Today is St. Patrick’s Day. An odd holiday, one that tends to contradict itself. A day to celebrate St. Patrick, who is credited with spreading Christianity across Ireland. And we honor his holy mission by getting sloppy on green-dyed beer. Nice. But this is not a blog about St. Patrick’s Day, mostly because there really isn’t a whole lot more to say on the topic. This is a blog about how I’m feeling on this lovely St. Patrick’s Day, which is overwhelmed.
I have always been a (mostly) responsible person. I mean, sure, I had my share of youthful indiscretions. But for the most part I have always managed to keep it all together. I graduated high school with grades good enough to get me accepted to a state university. I then went on to get a bachelor’s degree in education while holding down various part time jobs to pay the bills. And though I managed to rack up a good bit of debt due to the fact that I didn’t really make enough to live on my own (and maybe some irresponsible spending), I never got to the point where I couldn’t pay at least my minimum payments. Prior to about six months ago I have never had to pay my bills late or miss payments.
When I was seven months pregnant, my husband’s former employers suddenly and rather unexpectedly said that they could no longer pay him. About four months later, despite repeated assurances that everything would be fine, they informed him that the situation would be permanent and that he should find another job. It took another three months before he finally went into the trucking industry. Prior to this situation occurring I had managed to get us into a relatively financially sound situation. We could pay our bills. Our debt was consolidated and our credit cards had no balances. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. We even had some money in our savings account to fall back on in a tight spot so that we wouldn’t have to turn to our credit cards. During those seven months of unemployment, we managed to go through our savings, max out our credit cards, and get ourselves into a way bigger hole than we’d ever been in before. Admittedly, this was in part due to my obstinate refusal to accept the situation and pinch every penny. But even if I had squeezed until each penny was flat, we still wouldn’t have had enough.
Fast forward to today. My husband is working and though it took time for him to get through school and training, he is finally making pretty good money again. Our income tax return will be enough to get us caught up on our mortgage and a few other things we’ve fallen behind on. We once again make enough money to pay our bills… with the exception of all that previously mentioned debt. Having to decide which bills not to pay each month is stressful. I hate being a person who just doesn’t pay their bills. I accumulated that debt, it is my responsibility, and yet I can’t take care of it. I have been toying with the idea of filing bankruptcy, though I haven’t pursued the topic yet because I loathe the idea. I feel like I am at a crossroads, knowing I need to make a decision but terrified of making the wrong one. I will have to decide soon though because I can’t just keep ignoring the problem forever. And the stress is really getting to me.
Yesterday my cable and internet got shut off. It is already back on today, but the reason that it got shut off is ridiculous. I had a pile of mail on the bar in my kitchen that I did not go through for so long that my cable bill was six weeks late. So my cable got shut off not because I couldn’t pay it, but because I forgot to pay it. The same thing happened with my water bill but luckily they didn’t respond as quickly. This morning I needed to get gas and had to put it on a credit card not because I have no money in my account but because I left both my license and my debit card in the diaper bag at home. So yes, I also drove to work and back without my license. Two weeks ago I lost my debit card, either because I let Emma play with it after paying at some store or because I stuck it in my back pocket and it fell out somewhere. I had to make phone calls to get tax forms I needed because I accidentally threw them away. This absentmindedness is so very uncharacteristic of me and it’s making me depressed. I’ve always prided myself as being someone who can keep it all together, someone who can do it all with a smile on my face. And now I often feel like I’m barely scraping by, doing the bare minimum in every aspect of my life. It is hard having a husband who is always on the road. It is hard taking care of a house and a one year old and two dogs while also working full time. It is hard always having to worry about money. It is overwhelming. I am overwhelmed. I would love to curl up in a ball on my bed with the covers over my head and shut out the world… that will make all my problems disappear, right?
Ok. I’m done with my whining, and honestly I do feel a little better. If you stuck with me this long, thanks for reading. I will put my happy face back on. Maybe I need some green beer after all.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!