This post is in response to the daily writing prompt at Today’s Author for September 17th 2013.
The dark clouds rolled in quickly, casting strange shadows across the landscape.
The sky carried the same eerie amber glow that most often accompanied a storm that promised more bite than bark. Thunder rumbled as the air grew colder, as the coal black clouds crept ever closer, and soon after that glowing sky went from near florescent, to near dark as night, even in what should have been the brightness of early afternoon. These were not ordinary rain clouds, they churned and seemed to boil as they passed over what seemed a low enough altitude for them to almost touch the earth at any moment.
Rarely had I stood underneath such a sky, even in the many years I have been here to weather the frequently stormy summers. My stomach seemed tied in knots as I stood at the window, fretting over starting the drive home, or waiting out the storm in the store where I was, in what could only be described as one nameless strip mall of many that dotted the landscape on that end of town.
A desire to run home, won out and left me bolting for the car as the wind picked up, and the rain began to fall, and dust and stray litter whipped across the parking lot, propelled by the gusts that whipped my hair and my clothes tight against me as I struggled to open the car door and close it behind me.
I turned the radio on and tuned it to a local station, which for that moment carried the annoyingly chipper advertisement for a local grocery chain having a special on ground beef and a certain brand of fabric softener. Traffic had slowed to a crawl halfway home as the rain and wind finally bore down in full force, visibility reduced to only a few car lengths ahead even with the wipers going as fast as they could manage.
The rain was coming down so heavily in fact that the street now looked like a small river a few inches deep, and water bubbled out of the storm drains and manhole covers, the rain falling far too quickly for the town’s antiquated sewer system to handle the sudden deluge. Thankfully my turnoff was leading me uphill, even if it meant going home by a slightly more out of the way route than I normally would have taken to avoid most of the other low lying areas. I could not, however, avoid the one last dip in the road at the end of my street, which proved to be also starting to flood as I crept through the intersection, hoping the car wouldn’t stall before I made it through.
My sigh of relief had been premature as I rounded the curve, only to find the big oak tree in Mrs. Hawkins front yard not merely blocking the street, but thoroughly crushing Mr. Daily’s up until then nice shiny new sports car. I couldn’t turn around and go back, without taking a chance with the flood, and now I couldn’t go forward. I’d debated just sitting in the car until the storm cleared, at that point, but the peal of the air raid siren, jolted me away from that prospect. There was nothing else to do at that point than to pull the car as far off the road as I could safely, and run the half a block still between me and home as fast as I could through the downpour. I’d grab clean dry clothes from the laundry room in the basement once I was in there and safe.
Did I mention I’m just a little afraid of storms?
I know I’ve talked a lot here the last couple of years about our housing situation, and why it is driving me crazy. We’ve been stuck here in this apartment for the last two years now, living with my husband’s ex-girlfriend for a roommate no less. Our apartment search this entire time has been one huge disappointment after another. We are being priced right out of even thinking of getting our own apartment, even in a not so great neighborhood.
There isn’t as much of a safety net for the disabled as a lot of people seem to think there is in this country now. Waiting lists for public housing are over a decade long if they are open at all, and most low income housing that exists, is set aside specifically for the elderly. My husband and I will not qualify to live in one of those places for quite some time yet.
The fact remains that the so called “fair market” rate for a two bedroom apartment is over 900 a month in this area. This is more than my entire income, and not much less than what my husband and I make combined. Think about it, that’s just rent, not heating the place, or keeping the lights on. It’s amazing how some people have the impression that the disabled are living so high on the hog, when we can’t even afford even a small apartment of our own to live in.
The worst part about looking for an apartment here are what places like to call “application fees.” Most housing in this area is owned by out of town investment companies, who hire locals to “manage” the properties for them. Most of these companies not only charge high rents, but want upwards of $150 dollars per adult in the household just to apply to live there, this fee is non-refundable if they reject your application. They also want the last 6 months worth of pay stubs, to see your tax returns for the last 3 years, a credit check and a federal background check just to be considered. Even if we don’t have to worry about our credit or income…who can really afford all those fees?
My husband thinks the reason he’s seen so many apartments listed for so long, is because these landlords are making more money not renting the place, and just rejecting people’s applications than they would actually renting the apartment. I mean think about it, if you get 10 applicants a week at $150 a pop,for an apartment that rents for 800, you’ve come out further ahead to let the place sit empty don’t you think?
Someone recently told us getting a mortgage right now is actually easier than getting an apartment because of that, so we have decided to try it. A mortgage does seem to be very much cheaper than rents here, our monthly payments would be only about a third of what it would cost to rent a comparable house in the same kind of neighborhood. The question is, can two disabled people even get a mortgage? Are they going to look at our meager income and not even give us the time of day?
All I know is I really don’t want to spend another year here, walking on eggshells in my own home, dealing with someone who’s not only his ex, but someone who’s mere outlook on everything from politics to family values, happens to be nearly polar opposite to my own. I don’t want to deal with someone who refuses to budge an inch on letting us have the third bedroom, when we pay 2/3 of everything here. My son having his own room will soon be more important than her having her “office” and a place to store all that extra junk she can’t squeeze into her already packed tight bedroom. I can’t stand the fact that she thinks it’s okay to smoke in here, when there’s a baby in the house, and she thinks it’s good enough that she just shuts her bedroom door. The smoke still travels, I can still smell it. We have an outside balcony for that, for pete’s sake, it won’t kill her to use it.
I want to be hopeful here, but it’s hard. Life right now just seems like a lot of jumping through one hoop after another, just to get further behind than when we began. When being here is so hard that I wan’t to pack my son up sometimes and move back where I came from, where things are awful but at least affordable, there is a problem.
All I know is that at least if nothing else, but for my peace of mind, by the end of the year, I want to be far away from here. I don’t care if we are in our own home having bought a place, or we have picked up and moved somewhere entirely new. I can’t take another year of the same old situation, and the same old worries. Something has to change for anything to get better, it has to.
I’m very on edge lately, and especially since yesterday again. I wish PMS were all I had to blame it on. I’m irritable, grumpier than usual, and to top it off I’m still not sleeping well at night. I don’t want to feel this way, but it seems like every time I start to relax a little, something else happens that puts me back on my guard again.
Yesterday, it was finding out that even after having over a month to do so, social security still hasn’t processed a simple change with mine and my husband’s account. Long story short, if they don’t do so in the next couple of weeks, I won’t be getting my check in time to pay our rent. We spent all morning down at the local office wading our way through an almost two hour wait in line, just to be told to be patient and that they would get around to it, they swear in time to make sure the problem gets fixed and my check will arrive on time. I wish I could take them at their word, but if they couldn’t do it in the last 4 or 5 weeks, why should I believe they will bother to get it done in time now?
When it rains it pours lately…
I really wish things would be good for a change here. I’m tired of always being on my guard, waiting for the next thing to go wrong, and then struggling to fix it. It’s so hard to plan for our future or anything else, when I can’t even get simple answers, even after what’s now been months and months of waiting. Why does it take them over a month to finish a simple change on our account that they could probably do with a few keystrokes? Why does it take them until October for my husband’s checks to even start, when he was approved months and months ago? Meanwhile the money for him we haven’t even gotten yet, is already being counted against us on other benefits. Sometimes it makes me want to throw up my hands and give up, but I can’t. I have a family to take care of, one way or another.
I’m not easy to live with when I’m moody like this, but sometimes I don’t know whether I want to get angry, or find a quiet place to sit and cry for awhile. My initial reaction to the news was to panic, and once scared passed, I think I cried for about 10 minutes straight. Par for the course, worrying about this morning, I also didn’t sleep all that well, but I still got up and went downtown to do what we needed to.
I know I do a lot of complaining here, but all of this has to go somewhere, and I can’t bottle it up or take it out more on my husband than I probably already am without meaning to. It’s frustrating trying to have a conversation on a good day when it’s noisy and his hearing isn’t working well, and the baby is being noisy, it’s doubly so when I’m so stressed that I don’t have the patience God gave a box of animal crackers, and repeating myself isn’t working over all the racket. It’s not his fault, I know that. When I have something I think is important to say, and I’m not being heard, it’s hard to fight the urge to yell sometimes to make sure that he hears what I’m saying.
Sometimes I worry about his hearing, and what would happen in an emergency if he couldn’t understand me, it can make me a little overly protective. I’m the one that has to keep her ears peeled for the baby when we are sleeping, and for anything that goes bump in the night around here, not to mention that it’s safe to assume John would likely sleep right through a smoke alarm without me. Him getting a new hearing aid he could actually sleep with would be a great load off my mind, if such a thing actually exists. (we are presently just hoping to be able to get him a new hearing aid soon at all)
Here it is after 3am, and I am still awake again..
I know I should try to sleep now…
Wish me luck…
Let me say I am first off not writing this to tear people down, but to make people think about their actions, and the effects they can have now, and even years and decades later on their children. Some people, and even relatives will not agree with what I am writing. You have your point of view about how the situation was in the past, but I also have mine. All I know is how what happened then, and continues to happen to this day looks and feels to me. When I am still laying in bed at night at 42 years old crying over what might have been, something is wrong, something needs to be said because bottling everything all these years has never worked and still isn’t working.
The last time in my life I can really remember being truly blissfully happy I was only four or five years old. I remember the day my little sister came home clearly, she was sleeping in that white cradle in the front room. I don’t remember feeling jealous even at four years old, I just remember wanting to help, and not being allowed to. Suddenly I was too noisy, in the way, and no one had time for me. I remember as a kid spending most evenings with babysitters, while my mom, bowled, played sports and went out with friends. She wasn’t always the most picky about who she left us with, some of them were really not very good people.
I can remember many times over the years growing up wondering what was wrong with me, and why my parents kept me at arms length, and yet seemed to love my younger sister the way they did. I probably wasn’t the easiest child to deal with, but there were so many times they should have seen just what was going on with me and either overlooked it, or just didn’t want to see it. I wanted so many times to tell someone what was happening to me at that age, but a six year old doesn’t have those words on their own. Nobody, not one single person, be it a teacher, a counselor, or a relative ever once asked me the right questions. Why couldn’t I sit still? Why was I always staring off into space? Why wasn’t I listening? Those were the only questions I ever heard.
Why did my parents never look further to figure out what was going on with me? I don’t get it. Everyone was so quick to label me hyperactive (the label they used before ADHD became the new term) and shove me onto ritalin, and into what other kids called the “dummy class” even though my IQ was high enough that I could actually do work several grades ahead of my level. I remember by only the second or third grade not even wanting to go to school. Bullying was already bad then, and by middle school it was downright intolerable.
It’s hard to understand unless you have been there I think. School wasn’t about education for me, but only about making it through the day and hoping nothing bad would happen to me. In the course of my “education” I’ve been not only verbally bullied, but beaten up, and once was almost sexually assaulted at school by a group of guys who thought it would be fun to try dragging me into an empty science lab after school let out. (Thankfully someone helped me but wound up in the ER because of it) The school did nothing…didn’t even call the police.
Almost everything I have ever learned worth knowing I have taught myself, mostly by reading. I spent most of high school drawing or writing poetry. I had one or two friends, but no really close ones. For the most part I lived in a world of my own. Eventually after my grandfather died, and the few things keeping me stable enough to function started to come apart, I dropped out halfway through my senior year. I just couldn’t take the pressure and the daily abuse there anymore.
I went through a stage where I didn’t want to do anything, fell in with the partyers just to think I belonged somewhere, even though now with older eyes I know almost all of them were just using me. It didn’t seem there was much point to life right then, I was just not dealing with things, and like a lot of my so called “friends” I was just trying to have what we thought was fun.
Everything changed when I found out I was having my son. Even being on my own with his dad not wanting to be anywhere near in the picture, I still felt I finally had something to care about. I went back to school in an alternative program, and finally finished up getting my diploma. I graduated high school, and gave birth to my second baby two days later.
My twenties and even thirties were a string of one bad relationship after another, during which time I had a third child during another short lived relationship. Sometimes you want so badly to be loved that you don’t often realize why you keep making the same bad choices over and over. Looking back now I realize most of those men had a lot of qualities in common with my mother. They were all very demanding, emotionally and verbally abusive, and all very very much all about themselves, and their own wants and needs.
It took me a long time to finally realize why I kept falling into that pattern, and seven years of being alone, before I was finally ready to take a chance on any new relationship. That time I took a chance with a friend who was very different from my usual “type”, and very much more similar to me in personality. I’d finally found someone who could hold a good conversation with me, and not look down at me, or tell me I was crazy or stupid for thinking the things I think, or believe. I’m not all that silly, he was a keeper, so I married him.
I got upset last night and was crying when I thought about what he had said to me earlier in the evening. He asked me why when I’m upset, or stressed out, I curl up inside my shell and won’t talk to him. I don’t mean to push him away, but old habits are hard to break, when living inside yourself was the only way you knew how to survive for so long. Again it’s hard to explain to people who have never been there.
Sometimes I wonder why I’ve been through all of this….
All I’ve ever wanted was to be loved…
Now that I have what I’ve always wanted, it’s hard to change. The more stressed I get the more I fall back into old habits and defenses. These are things I need to work on. Optimism doesn’t come naturally to me. I make one hell of a conspiracy theorist when I am looking for reasons to worry. My nickname isn’t Eeyore for nothing…
The only way I can think to end this post is with a few words of advice. Take them for what they are worth. They are just things I have really wanted to say lately, and really just didn’t know how.
Even if you love your children for different reasons, and feel closer to one child than another, please make sure they all know they are loved and valued. Favoritism hurts more than most parents will ever realize.
Kids, and especially girls who do not believe they are loved and valued at home will turn elsewhere to find the affection they are longing for. Abusers are drawn to these kids like a magnet Love from their family can make all the difference in a child’s future and their relationships with others. Any sense of belonging has to begin at home, without it, some of us float for a lifetime feeling like we don’t belong anywhere.
We want so badly to know that we matter, and our lives, however hard have purpose…
Is this all just a pointless ramble?
Can you really understand?
I’m grumpy, I’m tired and I’m sore. Last night after coming home from the chiropractor my back went into such a bad spasm that I spent half the night in the emergency room, because I had to break down and actually do something about the pain. I don’t know whether something went wrong while being adjusted yesterday, or whether lugging around my 22 pound son car seat and all threw my back out on the way home.
I hate taking pain pills, can’t stand it…don’t even want them in my house usually.
Today I am still sore, but not nearly as bad as last night thank goodness. I’ve been taking it easy and using my husband’s lap desk from the sofa to type on. I know I shouldn’t just sit here, and I need to move around a little to get myself unstiffened again, but I don’t wanna.
Maybe food would be a good idea…Lucky Charms you have become my new favorite food for the evening. Ain’t cooking, can’t make me.
I have no idea why sleep is eluding me, but summer has for as long as I can remember given me occasional problems with insomnia. Some nights it takes me until around 2 in the morning to finally fall asleep, and then when Thor wakes up around 5 for a bottle, it still might take me an hour or more once he settles in again to go back to sleep a second time. Most mornings I wake up for good sometime around 10 unless I have somewhere I need to be that I need to be up earlier for.
Even in the daytime naps often just don’t happen. I’ll be exhausted, and barely able to keep my eyes open, but by the time I talk the hubby into watching the baby for awhile and go lay down, I either won’t be able to fall asleep because it’s too hot in here, or I only sleep for a few minutes, and then I am awake again and still laying there exhausted while my brain goes in circles trying to nod off again. Eventually I give up and just get back out of bed…
Body exhausted, mind wide awake….the story of my life as of late.