Tag Archive | Change

Checking Out WV

I’m in Morgantown, checking out the WVU hospital and apartments.

It is totally overwhelming, but it also feels right.

I’ve been letting myself feel as much as possible. I believe that at least part of the reason people don’t heal emotionally until they are on their deathbed is because that is the only time they have available. It’s hard to meditate and do emotional work as I get lost in the hills of Morgantown and almost get run over by coal trucks. It has been invigorating, confusing, and petrifying–all at once. Holy crap.

Not Panicking

Have you ever felt like you should panic? That’s me right now.

In a couple days I am going to West Virginia. I already have hotel reservations and an appointment with a guy from the local office on aging. I have never done any of this. I have never attempted to move alone before. I don’t know what I am doing.

And part of me just doesn’t care. Is this maturity or burnout? Is there a difference? Sometimes, I think courage is just being too tired to give a damn.

I am emotionally exhausted. I have been caretaking for years now.

I am now the emergency room receptionist that tells the guy with the bleeding arm to wait behind the guy with the bleeding chest, who is standing behind the lady who has stopped breathing. If everything is an emergency, then nothing is an emergency. No human can live on the adrenaline rush of panic forever. At the very least, it causes adrenal failure. It is not sustainable. Eight years ago, there was the stage four cancer. The Huntington’s continues to progress. He might have prostate, thyroid, and/or lung cancer now, but that is impossible to know without actual diagnostic tests, such as CAT scans, biopsies, and the like.

And so I continue to make huge, life-altering decisions in the dark. I am woefully uniformed. And yet I must go on.

Part of me says, “What if he gets sick while I’m gone?” The other part responds, “Well, then he gets sick.” I am no longer willing to put my life on hold just in case something might happen. I am done, on oh-so-many levels. If something happens, my parents can call me on my disposable phone and let me know and I will come home. Otherwise, I will simply continue to make plans for myself and him. If he gets frustrated enough, he can actually talk to me and communicate his feelings. That would be refreshing. I don’t even get much of that anymore. My doing absolutely everything and getting no information or feedback of any kind is the exact opposite of my concept of a marriage. There is really nothing much left.

I guess that’s why I am not scared: I have nothing left to lose. I cannot take care of a house and a sick husband. The house is sold. The next steps are obvious and clear. Not fun, but clear. Panic is for people with something left to lose.

Abandonment and Release

“Most people have a question they ask spiritual teachers over and over again, and this is mine: How can I put forth effort and also rest? [italics in original] I open Goldstein’s book to find an answer and come across this line: ‘Abandon those unwholesome states that have already arisen.’…To abandon does not mean in this context that the life in something disappears, but that you let it move on without you….If all management generates an abandoned area, [italics in original] then we know that release is just around the corner. We know that cannot manage all of our gardens, all of our bodies. We know they will abandon us, be released from us whether we like it or not.” Notes on Abandon, by Leora Fridman,p. 53, Tricycle, Fall 2016

This is where I am at: abandoning and being abandoned, looking forward to release.

Last night, I talked to a neighbor and told her I sold my house for 15k. I could tell she was not happy. I just killed her property value. But my house was on the market for over a year and she never asked what I would take for it. Her lack of enlightened self-interest just hurt her financial best interests. I am not angry with her. I actually feel bad for her. In this individualistic culture, people just don’t think long-term. I had decisions to make and I made them without a lot of support or resources. And it is just now dawning on people that my choices might impact their lives negatively. Oh well. It is so not my problem anymore.

Yesterday I bought a disposable phone I can put minutes on. I had problems getting it activated, so I took it back to Wal-Mart. Today it worked because it took more time than usual to get activated. On the way, I was nervous, but decided to abandon the fear. There it was, but if they didn’t get it to work or give me my money back, I would end up going to Verizon and just getting a new phone on my old line. The point is that I do not have a choice. I must be reachable while down in West Virginia looking for a place to live. I have to have a phone. Period. Regardless of my negative feelings or anything else. They got it working. Yea.

So I decided that I could treat myself by going to some locally-owned Lansing eatery one last time. And I realized that all my favorite local places had gone out of business years ago. I didn’t abandon Lansing; it abandoned me. So many times, we do not realize just how much things have changed until we wake up, look around, and say, “Oh my god. Where did everyone go?” Lansing isn’t even a shadow of what it used to be.

Things change. I only have so much time, energy, and money. I must prioritize. Things will be abandoned in the quest for sanity while I try to take care of Barry and myself. My philosophy has always been “If you’re not going to help, you don’t get a vote.” Is anyone listening?

Dysfunctioning for Two

I was wondering why there had not been much more movement on selling the house. I found out why. I came home last night from grocery shopping to a message from my realtor.

It’s a POA issue. My realtor explained that the mortgage company wanted to update my general durable POA for Barry. Not many things can make me both confused and livid all at the same time, but this did it. How do you “update” something that is permanent and supposed to last forever? Also, they wanted to see the original POA.

I could only think of one real solution: do it again. So I started looking online for general durable Michigan POA forms and found one and downloaded it. I asked my parents if they would both be witnesses and they said yes. I arranged for us to meet at FedEx Office today so I could get it notarized, only to find out last night that they no longer offer notary services. Last night I printed out the form. This morning I called the UPS Store and asked when the notary would be in and they said all day.

Then my realtor called. She explained that I did not need to get a new one and that the mortgage company would somehow help to get my current POA registered at the county courthouse. That could actually be helpful. Also, if she needed Barry’s signature, she would come over after calling us. I asked if it would be more helpful or complicating to follow through with my plan to do it all again and she said it would complicate things. So I cancelled my parents.

Finding the “original” POA is no small feat. I have several copies and cannot tell which is the original. I had it printed in lack-and-white, the pen used to sign was black, and the notary’s stamp was black. I have no idea which one is the original. My plan for doing it today was to use various colored pens for the signatures. That way, when it would be copied in black and white, I would know which was the original. Back in 2008, such a thought never occurred to me.

This is not the first POA issue I’ve had. A little more than a year ago, Sallie Mae tried to tell me that my POA had expired because the notary’s commission had expired in 2013. I had a heated discussion with them. “Look up the word ‘durable.’ It never expires! I cannot get a new POA every time a notary’s commission expires. This is insane.”

Then there would be the issue of the validity of any new POA. The person is basically declaring themselves to be of sound mind. Barry knew exactly what he was doing in 2008. Today? Not so much. It would be easily defeated in court today. Barry would sign anything for me today, if it will put me in a better mood.

The reason for my sullen mood is that I am totally responsible for everything and don’t always know what I am doing! I am expected to make bricks without straw. I am fully accountable without the necessary tools to do an adequate job. I am trying to function for two without sufficient knowledge for one.

My realtor basically had to talk me off the ledge. I told her that I will do anything to make this house sale happen and that I don’t want the buyers thinking I am holding up the process. Part of the mortgage company’s concern is to make sure there are no liens on the property or anything like that. If it takes Barry’s signature, fine. Barry and I own this house, along with the mortgage company. There are no past-due back taxes or anything similar. Just tell me how much money to bring to closing to pay off my mortgage and we will make this happen.

I just thank God for my parents’ willingness to help.

Found Some Excitement!

I was looking for apartments online in Fairmont WV and saw one I actually got excited about. I haven’t closed on my house, but have accepted the offer of the potential buyer.

What’s significant is that I did not know if I was even capable of getting excited about anything anymore. I started to believe that excitement was the logical expression of stupid idealism. Perhaps it is sometimes. I certainly cannot discount that possibility in my life.

The excitement came from seeing the hardwood floors. Nobody should get excited about flooring, except that having hardwood floors, for whatever bizarre reason, has always been a dream of mine.

I am not excited in the same way as when I was young because I am not naïve anymore. My plans include visiting the local office on aging down there and the movement disorders clinic at the university hospital. It’s hard to get enthused about it all. I’m not 25 or even 35 anymore. I’m pushing 50.

People have been asking me what I want. Deep inside, I know exactly what I want: to be alone, to have some serious alone time. To not have to be so available all the time. The other day, I was meditating and Barry just casually asked some question. He has zero social awareness. I can’t blame him for asking the question, but I still yearn to not have to answer it.

The truth is that I am not just looking at this move; I am also looking down the road at the next. When Barry passes, I can literally move anywhere, without regards to Huntington’s resources. This is part of why I want to travel lightly: I don’t plan on staying put. I would love to check out Asheville, NC; Charlottesville, VA; and maybe places in KY or TN. Places where it snows, but it also melts. You’re not still looking at the same nasty slush on Valentine’s Day that came down all pretty and fluffy on New Year’s Eve.  I would never move to Buffalo or Cleveland because of the three dreaded words: “lake effect snow.” I would like to be far away from any Great Lake. The idea is to take some modicum of control over my life and have it be about me and move any darn place I please. Preferably with hardwood flooring.

 

Strange Epiphany

I had a sudden insight recently. I was watching “Criminal Minds” and they were talking about the two perpetrators sharing a common history that started in 2004 and had these huge events every four years (the show was from 2012).

I realized that I had a four-year cycle of my own. And somehow never noticed it.

  • 1996 Got my first Bachelor’s degree
  • 2000 Emotionally understood for the first time that Barry’s Huntington’s Disease was going to force me to support myself. So I started working.
  • 2004 Went back to school to get real marketable skills.
  • 2008 Got BBA, Barry retired, and then he got stage-four cancer one week after retiring.
  • 2012 Finished MBA
  • 2016 Huge impending move out of MI

The question is how I never noticed this pattern. I read New-Agey books that talk about a natural seven-year cycle. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to me.

I am about to be 49. I could easily live to 73 (24 years). That would give me six more cycles! I cannot even imagine the implications. Holy crap. Transformation can certainly come unexpectedly.

Suddenly Autumn

Yesterday, I was at Barnes & Noble, as usual on a Friday. When I arrived, it was 84 degrees, bright, sunny, and a touch humid (okay, it was like breathing soup).

Then I sat down and did some meditation with my eyes closed. I opened my eyes 17 minutes later. It was as if someone had turned down the lights. Suddenly things were noticeably darker. I looked outside and it appeared ominous. I checked out the temperature online and it was 80 degrees. It was like it had gone from mid-summer to early fall in 17 minutes! I was jarred.

A couple days ago, I accepted the crappy offer (that was actually my idea!) for the house. It will still be worth it to get out of Michigan. The old real estate adage applies: location, location, location! The reality is that pretty much no one wants to move to Michigan and educated people like myself find even bankruptcy a small price to pay to escape a state with few decent-paying jobs and zero chance for promotion.

I don’t know when I will be able to work, but, without a house to take care of, I have a better chance anywhere else on earth of finding meaningful employment.

And yesterday reminded me just how quickly things can change. That offers me hope.

 

Excited, Sort Of

Tomorrow, I am going to my realtor’s office to accept the offer of $15k for my house.

I am getting less annoyed at the loss and more excited about moving. I just have to find us a place to live. That’s all.

But my goals are getting clearer. The place I am looking for needs to be affordable and as barrier-free as possible. I’m thinking of checking out senior housing. Barry will be 65 at the end of September. He may not last more than a few years, so I need to know how long I can stay after he passes because I am not a senior.

It’s starting to become real. We will close by September 1. I will be extremely gone by November 1. I am getting out of Michigan before shoveling season starts! That is my dream come true. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the low 90s. My thought is that it will be the hottest day I will ever spend in Michigan again.

And meditating has been giving me insights. I never get to the point of stopping all thoughts. It feels like thoughts leak upward into my consciousness. The insights seem real obvious, but if they were, I would have had them already. I am extremely logical and I have conscientiously prepared for as many eventualities as I have thought of.

I can’t say with a straight face the things are “falling into place.” Instead, I feel like I have been slowly removing every imaginable obstacle (financial, social, emotional, you name it). I have been clearing the tracks and now I can hear the train in the distance.

Coming Together or Falling Apart?

I am dealing with lots of stuff right now. The “tire pressure low” light that I need to get turned off, fixed, or whatever, an upcoming doctor appointment, needing to get rid of a desk, and maybe selling the house.

I’ll start with the giganto one: selling the house. I have a guy that wants to buy the house. I told him he could have it for $15k. My realtor is not going to be happy, but I have been lowering the price for a while, so she has no right to be shocked. I told her to lower it to $25k in September if it didn’t sell. I was going to have it lowered to $20k in October if no sale. And $15k by spring. How many more winters do I want to spend here? We still owe $20k, but we have enough savings to pay off the mortgage if the guy has the money. At first, he wanted to do a land contract and it sounded enticing. I told my realtor about it and she said, “I will not help you with a land contract. They’re risky and you’re still stuck with the mortgage.” I told the guy that I am trying to reduce the number of balls in the air (caring for Barry and the house are just too much at once) and that the last thing on earth I am willing to do is to pay rent somewhere and still be stuck with a mortgage in Michigan. Not going to happen. The house has been a grave for my hopes and dreams. It can have my body, too, if the alternative is taking on more responsibility. When I leave Michigan, I am not taking a mortgage with me. Period.

Of course, nothing has actually occurred. There is no point getting excited or worried about something that is not actually happening, right now, here, this moment.

But I couldn’t sleep last night for beans. I did my meditation and my heart hurt so badly I thought my chest would implode from the pressure, but I didn’t care. Let it. My brain cannot wrap around everything that needs to be done, so that is exactly what it tries to do, while I am trying to fall asleep!

My niece doesn’t want the desk. I have a beautiful desk from Oak Express that I am not moving with us. I will probably give it to Good Will. It was perfect when I was going to school, but I haven’t been going in four years and never desire to go back. The next step higher would be a DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration) and the only job description I have ever seen requiring one is being a teacher of MBA classes. Perhaps I will get rid of a dresser, too. I need to buy a few laundry baskets because right now Barry puts most of his clothes on top of the long dresser that I cannot imagine taking with us.

Up until last week, I had totally forgotten about my doctor appointment next week. I needed to fast for certain blood tests. So I did the blood draw today and voted (today is the first Tuesday in August). I hope my vitamin D level has improved.

Thursday, I need to go to Domino’s and order the pizza for Saturday for Barry for when I am at the Chevy dealership getting that annoying light turned off.

When I told a friend about the car appointment, the doctor appointment, and the possible buyer for the house, she said, “It sounds like things are coming together.” Coming together or falling apart? I have unbelievably mixed feelings about selling a house I purchased for $63k for $15k just to get out of Michigan. I am humiliated, fearful, angry, and a little excited.The bottom line is that I am not capable of taking care of the house and Barry and that, the longer I own the house, the worse shape it will be in and the more un-sell-able it will be. When I told my favorite barista at Biggby about selling the house for a pittance, she said, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” I answered, “Yes.”

The ultimate question never changes: what’s it worth to you to get out of Michigan and out from under the mortgage? I’ve seen so many people get foreclosed upon that perhaps I should feel lucky. Definitely not there yet.

What’s Realistic?

The other day, I was meditating, when the phone rang and it just hit me so hard—the limit of my ability to do even the smallest of things for myself. Of course, next time I want to meditate I will turn off the ringer of my phone, hoping to remember to turn it back on afterwards.

It’s not that I can’t do anything for myself. I go exercise and pet a cat at a friend’s place and do one morning of volunteering and practice Spanish online. It’s just that if I am looking for true, lasting change, it’s not going to happen as long as I am playing caretaker. As long as my life is not about me, it’s all just play-acting, trying to keep my sanity and not let my brain turn to oatmeal while taking care of Barry.

Doing “the presence process” takes the blinders off.  Eliminating distraction is eye-opening.

I’ve been getting things done that need to get done, things that are important but not necessarily urgent. I got some recall work done on my car, which will stop an oil leak, according to the dealership guy. Also, I got an eye exam, in preparation for getting my driver’s license renewed. I need to have this stuff done before the next phase of my life begins suddenly and unexpectedly. There is no drama currently, so now is my chance. These are the things that would instantly fall to the bottom of my priority list in an emergency.

I am so much more careful now regarding what I put my energy towards. I have to take Barry here and there. I have to make meals and take care the house, that kind of thing. A lot of the rest is negotiable and flexible. I am so much more deliberate and intentional than I ever knew was possible. I have had to downward adjust my expectations as to what I can accomplish for myself, by myself. And let the rest go (including little things like hopes and dreams), day by day.