Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Change and F*cking Cake


Why are human beings so resistant to change? Why do we continue to torture ourselves by staying in situations that we know deep down are probably not a good idea? Surround ourselves with the same things day in and day out, and expect everything else around us to change for us and become better eventually but not want to do any of the actual work required to actually make changing anything worthwhile?

The Devil you know beats the Devil you don't.

You know how to handle things when they're the same, even when they're shitty. Because it's always the same shitty. You know it will eventually become, well less shitty. But then you know it was also become shitty again.

Prolific I know.

It sucks not knowing what will happen next. There is almost some sort of soothing routine feeling even when things are bad. You expect them to be bad so you just deal accordingly. You numb yourself to it. It becomes all you know really. And change, well change is new territory.

You don't know if it will actually be better. You don't know that it will be worse than where you have settled into in life. It's akin to living in New England. That's how I see it. The weatherman constantly promising beautiful, warm and sunny days, but instead you're greeted with a chill in the air and wet from the rain. You lose faith in him eventually. His promise of a better tomorrow soon falls on deaf ears. You just chalk it up to another shitty day and get on with it, vowing to never trust the weatherman.

I tend to hold on to things I love even if I know they are slowly killing me. Like the diabetic who sneaks cake in the middle of the night. Or the grounded child who sneaks his video game under a blanket with a flashlight. Some things, no matter how much you love them just aren't good for you.

I would get moments of strength and hold strong to not pursuing it, but then I'd get weak. I'd remember the good parts of it thinking it outweighed the bad, and just like everything else like it, it didn't last very long before the negative effects took place.

You don't notice the fat on your thighs while you're eating the cake, you notice a little while later that your pants have become tighter and the only way to get back into them is to stop eating the fucking cake. Which sounds way easier than it ever is, of course.

I vowed on New Years Eve to greet this year with positivity. To not dread the days ahead, but to focus on the imminent future. Baby steps. One day at a time. Every self-help book cliche I could cling to. And for the most part, It worked. I blindly trudged on. I took everything for what it was. Kept telling my self "well this sucks, BUT it could always be worse..." I tried to be grateful for what little I had left. I clung to it like a child holding onto a stuffed animal to keep the nightmares at bay.

And look, I like my 90% of the time attempt at focusing on what is still ok rather than what could be worse, but today is a 10% day where all I can see is the shit.

When I took a paycut at work and my hours were reduced I was upset. I was devastated even, but I muscled through it. I gritted my teeth and I took a deep breath and I said ok. This sucks, BUT on the plus side you still have a job and they promised it was temporary. Suck it up, Buttercup.

So I went in, day after day as though nothing happened. Good attitude, good work ethic. Doing everything I could to act as though nothing had changed. Money became tighter sure, but it was still sort of coming in.

A month or so later in March when they actually laid me off, I again took it in stride. I knew they were slow, that my position wasn't the "bread and butter" of the business so to speak. I took it as an opportunity to start my own business. I could consult for them, they seemed thrilled with the idea. Even sent me packing with office supplies, a laptop, printer and an order of business cards. A sort of unconventional severence package. I left feeling as though it was a new chapter beginning. I continued to fight through my former Debbie Downer mentality and tell myself it was a good thing.

Then I filed for unemployment. And I figured, ok. So I won't have a check for a week but then I'll collect and it will be tight but I'll be ok. Until unemployment took over 6 weeks to kick in. I kept telling myself it would all be ok. That it would be retroactive and I would be able to catch up and all will be fine.

I updated my resume. I created a website and Facebook page for my "new" business. I contacted staffing agencies and went on job interviews. Then I waited for the phone to ring. For the email alert on my phone to show an inbox full of promise.

Silence.

Automated withdrawals I had naturally forgotten about continued to hit my now very bleak bank account. Fee after fee then started to accrue, leaving me overdrawn. Yet I persisted with my new-to-me attitude of focusing on the positive, even though it was becoming harder and harder to do so. I would tell myself that today was the day! Every day. And naturally it wasn't.

When that fateful day did come when the Massachusetts government got their shit together and finally paid me, they deducted an "overpayment" from a 2 year old previous claim. That was, as a matter of fact, THEIR error. Which they sent me a letter regarding, stating that if in fact I was not at fault for said over payment error (which I was not, according to them) that I would not be responsible for paying it back. Big fucking lie right there. But I digress...

So between the fees, the overdrawn account and the now piddly excuse for a retroactive payment. I was no better off really. But I still held strong to that resolution. I'll be damned if I was going to have myself a pity party! I said again to myself I'd get back on track and all would be ok with the world.

So I decided last month to look at schools. More specifically Cosmetology school. Because clearly continuing on the corporate path I had been on as an office minion of sorts in the past few years shitty economy had clearly not advanced my life in any way. When I had been laid back the time prior I told myself if it ever happened again I was going to say fuck it and go to hairdressing school.

Well. I am. Call it a mid-life crisis, call it whatever the fuck you want, but I went to visit a couple schools. I applied for financial aid. I got accepted. Holy shit. I just turned 35 and I am starting all over again. Like going to college right after high school. But I wasn't a spring chicken. I didn't just graduate from good old Holbrook High again, I was now a graduate of the School of Fucking Hard Knocks at Life University.

I had thought about it before, I made excuses as to why it was a good idea in theory but would never work. I couldn't support myself not working. What would I do with my kid? I would have to start out in some piece of shit salon. I would have to build a clientele.

I scared myself shitless. There never seemed to be the right time for it, so it was a back-burner idea. A sort of private joke with myself.

But then I get an offer to be a part time receptionist in the salon I go to. With an owner who was excited I was going to get my license. A nice, higher end salon with a great atmosphere and a great location for walk ins to build a clientele. In a town I live in with great friends who would actually come to me. I got accepted to a school 18 minutes away from my house. It was actually do-able now.

Change. It was real now, tangible.

But now that it's so close, my resolve is wavering.

I herniated a disc in my back again. I could have taken it as a sign but no, I found a chiropractor that very day and worked to get better before I started school. And it's working. Again, I held on to the notion that things will be ok, although I was noticing my grip was getting a lot looser.

Yesterday I came home from his office to see that my power had been cut off. The mounting pile of bills I'd been avoiding in my mailbox clearly catching up to me. I instantly called them and begged to work out a deal. Explained my financial situation in all of it's embarrassing glory. They swore to me that I would have my power back by 5:30pm. Excellent. Seeing as it was around 11am I thought all would be fine and corrected before Dylan got out of school.

Being it was daylight and I had no TV to lose myself in as I had become accustomed to doing lately, I was left to my own thoughts. I started stewing in my own juices. That loose hold I had left on my newly found positive outlook released and I was fully engaged in my own pity party.

What the fuck was I doing? School? Now? What the hell was I thinking? I am so far behind in everything! I have gotten laid off over and over again and I started to blame myself for incompetence and not the economy. Not the down-sizing or position eliminating, or hell even the fact that a bunch of them were actually temporary jobs. There had to be something wrong with me, right? All the amazing references I had ever gotten had to be bullshit, didn't they? A way for the Big Brass to feel better about letting go the single mother. I was on a self-deprecating roll.

I recounted my failed relationship with my ex-boyfriend. How hard and emotional the last year and a half had been since we broke up. And tried. And broke up again. And then tried again. And then broke up yet again. The failed ones before that. I saddened myself further by rethinking of the betrayals I suffered at the hands of someone who had been my life long bet friend. Not the first I considered a best friend to turn on me. Thinking of people I used to be close with who are now just a yearly "Happy Birthday" on Facebook. I was staring at old pictures, text messages, emails and thinking of all the might-have-beens and slowly drowning myself in tears like Alice in Wonderland, creating a churning sea of bitterness, sadness and loneliness below me.

I called my mother, because that's of course what you do when you're sad. You need her. I no longer have a best friend to vent to, to call up and man-bash or job-bash or discuss whatever stupid celebrity did whatever stupid thing they were currently doing. My mother and I have had our differences sure, but she is the closest thing I have to a BFF. I was grateful for her at least.

"Am I such a bad person that I deserve to have so much shit happen to me all the time?? Why is that when everything starts going ok the universe pulls the rug out from underneath and screams "Just Kidding!" What did I do to deserve this?! I'm going to be alone forever! I'm so fat and old now." and the like. I vented.

And she listened, as mother's do. She reminded me that bad shit happens to everyone. And as I talked to her I took a deep breath and remembered my resolution. I had to be positive. Things could always be worse. My mother lost my father, her ability to work and her eyesight but was still thankful to be alive. Grateful to still enjoy a perfectly cooked steak and an ice cold beer.

Perspective.

So today, the electricity was turned back on. I'm fairly eager to start school on Monday and I am once again trying to see the bright side of things on this gloomy New England day. I have unemployment and even though it's not a lot it's something. I have a part time job and I am gaining experience in the field I am about to launch myself into. My son is happy and healthy, and my back no longer feels like someone is behind me stabbing me incessantly. I live in a town that I love, and I have made some pretty amazing friends here. Things could always be worse, right? It's not easy, but I'm still going to do my damndest to hold on to that resolution. For dear life.

And I really need to stay away from the fucking cake.


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