New Developments

Photo by Matthew G via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

My husband found a local job! We owe a debt of gratitude to my friend’s husband, without whom it would not have happened. There was nothing on my husband’s resume that should have made him look like a good fit for this particular job, but the employer told him, “A recommendation from [friend’s husband’s name] goes a long way!” We’ve often complained that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and that is certainly true. This time it actually worked in our favour.

The job is very different from anything my husband has done before. It’s mostly physical and involves a lot of lifting. But he likes it, and is grateful to have something to pay the bills while he figures out his next move. It’s full time, but minimum wage. That’s fine though, since living with my parents we don’t have housing costs except for contributing $100 a month for electricity and gas because apparently we use a lot. And I don’t hate living here as much as I thought I would. It’s going okay (other than some small issues, which I might write about in future posts). It makes a big difference that we can buy our own food and everything. My parents are providing a roof over our heads, but we are not completely dependent on them, which makes it more bearable.

In the meantime, my husband is planning to enroll in an online course (from a reputable university, of course) that will fill in one of his skill gaps. Often employers looking for someone with his particular background also want this one particular skill that he doesn’t have, so he is going to rectify that. With his current job being so physical, he misses the intellectual stimulation of his former work and will be happy to have that with this course in his evenings and days off. I think the course lasts about nine months. So maybe next year he can get his career back on track again. Paying for this course would not be possible if we weren’t living with my parents (it’s going to stretch us financially as it is) so we are definitely staying put for a while.

I stopped going to those awful employment workshops. I had to go to the doctor for a routine appointment and he took my blood pressure while I was there, and it was scarily high, despite the fact that I’ve never had high blood pressure before. Since I was so stressed out when I was at those workshops I did not think continuing to go was in my best interests. I e-mailed my counselor and told her, “For personal/health reasons I need to cancel all my upcoming appointments and workshops.”

I’m supposed to go back to the doctor to get my blood pressure checked again but I’ve been putting it off. I want a chance to try to bring it back down naturally. With moving and all the related upheaval and stress in my life, I was not being as diligent about my healthy eating and exercise habits. I am now back on the wagon, so to speak. I hope it will make a difference.

We have started attending the church I used to go to in this town when I was single. I stopped going there about fifteen years ago after a major humiliation and was determined to never set foot in the building again. Once I realized circumstances were bringing me back to this town, I became certain that God wanted me to go back there and face it. My first Sunday back, it just so happened that two of my closest friends were also attending. One of them still lives here and attends with her husband, but the church has three services and things worked out so that we happened to attend the same one that Sunday. The other friend no longer lives here, but had made the trip to visit her family with her boyfriend that weekend, so she and her boyfriend were there too, along with other members of her family, who, back in the day, were almost like a second family to me for a while. We all sat in the same section. I had been nervous about my first time back, but it turned out that I was almost literally surrounded by people I felt safe with. I was emotionally moved to tears when I realized it.

My husband and I have continued to go, and it’s been good. The church is like a completely different place. The whole atmosphere is completely different, in a good way. The people who were instrumental in my past humiliation are no longer there. In fact, there are very few familiar faces. I encountered one woman I used to know and she didn’t remember me at all. “I have a memory like a sieve,” she said, when I was trying to explain who I was and how we knew each other. I am not offended by that. I am relieved. If people don’t remember me, they won’t be thinking bad things about me based on things that happened in the past.

I don’t intend to get heavily involved there. The last thing I’m looking for is a bunch of activities to get involved with and events to attend. Sunday is enough for me. And if I’m not heavily involved, I won’t be getting overwhelmed, and if I’m not getting overwhelmed, I hopefully won’t make a lot of social mistakes that will lead to people hating me like I did before. I didn’t know my limits then, but I certainly do now.



The Move

Photo by Steve McCullough ( via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

My husband and I arrived at my parents’ house a few days ago. It was a rough few days leading up to it, with trying to get everything packed and into the moving trailer, trying to get the apartment clean enough to have any hope of getting our deposit back, and then the long road trip to get here. My parents actually came out there to pick us up and bring us back here, for which I am very grateful.

I ended up hurting my back, which made things more difficult, and my husband had a massive, frightening panic attack in the middle of the night before we left. He was shaking and almost hyperventilating. He ended up running outside into the night air outside our city apartment building to try to calm down. At first I went with him, even though I was scared to go out in the middle of the night, but then after we came back in and I had gotten back into bed he ran out again alone. That was scary for me. I was worried something would happen to him out there alone so late.

Two of the hardest things about the move for me were not having a lot of my stuff accessible to me while it was packed (and some of it has still not been located and unpacked since we’ve arrived for various reasons and I am agitated by that), and having my eating disrupted. I usually drink a very low-carb green smoothie for breakfast, because I’m prone to hypoglycemia and I find if I eat carbs in the morning my blood sugar drops later in the day, but if I don’t eat carbs at all until dinner time my blood sugar remains stable. I realize this is not the common advice given to hypoglycemics, but it’s something I’ve discovered about my own body and I find that this works for me. I also find that if I don’t eat carbs early in the day, I don’t even feel hungry for most of the day and end up eating less food overall, which is a plus in our current situation, not knowing where our next source of income is coming from.

My breakfast smoothie usually consists of:

  • 3 cups baby kale
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 tsp flax meal
  • 1 squirt of Mio (or similar brand) water flavouring
  • 3/4 of a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
  • water

I used to add some fruit until I realized the full extent of what the morning carb consumption was doing to me and realized I felt better if I didn’t include it.

Unfortunately, as we were preparing for our move, I ran out of kale and protein powder, and I wanted to eat up what we had on hand and not buy anything new because that would mean more to either move or throw out. So this meant for a few days before the move, the two days of the road trip to get here, and the first two mornings here until we went into town to buy groceries, I was not able to have my smoothie. I ended up eating more carbs than I’m used to, and it made the road trip in particular hard because every few hours I felt nauseated and irritable from the hypoglycemia and I had to pester my dad to stop somewhere. He is not a big fan of stopping on road trips. It’s amazing we (me, my husband, and my mom) were ever allowed to pee.

As for my parents’ house, in a lot of ways it’s better than I thought it would be. (They only moved here a couple years ago and I had never even visited before this.) I’m actually quite pleased with the basement suite. We have more space here than we did in our apartment. It does need work to make it look nice but that is part of the deal; we will help with the renos. My husband has been painting for the last two days and it’s already making a big difference.

I’m a little disappointed that the suite’s kitchen can’t be used yet. It’s all a bit of a bait-and-switch, where I was told, “You will have your own kitchen,” and then I get here and find that it’s not even really a kitchen; it’s just a space where the kitchen will be, and my husband will have to help my dad put it in. (I do realize I was not lied to; I will have my own kitchen, just not immediately.) Just to be clear, they are not doing this solely for us. They had planned to do this anyway to increase the value of the house, they’re just moving up the time frame for our sake. My parents estimate it will be done by Christmas. Right now all there is is a small, bar-sized fridge, a disgusting, unusable sink, and a counter piled with my parents’ junk. But the rest of the suite is usable, thank goodness. The bathroom is nice and the shower has great water pressure. That’s a big plus.

I truly am grateful for the place to live, but to be honest I hate sharing my mom’s kitchen with her. She doesn’t tend to follow food safety rules and we bicker about it. I seem unreasonable and neurotic to her, but I am only like this because I get sick so easily and when I get sick it hits me ridiculously hard. I am only trying to take care of myself and prevent that. If others were as prone to such awful physical maladies as I am they would be more cautious about such things too. That is only logical.

Another problem is the smell. As I wrote in my post on my other blog, my parents’ houses have always had a very distinct odor. They have always blamed it on various things but the smell follows them wherever they go so I think it’s just them. You’d think I’d get used to it, especially having grown up with them, but I never have, and it’s especially bad when I come back after being away for a long time like this. I was finding it really hard to bear at first. But then I found my stash of plug-in air fresheners and plugged them in, and I discovered that one of my Bath and Body Works shower gels had leaked out into the bag it was in, which at first I was upset about, but then I realized that hanging the bag up in the bedroom made the wonderful scent fill the room. I feel so much more comfortable now that I can smell my favourite scents here. It’s ridiculous how unpleasant and distracting the odor of my parents’ house was for me before that.

Generally speaking, in spite of certain negatives, I think I can actually be fairly content here, especially once the kitchen is in.

The main problem right now, of course, is the lack of income. My husband and I both have appointments with a local employment counselor tomorrow and I really hope my husband can find something. I am willing to work too, but to be perfectly honest I am hoping I won’t have to, because of how sick and stressed and prone to embarrassing and debilitating meltdowns I get when I’m working. I would be so much happier at home. But I realize I’m not in a situation where I can choose how I want to live. I just have to do what needs to be done and I hope I can handle it and stick it out as long as possible.

Oh, I almost forgot: One really great thing about this move is that I don’t have asthma here. I am completely inhaler- and wheeze-free all of a sudden. The same thing happened in 2006 when I moved back to my home province from elsewhere. I’m certain I am allergic to something that doesn’t exist here. My asthma was pretty scary sometimes, and inhalers are expensive, so it’s a huge relief to be free of all that!




get me out of here
Photo from Photofunia

This is continued from my previous post.

After living on my own for two years and basically failing at life, I moved back in with my mom when I was twenty. I’ve heard today’s younger generation being called the Boomerang Generation because many of them return to live with their parents after trying to make it on their own. As a GenXer, I guess I was ahead of my time.

After recovering from the shock and disappointment of the events that had led me to return to my mom’s, I tried to make the most of the situation. I was not intending to give up. I earned my GED (grade 12 equivalency), ranking in the 99th percentile. With that accomplished, I then managed to secure a student loan and enrolled in an Office Admin course, since 1) that was one of the few things the local community college offered, 2) I had a bit of experience in it from my government-funded work program job when I was a teenager, and 3) I reasoned that perhaps I could make a better living doing that as opposed to customer service/retail.

I also got a part-time job at a store, but once I started my course my boss was putting huge pressure on me to skip class to take on extra shifts, not to mention repeatedly asking me to, “Come out back and smoke a doobie,” (which was not my thing at all), so I quit the job to focus solely on school. I’ve never been a great multi-tasker anyway. (<— Big understatement.)

I ended up getting stellar grades in the course and earned my certificate with distinction. And then my work search started again.

To my crushing disappointment, I could not find an office job. I wanted one really badly so I could get out of my mom’s house again, and I thought my new training would help me, but it didn’t. I searched for months. I thought maybe the office I’d worked in when I was a teenager would hire me back, but they had a full complement of staff and weren’t interested. I even resorted to applying for retail and fast food jobs again, to no avail.

My mom had calmed down quite a bit by then and wasn’t yelling at me as much as she had in the past, but as time went on and I couldn’t find anything, she would sometimes make the accusation, “You never intended to get a job, did you? You just want me to support you.”

The neighbourhood we were living in was getting unpleasant, and we had a drug dealer living across the street, so my mom made the decision to rent a house several kilometres out of town in a rural area, thinking it would be safer. But she either hadn’t considered or didn’t care about the consequences for me. I had no car and there was no public transportation servicing that area. My mom’s job required her to be mobile and she wasn’t even going the same way every day, so I couldn’t count on a ride into town every day with her. I was stuck out there.

I stopped looking for work and fell into a sort of complacency that lasted for, I’m embarrassed to say, years. We had no internet back then, so I spent my time reading lots and lots of books. Sometimes my mom would yell at me to get a job and help her financially, but when I pointed out my predicament, she backed down. She said I could live there rent free as long as I cooked supper for her and washed the dishes and laundry, and I complied. When people asked her why I was living with her in my twenties (which wasn’t as common back then as it is now) she told them, “She’s my housekeeper.”

We were living in the upstairs of the house and there was a co-worker of my mom’s living in the basement who thought my lazy, isolated lifestyle was disgraceful. It didn’t help that my personal grooming was suffering too, and she noticed. The way I saw it, shampoo and makeup cost money, and I didn’t have any money, so I only used those products when I knew I would be able to go somewhere, which was usually about once a week on the weekend when my mom and/or her car were available. Also, my weight, which has always fluctuated (I have PCOS and hypothyroidism, both of which make it hard to manage weight), was on an upswing and I couldn’t afford new clothes, so I either wore ill-fitting clothes or clothes from the thrift store’s monthly $2-a-bag sale. The neighbour started giving me advice about grooming and taking pride in my appearance, which made me feel judged. She also pestered me to get a job, saying it was wrong and unhealthy to live off my mom, and when I explained my predicament, she said she knew of a factory close enough for me to walk to where she was certain I could get a job. She offered to go there with me as moral support so I could talk to the manager and I accepted. She walked me into the building and to the manager’s office, as if she didn’t believe I would follow through otherwise. I introduced myself and asked if there were any job openings. He said no. I asked if I could leave my resume, and he was reluctant to take it, but eventually he did. My neighbour and I returned home in total silence.

I felt the most bizarre combination of humiliation and vindication. Humiliation because I’d just been rejected in front of the neighbour, but vindication because she’d just seen that it was not as easy to get a job as she thought. The baby boomer generation always seems to think you can just walk into any business and say, “I’m ready and willing to work,” and they’ll fall all over themselves to hire you. Maybe that was true in their day, but it wasn’t in mine, and it is even less so today.

Anyway, because the neighbour was so disapproving of me, I started dreading encountering her. If I looked out the window and saw her car, I would avoid common areas such as the laundry room or the yard. This made me feel even more trapped and isolated.

I lived like that from age 21 to 26. During that time I couldn’t envision a circumstance that would result in me getting out of there and having a life. A deep despair set in. Those years are just a blur in my memory, with nothing of significance to distinguish one year from another. But at 26, I started going to church, as my mom didn’t work on Sundays and could give me a ride, and that got me out of the house and resulted in me making a couple of friends. By the time I was 27, the nature of my mom’s work had changed and she was able to give me a ride into town in the mornings and pick me up in the evenings. I then went back to community college again to upgrade my education.

Through people I met during that time, I was offered a temp job. It was in a neighbouring town, but someone else generously lent me a car so I could get there and back. The job lasted long enough for me to save up enough money for a computer, which became a link to the outside world. The internet had become a thing by then, and about a month later I met my husband online, although it didn’t progress to anything romantic right away. I was totally hung up on a man at church until he made it clear that he was completely and thoroughly rejecting me and quickly got engaged to someone else. Only then did things with the man who is now my husband start progressing. But with him living in England and me living in Canada, things progressed slowly.

Just before I turned 30, my parents got back together after 16 years of separation. With things easing up for my mom financially as a result, she bought a new car and gave me her old one. I was still unable to secure long-term employment, so I lived with my parents for another year until I married my husband at age 31. He freed me from the prison of my parents’ house.

I’m sorry if this sounds very anti-feminist. I didn’t need to be rescued by a man because I am a woman. But I did need to be rescued by somebody because I am a person who had failed at trying to rescue herself and had lost all confidence that it was even possible.

I wish I could end this post now and say he freed me once and for all. But he found himself out of work seven years later and we felt we had no choice but to move in with them. My husband is highly educated and has an enormous amount of potential, but I felt like I’d dragged him down to my level. We did end up getting out of there again two years later, but my husband’s work contract is about to end and we are on a path to heading back there if something miraculous doesn’t happen soon.

My life is not isolated right now. We live in a city with decent public transportation (except on weekends) and with a mall, library, movie theatre, grocery store, medical clinic, coffee shop, etc. mere steps away. I don’t have a job right now or any local friends, but I do get out and about quite a bit (except when it’s really cold, as that aggravates my asthma) and I am very well-groomed, if I may say so myself. I don’t love it here for various reasons, but it’s better than going back to my parents’ place. Especially since they are living in a rural area again.

I fear a return to hopelessness, poverty and isolation. It could so easily happen.

I admit I am shamefully bad at overcoming my obstacles.