my life has become these days. Hurtful and hateful and full of pain.

My daily diet includes a coffee when I eventually drag myself out of bed and make it or reheat the brew from the day before, and either a grilled cheese sandwich and a few hard boiled eggs (If I have eggs) or something canned from my pantry, usually raviolis or something to that effect. It's not that I don't have food in this house I just don't have the ambition to make it and then eat it. Depression is a real illness and I think I have it pretty bad. And although I see someone on a regular basis I don't know if it is doing anything to help me.

The bills are beginning to pile up and I'm not sure what's going to happen next. At 45 years of age I can't say I feel my age any more. I don't know what I feel. I thought I'd be in a much better place in my life by now. Instead, I'm a middle aged single guy, never been married, in debt with my house, and unemployed so to speak.

Just a few years ago I was on to making 70K+ a year in contracts and side jobs. I was pretty successful at what I did. I had my bills paid and had plenty of extra money. I was involved in my daughter's high school's PTO and had what I thought a pretty comfortable life. Sure it wasn't perfect but nothing is.

Now look where I am... Broke, tired, not feeling well and blogging about it. I don't want to be my own friend these days.

I'm also feeling that I am dehydrated these days. I guess coffee and beer doesen't count as liquids. I have been trying to drink more water as I feel I have not gotten enough in the past few weeks.
I thought I had a handle on this situation but I am beginning to thing that I don't.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Electing a leader - At what cost?

It’s estimated that over 6 Billion+ dollars has be spent in this 2012 presidential election. That is a "B" Billion! This is not counting any other local, state, or senate elections either. Over 68 Million was spent in the Brown/Warren campaign battle in MA alone. I can think of a much better use for those funds in that state.

IMO, and I'm sure a lot share this opinion... It's really come down to voting for the lesser of the two evils these days. If the race is as close as the media has hyped it up to be, regardless of winner, more than half this nation will be disappointed in the outcome while the other celebrates the bittersweet victory knowing their candidate is not the absolute answer to what ails this country.

This country is anything but UNITED these days. This country is broken, regardless of party or political slant. The people with money will always be able to afford whatever they WANT while the rest will struggle for what they NEED. This country and most of the world is based on money and not trust, faith, or kindness.

Read this next line slowly, and let it sink in. I saw this on a bumper sticker many years ago and it has stuck with me. For some, you won't get it... (Your loss) But for most you'll agree.

[If everyone GAVE no one would NEED.]

It really is that simple. I'm not talking about being greedy. I'm talking about best practice common sense. I'm talking about treating others the way you would want to be treated. Most of this country is out to screw one another before being screwed themselves.

There is no simple solution and spending the amounts of money these candidates are spending is crazy. Why not put a portion of that towards the US debt? Or spend some of it on a program everyone can afford and enjoy. The American Dream for most, is over... has been for some time now.

I'll be glad when it is all over. I have not had a TV in over six years and do not miss it one bit. Who needs bits of scripted reality TV shows in between 15 minute commercial breaks when I can go outside and enjoy my own life? Or watch pro sports, where win or lose everyone is a millionaire or close to it. The average American family spends approximately $75-$100 on cable TV alone each month. With the money I have saved over the years, I have bought things to enrich my own life. Why would I want to pay to watch someone else live his or hers?

I can only imagine how bad the mud-slinging ads have gotten on TV.

It's bad enough I have to see it all over the web in spam mail, ads, and pop-ups and continuously see full page ads of it in the local papers day after day. This election has even infiltrated my smart phone with opinion polls from my carrier.

I'll be glad when it is over.

Regardless, our future president will never know what it is like to have to decide between paying the heating bill or buying food for their family. Our president will never know what it is like to go 15K miles on an oil change because there just isn't enough in the budget to get it changed. Or worry about affording health care insurance or our kids futures! Our president will never know what it is like to be human and have to struggle to have their basic needs met. NEVER.

They won't know because they have never been there and chances are neither has any senator or member of congress. Yet they pass the laws and write the rules.

Yea, The lesser of “THE” two evils.

Also a link to a very real and disturbing trend.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Update - "If I woke up dead would it really matter?"

I seem to be asking this question a lot these days and even reciting it as a mantra at times to the people around me. No one seems to know or really understand the pain I am going through no matter how much I tell people of my struggles.

This makes me want to add: "and would I feel any pain?" to the end of this post's title.

I have been seeing Angela each week for quite some time. The hour seems to be more of a getting current session where I wish it would be about figuring "Me" out.

Since my daughter's departure in my life last December I have been empty inside. For the last 17 1/2 years I strove to be a better person for her. To take care of her the best I knew. I know that there isn't an instruction manual to raising kids but I really was at a disadvantage. I didn't have the support of another parent, (her mom). I didn't have the support of a significant other either. I didn't have the support of my own parents nor any childhood memories of my own to pull up some examples of what good parenting was supposed to be. I just sort of did the best I could.

It is perhaps time I got this here in writing... I think I stopped growing emotionally when I was about 15 - when I became independent and was truly on my own in this world. I didn't have any role models. I had a good sense of right from wrong and built up some key survival skills for life on the streets. Eventually, I managed to hold a job and pay bills. I trusted no one. Did I have a lot of bad people in my life? Sure, but for the most part they served a purpose in my survival at the time.

Eventually, my daughter came along when I was in my late 20's and I went from an independent survivalist to a protector of sorts. Now, 18 years later, I am at a lost for direction. I'm not really surviving as so much to hanging onto the last shreds of sanity these days.

This summer has been one of the best in my life and also one of the worst.

The good: I got my Harley fixed and have put over 1000 miles on it this summer. That is more miles than the last 5 years combined. I have also shot a lot of great concerts and met some great bands up close and in person. I have been able to slowly work on my house and get some unfinished projects back into the "Getting Completed" phase.

The bad: I'm tired of coming home to an empty house. A house I can't manage the mortgage payments on because of the lack of employment. I have lost many of my regular customers due to the slowed economy while losing my one major client due to collateral damage from my daughter's selfishness to get her way. What little money I had in the bank for emergencies, my daughter's college fund, and someday a retirement is dwindling down to nothing at a rapid pace. I figure another month or two and I'll be penniless. Just in time for winter.

Now there are some other things that I don't know if they fall under the good or bad category. I have brought this up a few times to Angela but she has not said much. The freedom I now have is more than I know what to do with. I am accountable to no one but myself these days. I really have no responsibilities other than trying to pay the bills. I can do whatever I want for the most part.

Some days I stay in bed for almost the entire day knowing that it is beautiful out and there are a dozen things I could be doing outside. Knowing that the summer is slipping by and with each passing hour it is harder to get up and be motivated to do even the most basic things. There are days on end where I don't eat, don't care to eat, and cry myself to sleep knowing that I am dying from the inside out. A slow death from a broken heart and what has become my broken life.

I really don't have any close friends, or even a best friend. There is no one to call in the middle of the night when the darkness and solitude consumes me. There is no one to hold me and tell me it will get better. Night after night of reliving tragic moments from my past in my dreams forces me to self-medicate so as I may not remember them as vivid as when I don't. This is where I feel that if I just woke up dead it wouldn't really matter and would I feel any pain?

Recently I upgraded my old analog cell phone. I think I have had the same one for 8 or 9 years. It didn't have Internet access or text or do anything fancy. It made and received calls. I understand the advantages of a smart phone being the tech savvy guy and all but a few events in my life brought me to the realization that this was the next logical step.

First, My Android-driven Viewsonic tablet died a couple of weeks ago. It won't accept the charger as a power source so it won't charge. I used it to play some online games, do some light surfing, and check my email, but I mostly used it for showing people my pictures online. (This required an Internet connection when Wi-Fi was available.) I always wished there was a way to have this connection via a cellular link.

Second, My Jeep was broken into this past Monday. They smashed windows and took my GPS. The officer that responded to my call stated that the thieves are not even opening doors knowing that the alarm will go off so they are simply smashing and grabbing. Another GPS would cost me just over $120 so I began to look at smart phones.

I did a lot of reading and researched the various phones and plans. For someone that had as old of a phone as I did, I'd say I did great. I have a GPS, a way to showcase my online photos anywhere I go, and a device that does a thousand other things my last phone couldn't do.

What I was afraid of has started to happen though. I'm constantly checking my phone. In a way I feel a slave to it, something I didn't want to happen. But in another way it is keeping me plugged in (at least wirelessly) to the rest of the world. I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing yet.

Isolation is my worst enemy. It always has been. I like the freedom to make my own choices when it comes to work and the hours I keep but I long for the fellowship that coworkers can offer. I have no family so to speak of and the people I do speak with are not regulars in my life.

I need human interaction to survive!

With that said, I'm off to a church picnic over this Labor Day weekend which marks the official close to the summer. God willing I make it through the winter.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Update - Trauma and what it means to me.

Taken from an "In The Rooms" post:

July 3 - Trauma

When we are traumatized, we have one or more of the following responses:

(1) fight (aggression)

(2) flight (physically or psychologically leaving)

(3) freeze (becoming numb)

Any of these responses preclude the normal working through of a situation by experiencing and confronting it, assessing options and making choices. When life experiences are not "lived through," they are stored in an unfinished state, absent of adequate closure.

It is as if they are stored in suspension without the context that accompanies normal experience. When events are stored by the brain in this manner, they become part of our storehouse of "unfinished business." They form what comes to be the root of a hunger that cries out for action or completion.

It goes on to say the following:

Today if I see myself acting out impulsively, I will ask myself what wound is trying to be heard and seen. Rather than continue to act out, I will quiet down and listen.

I am willing to know.

God gives, but man must open his hand.

German proverb

** My thoughts on this in a bit. **

Friday, May 27, 2011

A day in May - But not a May Day.

As the summer is finally unfolding during the latter parts of this week, all I can say is, "It is about time!" The sounds of lawnmowers, the smells of the neighbor's BBQ, and the sights of the sun after nearly three weeks of solid precipitation and clouds, fog, mist, whatever you want to call it, is a welcome sight!

So why don't I feel better about it? Usually the Spring/Summer gets me going and I'm working on a thousand projects at once. Instead I sit here on my back porch, sipping a freshly brewed K-cup blogging the Friday afternoon away. Could it be that I'm enjoying the moment for once and taking a break? Or am I just overwhelmed with the to-do lists I have created for myself and am just avoiding everything. Perhaps it is a little of both.

A fellow blogger called it getting your MOJO back. In my case, I've misplaced it. I'm a people person. When no one is around I need to keep busy on things or else I start to think too much. It is the way my brain is wired I suppose.

I could be at a coffee house tonight with the majority of my church. I could be busy taking pictures and eating and hanging out with all of them. Instead, I just wanted to just "BE".

I'm finding I've done a lot of that recently.

My therapist who assigns me weekly homework assignments (I need the structure) has asked me to do something I'm finding quite difficult. Part of this week's assignment is to make a list of 5 core characteristics that describe myself, with 2 examples to illustrate each one.

Now I've filled out surveys and tons of dating profile stuff in the past but this to me is very different. This isn't what other people think of me, this isn't even what I "want" other people to think of me. This is what "I" think of me. She doesn't say if they should be positive or negative either.

OK... Well...

1. I'm DETERMINED. I am about as determined as anyone I know. With this core characteristic comes good and bad. When I put my mind to something I can get the job done. However I can be stubborn about certain things and even get my priorities mixed up at times. I don't like to be wrong and only when there is irrefutable proof will I concede to defeat.

I have accomplished many things to many. I'm restoring a beautiful home in a seaside community. I run my own business and have for almost 20 years. I'm raising my daughter on my own. Yet, I feel I'm missing something in my life.

2. I'm a SURVIVOR. This goes without saying. I'm always recreating myself to suit the situation at hand. If there is a bill, I find a way to get it paid. I struck out in the world at an early age with very little determined to survive the elements and make something of myself. I'm a chameleon of sorts, adapting to my surroundings. However, there is always the control I feel I need in these given situations. Perhaps it has a lot to do with my feelings of abandonment when I was a child. I can remember being 3 or 4 and being outside on my own and not having anyone to play with. I have always had a great imagination. I guess that leads me into...

3. I'm a VISIONARY. When hyper-focused I can clearly see the forest through the trees as well as the entire forest simultaneously. I can set the tone of a focus group as well as drive a point to the masses via any podium I step onto. I'm a people person and have no fear of public speaking. (Again it is that feeling of being in control that drives me.) I guess I'm a leader of sorts or at least that is the way I perceive myself to be. I have belonged to many organizations and it doesn't take long for me to be in some form of leadership role in the group. (Again, being in control gives me the power and the high that I feel I need to function in my capacity as a leader.)

4. I'm INDEPENDENT. I have been independent all of my life, but interdependent on others most of my life. I'm independent and try to do everything myself at first. I like figuring things out on my own and like solving problems. I'll think outside the box. Sometimes I'll do something and have people tell me, "You couldn't have done that." To which I reply: "Oh um hmm. See?" and show them that I already have. I am interdependent on others for my emotional needs and support. Something I never got growing up. I seek validity in what I say and do a lot because I feel if I don't speak up or say: "See what I did?!" I might go un-noticed.

5. I'm EMOTIONAL. I'm actually passionate to a fault at times. This ties into being a very determined individual. However, I used to get angry a lot and it took a long time to figure out why. Getting in touch with more than just the basic emotions is critical to the learning process called life. Now I know I can be disappointed in something or someone and not be angry about it. If I watch a movie or TV and there is a scene that I relate to even at a subconscious level I will get emotional. (I have to imagine that is natural and being human.) I have learned that I need to work on my empathy skills and have made some progress with those. Life is more about just me. I just need to keep reminding myself this now and then.

Well that's five.

The sun has set and the coffee is gone. I have survived another evening alone with my feelings. I'll be interested in hearing what my therapist has to say about my selections of core values.

It's time for some food.