“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?
The potential buyer of the house is bringing his investor by on Sunday to show him the house. The guy probably thinks that what I am offering is too good to be true. That’s fine. If the investor agrees, I get to probably cheese off my realtor and sell my house for a $48k loss. Woohoo?
The last time I moved, obviously, was when we moved into the house. We were 12 or 13 years younger then. We moved into the house. It was the obvious next step in our lives. We had saved for years for a down payment and looked around at the various houses on the market. (OMG. I am so unbelievably glad we didn’t buy any of the ridiculously overpriced houses we saw back then! I would seriously be stuck in Michigan till I died. Not a joke.) There was the pride of ownership and the hopes and dreams of youth.
Fast forward to today. Barry is not participating in any meaningful way because of his health. In other words, I am moving us to a different state. We are not upgrading; we are downsizing. I feel like I am undoing everything from the first move. The dreams, hopes, optimism, and pride—all gone. This is me waving the white flag of surrender that I am incapable of taking care of Barry and a house.
And yet I am luckier than some people I know. My neighbor next door got foreclosed upon. One of my best friends declared bankruptcy, got foreclosed upon, and had to put her dogs to sleep because they did not handle the move to a Maryland apartment well. At least I have a house to sacrifice.
This is the first time I am advancing to the next stage of my life without any idealism, excitement, or pride. This is all extremely humbling (humiliating), nothing to brag about. And this is if I am lucky enough to sell it!
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.
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.
Oh, ugh. I’ve been doing my connected breathing. Not as much as I should, but it is difficult because the standard is to do it with my eyes closed for 15 minutes at a time. Sometimes, that is not going to happen because I always have to be available to solve every problem Barry encounters, run all the errands, etc.
By not allowing myself a lot of distractions from dealing with my feelings, I see why people are so obsessed with distractions and entertainment. When one stops pretending that most of the stuff they do matters on some level, it becomes obvious just how insipid most activities are. Right now, I have a limited ability to make an impact on my daily life—because my life does not actually revolve around me. It sounds so obvious.
Last night, I went to the blessing and saw some of my New-Age-y friends. One of my favorite people told me she now has a new motivation for getting off the couch: Pokemon Go. She was telling us about how many people were in some park in Okemos when there wasn’t a holiday or anything else that would ordinarily justify the crowd and they were all looking for weird little things at particular spots and had to physically go to them to get balls or something from the game. It was great fun for her. I thought, “Eh? Why not? If it’s fun and doesn’t hurt anyone, go for it.” If you can find something entertaining to do and it increases your exercise level and sociability, there are worse things.
It just doesn’t work for me right now. Oh nooooooo. I am trying to let issues arise naturally. I just happened to pick possibly the most miserable time of year to do it in. The heat and humidity are becoming unbearable. The elderly, infirm, and the children are definitely at risk for the next few weeks, if not longer. However, I hesitate to bitch about the weather, given the fact that September is only six weeks away and when the heat truly breaks, it will be fall, instantly. Then the next season is snow-shoveling season. How do I feel right now? Hot and sweaty. Icky. Could I have decided to start the Presence Process during a less sweltering time of year? Maybe. But, like I’ve said before, this is my chance to allow the dust from last year (and perhaps many years) to settle and to figure out who and what I am. Now is the time and it is not as if I necessarily will have another opportunity to do this before the next wave of insanity ensues.
I feel like I am opening my eyes, waking up, looking around, and saying, “This is it? Where’s some chocolate and the remote?”
I am trying to take advantage of the relative lack of drama this minute.
If last year taught me anything, it is that coping is far different than actually dealing with feelings and to do what I can while I can. Let’s see, what has happened in the last year? Iffy mammogram, serious car problems, BB in the living room window, Barry’s blood in the urine, his high PSA levels, bullet through the living room window, Barry’s lump on the neck, his chronic cough, oh good grief.
Yes, I coped. Not all that well at times, but I got a lot done, more than I ever thought possible. I simply did not have the energy to do everything that needed to be done and simultaneously give a rat’s ass about other people’s opinions. I lost the ability and desire to care and play social games.
I coped by not dealing with feelings back then. I couldn’t if I had wanted to.
Now it is next summer. I am dealing with all those feelings I couldn’t touch back then. I am doing connected breathing exercises and letting everything possible come up for processing. I realized yesterday that I am committed to doing these present-moment exercises for the rest of my life. Am I going to do them perfectly? Hardly. I don’t care. There is an urgency because I have no idea when drama will kick back into high gear. Barry’s health care providers are in palliative care mode and not expressing themselves much, out of respect for him I assume. This is my chance to internally resolve issues as much as possible. I am in charge of nothing.
This is maybe the only thing I have any control over whatsoever. If the house doesn’t sell by October 1st, I will be lowering the price another $5k. I will do what I have to to move forward. Emotionally, with the breathing, I can feel a difference already. Stuff is coming up. Stuff I could not have handled this time last year. No way. This is my chance. I know I don’t want to take those feelings with me to the next phase of my life.
I am in a place of rejecting drama. Life hands you enough on its own. I’ll just let it find me and, even then, I might just walk away.
I feel a lot better.
I talked to my realtor. She keeps asking me how much I owe. So I took 10k out of the credit union and put it towards the house. It makes no sense to have “moving money” if one can never actually move. I will continue dropping the price until it sells. Period.
For the first time in years, I am not waiting for Barry to die. For the past few years, Barry would have some weird medical ailment that would make me think he was on his last legs. Out of courtesy and compassion, I would put off the urgency of selling the house. I was staying in Michigan waiting for him to die. Seriously morbid.
No more. He has a medical issue he doesn’t seem interested in addressing or talking about. He’s had a cough for a year now and I’ve asked him repeatedly if he wants cough syrup or anything and he always says he’s fine. OK. I don’t care if he hacks up a lung; if someone offers more than 20k for the house, we are taking it. End of discussion. I have POA over him. I don’t need his signature or permission. I’ve put my life on hold for years. That’s over because the only things that have died in the past few years are my hopes, dreams, and desire to live.
The irony is that, once the house sells, I will be able to take better care of him. All the time and energy I now devote to the house could go towards Barry. Weeding, loping, etc., are sucking up my time and energy. I’ll still end up putting him in a nursing home in a few years, but this could (literally) buy us some time together before I cannot take care of him anymore.
I am now looking online for apartments in different areas and decent hospital systems.
What is this strange feeling I am having? Could it be optimism? Or even hope?
I’ve gone over the edge again, but that’s what happens when your life is a living Chinese water torture test.
Reality: I cannot take care of myself,Barry, and the house simultaneously and adequately.
I have been trying to keep our savings for when I move. (I’ve even thought of it as my “moving money.”)
The above two sentences are contradictory in my world. I did not fully understand that until this past week. What good is “moving money” if I never make it out of Michigan?
Last year, I started to understand that I simply could not take care of Barry and the house. Then I got an iffy mammogram. Then my car started having problems. Then someone shot a BB in my living room window. Then Barry had blood in his urine and a high PSA. Then someone shot a bullet into my living room window. Last year was simply bizarro.
Trauma forced me to cope and just shove all those feelings aside while I dealt with the practical details of life. This year has been relatively calm and trauma-free.
So all those feelings I could not process last year all rose to the surface gradually this year, climaxing the past couple of weeks.
Something (besides my sanity!) has got to give. If I cannot take care of myself, Barry, and the house, something has got to go. And I have spent way too many nights hoping to fall asleep and not wake up. What variable do I have any control over? The price of my house. So I called my realtor and I am lowering the price by four thousand. If no interest is shown by September, I will lower it another four thousand. And I will keep doing that until it sells. I don’t care if we have to charge the closing fees on our credit card. No kidding.
My instincts were right: something needs to die. And it may be my ultimate symbol of security, the money in the bank. I have been trying to do everything in a logical, responsible, sensible order, and keep Barry as comfortable as possible in the meantime. Not working.
Whenever change is called for, some sacrifice has to be made. That’s why those college advertisements piss me off so bad. You know the ones. “Get a degree in your spare time.” Uh, no. Education is a major commitment and if you are working full-time and going to school, you will have no life outside of work and school for the duration of your education. To imply otherwise is the height of false advertising. You have to kiss your life good-bye until commencement. That’s how it works. Any change you desire requires sacrifice. Period. I may need to sacrifice our savings. What is getting out from under this house worth to me? What sacrifice am I willing to make? Based on my feelings this past year, the complete emptying of our savings would be a small sacrifice indeed.
I was talking to a friend yesterday about how I have done absolutely everything I know to do to move my life forward. I have prepared as much as possible. I have looked logically at my situation and done that which is rational. And I am still stuck.
I also found myself praising one of my flakier New-Age-y friends because of her intuition. Why? Because she is everything I am not: intuitive, free-spirited, highly spiritual, etc. She has a tender heart and a very sweet spirit.
I realized that I have come to the end of my logical rope. And so I am looking for alternatives. Even though I would likely not follow all of her advice, she still possesses what I call the “admiration factor”, that intangible quality where you look at someone and say to yourself, “I want what they have. What do I need to do to get it?”
I have forsaken my feelings so I can follow logic and reason. Part of that comes from my church years. If you go to many churches long enough, you will never trust your feelings and probably never figure out what they are in the first place. Welcome to my world.
But last year, my life stopped. I realized that I was stuck taking care of a house and a husband indefinitely and not knowing the basics of home-ownership or caretaking. Everything came to a screeching halt and I was left feeling overwhelmed and befuddled. What the _____ just happened? It all happened so gradually that I didn’t see it coming. I was in need of some serious help.
And I found out the hard way who was there for me when the chips were down versus those who just said they would be but had no real assistance to give.
My life was too much and I had no spare energy to devote to social pleasantries. The pretense was over. I found myself saying, “I am so done with _____” all the time.
That granted me a level of freedom I had never had.
Now I can explore my feelings freely. I have done all that I know to do logically and now it is time for me to explore all those socially unacceptable feelings. Now that I no longer attend a feeling-negating church and can learn to trust my feelings (because they are a million times more reliable than any of the crap theology I was indoctrinated in), my life can expand and become infinitely more interesting. It’ll be interesting to see where this leads.
I’ve been making every effort to get energy moving. Arguing with God/Universe. Getting a dream board. Even coloring.
I got a call this morning. Someone is coming to look at the house! OMG! There is just no possibility of cleaning everything satisfactorily. I have to let it all go. I’ve been working hard at making everything better. It will simply never be perfect.
This doesn’t mean we’ll get an offer or anything like that, but I’ll take it. I don’t even care anymore. Any movement is better than absolute, total stagnation.
On a different note, driving to and from a friend’s place, I saw how incredibly green everything is. It is downright hard to believe that five or six weeks ago it snowed! Sometimes I forget how beautiful Michigan really is. I’m too busy shoveling. If you can stand the frigid winters and sweltering summers, it is picture postcard gorgeous. If you don’t require decent-paying employment and are looking for outdoors sports adventure, Michigan is the place for you. Not for me, but for you, maybe.