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Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

The Amount of Time

It’s mainly about trying not being alone.

It’s tiring and deflating to walk in after midnight, open the door and see everything clouded in darkness. When the first light is turned on, the shadows around the disarray seem longer and rough edged. The stillness is loud and has a wry grin. The air is limp and never forgets that I will sigh loudly while I take off my coat and have an internal debate about whether I’ll hang it up in the closet or simply let it lie on the chair where I sit to take off my shoes.

The refrigerator light that engulfs me as I open the door seems the open eye of a witness who takes note of my late night slouch, my weary countenance and my disregard of civility as I pull out the gallon jug of iced tea and swig greedily.

I can look mere feet from where I stand and notice the dishes that need only to be placed within the grill of the dishwasher, the socks that make dramatic splashes across my bedroom floor, the unmade bed awash in wrinkles, the spot where a plant fell and still has beads of soil that need to be vacuumed up, the stack of pages, letters and mail that is opened, or needs to be opened, the shameful dust on the bookshelf, the stark white walls interrupted only briefly with photographs, the half filled storage bins with their covers scattered, the cabinet doors left open which look like broad wings in the darkness and the couch blankets that have been thoughtlessly tossed and are spread wide open.

The couch can attest to the lonely moments. I sit on the middle cushion, slightly hunched over and close to the edge so I will not sink in and stare at a random object. Not for the sake of study, or contemplation of some matter, but an effortless and blank gaze without the whirring of thought.

Sometimes the distraction of a TV channel causes mild focus and my mind blindly adheres to the chain of conversation or story on the screen and a half hour has gone by. A commercial interrupts the bland interaction between us and I stand, stretching out my arms, back and legs and the thought of lying down occurs. Not out of exhaustion, but out of boredom. Most nights it”s right there on the couch, the oldest inanimate object in my apartment – one that was given to me, where I surrender, without benefit of taking off my work clothes, to the loveless ennui and close my eyes not for weary eyelids, but for lack of emotional stimulation.

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Supporting Them

 

When I became divorced, there was never an issue of supporting my children. While I am aware that a lot of men have issue with paying, or the pay amounts, I chose the opposite. My lawyer gave me a figure that stated the amount that she was going for and because I didn’t know any better, I agreed to the sum. Later, I began reading online and found a calculator provided by the state as to general guidelines. I filled out the form and found to my astonishment that I could be paying more!

I approached my lawyer at the next meeting, provided her with the material and said that I wanted to pay the maximum amount by law. She advised me against it, but after all, they are my angels, my light, the reason for trying to achieve a better future for them and my only family on earth. Why wouldn’t I want to give them as much as I can? The order was changed to the maximum amount and I’m proud to tell anyone that I pay faithfully, and on time, each and every week.

When I was out of a job last fall into winter, I let the ex know what was happening and that I was struggling and would pay her what I could – even as I edged closer to homelessness without a weekly  paycheck. I did payed what I could – an over payment, an underpayment, but I tried to keep it going even as I was unemployed. Even as I went out on endless and unproductive interviews. Even as Thanksgiving and Christmas were creeping closer and becoming unavoidable.

Then, she notified Child Support and told them she was not getting child support. A further move by her that caused me heartbreaking grief and wrenching disgust, was that she decided to not tell them of the amounts that I had given to her by hand. As far as the ‘system’ had been aware, I had simply stopped paying anything at all.

One morning early last month, I woke up, fixed a cup of tea, and sat to check bank balances. I was stunned to find that my account was frozen – a lien had been enforced by the state division of Child Support. I could not even withdraw money to pay for gas which would allow me to travel to work 22 miles away. I don’t have sick time accumulated yet. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Without pay I can not meet any financial obligations – rent, phone, electricity, basic cable. Child support.

I declined to put up a post at the time about the tale of having my assets frozen. It’s humuliating having that done. It’s a desperate situation that stops your heart and has you thinking lunatic thoughts. It’s embarrassing knowing that you are unable to gain the necessary money to support your children. And mostly, it was a deepening of the chasm that seperated me and the ex because she had verbally said to me that she would be fine with repaying the back amount on a weekly basis as I could afford it while I was searching for employment.

Plans for children do not stop. There are sports to be paid for, gas for two and three times a week pickups and drop offs, groceries to be bought and entertainment for them. All while unemployed.

Then she notified child support.

I was devestated.

Thankfully, I now have a job. I have a paycheck that again has my child support taken out automatically, I have weekly taxes to pay and I have a new health plan that decimates my weekly check. All this on less money – much less money, than I was earning at my last position.

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Temp Help

Well, that about says it all.

After the devastation of not being tendered an offer after my second interview last week, I was in an orientation class for three days. It’s an orientation that will only lead to a per diem job and who knows just how many shifts I’ll pick up? It’s not full-time or even part-time, so no benefits and I’m still in the same position.

This morning I received a call to fill in a call out. Temp help. I must take it. I must take anything I can at all.

And so, Christmas looms large. No tree, no presents, no cheer. But my children – they’re so young! How can I decide between presents for them and rent?

God help me.

I dreamed of my ex last night.

Smile For The Receptionist

The hardest part of looking for a job in my field is a cold walk-in.

I shower, dress up in business casual attire (nobody will know that I wore this yesterday) drive to a few select locations and walk in the front door. The receptionist greets me and I quickly tell who I am and what I’m looking for. More often than not she reaches behind herself and retrieves a clipboard with a standard application already neatly clipped to the board and a pen attached via a silver ball chain. I sit in a comfy chair filling out, yet again, where I went to high school and other pertinent information.

I rise, walk back to her and ask if I might meet with someone. I’m much better person to person and was once described by an old boss of ‘giving great interview’. Which is precisely why I left my old career involving cubicles and retrained myself in my mid 40’s – I enjoy personal contact.

 Most times there is no one to meet with. HR is out or the heads of the building are in meetings. I don’t take it personally, but I do kind of deflate as I walk out with a smile on my face after I offer a  sincere ‘enjoy your day’.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I need something soon! Very soon. I’ve thought of posting my bank balance on here, as long as I’m anonymous and all, to show my rapidly eroding finances (as I’ve seen others do) but I’ll think about it a little longer.

Because I had such a late schedule of filling out applications yesterday, I had to call the ex and cancel picking up my children. It broke me dreadfully, but I had no choice but to keep going late into the afternoon. By the time I would have finished, picked them up and brought them back, it would have been time to leave. The guilt was a consuming fire in my mind. But, honestly, and regretfully, I would have had to spend money on filling my tank and buy more food for them. That money will now go toward gas and food this coming weekend when I have them again.

The woman who I’ve recently reestablished a relationship with called me and asked if I wanted to come over and have dinner. I agreed because I didn’t want to repeat what I had done to her before. Not that I really wanted company, but again, I’m realizing (through her observations) that I do have a tendency to self-isolate, so I agreed. I’m glad I did.

Something that I note about myself is that when I’m alone, I tend to not eat. At all. For a day at a time. I’ll sip tea while quietly looking out through the window or I’ll flip through the channels looking at nothing at all and I’ll smoke way too much (picked it up again as I lost my job). But, I’ll not eat. Anything. Funny that I don’t even get hunger rumbles in my belly.

She made chicken, rice and sautéed vegetables and it was delicious! Ice tea washed it all down perfectly. She commented on how thin I was and I became a little self-conscious. We hung out for a few hours and then I left about 9:30PM.  It was a welcome distraction from my normal routine.

I can’t keep regular sleeping hours either. I wake up multiple times each night and after a while I drift back again. In and out, in and out. Sometimes fall asleep around 7:00 PM, sometimes at 5:00 PM, sometimes after midnight. Sometimes wake up for good at 4:30 AM, sometimes at 6:00 AM, sometimes at 9:00 AM. Each night (or day) it’s different.

This morning I’ll shower, dress up in business casual attire (nobody will know that I wore this yesterday) drive to a few select locations and walk in the front door.

I’ll smile for the receptionist. I hope there’s someone to meet with.

 P.S. I’ve noticed that a lot of other blogs are able to respond to a comment within a blocked box. For instance, when I post a comment, that person will respond in the comments section and it will appear as a thinner width-sixed box under my original comment. When I respond to a comment on this blog, I get it showing as a line by line by line comment section. Can anyone point out how you do that – get a threaded, thinner width-sized box under the original comment? I’ve looked through the options, but don’t see anything that addresses this. It would make a threaded comment much neater. Thanks for any help.

Oh, I get it. I have to click the ‘Reply’ shown within the initial comment itself! That is, instead of going to the bottom of the post and entering in a brand new comment. Oh, OK.

My Forced March into Madness

I had such a bout of panic and anxiety yesterday, that at times I seemed to have been surgically spliced and lightly lifted out of my own body. I was terrified.

I couldn’t find my professional license. I need to prove that I am able to work in my field, and that proof is my professional license. I looked in my small safe that I keep in the closet that holds other important papers that I need to keep, and it is also the most logical location for where the license would be kept. I was wide-eyed and stilted after I opened the safe only to find that it was missing!

I rifled through my tall bureau where there’s a shelf that I use to keep other important documents such as the divorce agreement, my bank checks and assorted papers. It wasn’t there! I then quickly tore at my nightstand where I keep various saved papers from the kids’ schoolwork that they’ve given me from time to time, allowing me occasional cool comfort and the slightest of illusion that I am an involved parent within their presence in school. Nothing there! I looked in my kitchen ‘junk’ drawer, I ripped through the drawer in the small table that used to be my nightstand when I was married, but is now the catch-all at my apartment door. Nothing in either!

I felt the panic as a dizzy menace spreading as quickly as though it were colored dye spreading through my mind – filling my head, narrowing my thoughts, trembling my fingers, my heart overextending to accept blood and forcefully plunging closed – the center of my life was clawing through piles of scattered documents, circulars, magazines and miscellaneous opened and unopened mail that now lied in a wide circle around me as I knelt, centered amid the paper debris. I rapidly and savagely reopened envelope after envelope where it might have been, separating contents from their proper container without rejoining them for later use and throwing them aside, tossing them even further away from me and creating an even larger circle of print matter that in the end had me perfectly centered, fully surrounded and piled on all sides, mocking me for my inept ability in keeping something so important within easy grasp.

I placed my forehead down on the floor as if I might do for eastern meditation as I began to cry silently in raging frustration and blinding panic, As I raised my head to breath, I happened to glance under my bed. There, I could see boxes of storage items – photo albums of relatives I never knew, a box of glasses that I won at a work raffle last Christmas, a old colorful basket, and a plastic shopping bag filled with papers. I reached shoulder-length under the bed and pulled quickly as if I were saving the bag from harm under the bed. More of the same filtered out – old bills, old magazines, circulars from last year and articles that I never read. But, somewhere near the middle of the plastic bag was an envelope with my handwriting on it. I opened it, and there, nestled between my social security card and three small wallet sized pictures, was my professional license.

My overpowering relief was met, at that very same exact instance, with a rapidly ballooning despair. The three pictures were the pictures taken of my children at the hospital the day they were born – their newborn pictures! I found myself holding in my left hand my most precious, most treasured above all lost past, and in my right, my needy, bleak and uncertain future.

My thoughts couldn’t distill my elation for finding my professional license from the jarring jolt of electricity that thundered through me at seeing my babies as newborns, and I continued kneeling, sitting on my heels in the ring of torn, mismatched, scattered papers, sweating through my shirt, hands twitching, barely sane and exquisitely solitary.

Much later, last night at about 8:00 PM, I received a call from a realtor – my house is being put up for ‘short sale’.

This morning I found out via email, that I am not eligable for financial assistance if I want to go to school this coming year.

I am out of work, my home where my children live is to be taken, I am not able to receive assistance to better myself in school and, again, I am alone.

Is there anybody out there?

Non-negotiable

Our divorce agreement states that she would take control of, and pay, the mortgage on our home.

I called CitiBank mortgage company last week to ask about the status of account.

Long months ago she told me that she wanted to restructure the loan to make it more affordable for her to pay. She filled out the application and needed me to sign it to make it legal. I stated that if she wanted to change part of the agreement, I wanted a chance to change part of it it also.

I wanted the chance to see each of my three children individually, every so often – alone. I’m in a continual struggle to find anything to do that would satisfy three radically dissimilar children in differing developmental stages – a fifteen year old boy, a twelve year old boy and a ten year old girl. There’s no appropriate movie for an ten year old girl that a fifteen (almost sixteen) year old boy wants to see. And there’s no movie for a fifteen year old boy that’s appropriate for an ten year old girl. Let alone movies, what activities do I choose for the three of them that would keep all three satisfied, curious or simply be fun? Each weekend that they’re here, as they are now getting older and establishing individual identities, it gets razor thin to impossible to stop the arguments, confrontations, bitterness and resentment that they feel toward me and even more so, toward each other, for having to attend something, or do something together, that they don’t want to go to. So, I wanted the chance to see each child, alone, at least once a month.

The chosen date would be one of my weekday nights and it would come out to three and a half hours per month for a chance to see my only daughter alone, see my middle boy alone and time with my fifteen year old alone. For each child that would come out to a total of only fourteen hours a year! It would be a time for us to do something age or gender appropriate that they alone wanted to do with their father without the pressure of having to be coerced into something generic for the three of them. This is something that married parents never even think about when they take one child alone to the store for shopping, go to an age appropriate movie, attend one of their team sports events … the others can be left alone at home, at a friend’s house, a neighborhood friend if they want to be, and still remain content. I don’t have that option or luxury.

On the Tuesdays and Thursdays that I see them, I travel about twenty-five miles one way to pick them up at 4:30PM. Then I drive the four of us twenty-five miles back to my apartment. By 7:30PM, I have to bring them twenty-five miles back home again, and then twenty-five miles back for me. For one night, that’s one-hundred miles. For the two day weeks, it’s two-hundred miles. On the opposite weeks when it’s Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, it’s two-hundred and fifty miles for a two week total of four-hundred miles. I asked if she could pick them up only one night a week from my apartment for a total of fifty miles a week, or one-hundred miles total over two weeks.

I also asked if I could get access to my storage area (in the basement room that holds my clothing, books and various other items) once a month. Come fall (like it is now), when all I have are summer shirts and light jackets, I’m usually freezing and dressed inappropriately. Same for when spring hits – I’m still in winter clothes. I wanted to be able to quickly sift through boxes and gather belongings that I needed and drop off boxes with what I didn’t need. I don’t even venture up the stairs into my own home when I’m there.

Lastly, I asked that the difference between what she was supposed to pay for the mortgage, and the new payment amount be deducted from her side when the house was sold. I didn’t think it right that when the house was sold – having less equity because of the restructured payment schedule, that I should be penalized in profit. I wanted to have enough money to put a down payment on something small for my kids and myself and because of the restructuring, I would have substantially less.

 Those were the four items I asked in exchange – see my children alone once a month, have the children picked up once a week, get stored items when I needed them and not suffer economic penalties for a restructuring of the mortgage in her favor.

More, after the break

It’s just the sound of my heart breaking – ship to shore.

I don’t even know how to start.

I just know that I’m not happy at all with the way that it’s become up to now. Life’s obstacles seem to make it a point to cluster all around me and I’m at a time and place where I’m even sometimes reluctant to step forward.

Spiritually, I’m in a constant battle with God to help me. I alternately lose faith, have read so much of the self-help books that I’m always confused about the line between helping myself and leaving it in God’s hands.

Physically, I’m in a constant battle also. I quit smoking for the last three weeks, but because of what’s happened to me in the last few days, I bought a pack today and yesterday. So ashamed of that.

I’m so fundamentally frustrated with my lack of formal education! I am enrolled for the Spring semester and am looking forward to that, but at my age when I finally get my degree, will it make a huge difference? I’m also looking at two more years after that in order to get my Bachelors.

My oldest, at fifteen, had taken a stand that it’s not worth it to come see me anymore. He feels that all we do is fight. I admit, that a lot of it has to do with his age, but I so desperately need to see him! I feel unloved by him – my greatest accomplishment and now, my most bitter disappointment.

I am so lonely! Long days without a reason to come home to. Home, for me, is not a single bed apartment with white walls and a television on for company. So lonely.

For the first time in years, I went to church. I asked God if he would recognize me. I did the rosary for the first time in years and could barely hold back brimming tears. I would steal glances of parents and their children – a remember sadly the way it was for me not too long ago. The crush of what was there, and now gone, was almost a physical weight on my shoulders and chest and again would cause me to well up. I felt so guilty with my tears and with the thoughts I’m holding that staring at the floor was the what I did for most of the Mass.

I have an issue at work that is coming to a head this week. Until they call me back from a suspension, I’m unsure if I have a job waiting for me at all.

I really struggled with the idea of putting this online. Will writing help me to sort it out? Who the heck, except for me, would read it? Even someone stumbling here would not see a value and quickly move on.

Where is anyone?

S.O.S. by Tim Curry

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