(I’m mixing things up a little bit. The end is not as bitter as the beginning. Bear with me, yes?)
I’ve come to an odd place in my life.
Nothing much has changed in the past ten years, to be honest. I used to work for a company that produces copper and fiber optic cables. I can’t name them, or they could sue me for my severance pay.
I got paid sub-standard wages to make those cables for years, while being made to feel that I should be grateful for it. I made more over a number of years, earning meager raises but never reaching the average starting wage for the industry. One year I received a ten cent raise. One dime an hour.
After eight years of loyal work, that company was bought out by an even bigger company. That even bigger company closed our production facility. We were told that we should be appreciative for our (bog-standard) severance packages.
I got lucky. Well, I got as lucky as can be expected, and landed in a crappy retail job for two dollars an hour less than I was paid at the cable making company. It was somehow more stressful and less fulfilling than the cable job.
I truly got lucky a short time later when I was hired by my current employer as an auto detailer. I absolutely love my job, and have been happily working it for nearly three years now. I’m still making a dollar less than I did at the cable-making company, though.
Long story short, I’ve been struggling financially for over a decade now. I’ve done everything right: Be loyal, work hard, stay the course… All that good stuff.
That’s not good enough in this country anymore.
Like countless others, I continue to languish in poverty despite working six days a week. I’ve continued to improve myself, pushing myself to be better. I’ve even taken to writing, releasing two novels this year alone. And yet…
And yet I’m in the deepest debt that I’ve ever been in. I’m in a swamp, and I’m sinking. I’ve been sinking for years. I struggle, and I sink further. I struggle harder, I sink deeper. There is no escape.
I could grab the rope right beside me called bankruptcy. Maybe I will eventually. I don’t know. I don’t want to, though. It’s not just pride, either.
I live in subsidized housing, in an actual house. I’d love to move into a house after they inevitably kick us out in the future. My daughter is on the final stretch to adulthood. Time is running out.
I can’t save for a down-payment on a house since I’m hemorrhaging six hundred dollars a month(I survive by using tax-return money to supplement my income throughout the year.) Claiming bankruptcy would leave me wide-open to save, but nobody will lend to me with a recent bankruptcy on my record.
So I started things over a dozen years ago being desperately poor and struggling to find my way. But now? Now I’m desperately poor and am struggling to find my way.
Wait. That’s not an improvement. Shit…
Okay, well… Here’s my point. I’ve spent most of those years stressed out of my mind, sometimes to the point of being sick, every day of my life. I’ve made increasingly desperate attempts to “make it work” and “figure it out”.
I’ve been like a cat in a bath tub, lately. Jumping and hissing and clawing and crying, trying to find any way out of my predicament. The sides of this bathtub are way too high.
I’m at that breaking point. One way or another, I’m accepting my fate. I’m choosing to accept it with as much grace and calm as I possibly can.
I know now that (seemingly) nothing I do will change my situation. Therefore I will do nothing. Oh, I’ll continue paying the bills… Somehow. I’ll keep being impoverished. I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep this website going.
I’m not going to live in a world of sickening stress anymore, though. I’m accepting that no matter what I do, my situation will not change. It’s stupid to stress over something that will not change, so I’m not going to.
I know it’s not a switch. I can’t just say “I will be happy, now.” I still snap sometimes over stupid shit only tangentially related to our decade-long cash crunch. It’s a process.
But it’s a process that’s been long overdue, and it’s one that I’ve started. David Cassidy died recently. His last words were reported to be “So much wasted time.”
I don’t want that to be me. I don’t want to look back years from now and say “Why did I do this to myself?” I want to know what it’s like to live without stress. I’m not going to get to do it by eliminating my debt.
I’m going to learn to accept it.
I will do what I can to enjoy the life I have. I enjoy my job. I love my family. I find joy in writing. These things I must cling to, savor, revel in. Only through these things can I continue to cling to my sanity.
I can either look at the impossibly-steep path before me and weep, or look out behind me and witness the glorious view my journey has awarded me. I know that I must continue to climb this mountain, but I will find joy in it whenever I can.
In this, may I find my peace.