It is so good to be home

Good to be home again

After more than 24 hours of go-go-going, with about an hour of sleep on the flight back home, I spent most of yesterday taking care of myself. I went out with some friends around lunch time, just to catch up, then I came home and slept. For almost 7 hours.

God, that felt good. I have been operating on 5-6 hours of sleep a night, with really long days — sometimes 15 hours of non-stop going — and it is fantastic to get to just STOP moving, and basically collapse.

I could do without losing the hour, thanks to changing our clocks, but that’s the least of my concerns, right now.

I have a big week ahead of me, with some significant projects. One of them is really behind – it’s overdue, and the folks I’m working with are just not happy about it. They haven’t been happy about things for several years, but I’m not the only one to blame. They don’t do what they say they’re going to do, on time, and then they come back to me, bitching and complaining about things not being “right”.

It’s generally unsatisfactory, and nobody is happy, but that seems to be how it always goes. Frankly, the fact that I’m able to get anything done under the conditions I’m working with, is a miracle. I have a feeling things are going to be changing soon in my life and work, so I’m not going to let it get the better of me and throw me off. These things happen. Nobody likes them. They’re awkward and uncomfortable, and they’re a pain in everyone’s ass. But that’s just how things are for the time being.

It’s all experience. Just that. Experience.

Speaking of experience, I’ve decide that whatever happens in my life, I alone am responsible for the experience I get from things. Yes, there are going to be really tough times and really easy times, too. But how I react to it, and what I get out of it, is on me. I can treat the tough times like they are victimizing me, and I am helpless to prevent them. Or I can treat them like lessons and opportunities to build up my strength and reach deeper within myself for more strength and endurance.

These past weeks – the past couple of months, actually, have been all about learning to deal with adversity and looking my imperfections and shortcomings and limitations in the eye. These are very public imperfections, which are resulting in frictions and drama with my workmates, as well as compromising my work product. In the past, I have really let that get to me, when I came up short, my focus and attention failed me, and I screwed things up.

I really beat up on myself, convinced that I was broken beyond repair, and I would never amount to anything. But that wasn’t actually accurate. Those were just times when I had the opportunity to see close up and personal just where I needed to put more attention and effort.

And when all was said and done, when I held steady and didn’t let things throw me in a hyper-personal way, what I had was a greater resilience and the ability to wade into potentially distressing situations without losing my cool.

That’s been a great boon to me, because the thing that my last TBI cost me — which also cost me my job(s) and almost killed my marriage — was my ability to stay cool. In the past, I had really banked on my ability to stay calm in the face of the storm, but after my TBI in 2004, I just lost it. I couldn’t keep anything together. I was so stressed and so fried by every danged thing, that I couldn’t make it through the day without melting down or blowing up over one thing or another.

It’s all a jumbled mass of shadowy recollections in my head, now, but I can remember a number of times when I just lost it — at work as well as at home. And I really know how that impacted me — lost jobs, friction at home, a fractured marriage and lost friendships…

Now, though, I’m getting back on my feet. I just got my tax refund back, and I also actually got a bonus this year, so things are actually looking up for me. I’m able to pay off a LOT of back debts, that have been sucking hundreds of dollars from me each month. It has taken me four years to clear out debts that were the equivalent of a year’s take-home salary. It has been a long, hard slog, but I am now making payments that will wipe out ALL my old outstanding debts, even my line of credit at the bank to cover my mortgage payments. I’m getting current on all my bills, and I’m consolidating and removing extra costs that I don’t need. I am now also in a position to do some house repairs which have been waiting about ten years — since I had my TBI in 2004, and I ceased being able to deal with, well, just about anything.

I’m in a position where I can actually fix the issues with my cars, and I’m considering getting a new (to me) car to replace my commuter car that’s nearing 150,000 miles and is starting to have the kinds of problems that older cars have. Radiator needs to be replaced. Back left strut needs to be fixed, rust around the edges, and so forth. So, if I can trade in the car I have for another one, it would probably be cheaper just to get a new-to-me car, instead of having to replace and repair so much on my current vehicle.

Having that influx of money to my bank account has just solved a whole lot of stress-inducing problems, the nicest one being that whenever I go look for another job, I don’t have to push the envelope on what I’m earning, just to get by. I’m not saddled with all these infernal debt payments, and I can actually work with what I’m making, rather than watching it trickle away.

Looking at all my numbers, I can see how I can actually get ahead in the coming months and years, which is a great feeling, after the past four years of being trapped in a cycle of debt resolution, feeling like I would never get out from under.

Yes, it is really good to be home.

Sorting things out, bit by bit

I am at a complete impasse with my money. I am doing well, salary-wise, in a competitive field, but I am literally living paycheck-to-paycheck, in no small part because my last brain injury happened at a really crappy time. There’s never a good time for a head injury, but this one took place about a year before I was about to become vested in an options program at work, which had siphoned off all my extra earnings for the past three years to pay into, so that I couldn’t pay off any of my credit cards all during that pre-vesting time.

So, after I fell, I was left not only with crazy credit card balances, but also the inability to finish out my vesting term, which means I lost half my money to taxes, a remaining fourth to paying down out-of-control debt, and the last quarter fled from my wallet in an amazingly short period of time. I hate when that happens…

Long story short, I’m earning a good living, but I’m barely scraping by. It’s straining my marriage, it’s threatening my house and my sanity, and I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t ask for help from anyone close to me, because all my friends are in terrible shape, losing their houses and marriages and jobs, and my family is all fairly not-well-off… plus, they all think I’m made of money, not knowing the details of where I’m at — and why. I can’t even begin to explain my situation to them. They wouldn’t understand. They just don’t get a whole lot about me, including why I’m having as much trouble getting by, as I am. I just can’t do the lecture-thing. Just can’t.

Sometimes it just sucks to look good, while you’re struggling.

Anyway, enough feeling sorry for myself. I’ve made some calls, and I’m getting my financial situation in order. I have been wanting to do this for years, but I’ve always been uncomfortable with approaching others about my money. I got too turned around, and I didn’t know how to ask for clarification. I literally didn’t. I thought I had to tough it out and soldier through and try to figure things out on my own. That never worked, and it was debilitating. Disabling, really. I was trying to go it alone, while that was about the last thing I could manage.

I’m not going it alone anymore, at least in this respect. I’m asking questions when I need things explained. I’m getting help, and it feels good. Scary as hell, but good.

After being on the phone about this for the past two hours, I am utterly bushed. So, I’m off to bed. More on this later. Just the fact that I was able to pick up the phone is a real sign of progress. And the more I think about it, the better I feel. But for now, I’m too tired to do more than click Publish and head off to bed.


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