The Price of Freedom

Yesterday I wrote about the blessing of finally having freedom in my life. The flip side is the price I pay to have it. When Rick and I were together, we were doing pretty well financially. That was because I made sure the bills got paid. If left to him, they never would have been. Rick's very much an "immediate gratification" person - he sees it, he wants it, he buys it... with little thought of the consequences to our budget. He gets sick of a job (about yearly), and he quits. I've stuck in the same spot for almost 18 years, not because I didn't ever want to quit. Sometimes the desire to do so is overwhelming. But my practical nature says "you can't quit - someone has to make sure the bills get paid". So the pressure always laid heavily on me. Due to bad spending habits, and periods of unemployment between Rick's jobs, we ended up deep in debt. We're in the process of filing bankruptcy now, something I don't like doing. I believe in paying what you owe. But now that we are both on our own, the living expenses for two households nearly doubles what it cost when we lived together, and there is just no way to cover it all.

Last week we both got hit with another unexpected blow. Switching our income tax filing status from "married" to "single" meant the federal and state governments took a whopping $200 more a month out of my pay, and a little more than that out of his. I was just barely making ends meet before that and so was he, with nothing going into savings for emergencies, and now I'm looking at more ways I can cut corners just to keep afloat. I spent the week feeling really depressed, because I'm trying so hard and living so carefully. But I'm determined to make it work, and I will. I've got to admit it's hard though. Before, I had the freedom to spend a little money each month to help friends and families on the rez, and send fun things to the kids I love there. Now I'm hard pressed to come up with a book of postage stamps for writing. That seems very unfair.

I remember a line from the old Janis Joplin hit "Bobby McGee".... "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose". Some days it feels that way, like everything that meant something to me is gone - love, the only house I've ever actually owned instead of renting, having my furkids with me, and most of all, being able to help out a few folks struggling hard just to cover the basics, and bring smiles to some little faces. I worry too, about what will happen when my car breaks down, or I need new glasses, or I have some other major expense. Already I have three teeth needing root canals and crowns - at a cost of several hundred dollars each. I'm trying to save up for the first one now. SIGH But I also live my life by faith (though I didn't always), and I keep reminding myself that God has been faithful to me over these years. If He helped me find the strength and courage to get out of the destructive environment of my marriage, and provided me with the perfect place to live when there was nothing at all to rent in town, then surely He'll help me find the way to get thru each day from here on too. One day at a time I remind myself, life is to be lived one day at a time.

I know I could go back, Rick reminds me that it's always an option - to combine our resources and live under one roof even after the divorce. The money struggle makes it very tempting... but I know better, I KNOW it wouldn't work. Within one week we'd be right back in the same roles, with me being the mommy and carrying all the worry, work and responsibility. No thank you. To go back would be to lose everything I've gained (especially my sanity), and I just can't live like that ever again. I'm going to find a way to make it on my own!

The Way It Is

I headed out to the farm today to drop off food for the furkids and spend a little time with them. Rick, as usual, was jamming with his friends. The house was rocking and the air was thick with smoke. He was glad to see me; we don't spend much time together anymore. It's hard for me to go there now since it doesn't feel like home.

As I headed back into town to my own little place I realized that he's doing what he always did - making music. I've said before that music is his first love... me his wife, the band his mistress. The band came before vacations, holidays, anniversaries and birthdays. He knew I'd be there anyway, whether or not he took some time to spend with me. It doesn't matter to me anymore, I have my own life back now. He's making music, and I'm doing what I love... writing, reading, spending time on the Internet with friends and the collection of rez kids who bring me such joy. No one is yelling at me, telling me to "shut it down" when I'm on the computer, slamming doors, or scaring away the children on the phone. I can do what I want, when I want, with who I want, and have no one to wait on but myself. If there's a mess I made it and I'll clean it up, and if I choose to let it lay, I can. I go to bed when I want, wake up when I want, and eat what I like instead of what he likes. It's amazing how freeing that is!

I wasn't really watching as the freedom that I had back when I met him slowly eroded away, bit by bit, as he changed from mellow partner to control freak. It wasn't until the last two years that I really began to realize how under his thumb I was living, and how much I resented it. I grew to fear him and the constant underlying tension in the house. Now that I'm gone, of course he misses me. Wants me back in the worst way, even though he knows I never will return. Sure he wants me back, he lost his mother and has to take care of himself for the first time in 45 years!
Sad really, 'cuz underneath it all, I love the man, or at least the memories of the way it was when we began. I'm glad we can stay friends, it's the way I want it, even though that's sometimes hard for other friends to understand. Life is too short to hate. It's easier now to remember the good times, because after a visit to the farm I have the freedom to turn and walk away.

April 15, 2009
And just look... I DID MAKE IT! :-) Just one year after those posts were written, I was engaged to John, spending weekends with him painting our new house and preparing to move to Odessa to begin a new chapter of my life. It still seems impossible! I never would have believed my life could turn in such a positive direction. God has given me everything that I wanted, and so much more!

Now another year has passed. We have settled comfortably into the routine of married life. I live in a house that we have made into a home together and I like it very much. I have a good job that I like most days with none of the b.s. I encountered in the previous one. I live in a good city with all the amenities. We are financially able to make ends meet and still enjoy a few fun activities and indulge in the occasional visit to Red Lobster. We are owned by three very spoiled
furkids. Best of all.... I am truly loved and my heart is at peace... it's a wonderful life!

A Little More About Me

First off, I want to tell you that Josie isn't my real name. Well it is, but not exactly. From a previous blogging experience on My Space, I learned that a little anonymity is necessary to protect myself from the curiosity of co-workers, relatives, and back-stabbers. I'm also known by a couple other names, familiar to some of you. Last names... I've had four of those along the way, starting with a good, solid German one at birth. I'd like to choose a new last name, something that has meaning in my life rather than just denoting me as the property of one man or another. So Josie "Two Shoes" it is - for standing on my own two feet. :-)

I was born and raised in the Midwest, with snow a possibility for eight months of the year, and mosquitoes big as hummingbirds (well, almost)... and how they loved me! Still, in my heart, that will always be home. I've lived a few other places since then, and have been settled in the Great Southwest for the past 27 years now.

I live in a town of of roughly 30,000 and it's growing rapidly. That has it's pluses and minuses, one being the doubling of rents due to a severe housing shortage. I found a great duplex, though I can scarcely afford it. It has plenty of windows to flood the rooms with light, a clear view of the sky, and just a seven minute drive to work. What I love most is that it's very quiet and peaceful in my home... at last.

I've worked in an office at the same human services agency for going on eighteen years now, and I am so ready for a change of scenery and function. But after that long I've accrued great benefits and pay, and I haven't found a realistic alternative...yet, still looking.

I have two grown children, a daughter and a son, that live in other states. I don't get to see either of them often, but I'm incredibly proud of them. They've each achieved the goal I most wanted for their lives... good careers as a means to support themselves without the need to depend on anyone else for their survival. My daughter is married to her soul mate, the best son-in-law I could have ever dreamed of. My son isn't quite ready to settle in yet, says he enjoys "his freedom and his money" too much. Makes good sense to me; he'll know when the time comes.

My furkids (cats to those of you who've never been owned by one)... I had six, three that lived inside and three that were born and live outside. The most painful part about leaving the rural area where I lived and moving into town, was that there is no place willing to allow pets here, not even one. So my furkids stay at the farm, and I return to visit them at least a couple times a week. I miss them more than I miss my ex, much more. Cats are my passion. If I was allowed, you'd likely read about me in the newspaper someday, one of those "crazy cat ladies" that died and was found in a house with 70 cats. :-)

My philosophy of life has changed radically in recent years. The older I get the more I've come to realize that having many "things" is meaningless if you don't have love. I'm moving toward a life of simplicity and the need for fewer possessions, focusing instead on my mission to love and serve others. My hero (ok, heroine if you must be politically correct) is Mother Teresa, and no, I'm not a Catholic. She lived her life in a way that few can even hope to emulate; her philosophy was to "do small things with great love". Now it's my philosophy too. I think that we too often overlook the power that the smallest actions on our part can have in uplifting someone else... a smile, a hug, a compliment, a note of encouragement... it can make all the difference. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and it has a ripple effect that spreads into infinity.

I guess that's it, if there's anything else you'd like to know... just ask! By the way, you'll see a "..." fairly often in my posts. It's my way of expressing myself in writing. I nearly drove my English teachers crazy. I write the way I think and speak, fast and in a dozen directions at once, pausing (...) only to come up for a breath of air. Don't be surprised if now and then a sentence or idea trails off into nowhere. It only means my mind has wandered off again, and forgot to finish what I was saying in the first place. :-) Smileys...yeah, I love them too! :-) And I'm so very glad that Blogger has spellcheck, my fingers never seem spell the way I tell them too!

By Way of Introduction

It seems some sort of introduction is in order. A few months back, after years of struggling with the realities of the relationship I was in, I made the decision to end my thirteen-year marriage and move out on my own. As decision proceeded to actuation emotions ran high and the situation grew intense. Looking back now, I'm amazed I got through those days, amazed I found the courage to finally say "enough". It hasn't been an easy journey since then. I'm still settling in and coming to terms with the realities of what of my new life will be. My emotions have been all over the place and I've found it difficult to communicate, even with the handful of people who have been a tremendous source of love and encouragement. That has always been my way... when life gets hard I hide. But I'm feeling the need to start reaching out again, to reconnect with life and those I love. Living is a process, day-by-day steps on a path toward fulfilling our spiritual destinies. This blog is my way of sharing that journey, since none of us travel alone. We are all related and here to help each other along the way.