Waving the White Flag

I’ve been absent from this space for more than a week and it’s mostly my computer’s fault. It had a temper tantrum and I finally got tired of struggling with it so I reinstalled my OS, which is a headache in itself, and then it’s taken a while to get things back to some semblance of order. I still need to add some RAM, but for now my computer and I have called a truce; thus my idea for the title of tonight’s post. Aside from my Hurricane Rita post, which served as a needed distraction for me, my life has tilted on its axis once again. This post is an effort to sort through events and my jumbled thoughts. If I seem to  ramble, please bear with me as I do have a point.

I know all too well there are so many people in the world in worse situations than mine. I just wish I could cope as well as some of those people do, but one thing I’ve never done very well is deal with stress, especially major stressors. I was a victim—I should say survivor, but that’s questionable at times—of childhood emotional, physical and sexual abuse from my stepfather until I finally moved away from home at the age of 22. I suspect the abuse plays a major role in my ability to cope with life. It took many years as an adult for me not to physically tremble and often cry in the face of reprimands from supervisors, whom I saw as higher authorities. The trembling would start the moment a supervisor asked to speak to me, especially if they called me into their office, even if it turned out I wasn’t in trouble. They must have thought I was a total basket case. I was finally able to stop the trembling and tears when it struck me out of the blue one day that the reason I had that response was because of all the times my stepfather called me into his room or whipped me for doing something that displeased him.

Now let’s come back to the present day. My original plan when I moved back to Texas in November of 2013 was to find part-time work to supplement my social security check. But Murphy struck again and I fell (at 6:30 in the morning in a small town) on my back in the parking lot of the motel where I had stopped overnight—which, unfortunately, I can’t file a lawsuit for because I didn’t take any pictures of the parking lot before I left. Because I was unable to work and was accumulating medical bills faster than a speeding bullet it seemed, I went through my meager savings in less than a year. I had to give up my apartment, put most of my possessions in storage and move in with my sister and her family. Adjusting to such a living situation for the first time in an untold number of years was difficult to say the least. And matters weren’t improved by the fact that my only income is my social security check (not for disability) so after bills and expenses I had little to nothing to give towards the household expenses. It became even more fun when the Treasury Department began garnishing my social security check earlier this year for money owed to my former employer (USPS) due to a “misunderstanding”. Hopefully, and according to my calculations, no more money will be coming out of my check after last month.

I have struggled for several months not to not lose my phone or my vehicle so I could look for work once I had recovered from the neck surgery done in February. As soon as my doctor released me, I registered with four different temporary staffing agencies and applied for Lord only knows how many jobs online, but got no nibbles, even for temporary jobs. And I didn’t fare any better with places that required me to apply in person. I do live in an economically depressed area despite, or maybe because of, all the oil refineries and chemical plants, but with all my years of office experience I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting any calls for interviews. It finally occurred to me that part of the problem might be prospective employers can see by my resume that I haven’t worked in more than 18 months and automatically reject me without giving me a chance to tell them why. Because I’m not physically able to stand for long periods of time I can’t just go out and apply at a convenience store or (shudder!) Wal-Mart.

All of this has left me feeling useless, hopeless and worthless, as well as deepened my depression, making it even harder for me to cope emotionally and not spend my day in bed. Everybody else in the household works during the day so the only company I have during those hours is my cat. While I have free access to anywhere in the house, I pretty much stay in my room because, as I told my sister, there’s nothing I can do in the rest of the house I can’t do in my room. Believe it or not, I’ve got a sister that is particular about anybody else doing housework for her as we may not put things where she would and it frustrates her to no end when she can’t find something because it’s been moved. She won’t even let me do her laundry for her. That’s not to say that I don’t help out at all, but not as much as I could.

Two weeks ago I lost my battle to keep my vehicle when the lender repossessed it. [I still can’t figure out how I managed not to hear the tow truck since my car wasn’t twelve feet from my bedroom window.] When I first noticed it was gone I thought my nephew had borrowed it (not like him to do so without asking) but when neither he or my car showed up after a while I got anxious. Repossession never occurred to me as I had spoken with the lender the night before and they assured me my car wasn’t in danger of being repossessed yet (LIARS!) My keys weren’t on their hook outside my door so I couldn’t figure out where my car could be and who was driving it. My niece swore the keys were there when she let her little dog out of my room (Ginger had taken to scratching on my door after Paula left for work) late that afternoon, but I knew they weren’t magical keys, so I figured she “saw” what she expected to see. When my sister came home she expressed surprise at seeing me since my car was gone. She’s the one who thought about the possible repossession.

By the time I had talked to the lender and verified the repossession, then dealt with the secured collateral department to see what I could work out to get my vehicle back, I was “in high dudgeon”—meaning I was royally, righteously pissed! We were unable to come to terms that were mutually agreeable (in other words, I didn’t have as much money as they wanted immediately) so my next course of action was to contact the recovery company and arrange to retrieve my personal items. It cost me $75 to get them back, but at least she brought them to me since I had no means of transportation during business hours. My keys? They had been left in the vehicle by whomever moved it last in the daily six-car shuffle.

Not only was I upset at the loss of my vehicle, but my sister was upset with me because I hadn’t told her how bad my financial situation really was, even though they could not have done anything to help me out financially. She insisted that if she had known about it that we could have sat down and figured something out. It’s not the first time my stubborn pride has gotten me in trouble because I refused to ask anyone for help. Once it sank in that I really wasn’t able to get my vehicle back, I cancelled my insurance. Without a car note or insurance to pay for I now have some financial breathing room and can start saving money for a down on another vehicle. [ADDENDUM 10/13/2015: I hate being pushed into a corner, but that’s where my sister has pushed me. Either I give her $300 a month and she will put $200 in a savings account I have no access to—or move. I have no other options, but it pisses me off to no end that I can’t have access to my money. The intent is for me to be able to save for buying another vehicle for cash. No way will I buy some cheap rattletrap that I will have to worry about breaking down or repairing. Somehow, in five or six months I’ll have to convince her to let me have the money for a down payment on a better, newer vehicle.]

I have resigned myself to the fact that because we live in a country-like neighborhood I can’t go anywhere unless someone takes me or I can possibly borrow someone’s car for an hour or so. There are both advantages and disadvantages to the situation. I had hoped I’d be on my own again by now, but that probably won’t happen for at least another year unless things turn around in some way. I’m exploring ideas for working online that won’t need a telephone line. A friend in Wichita clued me in to an online company called Upwork that he has gotten work from in the past. His work is more technical in the area of web design and such, but in exploring it I’ve found that they do have a number of jobs come up for bid for data entry, proofreading, and even virtual assistants. I attended a webinar last week on how it all works and I’m in the process of getting myself set up with that. I’m a little nervous about having to bid for a job, but as I complete jobs and employers report their satisfaction (or not) with the quality of my work, etc., I could potentially have people specifically requesting me to do a job for them.

So here’s lifting a glass—make mine a margarita, please—to hope and faith and a better tomorrow.

cheers margaritas_35%


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