Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twisted Logic, Complaints, Whining

(You know just the normal bullshit around here.)

It’s amazing what you can live with, or without, even when it is something that you swore would always be important to you. Sometimes, you just find out that when it comes right down to it, what you claim is important just isn’t what is really important. When it comes right down to it, actions really do speak volumes louder than words.

From that opening paragraph you are probably expecting some profound exposition on some greater truth of life. Then again, you’ve probably been reading here long enough to know that would be an extremely high expectation for this blog. In spite of the title, “Deepest Darkest Thoughts,” seldom is seen here anything really profound. As a matter of fact, a more appropriate title for this blog may well have been “Dirty Little Secrets.” But I digress. . .

I have been a woman who, for years, regularly had my hair cut and colored. I long held the opinion that it was important, perhaps nearly essential, to have a nice hairstyle and more importantly to never let the gray show. Now I knew I didn’t have much gray, but I also knew there were a few strays here and there. I certainly didn’t want anyone to see them. Ah vanity, yes you are my friend.

So then we come to the time where W and I split up. We go our separate ways. He leaves me with a house (that I will readily admit I picked because I intended that one day BJ and I would share it, and share in the expense of the maintenance and upkeep) with a goodly sized monthly mortgage payment, high utility bills, and one thing or another requiring repair on a regular basis. More than once I dipped into the emergency savings fund to pay to keep the house in decent repair.

Decisions had to be made. I couldn’t dip into emergency savings too frequently, or I would leave myself with nothing at all as a fallback. Expenses had to be cut, and that’s where you learn what’s really important to you, and what’s not. Hair care was one of the first things to go. It wasn’t even that difficult a decision. It saved me nearly $100 a month. Housecleaning services also went by the wayside, saving me another $100 a month. Illini season football tickets were not renewed. I forget how much that saved, but given the weather this season and the Illini’s performance (or lack thereof), it was money well worth saving. What didn’t go by the wayside were Illini season basketball tickets. Now that is $800 a year that I would spend no matter how bad things got unless it meant the difference between homelessness and staying in my house. Truly, it is just that important to me. Another thing that didn’t go by the wayside was my 401(k) contributions. I considered cutting back on them, but I just wasn’t willing to sacrifice the future for the present. (I know. How utterly old school of me. The very thought of not mortgaging the future in order to play big in the present. What a concept. What can I say? Social liberal, fiscal conservative.)

Then things got rocky for me and BJ. I could tell that things weren’t working out with him the way I wanted. I could tell that he didn’t care about me the way he did before. Something was amiss. Somehow we weren’t meant to be. It became clear to me that he was never going to move into my house and be a co-contributor to the household. He wanted me to be able to move so that we could live somewhere between his job and mine. I have my reasons for wanting N to stay in the school district in which we live. I wanted to stay, at least until N graduates high school, where I am. Not to mention that I know the economy is such that right now would not be a good time to sell the house because it would mean selling it for less than what I paid. I suggested to BJ that perhaps we should step back and reevaluate. He jumped at the suggestion, and as far as I could tell took my suggestion as a break up rather than what I meant to be a temporary cool down. It probably took me a good two weeks of not hearing from him to decide that we weren’t working on working anything out but just going our separate ways. It was probably the weirdest break up I’ve ever experienced.

I was left reeling. Not only was I dealing with the emotions of the break up but also the knowledge that I had now left myself very financially vulnerable, more so than I had ever intended. If I went ahead with the divorce, I owed W over $70K for his share of the equity in the house. If we reconciled, the house would be paid off by next summer, freeing up a huge chunk of cash flow each month. Besides, W was being evicted and needed someone to care for him and his broken arm.

All of this brings us to today. Today I am still burdened with the financial responsibility of the house. W is still on the hook for his multitudinous debts he acquired during our separation. He pours 90% of his income into the reduction of those debts. The rest he spends on his personal items and the occasional grocery run for the household. However, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. By the time summer arrives the house will be fully paid for, and that will ease the cash flow crunch a great deal. The first priority will be to build the emergency fund back to its former level. Once that is accomplished, then smaller contributions will go there and allow me to perhaps once again get regular hair care and maybe even get someone in to clean the house occasionally. Not only that, I might be able to buy myself a laptop computer again.

The financial pressure has been crushing to me. Nothing stresses me quite like financial pressure, and for years I lived without financial pressures. Before we moved to LNJ, income far exceeded outflow. It was easy to live within our means. Unfortunately, I put too much financial pressure on myself by purchasing too much of a house here, and counting on having someone to share in it. I put the cart before the horse by making plans for a future that did not occur. I placed trust where trust was unwarranted. I paid a huge price for that, and now it feels as though my punishment is to be stuck with W for the remainder of his life.

And really? All I want to do is get back to a place where I can afford to have good professional hair care. If I can ever add that back to my budget I’ll live without the housecleaning services, and the lawn care services, and the week long vacations, and even replacing the laptop computer. I do miss the professional hair care. Although it was little enough priority to cross off the list during financial crisis, it will be the first thing back when the finances ease. Ah vanity, you are indeed my friend.

1 comment:

Val said...

Ah, come join me in my weird lil' world of financial complicity ;-)!
I feel for ya babe - I think I would lose my sanity at this point if I had to sacrifice my bimonthly housekeeper; she's awesome!
[Wait till I get around to posting about my ex's curious inability to remember WHAT YEAR it is...]