I’m declaring Feb 21st – 22nd, 2018 as my rock bottom, and I’ll be damned before I let myself get that far down again: emotionally, physically, and financially.
The epiphany I had in mid January really came to a drastic crossroad this week, and I really have to put the pedal to the metal and make some serious changes.
(For more on that, I recommend re-acquainting yourself with my Sleeper Must Awaken post. I’ll wait…)
I must remember that I’m just not in charge of other people’s feelings, that if someone’s angry and upset, I can’t help that. If somebody’s been building up to irritable, it’s best to keep my eyes open to recognize that so I don’t accidentally become their pressure valve. I can only help my response to it and how I feel. I can’t let everyone else in my head all the time–that’s suicide.
And yesterday was the closest I’d come to calling the damned hotline.
I’ve heard that just the thought of suicide is bad enough and deserves a call, but those feelings have ebbed and flowed for 20 years. Sometimes I don’t think of it for months, other times I have a few weeks where it’s a passing fancy, so to speak.
It was not one thing that got me to this point, but lots of little things that added up over time, and then some doozies that were enough to put me close to the edge. I’m trying to save money by going home early and not eating out all the time, but going home presents its own challenges. I got mine on Wednesday, the distance between dad and I getting worse and worse.
When I realized I can’t do anything right at this moment, even this month, to get the hell out, I felt more trapped and in despair than I can recall ever feeling in my life.
No, he didn’t hit me–but when a disagreement over something stupid (and my facts were mostly right–I found a few mix-ups afterward) leads to me slamming a door because of his snide remark, and him punching a hole in the door just to get the last word… yeah, I’m fucking done.
Except, I can’t go anywhere. I’m THAT in the hole.
I’m not scared–startled at the time, yes, but not scared.
It’s more I’m disappointed.
Somehow I knew a violent explosion was imminent, but I thought it’d be more me finally exploding. I’ve been too terrified to explode in case he got mad enough to throw me out of the house. I was so close to just leaving the house and sleeping in my car somewhere just to get the hell out if it came to that, danger be damned. But I basically shut myself in my office and didn’t come out til I went to bed. Barely said 2 words to the man.
And yesterday when I got home, it’s like nothing happened. I was almost expecting the door to be removed and changed out to get rid of the hole, which he could see plain as day in his line of sight. Nope, door’s still there, not even swapped with a similar door in the house. Weird. Maybe he’s waiting til I work my weekend job to do it. Or he doesn’t care.
I can only imagine the questions that would come if my aunt and uncle showed up and saw it.
Frankly, it feels like a nice, visual reminder to myself to just never talk about politics or anything else. Keep my fucking mouth shut about anything that’s not movies or something he agrees in. Because I have to think that when a parent and child are both in the same house, both adults, that they’re ghosts. Roommates at the most. And not the same people, and shouldn’t HAVE to be.
If he decides I need to pay for my auto insurance again, then fine, I’ll pay for the damned thing–that way there’s nothing else but a roof and a dog to keep us in the same place. No more strings attached. It’ll be a while longer before I pay down my debt, but I don’t care. I’ll take that on just to get him off my back. Money is another thing that makes him irritable–I won’t tell him how much debt I’m in; I just keep telling him “I’m handling it.”
I don’t want him to deal with it. I can just imagine if a disagreement on facts can lead to a hole punched in a door, what will my debt lead to? Other than hours of screaming and yelling (and me sleeping in the car elsewhere)?
…I just don’t want to go there, to where my panicky, over-active imagination lies. Don’t want to think about it.
I keep telling myself that I need to learn how to dig myself out of my financial hole, to learn how to do it for myself. I mean, that’s what it means to be a responsible adult, right? You take care of things yourself if you have to, at least I always understood that to be a part of it.
But what about the empty hole that is my life? Maybe I should figure out how to dig my way out of that, too?
Maybe I’ve been so wrapped up in panicky emotion and stress the past few weeks or months that I’ve been blinded to the possibilities. And today I figured out that I have a problem that needs to be addressed or I’ll never have a real life, one that’s truly mine. I need to start thinking long-term for myself, not dwelling on the what-if scenarios that could take 20 years or more to materialize.
My biggest personal failing and problem–or at least the most obvious one–is that I am 34 years old and still living at home, as in with my dad and the dog. That’s not so bad considering the housing market and all, with one glaring exception: I have NEVER lived on my own before. Never once. Over thirty years consistently living with a parent.
And. I. Really. Fucking. Hate. It. Now.
I feel sick just thinking about it because of my mega-epiphany earlier.
Damn it, I never wanted to be in my mid-thirties and living at home still! I wanted to live on my own (even though the idea scared me a bit) when I was in college. That was the common dream when you were in my time–you didn’t say “I’m gonna live at home forever and mooch off my parents.” Hell no! They’d have kicked you out the door til they absolutely had to let you back in.
But why hasn’t my dad done the same? Why has he never even addressed the possibility of me moving out?
I wanted to live elsewhere when I first went to college. My “sensible side” won out and convinced me to live at home and go to college nearby to save my money. Then when I got my teaching job, I would move out, maybe get married and have kids.
Either way, I would have my own life and my own place, and live my own way. But then school ended. And the job never came along. And I went back to school so what little money I saved up went into a Master’s degree.
However, I have to acknowledge that while searching for my job and my opportunities, I gave up even more in order to stay at home, stay secure with a dependable roof over my head.
I was afraid–and dad was too–of me starting my life in debt.
Well, I’m in some substantial debt right now and STILL haven’t started my life, so that’s just bullshit.
What really hit me is this crazy father-daughter status quo we’re living in, but it’s just not working anymore. It never should have gone on this long anyway.
And I’ve felt sick to my stomach the past few days over it.
I’ve vented my frustration to one of my neighbors, that I just can’t seem to get this jump on life or whatever and I need to do things for myself, which is why I don’t want dad knowing my debts. Last time they were up over a thousand dollars he gave me an hour lecture about what cards were supposed to be for and grumbled, then paid it off, even though I said I could pay it off in a few months. I stopped letting him pay eons ago, even when it got worse because I had college expenses I told him were my responsibility (and my work hours were not good for that year). I kept paying and was never late.
My neighbor told me he was a good man who just wanted to take care of me and help me out. I said that I got that, but when was I supposed to be able to take care of myself? When was I going to get the chance to learn how?
She didn’t have an answer. I don’t think anybody did when I asked.
If this was a hundred years ago, I would probably be the perfect adult daughter, a spinster virgin that’ll take care of her father and be passed around to other family members til she dies, not in danger of hurting anybody or upsetting the established order or other people’s households.
But this is the 21st century. I’m screaming loud and hard and there’s no fucking way I’m going to stay in this situation! I will die first. I am ashamed and afraid, a 34 year old child that’s been discouraged and afraid, totally unprepared for having a life of my own.
And part of me can’t help but wonder if dad was all for me sticking around forever.
He’ll tell me things out of the blue, things like where the property taxes are and what his investments are doing and who to contact if he dies. The more it happens, the more I get the impression he firmly believes I’ll still be here at home, living with him to take care of the place.
He could live 20 more years, probably more. Does he think I’m going to live in this house for 20 more years? Considering how chickenshit I am, I suppose nothing’s come up to deter that train of thought–and he hasn’t encouraged anything to.
And if I were to bring it up now, the first question out of his mouth would be, “okay, so how much money do you have in the bank to pay for it?”
And I have no answer I’m willing to give. Mothballs have taken up space in my checkbook. I HATE talking about money, because I don’t know how to explain to a loner like dad that money let me buy the things that–temporarily–filled up the lonely spaces in my soul and gave me the illusion that I was a productive person who didn’t need friends or dates.
And part of me wonders if that’s the way he wants it.
A few years ago, when I was still looking desperately for a teaching job, I drove all the way to Austin for a job fair (amazed dad let me drive that far, but my aunt and uncle live there so he knew I’d have a place to crash for free). Dad liked Austin and I liked it then, and it would be something different.
I don’t remember if it was a joke whether he’d have an excuse to move up to Austin if I lived there or he’d have a place to crash when he came to visit. I can’t remember.
Dad can get passive-aggressive, and doesn’t come out and say things til it hits boiling point, or I provoke him as I have done when angry. Thanks to not being at peak health, he’s more ornery than before and quicker to anger. Hell, we get along so rarely that when we disagree about a current event or political view, I can tell from his careful pronunciation that he’s doing everything he can not to call me a “college-trained libtard” or “fucking idiot” –at least not to my face.
Seriously, does he just not want to be alone? We barely speak, so what’s the point?
I got this feeling, just this morning, that in some weird way, we’re both dependent on each other. That makes me very uneasy, and might explain some of the things in how we’ve been living together all these years. I just don’t get it, especially now. Other than annoying him, taking care of occasional shopping, the dog, and laundry, what else do I do for him? I’m sure I’m more trouble, more expense than I’m worth.
Shit, why didn’t I see anything? I kept saying it would save money to stay at home, to commute and have a place where I didn’t have to pay rent or anything.
But if I wasn’t going anywhere, if I couldn’t make the money needed to go anywhere, then what the hell was I supposed to save my money for?
Volunteering annoyed him because I was driving all that way and wasting gas money. (I did stop for a while because I couldn’t afford it, but I’m going back because I miss it)
I was too scared of screwing up to try new things.
Anything interesting came along, it was too far away or I had better consider the drive.
How the hell was dating ever supposed to work if I couldn’t bring anybody home? How was I supposed to have a romantic life while still living with my dad?
I could never picture it. I lived too far out from everyone I knew, anyway. Hell, in college I stayed out late on Friday nights at campus and dad got onto me that “I shouldn’t be out so late, it’s dangerous.” I was in my mid-20s, and with friends at school (dunno if he believed that).
I was the most boring teenager who ever existed in America, did he think I was trying to make up for lost time? Go on and do all the stupid shit I should’ve done when I was a horny teenager (though I never was a horny teenager–shit, what a freak).
I’m a 34 year old child, dependent on living with my dad in the meantime. I’m going to have to do some drastic things, make some serious changes to make money, get out of debt, and work toward real mental and emotional independence.
That last part will be tough. My people-pleasing has to be torn out at the roots, apparently, and I am afraid. But I can’t do this walking on eggshells crap anymore, and gotta make a break for personal freedom.
But the first thing is looking for every possible job opportunity that can come my way, everything I might be good for. That’s what I’ll be spending the rest of the month on. Then I’ll be really slaying my spending habits: pay for the basics (and Starbucks in small amounts–my one vice), and get some help from other people about real life, about things I can do to help myself and stand my ground. Get my sister-friend on the line, and learn how she broke free.
Artist’s Way, here I come! Books on sales and job-searching, here I come! Finding groups to join on Meetup.com or some bulletin board… I’ll keep looking for things that spark my interest.
I’ve kept my head down out of fear for too long.
I don’t want to be a child forever. Time to grow up, even if dad doesn’t seem to want me to.