Until After the Wedding

Every word she spoke increased my sorrow, and made me realize just how bad my parents relationship had become. Not that I didn’t suspect it at some point to happen. When I was a teenager I noticed that my parents didn’t have much of a relationship, and despite my mothers efforts, my father was clueless and unfortunately more selfish than he would ever realize in his emotional ignorance.

My sorrow deepened even more as I recalled all the times I confided in my mother about concerns I had in my own marriage…and she responded with “You definitely married someone like your father.” No less, all the times she told me “You’re just like your father.”

Thank you mom. You’re so supportive.

The sense of hopelessness that it left in me made me consider that my marriage may end up looking like hers one day. Where my husband feels more like a roommate and less like a husband. Unfortunately hints of that have already started in my relationship, and to divulge my feelings to my husband and get an honest response out of him….I had to get him buzzed so we could talk about it without anyone saving face or telling lies a few nights ago last week.

The hardest part of being in my mothers situation is knowing that she was worth more long before my father was married to her. She was a teacher, with a good savings, paid well in her district, and a solid retirement plan. When my father got hold of the finances after they were married, he lost my mothers retirement and asked her not to go back to work until after we kids were out of the house. A closeted sexist and an unfortunate product of the era of his parents. He wasn’t counting on pregnancy and time to increase my mother’s health problems, and eventually he seemed to set himself up well for retirement and with life insurance policies on both he and my mother, but unfortunately no retirement plan for my mother, and no financial security either. Now she is unable to go back to work, and her health costs are taking them both for all they’re worth…which oddly enough gives me a sense of comfort know my fathers poor decision making has not come without consequences to his actions. It’s just unfortunate that my mother has to lose her peace of mind and security in her marriage over his lacking.

I had been wise in asking my husband to keep our finances separate. A method that many family and friends had given me flack for. Saying that I was not being wise or truthful to my husband about our finances and that it wasn’t right of me as a wife to request it or withhold from my household. Still, my husband was kind enough to agree to it. We each put what we can into our joint account, and we each do what we can to keep our own savings and checking accounts in line. If I’m broke, it is only my fault and no one else’s. No one can financially abuse me. I can choose what I want to invest in or not.

Still, financial abuse is not he only concern my parents relationship has caused me to be afraid of. My father, will sell nothing of his own, but often suggest selling things of my mothers to make ends meet. He will often be distant or removed emotionally and not have any kind of romantic attachment to my mother when he doesn’t feel like it. His moods swing and she falls victim to his coldness, not that he cheats or physically hurts her…but he neglects her…something I have noticed ever since I was old enough to become observant. All attributes I can see great potential of in my own relationship. Which makes me increasingly afraid.

Still I fight so hard to remind myself that my husband is not my father. He tried to ask me how I’m doing. He tries to take care of me. Even if he’s feeling distant he never pushes me away if I attempt to emotionally approach him. He may struggle with words, but he admits that. He asks for affirmation. He asks for my respect when he feels he is not getting it. He never makes unreasonable demands.

Still, we are young both in age and marriage…and so much has yet to happen.

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An Ideal Accident III

The more I reflect on the accident and the more my husband and I talk about it, the more we find to be thankful for.

This is probably really odd to say, but it’s too true to ignore and we can only attribute it to small miracles and God’s protection.

One of the first miracles was that we were not hurt. Every time I think about the accident I consider all the things that could have gone wrong and didn’t. No gas leaks. No broken glass. No air bags went off to cause us further injury. We made it out alright all things considered. Minor bumps no some whiplash that is being dealt with and healing nicely.

Another miracle was having the accident just over the border from a no-fault state. Had we been a couple miles behind where the accident occurred we probably would have been slammed with a ticket or twelve (especially for being an out-of-state plate). Not to mention we were close enough to family that we could get off the road and moving forward to home right away without either of us having to drive in our shaken state since my aunt drove us to meet my dad half way at a job site he just happened to have near that area.

With how busy that road was….we never hit anyone else. That never ceases to amaze me when I saw how many people were around me as I was losing control trying to hold my lane. Because when we stopped spinning it was like all the traffic was gone suddenly. The road was clear for a while as we got out and assessed the damage. That makes no sense outside of supernatural to me because there were lines and lines of cars around me and behind me and then suddenly none. Even as we assessed the damage of our car in the rain, there were suddenly few to no cars so we could be safe for a little while.

The insurance has been easy. Words I never thought I’d ever say. Mostly because of no other vehicles being involved. In two weeks we have money in our hands to get the vehicle we need with more coming once it has been purchased. We have no expenses being charged to us because the deductible was met. We got no tickets because the accident was an “act of God.”

I’m not sure if the accident was an act of God, but everything else certainly was. Certainly the circumstances surrounding it were. The people who came into our situation to help us out, the “coincidences” and the timing were all too perfect to be accidental. My husband and I have found a great deal of growth in this struggle, and it has been a blessing, even while difficult. I’m learning to be more giving when organizing how each of us will get to and from work. My husband is learning to adapt, communicate, and make hard decisions…all things he has struggled with in the past. I’m learning to set limitations for myself, which have been good, and hard for me because of the pain in my neck and back. I’m usually all go, and this has made me slow down as having only one vehicle has done as well.

Another miracle has been how my husband and I have been able to have consistent work schedules that are so similar and jobs so close to one another, that we have had no issues with having only one vehicle. Yes, there is a bit less freedom in it, but it has been good for us to learn how to plan better and organize our days more to get us to the places we needed or wanted to be. It also makes us spend way more time together and we’ve been growing our communication because of it.

In all, things have been okay, now we face finding a car for my husband before winter, which while a while away, really isn’t as far off as it seems. I hope that goes as smoothly as everything else has.

The Golden Rule

“Do you ever have moments where you feel like your perspective of faith inhibits you from taking care of yourself?”

“I can’t say that I have. Why do you?” He responded groggily and slightly muffled by his pillow as he laid in bed next to me. I had been laying awake for a good long while coming painfully slowly to a personal realization.

“Yes, I do.”

“How so?”

I began explaining it in a jumbled and partially incoherent stream of thought. But the basics of it came down to this: I spent so much of my life focusing on the self sacrifice of my faith, that I had become toxic in it, and often gave up things that were healthy habits for me to continue, because I felt like they were things I could give up in order to practice self sacrifice and take care of other things or because I thought it was selfish of me to take care of myself.

For a real life example, when I got married, my husband and I began contributing to a joint account while also holding on to our own personal bank accounts so that we could build a fund together to pay for joint expenses like insurance and groceries, but still have our own money to make purchases for ourselves without needing to talk it over. Of course, I contribute quite a bit to it so that we can build a better savings, but in doing so I had to give up purchasing vitamins and lotion to take care of common diabetic issues I deal with frequently. I felt like these were things I didn’t need, but rather could do okay without. After having stopped taking my vitamins, I began to see a decline in my health, both emotionally and physically. I stopped taking my St Johns Wort, which I used to help my mood when depression was getting bad. I stopped taking a couple vitamins I used for my blood sugar regulation, and my blood sugars got higher. I stopped taking my vitamin for my kidneys and sure enough….my kidney function went down when I got them checked soon after.

Of course, I spoke to my husband about it when I began to notice the severity of the changes, and I decidedly began taking vitamins again and contributing less to the joint account to do so, but it had been a choice made in my Christian faith to contribute so much to my household financially while also allowing me to practice a form of self sacrifice and self control.

What I hadn’t understood was how backward I had it. Self sacrifice doesn’t mean giving up your health in the name of faith. It was actually the opposite. To “love your neighbor as yourself” there had to be a little love of self in there to fully understand how that works.

The more I think of it, the more I realize I had done this for relationships too. I had practiced giving myself to people by offering them my time, only to have them use me to the point of abuse. I recall a former friend ho was very toxic, controlling, and destructive. Still, I held onto a relationship with this person because I had the perspective that I was to love people no matter what, and that’s what I as asked to do out of love, stick with this person and allow the abuse. Allow the hostilities to constantly come back and hurt my feelings, because that was love and I was being forgiving.

No it isn’t and no I wasn’t.

I understand now that love can be at a distance. I wasn’t being a good loving friend by enabling their toxicity. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that everything they did to me was okay, it just gave me a means of moving on from what they did to harm me and taught me to accept an apology I was never given. I was not obligated to stay friends with them if they were becoming harmful. So I forgave them and never spoke to them again.

The more I think about it the more I’m beginning to realize that much of what I thought was selfish or at some point in my life was told was selfish of me….is actually what my faith asks me to do. It’s to be joyful and have love for myself and to take good care of myself. To invest in the things that help me to be a better person and to keep me healthy so that I can take care of others, is actually just being responsible for what I have been given in life, which is exactly what Christians are called to do.

Where the mistake often gets made is the act of overindulgence. Things that are not absolute necessities to live are what we can self sacrifice and have self control in. We are asked to take care of that which we have chosen to be responsible for or are called to be responsible for. Our responsibilities and priorities to God, ourselves and our family are what ought to be our focus. For me, my health affects a huge part of my life. If I am not doing all I can to remain healthy, I cannot take care of my husband who I promised Before God that I would take care of. If I am not healthy, I cannot take care of my home because I will not have the energy to do so. If I am not healthy, my actions are not going to be in alignment with God’s commands and I will not be in an emotional place to be kind, caring, and loving. My health holds a lot weight in my faith, and by sacrificing my health, I have found that my faith hasn’t been health either.

I can’t believe in all my years of being a follower of Christ that this had never occurred to me, but I realize more and more that so many people of faith have this backwards too. Probably the same people who lead me to this impression of sacrificing health as a means of self sacrifice, were probably told the same thing by another toxic person before them and so on, to the point that it just became a cultural norm.

Well the toxicity of my culture stops here, and it’s time to learn a little more self love.

Another Christmas Eve

It doesn’t matter how many firsts we will be experiencing this year as husband and wife, Christmas really isn’t feeling very special this year. Then again, it really hasn’t felt very special since I was 13, and I began realizing that all the man-made traditions were just a ploy to get people to buy things for each other so stores could make it into the black by the end of the year. Read more

Gift Registries 

This was just like trying to figure out the bridesmaid dresses. Staring at the screen for hours. Fickle. Evaluating. Trying to figure out what’s more practical. What’s more reasonable. What will work the best. That process had taken me several weeks. This shouldn’t be as hard as that. Wedding registries are about what the couple needs. What you and your spouse would like to replace. What you and your spouse could use.
We don’t need anything though. Read more

Health and Wealth

“You’re awfully early today.” The receptionist commented looking at my appointment time and smiling her most professional smile. I was. She was the queen of the obvious. “Yeah, I just couldn’t shop anymore. It was getting dangerous for me. Figured I’d show up and save myself from spending money I don’t have.” 
My nurse taking my vitals commented as well “Maybe we’ll have a cancellation and get you in sooner.” 
“Seriously it’s not a big deal. I have wifi and a smartphone. I can handle sitting for a while.” 

I’m never eager to see the doctor, but my early arrival clearly communicated that I was. Part of me had to stifle the desire to roll my eyes in front of the nurses. So I sat as occupied as I could possibly be in the waiting room. Shoving my face into my phone and, ironically, scrolling through online retailers to avoid the overwhelming social activity on Facebook that was interfering with my deep desire to introvert…as well as emotionally prepare for the doctor. 
I had already spent just under $62 dollars at Kohl’s before showing up. Which was disappointing. I had once again made emotionally charged purchases. Retail therapy. Which I could have avoided by staying at home and not leaving early like I had. I was expecting pay day the next day, but knew that it would mostly be going to rent (nearly $400) and paying my credit card bill (thankfully a manageable amount of less than $40 for a cosmetic gift with purchase pre-sale). Thankfully insurance would cover my doctor appointment and I’d only pay about $100 dollars for that co-pay. Still, I was nervous about seeing the doctor. Knowing I was going to get yelled at for not doing well at remembering to take blood sugars and once again having a high A1C. 
My life had come down to number crunching. 
I’ve always had to crunch numbers for my diabetes, but now as an adult living on my own, I discovered crunching money numbers was almost more nerve wracking than possibly losing my life from poor blood sugars. Dark thoughts, I know, but I couldn’t help but think the more and more seriously as I sat there thinking about how much it would cost me to keep myself alive. 
I sipped on my Starbucks, overpriced and not even that good, and thought about my life choices as I often do when money is tight. I added in my electric bill for last month. I thought about that McDonalds meal I didn’t need. I thought about what I could sell if things got worse. I thought about how long ago my last load of unwanted clothing was taken to the consignment shop. I wondered at all the gas I wasted avoiding intersections I didn’t like or trips to my parents when I could have let the laundry and wifi use go just a little longer. I thought about all the things I could have done over financially. 
Then I decided to stop worrying, because to do so would overwhelm me and probably give me a panic attack. 

$$

It’s been two months since I contacted the medical benefits customer services. I was told a notice was sent to the company I work for, informing them to stop taking funds out of my check and to reimburse me with the sum of money I am owed. 

Still I have heard nothing.

To give a bit of background, I switched from Short Hour in cosmetics a few months ago to Part Time in Visual Merchandising. Part Time associates get medical discounts through a discount program to use in conjunction with their insurance policies. Before the discounts ever were active, I canceled the service, only to find several months later that money was still being taken out of my check. 

Of course, part of it is my fault. I have direct deposit on my checks, so when I got most of my paper copies I hung onto them, but never opened them. Fortunately, I have every single one of them on file in chronological order. Hard copy. All on file. 

Now, several hundred dollars later, they are still taking money out of my check. Enough money to pay for two months or rent. Maybe two and a half months. Enough money that could go towards my groceries and multiple medical expenses. 

I keep telling myself that it will all work out. That everything will be fine and it’s all going to be okay. I keep praying and trusting God that justice will be served and I just get my money back. I keep hoping that I don’t have to lawyer up or write a ton of letters repetitively for several years before I see any result. 

I’m not asking for more than I am owed. I am just asking for the money I earned back. Is that too much? I don’t think so. 

$

I wrote out two large checks and sighed. My bank account was looking more and more sad with each expense. Moving was going to be so expensive that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to afford my place after I moved in. A second job, of course, was always an option, but I dreaded the exhaustion as well as the emotional trauma of dealing with another place of occupation and it’s people. 


The last time I had a second job it didn’t go so well. The people sucked and so did the customers. The hours would never work for me to get to my other job on time. It just was a bad idea. 


The things I cannot afford, of course, are things I do not need. I can give up my design freelance for a while so I won’t have internet other than what I can get on my phone. I can buy food sparingly. I don’t need another article of clothing in my life. I can find ways to go without using a ton of lights and electricity. Yet, none of it feels like enough. The only way my friends afford life is having a spouse to help bring in money, or by living rent free with family.


I still feel like I have set myself up to fall flat on my face. So here I am panic stricken over money. Angry over every silly thing I have ever purchased. Hating myself for needing things like food and having medical expenses. Wondering if it’s all going to be worth it. 

Car Stuff

I made anxious faces at my mom as he continued to speak. The dollar amount increased more and more. Tirods not doing well. New breaks. New back axle. You would have thought I had a car accident with all this, but originally I went in because my engine light went on. Usually that isn’t such a big deal, but my car felt like it had been getting louder and louder lately. So I took it in. A little under four grand later, it would be fixed. It was a unfortunate state of affairs. Necessary, but still unfortunate. The week was not going terribly well.

Unfortunately, this postpones my hunt for apartments to a later date. I vented to my brother in the car as we headed to Subway for diner (since out parents decided to finish a minor remodle in the hallway that night, and we didn’t want to get in their way by making diner in the kitchen which leads directly into that hallway. Besides they were running to the hardware store and were going to get something). He expressed his sympathy…then proceeded to turn up his music that he didn’t care to listen anymore about my anxiety. I was okay with that. I didn’t want to listen to it either. So we drowned our thoughts in some Relient K and spoke little. 

I still was upset about it. I didn’t eat, because I wasn’t hungry. Too worried. I walked around the gas station convenience store. Thought about buying a soda. Then I saw the wall of BB Guns (yes, only in the hick country towns of Wisconsin can you purchase a BB Gun at the gas station) and thought of getting one to let off some steam at the beach…oh wait. Couldn’t drive to the beach. Because my car is in the shop. I sighed. It was something that kept drawing back to my mind. 

I had driven that car to and from Chicago recently. I told my mechanic that. He whistled and told me he is surprised my wheel didn’t go flying off on the interstate. I knew he wasn’t exaggerating. He was a family friend. He told things as they were. I nodded, even more thankful that it didn’t happen…especially with the friends I found myself toting around. He told me I was lucky. That they were so badly deteriorated that he is surprised they didn’t break when he took it for a test run to listen to what I described. He would take care of it. It would be better. I could start fresh. A lot of money, but I could start fresh. 

I have the money to pay for it. That isn’t so much the issue. What is the issue is the fear of not having enough at some point in my life to actually be able to take care of these things. I have been fortunate enough to have a wonderful family to float me cash, and been a pretty good saver much of my life. Yet, moments like these made my savings account look far too small and made my fears overwhelming. Not only that, but I was anxious because I had company coming to visit, and I wanted to make sure my car was going to be operational for their visit. My mom’ scar is available of course, but…it’s not my car. I don’t like hers. Not enough room. Didn’t drive like mine. Too low to the ground. Her little Honda minivan wasn’t my Chevy SUV. 

I keep writing all this in past tense, but I still find myself anxious. I suppose that’s normal though. Aggravatingly normal. Whatever. I shouldn’t fear what I don’t know will happen. We all know I’m going to anyway.