I Hyperventilate, Looking For Some Hope Somehow, Somewhere, But No-One Cares
I have to preface this with that I chose to write this here, anonymously, because it is my last ‘safe’ (ha) shelter. Words are the only power I have left, and don’t think I don’t know how little power they even hold. I used to believe that what I could say, or write, or feel, or think, were all immensely powerful things. How naive I was. None of those things seem to dent at all the condition of my reality most of the time. But still I feel them. And still I think them. And still from me they pour relentlessly, as if holding them back would be a slow death. I chose to write this here, because to write something more aimed, more succinct, addressed to any one person, or even a group of people, I’m not sure is possible (for one), and is not meant to be aimed at anyone. It’s just how I feel. It’s not anyone’s fault but my own.
I compromised myself into this life. I don’t mean that, necessarily, as it sounds. I made compromises, so many times, trying to be better than I was. I made compromises to try to change for the better, to be deserving, to be gracious, to be generous. In my early adulthood, I cannot necessarily say I was any of those things. I was not necessarily selfish, but kept what was mine (be it belongings, income or debt) to myself. I kept myself very independent. I did not share these aspects of myself. I needed, then, to assert myself on my own, to practice as much self-reliance as I could. Finances were simple. My ex paid the rent (I paid the damage deposit), I paid all of the bills and bought all of the groceries (which meant that I also did all of the grocery shopping). In all, I can easily say that most of the time I spent more- significantly more. Groceries often included lots of snacks, and drinks- and food would disappear almost overnight because of his eating habits. Bills included hydro, cable, laundry (which was apartment coin-operated laundry), home phone, cell phone (a bill he loved to rack up into the hundreds of dollars each month). In the time we were together, I paid an entire year of his car insurance- $1700 (and though we ‘shared’ the van, I seldom had access to it and bought bus passes every month for 5 years), and even allowed him to put the vehicle in his name after a car accident drove his insurance rates into the outrageously unaffordable range. I risked the integrity of my license, and a perfect, clean 5 year license that he managed to ruin with parking tickets, so that he could continue to drive, instead of taking the bus also. Almost every occasion of going out to eat we either paid for ourselves, or one of us were paid for by my participation in points programs and coupons.
No matter where we lived (each time we moved, our rent increased), it wasn’t good enough for him. He always wanted bigger and better and more expensive. On the north shore, of all places. It was a miracle that we’d managed to find a rent-controlled apartment that was so cheap in such a small building, that was on a major bus route.
And yet, somehow, I was always made to feel like a poor contributor. It didn’t matter that in order to afford to pay the bills, I was eating food I should absolutely not have been eating. It didn’t matter that in order to afford to pay the bills, there were months that I was forced to choose between my medication and my food. Admittedly, I live much more sparingly than I used to, then, and am much better with my priorities. It took several years of growing up and realizing what I could comfortably live without to get here.
I did not see one cent of help from either of my parents from the moment I turned 18, until I was released from the hospital, 4 years and 5 months later. Nor did I expect it. Nor did I ever ask. I was not raised to look for help. My Dad attached a great deal of shame to that. I could barely breathe from the suffocating stress the first time he gave me money. I felt like such a failure. I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. I had to accept so much help during that year that I had to swallow my pride until I could be comfortable enough to be gracious. But I am still not good at it. Still, inside, hiding it, feel ashamed: I still feel like a failure. I still feel embarrassed. And to make it worse, my constant failures since have been made such a public forum topic that I have no chance to find a way to feel good about it (I mean, forgive myself and move on). Month after month, there is a mounting shame. People wonder why I don’t sleep. I’m a failure. I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed. I feel so often like a burden. I try not to share my guilt by keeping those feelings to myself, to shut up and be gracious. And I have tried to discourage the help whenever I thought that however difficult, I might actually get by.
People don’t seem to want me to be too proud. I get that. And I will admit, sometimes I want to be. I’m not proud. I’ve had times over the years when I felt like I was on the right track. But every time I felt myself giving in to the illusion that I was finally doing it, it was promptly pointed out to me in rather grand fashion that not only was I not succeeding, I was failing like it was my mastered craft to do so.
I feel so horribly backed into a corner that I don’t know how to get out of it. I feel like every time something goes wrong, people are pulling out an index of every mistake I’ve made and strapping on their riot gear. This didn’t get done and that didn’t get done. I’m so tired of trying to justify myself, to defend myself, that I can barely exert the effort anymore. I am so tired of trying to protect whatever inch of pride I have at any moment that I am almost willing to be exactly how I feel, in order to make everyone else just stop.
There is this dialogue in my head that goes like this:
“You’re right. I can’t even go a month without screwing up. I’m a screw up. You’re right. And I’m sorry.”
“You’re right. What the hell was I thinking? Wanting anything out of my life? I should have known when I couldn’t get a student loan and my common-law husband left me for a minor that I would always be nothing. Always be trash. I should have known that I would never have the freedom to try to succeed, or even dream I could. I should have known the moment I was diagnosed that I was destined to fail. You’re right. And I’m sorry my denial cost you.”
“You’re right. What was I thinking marrying for love when the man I married was neck deep in complicated relationships and debt? I should have walked away. His life might actually be better for it. Love doesn’t matter.”
“You’re right. What the hell was I thinking letting myself get pregnant? It was the one thing I think kept my life from falling apart only a few years ago. Thank God me and that dick didn’t have any kids. Thank God I got away clean, even if it cost me everything else. But now I don’t have that. Now I’m pregnant. I am such an idiot. Well, it’s not permanent until 20 weeks. I have 2 weeks to make this problem disappear.”
“I should pack my bags and leave. Without a word. In the middle of the night, I should just go. I make everything worse. I won’t even tell a soul where I’m going.”
The things I begin to feel and think when I feel this defeated scare me. Things I think are the kinds of things they strap you down to the bed and medicate you for. The things I think are for people with no hope left, who have only one other option. And it feels like a selfish thing to consider.
The history of my finances are so simple. I never bought anything with money I didn’t have. I never owed anyone anything. My taxes were always paid. I had no credit cards. My bills were always, always paid on time, even if doing so hurt. I always had a savings pad, just in case what I had from paycheques fell short of my need. It was like living off of a work-paid allowance. Once the money was gone, it was gone. I never had anyone to repay.
Then I got married, and suddenly… I have still never opened a credit account. I have still never had a credit or financing account. But now I owe money. Now I’m drowning in debts that aren’t even entirely my own. And everyone is looking to me for the answers like I know how to fix it. I have tried so hard to keep what has been given to me without ever touching it. Because I feel GUILTY. Because I never want to absolutely rely on it without ever at least trying to do it on my own, on our own. I have given my husband HUNDREDS of dollars in the last year, on top of what is only owed for bills. Just because I had extra and he NEEDED it.
I thought I was being helpful. I thought I was being generous. I thought I was being gracious. I did not think I would need to defend my integrity for being those things. Now I have no pride, no sleep, no peace of mind, no integrity and no hope. And I have a baby on the way. On top of that, I’m being punished for having a baby on the way. My boss is so caught up in her worry that I will become a fat, useless, money-sucking baby factory that I will be unable to accomplish anything she needs done. Her solution was to put me on a shift where my imminent and inevitable failure would do the least damage. It doesn’t matter that working graves is impossibly terrible for diabetics. It doesn’t matter that working graves is impossibly terrible for pregnant women. I was given very little choice. It isn’t enough that I have always gotten all of my work done, that I average 30 minutes of overtime a day just to make sure that everything gets done. It isn’t enough that I’ve managed to supply our child with a lot of things for practically nothing. That I’ve been spendthrift and smart, that I’ve called in favors to anyone who was just desperate to be rid of baby stuff that they didn’t want anything for it. It doesn’t seem to matter. All that seems to matter is that no matter what I do, I will fail. I will not be a good mother. I will not be a good wife. I will not be a good spouse. I will not be here to fail if I have even one more day feeling this much self-hate.
To top it off, because I’ve been forced into graveyards, because I’ve been forced into barely sleeping, caught between my boss, who pays my wages and I am dependent on for medical coverage and the ability to pay any bills at all, and caught by a controlling, overbearing, nasty troll of a roommate who would sooner point out my failures than admit that he has never even tried to do anything here. It all falls on me. At the end of the day the responsibility for everything that is done or not done falls on me, good or bad. Oh and it gets better. I am so focused on the house, and work, that I forgot entirely to have my antenatal exam done for 8 solid weeks. My doctor YELLED at me. She almost dropped me as a patient, telling everyone in the clinic that I had never had it done like it was some great joke so there was not a soul in there, doctor, patient or nurse, who was unaware of my failure. I left the clinic in TEARS. So now I’m a failure at work. I’m a failure at home. I’m a failure as a wife and now as a mother, too. Great. This just keeps getting better.
And I feel so badly, for not having more friends. I am an introvert. I find too many people and their expectations of my time exhausting. I have kept my circle of friends relatively small because I wanted a group of great friends, instead of a big group of backstabbers. Because of that I can’t find anyone to live here. Nobody wants to live inside my financial failure with me and my baby. If ‘he who moved out’ and my sister both moved out at the announcement of my baby, who the hell is going to want to take their place? Even my best friend here would rather live alone, or with someone else. I get it. I don’t want to live with me either.
I am so tired of being such a goddamn screw up. I am so tired of never being ahead. I am so tired. To add to all of this, for years I’ve been yelled at for just trying to accept my lot in life. I could barely afford my bills and was being yelled at for not taking out loans to go to college. For WHAT? Most of my friends AND MY HUSBAND, even my former ROOMMATE have all been to college, thousands of dollars in debt, and have absolutely nothing to show for it. I tried so hard not to make that foolish mistake, because I knew it was a mistake. Everyone keeps telling me I’m just a coward. I’m a coward. I thought I was just trying not to be foolish. I didn’t know incurring MORE debt was the answer to staying out of debt. My own Mother screamed at me in a restaurant not too long ago, for telling me to stop expecting things to be so easy. EASY?! EASY?!?!?!?!?! WHAT IS EASY ABOUT ANY OF THIS?! ARE YOU ME?! DO I HAVE TO OPEN UP EVERY LAST AVENUE OF MY LIFE FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND?! TO BE COMPASSIONATE?! DO I HAVE NO RIGHT TO EVEN AN OUNCE OF PRIVACY WITHOUT BEING ACCUSED OF SELFISHNESS AND OPPORTUNISM?! IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK OF ME?! AND AM I SUPPOSED TO WANT TO KEEP A DEPLORABLE, DISGUSTING EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN BEING ALIVE IF THAT’S WHAT I AM?!
I’m bottomed out. I have nothing left to give. I’m five minutes away from just handing my debit card to my husband, packing a bag and telling him to have a nice life. I’ll sleep in shelters and give my baby up for adoption. Chances are, that’s the best thing to do. This damn disease is going to kill me in the next four years anyway. Because I’m even a failure at that.
I don’t say any of these things to make you feel guilty. I say them because I’ve tried to give what I feel are valid reasons for the things I’ve done, and the situation I’m in. And I really do feel like every last thing I wrote is absolutely the truth. I have no idea who I am. I have no idea what I’m doing, and I have absolutely no idea what to do about it. I just wanted to try. To have a life. To have anything. To be happy. And I feel like an idiot for ever thinking I could have it.
Everyone else seems to think it should be easy. It’s not. Everyone seems to think it should be simple. It isn’t. Everybody is not me, or the circumstances I’m in. But I know that’s just some lame, whiny excuse. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just noise. It won’t solace the phone calls, or the knocks at my door, or the emails, or the harassment. It won’t solace the anger people have for me, or the resentment that somehow I’ve managed to gain from others. All it can do is fuel the fire. I cannot and will not ever succeed. And this baby will hate me. And this baby will starve to death because of me. And I never should have wanted it. It was doomed years ago. Everything I dream of having is impossible, and turns to crap.
Because I deserve it. And somewhere inside, where nobody can reach to remove it, I will always believe this. I’ve come to hate myself so much that I’ve started to wonder. I’m having a serious emotional crisis. I can’t even figure out if I can stand myself, or if anyone else should have to. I wonder if I manipulated my husband into this marriage and this baby, because I wanted both. I feel like I forced all of this on him. I feel like I’ve ruined his life. And I feel like I deserve for it all to blow up in my face.
Right now I do not want cheering up. I do not want to hear I’m wrong or someone cares. I do not want a moment of energy wasted. I really would love to just wallow in this right now, because it is how I feel and I need to feel it. It really messes with my heart and my head to feel one thing and hear another. Especially when I’m not sure what the hell to believe. Maybe I will feel better later. If my doctor tells me I haven’t killed my baby or given it crazy birth defects. ‘Cause of course, I fully expect, at this point, that I can’t even gestate a baby inside me without failing. Maybe I will slip on my fake ‘it’s okay’ face and pretend for another day. Maybe.