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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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When I Win

I mentioned before that I’ve teamed up with a woman who has been unbelievably lucky at the lottery. She’s won mid-level prizes in the past year which include a scratch for $10,000. It’s uncanny how often, and how much, she wins.

So I offered to go in with her. I’d pay the same amount as she would and we would split the prizes. I started off by giving her $20. I figured that we would play a few times a week and go from there. In total, I believe that since we started doing this at the end of January I’ve given her an out-of-pocket total of $60 – far more than I should be giving out.

As I think while sitting here, I am unable to come up with the total amount that we have won. But I can tell you that the two largest tickets that we’ve hit on are a $1,000 ticket and two $500 tickets! In between we’ve been playing constantly – daily … with money that we’ve won! Each and every day we win between $20 – $100 dollars. Each day! And we continue to play every day – with money that we keep winning!

When the amount of the daily winnings get to about $75 or so, we play smart. Half of the winnings gets split between the two of us, and we play the other half. So, for instance, two days ago we won $110, we split $60 between us, $30 apiece, and played the remaining $50. Every day I’m getting cash amounts ranging from $20 to $75 or so handed to me. Cash. Cash that I put away in a safe. A dollar amount that is large enough for me to pay cash for two items that I’ve long lusted after. A large screen TV to replace the old one that was given to me (which sports in the upper left hand corner a permanent splash of green from the aging picture tube), and a new computer to replace the one I use now that is slow, painfully slow.

She keeps saying that we are about to win a large amount. A really large amount. I’m excited within reason of course, but I occasionally let my mind wander.

People often ask each other what they would do if they ever won ‘the big one’. I already know what I’d do.

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Monday the 14th

It’s always such a chilly and barren apartment the day after. I typically feel emotionless but somehow can easily brim up if I dwell on them or look at their pictures on the bookshelf. I’m someone who can walk, I can mindlessly stare out the windows, I eventually eat when the pangs are loud or anxious and very curiously, have a compulsion to leave everything in the apartment exactly in the condition it was when my children leave to go back ‘home’ after they’ve spent the weekend with me.

Today is a dreadful hangover of emotions. I’m painfully giddy when I pick them up but lifeless flotsam the moment their car has turned the corner moving away from me.

The three of us had fun this past weekend. The highlights for me were the menu items I chose and made: Cajun turkey/chicken burgers with spiced fries, scrambled egg muffins, chicken curry and I even bought an electric mixer so I could produce a red velvet cake. They loved it all and I loved all the time I had to spend in the kitchen chopping and mixing and baking and cooking for them.

My oldest didn’t come over.

I remember how hard I cried when he was born – the relief that he was healthy. That morning my heart, that now pumped for him, gave me my first out-of-body experience. I recall how he ran to me and held up his hands with tearful eyes when he was hurt and it took my breath away. The only message that I have retained on my cell phone is from him wishing me a Merry Christmas in his still little boy voice from 2007 – the first Christmas I was forced to spend without my children.

He wanted to spend the time with his friends instead.

Because of this new work schedule I have, I am only able to see them every other weekend now. The same schedule used for someone who couldn’t care less. It’s my only time. My only time face to face. My only too-hard hug until they tell me to stop. My only time of sitting on the couch with him, letting him lie down the length of the couch and pulling his feet on to my lap. My attempt at physical closeness.

My oldest didn’t come over.

I smiled and laughed with such sincerity this past weekend for the sake of my other two, that they never suspected my mental and emotional geography had quaked, ruptured and split.

Just another day after they leave Monday morning made all the more hurtful by the presence of a tribute to falling, or staying, in love.

Another reminder to add to the list of everything I don’t have.

I look at what is surrounding me – the unwashed stack of dishes, the wrinkled and crooked couch, the fluffy and clean pillows that were tossed onto the floor, and note that I have preserved the lovely stage of where happiness was just a day ago in order to gaze upon it and imagine that I’m recapturing and reliving the good feelings for another day or two.

I hear and see  joy thriving outside my window.

Just another Monday.

The Only One Holding Me Back …

… is me.

I heard that on of all things, a TV show the other night and it will not let go of my mind.

You know, I’ve read most likely dozens of popular self-help books over the years and they all seem to melt into one or two globs of true wisdom:

  1. Get off your ass in one form or another
  2. Make it happen, no one else will

So, guess what? I’ve been formulating and developing a new attitude these last few days.

I’ve had my required grieving period and I’m all out of tears. I’ve spouted to anyone that would listen and I’ve nothing new to add. I’ve talked and imprinted onto myself what a lousy situation I’m in and nothing’s changed. And you know, after hearing from others (and myself) that ‘things happen for a reason’, why can’t I reinvent myself?

Really, why not?

So, dangerously out in uncharted territory, I’m taking wresting back control of my will, swearing at my lost opportunities and shouting out that I can forge into an area that I’ve previously underutilized – my own determination to make things happen.

Focus areas that I’ve found are most important to me:

More, after the Break

Where To Now?

Post no-offer. It was almost audibly crushing my not getting the offer yesterday. I was nearly perfect in many ways for the job, yet the one thing that stopped them was that I left my last job before securing myself a new position. She said that it was strange to do that in this economy and they worried that I was a short-term employee, a job-hopper.

If the incident did not happen at my last job, I would still be there and on my way to three years of service! So, effectively, the incident at my last job not only caused me my job at the time, it also cost me my future job.

Heartbreaking for me.

Last night I met my old boss to pick up my belongings from my old position. They were already piled into cardboard boxes. It was such a bright, neon reminder of how I had ended many, many times before – a cardboard box or a plastic bag filled with my belongings when being shuffled from foster home to foster home, moving from one dirty apartment rooming house to another in my early twenties and seeing the five white baggies and a cardboard box with random items in the backseat of my car when I had to move out as my divorce was happening. And now, the image of cardboard boxes while facing the dread of my bleeding cash reserve highlighting the incoming doom of leaving my apartment.

Today, I am in an orientation for a per diem position. Funny, I never thought that I would have made it this far without a full-time position being secured. But now, here I am, sitting for a day, not able to go look for a position, preparing for a once in a while shift. And, the same tomorrow.

My anxiety is ever-increasing as the holidays approach. Am I going to be able to get a position before Christmas? Will everyone be holding off until Christmas and the New Year have passed? I wouldn’t be able to hold on that long.

What about you? Any ideas, strategies or comments? Any thoughts or December assurances?

High Hopes

Out of nowhere, out of the blue, the call came ringing about 1:00 PM.

Reacquainted girlfriend called and told me that someone at her facility was being let go, and that she had already spoken to her boss about me, and her boss agreed to letting me come down to fill out the application. I quickly showered, dressed and (finally) found the facility. I filled out the application and was lucky enough that the boss came to meet me.

We had to have talked for at least a half an hour! About the facility, about what it might be lacking and how I might fit in based on my qualifications. A lovely lady, but make no bones about it, she wants things to work smoothly for her facility. She even went the step of taking copies of certain documents of mine that she needs and telling me that I could have it!

It’s not perfect. The hours are opposite of what I’m used to, it isn’t 40 hours, although they consider 30 hours full-time for benefits, and the pay isn’t great. It also hinges on them formally letting go of the other person. But, it’s a job, it provides a paycheck and now I have a rope thrown to me that I can hang on to and stop from drifting further away!

It will certainly impact my children. My schedule of how often I see them will be thrown into total disorientation, but I must go with what I have right now at this moment. And, while I’m there, I can still keep looking for a better opportunity. Not that I want to leave them hanging when I do find something else – anything but, but I must still think of more hours to support myself and my children.

This also gives me something to cling to in terms of staying in school. My plan was to go back for January classes. Without a paycheck, without starting in January, I might not get that chance for another year due to popular enrollment. So, I have the chance.

Reaquainted girlfriend. She continues to aid me in whatever way she can. I’m trying to come up with a better term for what she does for me and how I feel, but all that keeps coming up is that I’m totally humbled by her belief in me.

In the past two weeks since I called out to her for help, I have spent much time thinking about her and she has done nothing but bolster me with support.

I’ve also been praying like I hadn’t in years. Doing the rosary even! I’m becoming comfortable with my prayers and even though distracting thoughts try to constantly interfere while I’m praying, I find that I’m able to … not so much shut them out, but I’m getting the hang of dispeling them as a simple annoyance.

I’m still going out again, but having hope is an amazing feeling that I haven’t had the luxury of in a very long while!

Keep those good thoughts and prayers coming – please.

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?

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