Monday, January 20, 2014

There's a hole in the budget, dear Liza...

So, I imagine that most of us are in a similar position this time of year.  Christmas has been and gone, the Boxing Day sales, and now...the wasteland that is January.  The rates are due, the car rego is due, and I could easily spend stacks of money keeping Alex and myself amused during the holidays.

Finances are often a source of consternation in our household, with me sure that I am not contributing to our rapidly dwindling resources.  I am sure that I live frugally. I am sure that I live to a budget, even if it's not written down.  I am a frugal gal.  Ahh, who am I kidding.  Actually ,my attitude towards money is kinda like my attitude to cake.  I think that I'm impervious to cake, that I should be able to eat whatever I like, whenever I like...and that there should be no consequences.  I'm always flabbergasted when I put on weight.....there is actual incredulity when I step onto the scales and they've moved upwards.  Like, what? I should be able to eat whatever I like and never put on weight.

Well, this is similar.  I think I should be able to spend whatever I like and the finances should still be the same.  There should be an endless supply of money that I should be able to fling about with wild abandon, and still have plenty of money to pay the bills.  After all, I'm a princess. Rules don't apply to me. I am a special snowflake.  I shouldn't get sick, and if I do, I feel worse than anyone has ever felt in the entire history of illness (you may recall hearing about my morning sickness recently?)

Anyhoo, we rejigged our finances recently, and I cut up my card to the joint account and allowed myself a small allowance fortnightly.  Heaps of money.  Should be able to live on it easily.  So, it's kinda shocking and appalling to realise that I can't throw a Kinder Surprise Egg and a Bottle of water in every time I fill up with petrol.  I'm not entitled to a new shirt from the Op Shop every time I have a shitty day. Alex doesn't always need to be compensated for making it through the school day with a little treat.  I may feel that a Diet Coke or a piping hot cappuccino from Degani should be my right, any morning that I choose.  A pretty nail polish or a magazine should be mine whenever I feel the urge.  After all, I get through the day, don't I?  Yes, like every other human being on the planet.  But, somehow, due to my belief that I'm secretly an enchanted princess......when I do it, there should be either a parade, flowers, applause, or appropriate financial compensation.

So, there was a hole in the budget, dear Liza.  I'm a dirty rotten spender and I spend every cent in my possession.  I was wrong, Richard dearest, it was me.  The hole in the budget is me!!  And you want to know the really shocking thing? When I told Richard of my findings, he was completely unsurprised.  Seems he may have known all along that I am a Spendy McSpendpants.  The only one in denial was me!!

Thankfully, there are lots of things that come for free.  Smiles.  Love. Contentment.  The groceries are done and none of us are going without.  And I might slip back into denial again, but just for today, I see my part.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gossip makes me a bitch

Gosh, I love a good gossip, a good salacious slander of someone else.  But it's terribly terribly toxic for me and it's something that I just can't indulge in today.

Thing is, I have way more to lose these days. I have self respect, I like who I am, I'm in a good relationship. I have a son and an unborn child on the way. My family and friends have been gracious enough to let me attempt to repair the damage that my years of oblivion have done.  I have a purpose today that is directed by God.

But what trap have I fallen into more often than not in my recovery? Gossip. And it's so bloody addictive, and it's so so so so bad for me.  The more I judge you, the more I judge me, the more uncomfortable I am in my life and the more I reach out for answers that seek to numb that judgement.  I gossip enough, and I find that I don't want to have conscious contact with a Higher Power, I don't want to do the right thing. I want to lay in my bed, sending gossipy texts about how I hate everyone,and "did you see what she was wearing!?!" surrounded by copious amounts of drugs, food, magazines and alcohol and numb the heck out of myself.  That's where my disease takes me... sometimes my emotions are too much for me to handle and I fall back into old ways of self medicating.

I always feel like crap, though, and it's funny how my friendships with those I gossip with tend to end badly.  I made friends with a pair of besties a couple of years ago,and I was thrilled to be invited into their funny, fashionable, bitchy, gossipy circle.  They were both younger than me, and we would complain about other people, and how mundane and crap they were, how wonderful we were and how they should just get it/stop using incorrect grammar/stop wearing bad fashion/stop being a bitch.  We loved sending little pithy text messages and emails with new and interesting ways to insult the idiots who dared to be less fabulous than us.  It was horrendous, but it was wonderful.  I was in a lonely place in my life, where the fog of Post Natal Depression had lifted, and I felt better, but I'd yet to find myself a new place in the town where I was living. So I let myself be defined as fabulous by the company I kept. They are both very talented people, and I felt kinda important by association.

Can you guess what happened? I couldn't have predicted it, but I fell out of favour. I started not getting the invites to the after parties.  I started to be too needy in pursuing their friendship and started meeting a brick wall in response.  I felt a sense of slowly mounting fear, because I knew what would happen to those who weren't invited to the post-event McDonald's sessions. They'd be seriously torn to shreds by witty gossip.  I knew that was going to be happening to me.  I felt afraid and cast adrift, and in that madness, I clung onto my friends.  It ended badly.  I cried and begged in a way that no self-respecting thirty-something woman should do. But, it ended.  I had to respect their silence and that my repeated attempts to contact them were just digging my own grave of loser-dom.

You know what, though? I ran into one of them the other day.  It had been years since I saw her, and three years ago, we were closer than close. It was nothing for us to text each other several times a day. She made me a series of mix tapes when she moved away for uni.... but running into her in the shopping centre, it couldn't be more clear that she found me repulsive.  I was surprised to see her and said "Hey!!"  She didn't even glance up from her phone, and uttered a disgusted "hey".  I was shocked and surprised and struggled for words.  "how are you?", I trembled out..... Her phone received another few scrolls, and then she deigned to answer me with a muttered "good".  I stood stock still, not sure what to do, then I realised that the best thing to do was to walk on.  It really was over. I couldn't win her back with a funny aside or a bitchy comment.  The casket of our friendship had slammed shut while I was still trying to ressuciate it.  Time to let it go.

Do you know the funny thing, though? I still miss them. I still miss their amazingly witty sense of humour, I miss the warm glow of their talent, I miss their fashion and style.  But, I don't miss the gossip. Much as I want to run after them and assure them that I'm still cool, I know it's healthier for me to pursue friendships where I don't talk about others.  Sometimes it's quiet and lonely when I don't talk about other people...and I've realised that is what gossip gives us...a sense of belonging...a sense that other people don't belong and don't get it, but we do.  It's a false belonging, though.  Our belonging rests on others not belonging, and that is no belonging at all.  Today, I belong in that I am true to myself.  I belong in that I try to be the best me that I can, and support and applaud you for being the best me that you can.  :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Up the duff

I have one child, who is 7.  He's an amazing, busy boy and I am finally adjusting to parenting and still being me, not having to be a cookie cutter mama who wears sensible clothes and doesn't swear.  I'm not saying I'm a badass, but I like fashion, philosophy, relationships.  I like me today. I'm happy with my life.

The second child thing.....well, there was a fleeting thought from both of us, usually at different times, and not strong enough to do anything about it.  So, I thought the factory must be closed, the shop is shut....the assembly line produced one boy and said "that's it!".  I made my peace with it, and also made an appointment to have my tubes tied.

That appointment was on Monday, but I'm not going through with it.  I'm not, because at the eleventh hour, at the last possible moment, a teeny miracle has occurred inside of me and I'm somehow pregnant at 37.  Not something I envisaged.

I was shocked but thrilled, in a state of disbelief.  Over Christmas and New Year, the reality has sunk in and I've figured out I'm scared.  Why? Well, not long after I had Alex, a double decker bus of Post Natal Depression drove through my life and the lives of all of those around me.  I wanted to hard to do it right, that I sucked all the joy and life out of being a parent.  I was terrified of something happening to him.  And that fear took on a life of its own, mainly because I wouldn't, or couldn't, admit what I was going through.  I became severely depressed.  I suffered what is known as a nervous breakdown.  It's not as much fun as it sounds.  It involves hospital stays, suicide attempts, overdoses, ECT (shock therapy), multiple medication changes, and intense strain on the lives of those around me as they helped me pick up the pieces of my shattered psyche.

I finished my last hospital stay when Alex was 9 months old, and started trying to pretend to be his mother.  I felt suicidal and desperate each day, for most of the day, and had to learn how to fake it til I made it.  And eventually I made it, the fog cleared, I found a great psychiatrist and started repairing myself.

And I was pretty happy with the job that God and I had done, until my biggest fear loomed large. A baby. A pregnancy.  The fear.  For a long time I tried to deny that I was afraid of this baby.  I told everyone "It'll be different this time  - I'm older and more together.  It won't happen again".

But I'm still a little afraid.  And do you know what helps? Admitting that I'm afraid.  That's something that I never did the first time around.  I said "I'm fine" for so long, until I wasn't fine.  My fears and feelings only have power over me if I keep them secret.  They say in twelve step programs that you're only as sick as the secrets you keep, and that's so true.

The more I say "I'm afraid", the less power that fear has over me.  The more I talk to professionals and put things in place to help me work through why I'm afraid, the better I feel.  The more I see that my feelings are not facts and they can only hurt me if I let them.....the better and stronger I feel.  Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today.  Not denial.  Denial is what makes me sick.  Acceptance, makes me better.