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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!

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