The Truth Is I’m Not Fine

Warning: I’m in a bit of a mood tonight. You may want to read a happier blog.

I get all kinds of shit from my family for answering honestly when they ask me things. Like, “How are you?”

Well, okay, then. Don’t ask me anything if a less-than-bubbly response is going to chafe your serenity. Because you are going to get the truth, and nothing but.

Usually my answer is “busy, tired, but alive,” or some variation thereof. They don’t like that. They want to hear “GREAT!” with lots of smiles and pompoms and confetti…this, despite the fact that “bubbly joy” hasn’t happened, ever, not once, since I was born. You’d think they’d clue in eventually that it isn’t part of my programming. I can be joyful, but bubbly isn’t ever going to happen.

*sigh* Even rats eventually change their methods when the established method is FAIL; humans seem to get stuck beating their heads against one kind of wall or another because the method worked once in the past or they have hopes it will work in the future, or because they have rationalized that it SHOULD work. I strive to be smarter than a rat.

I love my family, but the constant shit I get for being honest, even though I am polite and tactful and soft-spoken in my honesty, just leads me to believe they prefer pretty lies that sound nice, and my actual state of wellness or infirmity is not important. I wish they’d stop asking if they don’t want to know the answer, but they never do. Attempts to fake a bubbly response to forestall the inevitable shit are also full of FAIL, as I am apparently not so great at lying.

Yep, I’d say I rate pretty high on the “T” end of the Myers-Briggs “T/F” scale. Funny how I have no trouble making and keeping friends (some of which I’ve had for decades)…it’s just my family who resent not being lied to in order to make them feel warm and fuzzy all the time. They all rank high on the “F” scale, and I have to remember that and be more kind.

Truth is, I am miserable, folks. I haven’t been feeling well for a long time. I don’t sleep well at night. My innards are troubled, and most days I feel like I’ve been kicked in the ovaries or kidneys or both.  I have a bad back, and it has been acting up. My hips have been bothering me. Nothing tastes good. I’m eating hardly anything, since my appetite is nearly nil, but somehow still gaining weight. How that works, I have no idea.

Some of this crap is due to non-stop, grinding stress. I feel like I’m being pressed between two giant millstones, and some days I don’t even have the energy to try to push them off. I just lie there and let them grind. I don’t even have the energy to be defiant (“Is that all you’ve got?”) or whiny about it. I just feel like a rag doll being slowly squashed flat.

I’ve been out of work, and send out job applications regularly, and thus I get told “no” on a daily basis. That’s if the job advertisement isn’t a scam (all too often it is, and I’m too tired to even feel angry about that any more), or if I don’t get a robo-response and then hear nothing for weeks or months about the job I applied to. I’ve revised my résumé multiple times; if they don’t like it like this, maybe they’ll like it like that. I’ve tried for jobs that pay minimum wage, and I’ve tried for jobs I’m not entirely qualified to do (but willing to learn) and I’ve tried for so-called “good” jobs in both fields I might like and fields I know I won’t ever like even a little bit. I love working, but at the same time, I am getting this hopeless feeling that I won’t ever be hired again. Or, if I am, it will be to a minimum wage job I loathe, which will keep me from ever saving enough money to get ahead and break the cycle of abject poverty.

I have no income, and my SNAP (food assistance) benefits ran out on New Year’s Eve, and I’ll need a job to get them renewed. Yeah, I’m working on that one. The reason I asked for help with food in the first place is because I can’t get a job. No one wants to hire me. In the meantime, it would be nice if I could eat something. So, whatever. I don’t qualify for any other assistance.

Unemployment ran out months ago. My medical insurance is gone, and I can’t afford prescriptions I need (not even a bottle of ibuprofin). My eyeglasses need upgrading, my teeth probably badly need cleaning, I’m overdue for a follow-up mammogram after a breast cancer scare (I didn’t have any, but it cost me thousands I didn’t have to make sure of that and my medical insurance doubled in cost overnight). My pet needs shots and a check-up. My bank account is gone; the medical insurance company ignored my request to stop auto-debiting my account and boom, overdraft. Every little bit of cash I got, I threw it into my bank account but it wasn’t enough fast enough. I have no savings left, no retirement fund left, no 401k or other  investments left, nothing I own is worth selling. I don’t use credit cards, and wouldn’t use them if I had them, since I have no income to pay for any credit I’d borrow. My car is 20 years old and falling apart.

I’m looking into selling plasma for a buck.

I was not able to spend Christmas with friends or family, and didn’t get a call from my family until 8PM that night. It was rather lonely. I was unable to buy anyone any Christmas presents. (I then felt like crap on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but I’m starting to get used to feeling awful.)

I borrow library books or watch cable news on TV for entertainment, and when I can’t afford to pay the cable bill for the cheapest cable package anymore, they’ll cut that off. I had to forego borrowing books for a while, because when my car was in the shop for a while, my mom promised to drop some library books off, dawdled about it, and I racked up a six dollar fine I couldn’t afford to pay, meaning I couldn’t borrow any books. I have no phones. My land line is cut off. My cell phone is about to be cut off, and I can’t dial or text out. I do have the Internet, until I can’t pay for that. My laptop is on its last legs, but a very kind person donated me an old computer, so as long as I have Internet, I won’t be totally cut off from the rest of the world if my laptop dies.

I don’t own any game systems, not that I’d feel good wasting time playing games instead of looking for a job or doing homework.

I have to beg for help buying toilet paper, tampons, pet food, and soap.

I don’t drink much, so I don’t miss not having any alcoholic beverages in the house.

I’ve been eating cheap food for months and I suspect that has a lot to do with why I’m feeling bad, but it is better than not eating at all, which I suspect would make me feel worse.

My mother and I are clashing–we get along much better at a distance, and have been forced into close proximity for almost a decade and it is difficult to deal with the casual emotional abuse and verbal beat-downs, and to hear myself being unpleasant in return; let’s just say that I am not allowed to have any personal boundaries established whatsoever at any time and there is nowhere I can go to be guaranteed to be left alone for any length of time (mother doesn’t ever call before dropping in, and will get me out of the bath, interrupt any work I am doing, or wake me up from an all-too-rare sound sleep if necessary, and will also rearrange everything in the house to her liking and leave it that way for me to put back).

I’d give anything to move back to Atlanta since other family members and friends all live there, but I can’t afford it. In fact, I’ve been stuck here for eight years. EIGHT. YEARS.

I will need to get a job that earns enough to pay the bills and my school loan debt and so on. I will need to earn enough to save money so I can move: first and last month’s rent, a deposit, a pet deposit, the cost of moving all my stuff. Buying necessary things to set up a new household. Since I can’t even get a minimum wage job, I assume it will take me a long time to do that. If you have NO income, then it will NEVER happen. That feels…awful. I don’t want to die down here.

I’m begging my school for a work study job. Again. So far, I haven’t had a nibble. Having even a part-time job, just twenty hours a week, will help me reapply for food assistance, and help with paying some of the most important basic utility bills. I’m continuing to apply for jobs, and am getting all As in all subjects in school (I’m trying to get an AS Paralegal; my current three degrees, including a Master’s, have failed to get me a job so far). I’m not allergic to working hard.

If I get the AS Paralegal, then maybe I can get a job as a paralegal, which I’ve been assured I can easily do, once I have that precious piece of paper. I hope my friends are right. Will still need to somehow save up the money to relocate.

I have two friends down here, both very good to me, very good people. They are busy, I am busy, we don’t hang out much. I’m naturally an introvert, and being poor means I can’t do anything that costs money (not even a dollar), and am feeling more and more like a hermit anyway.

Some days I really have a difficult time seeing the bright side and feeling hopeful. It’s been years and years of one step forward, two steps back. I no longer can really visualize the ultimate goal. I don’t dare dream, even small dreams.

Once upon a time, my big dream was to have a little house of my own, in Atlanta. Not a large one. Just big enough for an art studio, my books and a place to get online and write, a guest room for friends and family to use if necessary. Maybe a porch or balcony or both, for when the weather was nice enough to just sit a while outside, maybe on a porch swing with some tea and a book. Stairs, because I like stairs in a house. A small yard, as I’m not big on gardening. Friends would come over, we’d do art projects, or watch a movie, or just talk or eat a meal together. I’d have a cat, maybe two.

I have no idea how to make that dream work out, even though it seems so pathetic and small. I can’t even get a job at McDonald’s. I’m sad and depressed all the time, and creditors are calling me. My mom was going to help, but she finds more and more things she doesn’t want to help with each month, and more bills go unpaid, and more creditors call. I have NO income. What can I do?

I’m relieved I have no children. I couldn’t afford them. I can barely afford my pet.

I’m tired. I feel hopeless. Some days I am so exhausted from lack of sleep, and my back is so sore, and my digestion is sometimes so out of whack, I just want to cry. I don’t cry, because I feel bad feeling sorry for myself when other people have it far worse in life than I do (though fewer and fewer do, I suppose). I ache. I’m so tired.

My self-image is in the toilet. I feel old and fat and useless and worthless. Other people don’t see it like that, but I suppose I have a lot of free time to insult myself every day and find things to feel bad about. Some days I do, and feel helpless and unlovable and useless. Some days I don’t, but I remember how I felt on the days when I did. It lingers.

I think my laundry detergent is eating holes in my shirts. For the past couple of months, every shirt with a design on it has come out of the wash with the ink feeling crumbly and cracked. At least ten shirts have suddenly developed holes; most were so destroyed they weren’t even good enough for rags and had to be thrown out. It’s the damndest thing. Why didn’t any of my clothes ever get holes in them when I could actually afford to go buy a new t-shirt? It’s like even my laundry soap knows I am too poor to fight back. I can’t even afford to buy a different brand until the rest of the jug is gone, and even then, without help, I’ll be hand-washing everything in the sink. Maybe with a bar of Ivory soap. It’s just…here’s another thing. You know? Normally a hole in an old shirt is a non-event. Maybe you are sad because you liked the shirt, but you can get a new one. You shrug it off. Except when you can’t, because you’re running out of shirts to wear at all.

The worst part of feeling bad is that I do occasionally earn a dollar now and then editing and writing articles for a website, or doing some web work, but when I feel crappy, I can’t even concentrate long enough to edit or write or be creative. I can’t live on what I earn doing that, but it is at least something I enjoy doing, and it helps a little. I don’t have to beg for a few bucks to go buy some shampoo if I write enough to earn a few dollars.

I suspect that I need to have a good cry and a good night’s sleep. Maybe a good meal. I bet I’d feel better.

In the meantime, if my family asks me “how are you?” then they should not expect me to smile and lie and say I feel fine. I have been in some low, depressed, down places in life, but nothing like this, nothing that has lasted this long. So I’m not fine, and I won’t lie about it.

I’m stubborn, though, and I guess I still have a shred of hope left. I’m not going anywhere. The grindstones are really doing a number on me, but until I hit absolute rock bottom and can’t afford to eat or keep clean, I am just stubborn enough to keep breathing. Other people might be sad if I didn’t persevere. I’m too tired to have an opinion on the subject right now.

Maybe one day I’ll write a book about it.

Bad day. Sad day. Exhausting day. I had a dream where I fell into a coma and a magic fairy godmother made a few things go right while I was unconscious, while I wasn’t struggling about something in every single area of my life. Maybe I won the lottery or something. I don’t know how she did it. I was comatose in the dream. Then I woke up and was so relieved not to be in a coma. Then I was frustrated, because life doesn’t work like that, and clearly my subconscious wants a break. Just a small one. It’s not like my imaginary fairy godmother took all my problems away. I think she just did stuff like fix my glasses or get the car valve cover repaired, or fast forward through all the paralegal classes I have yet to take so I already had my AS degree. It was little stuff, not a mansion or Prince Charming Enough or whatever. Even in my dreams, all I want is some rest and fewer troubles.

I’ll be OK, eventually, I hope…but right now, I’m not. All I can do is not be boring about it. I won’t whine about it every day. I promise. But, no, I’m not fine.

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9 thoughts on “The Truth Is I’m Not Fine

  1. wonderbink says:

    I tried to call but it wouldn’t even let me leave a message. Just wanted you to know that I hear you, and I wish I could do more to make things better for you. *hug*

    • britpoptarts says:

      Yes, right now I have no phone service. Land line has been cut off (so I had to revise my resume and give up on virtual assistant jobs, telecommuting jobs and using what once was 70+ years of good credit with AT&T to set up service in ATL one day, as that good credit meant that AT&T was, at one point, responsive to any customer issues I had). Mobile is now cut off, so I can’t apply to any jobs at all or call out of the house if I have an emergency. Not sure how refusing to help me with bills as promised is supposed to help me also get a job.

      Currently trying to get a work study position at school, but if they can’t reach me, how do you think that is going to go? No work study, no work, no food stamps, no eating. Simple as that. Sure, they have my email, but, for some reason, employers want your phone number on file so they can call you. How unreasonable, not.

      The only bright spot is that I’m not getting hounded by creditors day and night, or having the phone ring every fifteen minutes when my mom has a day off, meaning I can’t get any work done, and I don’t mind the silence and peace. It just can’t be a permanent thing if I want to keep trying to apply for work.

      • britpoptarts says:

        Sorry, that’s sixty years or so of service; since my grandparents had the same number since the 1940s and I inherited and started paying for the same line when my grandmother died. At any rate, AT&T was working with me, but even sixty years of being a good customer doesn’t help when you don’t have a dollar to pay the bills.

      • wonderbink says:

        And how much longer is it going to be before the Internet goes? What happens then?

        • britpoptarts says:

          Good question, and one I don’t have the answer to. I’m not sure what the benefit (other than not paying the bill) of not helping your child, who you promised to help and who is struggling, might be.

          If one of the most important goals is to get your kid employed (and if another important goal is your kid going to college for a FOURTH degree, one that you agreed to help with, and for which loans (etc.) pay the majority–80%–of the tuition), cutting off the phone due to non-payment, ruining your kid’s credit that was not-too-long-ago repaired painstakingly, not paying tuition bills for the pittance left over after loans (which your kid will have to pay back, on top of those tens of thousands in loans for her MA that you also promised to pay for but didn’t) and letting the Internet die seem like really shitty, stupid ideas.

          Especially when the library nearby isn’t open 7 days a week and only has, at best, 3 terminals, most of which are in constant use and cost money to borrow.

          Especially when it costs gas money to go to the next-nearest branch, located in a bad part of downtown, where you must pay money to park, which is also not open 7 days a week, has maybe 10 terminals also in perpetual use and charges money for online time, too.

          Especially if you then go shopping for antiques like chandeliers and huge rugs and tables and desks to cram into your tiny condo which is already bursting at the seams with furniture, buy clothes and household knickknacks online, pay to expensively restore and frame old family photos or whatever, buy a grand piano and a diamond ring, and then complain that you’re SO poor. I don’t begrudge anyone spending money on whatever they like, truly I don’t, but give me a break with poor-mouthing if you just bought a ridiculously expensive 250-year-old antique wall clock that doesn’t even work and which you have had to have someone come out and tinker with twelve times so far. I’m just saying that I find it hard to hear someone who is buying antiques claiming to be poor when I am wearing clothes with holes in them, living on a cup or two of cheap ramen soup per day and wondering how I will buy my next pack of toilet paper or bottle of shampoo or bag of pet food with no money. Frankly, if you are buying $5000 rugs, you do not know from poor and need to shut the hell up. You especially should not agree to help out and then find as many ways possible NOT to help out as you can, and then claim to be poor because your dryer broke. Notably, the replacement for that dryer has already been purchased. You’re not really poor if you can easily afford to replace a major appliance within a few days without having to hock something or sell plasma.

          Whatever.

          Maybe her goal is to force me to use her machine (which is slooooooooooow and which she uses a LOT) at her house, so she can offer non-stop criticism every single day and examine my browse history, instead of telling me everything that I am and that I have done is wrong only mostly on weekends.

          Who knows? I can’t figure it out. It’s a mystery.

          If you assume it is somehow tied to controlling behavior and lack of empathy, though, you’re probably close to the truth.

  2. jaymers says:

    I don’t know you, and this is only the second time I’ve ever read your blog, but please don’t lose hope. Your story is heart-breakin. I would offer you a smile and a cup of coffee if you walked into my life. Hang in there. You are in my thoughts.

    • britpoptarts says:

      Thank you for the encouragement, I appreciate that.

      • britpoptarts says:

        Also, thanks for reading. I haven’t really publicized my blog, but I am happy someone is reading it!

        • jaymers says:

          I found your blog after a friend posted one of your posts on facebook (a few months ago, about being on government assistance). I was delighted to find that you are a wp site, so I started following. Unfortunately for you, my kids have been sick ALL fall and with the holidays and visitors, I’m something like the world’s worst follower, but I do occasionally stay up late trying to play “catch up” and I’m glad that I did!

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