Have you ever been asked a question you truly didn’t know how to answer? Of course you have; but did you ever think that the question that threw you the most could be as simple as this one: “How are you?”?
How are you?
I never answer that question with just a pat answer. I’m the first person to warn everyone, “Don’t ask if you really don’t want to know!” I talk, I vent, and I ‘air out’ to anyone who’ll listen—or who’s within earshot. I even volunteer information. All of it; the good, the bad, the ugly.
How am I? Right now? Terrible. Wonderful. Each answer is both completely true and completely false, and I don’t feel right saying either. I am a very lucky person. I have wonderful, loving people around me. I always have. And even in the worst of situations, things have always worked out in the end. Always.
However, I have a problem right now. Imagine that. ONE problem. Just one: I did not get the job I wanted. Let me rephrase that: I did not get the job I NEEDED. My two jobs are somewhat seasonal, and in a horrible coincidence, it appears to be ‘off-season’ for both. What kills me is that this one problem is a daily concern with a rather large rippling effect. How will I afford the new apartment I just got? How will I pay the bills to keep up the apartment? How will I pay for my car? How will I feed my child? And these worries, because they are on a daily basis, can tend to put a serious damper on what would otherwise be a truly wonderful life.
I’m a single mother. And again, let me say how very lucky I am. I am a single mother in the fact that I live alone with my youngest daughter (her older sister lives on her own now), but I am not single; I am not doing ‘all this’ alone and I never have. I have an incredible support system around me in my family and friends. I even have people who spoil me. We all help and support each other. Unfortunately, I’ve been the one who seems to need it all the time now. My ego has been crushed almost completely (and, yes, I can see the good in that) and I feel pretty useless to anyone, my family, my friends, my children and myself. Add to that the “mommy guilt”: not being able to do any real ‘summer’ activities with my daughter because I don’t even have the gas to go and do even the free stuff/ignoring her while I spend hours on the computer trying to line up jobs – some that I can’t take because she’s out of school and I can’t pay a babysitter until I have one/being preoccupied with survival worries and not being able to give her my full attention…the list goes on. Any parent struggling in any way understands this.
I do have jobs lined up…for later. That means there is a light at the end of the tunnel…later. I will be able to pay my bills… later. I can pay people back…later. I have that, at least—and at most. I am still lucky; there are other people struggling without anything noticeable coming “later”. But I’ve been worried I’ll lose everything before that time comes. In the past five months I’ve only worked two. Unemployment’s new system still has ‘bugs’ in it that are preventing me from even collecting that. I’ve exhausted all resources (myself included), and I’m at the point now where landlords and car finance companies and utility companies don’t bother greeting me too friendly when they go out of their way to speak to me.
Two weeks ago, I couldn’t have talked about this (check the date on my last blog). If I did, this would have been titled, “A Pity Party”. Being in the thick of things allows no clear vision for anything else, and certainly puts a damper on anything enjoyable. In the past two weeks’ time, I have been very lucky…and blessed…to have my people around me who have helped immeasurably. Also now, with the passing of time I am that much closer to that point where I know I can start to pay back—not as close as I’d like, but definitely closer. I’ve had some happy surprises. I’ve had other…surprises that have still worked out in my favor. I have even been able to go grocery shopping—REAL grocery shopping, and not the “I’ll get what I need for my kid and eat whatever’s left over”. (It’s amazing what a good meal at home can do to clear your head.)
(In rereading this up to now I think, “Wow. One problem. Four paragraphs.”)
One problem. In spite of the fact that it affects every other aspect of my life, it is still just ONE problem. I see so many unhappy people around me. I am not unhappy. Yes, I have my moments of being down, but I am not unhappy. I am a fucking cheerleader. No, I’m THE fucking cheerleader. I have love, I have family, I have friends (I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your friends close). I still (still!) have a roof over my head and enough food to eat that I can function. (Even if it’s been a struggle lately to keep these things, I still have them!) I have my health, my children are healthy. I have music (see most of my other blogs). I have LAUGHTER. So what, lately some of my laughs have been bitter, but I’m still laughing.
Love, family, friends, health, music, laughter (coffee, chocolate, and sometimes steak!). I have all this. All this adds up to more than one. And each one, even individually, has the power to affect every other aspect of my life—even in the areas of my one problem. I am still lucky. I am still blessed. And I still know I will make it through this.
So why am I writing this? In part, to just get it off my chest. To finally write in my blog (!). To maybe apologize to a few people for my isolation. To see for myself what I truly have (‘make a list’ anyone?) in black and white. To remind myself to appreciate that I do have so much more than I feel I lack. To show my gratitude to everyone around me for their love and support. To thank the Universe in advance for the truly wonderful things that are in store for me, knowing that I will have learned enough to be able to see and appreciate all of it.
And to answer that question:
“How are you?”
P.S. And you know what? I’m using the last of the gas in my car to take my daughter to the beach tomorrow. We will have our summer day!
P.P.S. DAMN! Now I have to shave!