Thursday, August 27, 2009

Survival Mode

Stress. I find that I'm not really good at dealing with it. In fact, I'm flat out horrible at dealing with it - which is particularly sad given that I find myself to be still in a state of living and thus coming up drastically short of one of the most basic necessities for survival these days. When I say I'm bad at dealing with stress, I'd like it to be noted that it's the modern day stress that I'm bad at. I feel my natural responses to stress would've been perfectly acceptable and even necessary were I living a few hundred years ago and was regularly forced to outrun or fight off rabid dogs and angry mama bears. But now in a modern day setting, my natural responses to stress really serve no purpose aside from making me feel strangely weird even in my own skin.

My ability to feign strength and logical reasoning when confronted with an overwhelming situation is very short lived. More often I find what little reasoning or intelligence I might normally exhibit takes an unannounced sabbatical roughly ten minutes into finding myself amidst the said overwhelming situation. I'm kind of like a deer in headlights except worse, much worse. I don't just freeze, but rather I watch the slow motion process of the vehicle heading straight for me and foresee my quick demise and the demise of the vehicle at hand as well as any other random bystander or vehicle who might cross my line of vision, and I see my poor little Bambis at home all forlorn as man enters the forest. . . You get the picture. My husband references this habit of mine as 'predicting' and he hates it - largely because I'm frequently wrong in my predictions and succeed in not only spazzing myself out even more, but also any others who are gullible enough to buy into my vision of doom. Ya, add a little stress and I'm a full on the-glass-is-half-empty, Negative Nancy kind of girl.

I think part of my inability to deal with stress is the fact that so often I'm looking at the larger picture. Something bad happens, and I don't just see it for the burden of that day, I see it affecting my life and my family's lives for months and years to come. And then I think of all the events leading up to *the big one.* It's this whole time line thought that bothers me the most.

Take this whole horrid event of Jim losing his job as an example. The time line for this one starts two years ago, just a few weeks after Kyla was born. It was at this time that Jim realized he hated his lawn business. I had hated his lawn business for a long time and was all about him getting pretty much any other job on the planet (trust me, it was a LOT more work than one might imagine from the outside - a lot of bookkeeping, a lot of taxes and filings, a lot of crabby customers, and a royal ton of work all day into the evening/night and weekends). So when Jim made this announcement, I quickly posted a resume and began a job search for him. He had several valid offers for employment within just a couple weeks. In the end he selected this job here in Ocala because the work appealed to him more and appeared to be very stable. We moved here and were getting settled when a few months later Jim's Dad died randomly. After that we were forced to move again when the value of the house we were renting with the intent to purchase decreased drastically, and the owner offered no compromise on the price. (Have I ever mentioned that I despise moving? It's just a ton of work for a long time and it's very disorienting.) Nevertheless, we were getting settled. Jim's work was going well, and he was working a bit extra to earn a raise. So here we are all nice and settled and actually living our lives when this whole new fiasco strikes.

Can I just say, it irks me. I know that it was a good job while it lasted, and we actually were able to enjoy THREE whole vacations in less than one year (gasp!) - something which had never before happened. But honestly if I had known the rug was going to be pulled out from under this whole operation just as we were getting settled, I never would've even considered this job. My aim in life is stability. For as much as a human needs water to survive, my personal desire is just stability. I don't like drama, and I don't like change. I know everyone reading this is right about now thinking to themselves, "Well fat chance of finding stability. Life's hard, get used to it - and it changes a lot too by the way!". But the problem with this is that I look over my life and those that I've known, and I've watched as people have made one stupid mistake after another and have somehow come out from all of their stupidity OK and even kind of stable. My question is, why, for all the smart and strategic planning and hard work, could it not work out for us just this once. I'm not wanting something bad or evil. It's not like I'm a drug user or pusher. I'm not wanting to be rich or famous. All I want is stability for my family - nothing more. I want to set my mind to a task, accomplish it, and then have that be the end of it for a good while at least.

And yes, I know there is a huge standard quantity of change that happens to everyone all the time. I get that. Cars break and people have to find ways to pay for new vehicles or find alternative transportation - that's standard stress. Kids are sick for months on end and end up needing surgery to have adenoids out and tubes in - that's standard stress. The dogs get out and eat the neighbor's rooster and bunny and then proceed to begin herding their goats throughout the neighborhood - again, that's standard stress. All of it annoying and distressing - but on the level of standard. What I'm sick of is the upheaval - the continual upheaval. Right now Jim's out of work, but that's just one aspect to this whole mess. His company truck was taken away so he had to find alternative transportation. We banked through Lee's bank which now appears to be also complete with fraudulent activity too, so today I went and withdrew in cash form what money remained there to deposit at a new bank. We have no health insurance at all, and the way everything went down, no one can even get on cobra (we're hoping to at least get our kids on KidCare). Our homeowners insurance and auto insurance were with Lee's insurance company which also went down - so that needs to be changed. Our mortgage was held with TBW which also obviously changed (and the new company that's received all this work is so flooded that they can't be reached by phone at all. Ever.) We've filed for unemployment, but haven't received a dime (this is 3 weeks later people, and all their phone lines are conveniently always busy too).

Quite honestly, I don't want to deal with any more change. These are the type of stressors that should occur when you move and have to set all this stuff up, not when you lose a job in a small *city* (I use that term very loosely) which already had an unemployment rate over 12% prior to the other half of the town being laid off. And given all that's happened, it's not totally beyond the realm of possibility that we'll be having to move again and do all this stuff again. And did I mention my mother's doctors have found a 'mass' of dense tissue in her liver which they're looking into. . just as a side note. .

Ya, so I'm not the strong one. I'm not the pillar in this family. I can try to be upbeat and helpful in searching for jobs and claiming "Sure, it'll all work out." And I really hope it does, but basing my expectations on past experience, what exactly does that mean for it to all work out? Don't answer that. . . It means that life is hard and unpredictable. It means that you can work really hard and smart to achieve, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. For right now, I'm left finding myself occasionally just not breathing. That's right; I find that I sometimes subconsciously hold my breath. And when I am breathing, it's like I'm in a permanent state of having some sort of panic attack. My hands shake, and my stomach is often upset, and I don't always sleep well. Again, all of these stress responses would be perfect were I hunting my dinner hand to hand with the Lion King hundreds of years ago, but for now it's flat out ridiculous, and it leaves me exhausted and needing to go to bed. Ya, you could say I'm kind of incompetent at this stage of life.

What's worse is I can't seem to do anything about it. I can't make myself get a grip. I can go for a run or try to remember to breathe deeply, but invariably deep within the dark recesses of my thinking, my mind is not at all fooled and is still in the 'hunt or be hunted' mode. I think it's that ominous and vague abstract quality to this whole thing that further perpetuates my stress level. There's not really an end in sight, and I'm not sure what all else I'll have to change or fix or deal with before any kind of resolution is discovered.

So if I sound just a smidge keyed up or cynical, now you know why. It's not you, it's me. . . Really.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey D, I know that you're in primal, wild animal, survival mode. Instability and not having any say in the matter IS one of the hardest parts of life. I think it's ok that you're not just "grinning and bearing it". Now THAT would be crazy ;-). KT