I close my eyes as the waves close in. I take a deep breath and I’m under water. I try to kick my legs but I can’t move. Panic sets in as my lungs begin to burn. A million thoughts race through my mind as the world around me gets darker… I’m a failure… Nothing I do is right… No matter how hard I fight, the waves are always going to consume me… I feel myself letting go. I’m helpless and lost, watching my life unravel, powerless to stop it. The world goes dark and finally my mind is quiet.
Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor…
I have made a lot of bad choices in my life. I know that, and I accept that. I make no excuses for what I was. All I can do is spend the rest of my life trying to be a better person than I was before. But how many times can a person get kicked in the face before they say enough is enough. How many times can you fail before you throw down your sword and stop fighting? I don’t have unrealistic expectations when it comes to life. I don’t expect fame, fortune, and adoration. I don’t expect to have anything handed to me. I expect to work hard for everything. And that is exactly what I do. I work two jobs, sometimes totaling 17 hours a day. I rarely say no to working on my day off or taking on tasks that may be outside the realm of my normal responsibilities. I work hard. And I’m good at my jobs. I don’t do drugs. I don’t spend my life in a bar, I hardly even drink… I drank two beers this week, and for me, that’s a lot. I do the best I can for my children and my family. I’m loyal to my friends and loved ones. I strive to be someone who my children and my family can be proud of. So why is it so hard for me to look in the mirror at the end of the day? Why this constant feeling of inadequacy? I am blessed to have a great support system. I have a wonderful family that loves me unconditionally. I have the best friends that anyone could ask for, but I feel so detached from all of them. Everyone sees me as this strong person. What they don’t realize is, I’m a coward… I don’t give up because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what people will say about me. I’m afraid of what my family will think of me. I have a desperate need to feel loved and accepted because even when I’m surrounded by people, I feel like I’m alone. I feel like no one really knows me. Because I put on a smile, and crack jokes, and make everyone believe I’m indestructible. But in reality, I’m a scared child trying to figure out how to fake my way through the rest of my life. Because the minute I show a shred of weakness, no one knows what to say or how to react. I’m told, “Stop it. I’m not going to let you do that. This is not how we solve problems. There’s no crying.” I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to be strong anymore. I don’t know how to fake it… I understand now how people get so consumed by their demons that the only way out is to end their life. I’m not saying I could ever do it. Because I’m a coward. But I understand it. Sometimes all the money and all the help in the world can’t shut out the voices that come in the night. Those voices that tell you you’re a failure, and you’ll never be anything.
When you’re in the middle of your uncontrollable descent into depression and hopelessness, your problems do not seem temporary. Your problems consume every part of you and the light at the end of the tunnel does not exist anymore. It’s not as simple as just waking up and deciding to be happy. It’s not as easy as “Just keep trying”, because you’ve been trying. You have woken up and decided to be happy. But at the end of the day, you just feel empty and alone. So when your life is falling apart, and you have no one to turn to, and no religion to rely on, what do you do? What is the next step? Because I’m out of ideas. Maybe I should just let go…
I took a deep breath and walked into the office. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was placing my fate and the outcome of my life from that moment on, into the hands of someone who had nothing to gain by ruling in my favor. I sat quietly and answered her questions. Casually glancing in the direction of the man I have come to hate with every fiber of my being. He was so cocky. So arrogant. He was convinced this meeting was a waste of time and he was going to win. One more victory for him, and one more step backwards for me.
I held my breath while she quietly did her calculations. After what seemed like an eternity she finally turned and spoke. “Rose, even though a full 40 hour week is not a guarantee for you, we still have to rate you at 40 hours.” My heart stopped. This was it. My life was about to ripped away from me, after I fought so hard to change it. I have worked so hard to fix myself and make up for my past mistakes. I have come so far from where I used to be and now, it’s about to be ripped away from me. Another victory for him. I hated him. I fantasized about stabbing him in the throat with my pen. That would certainly remove the smug look from his face. The silence after that single statement seemed to stretch on for an hour. And then, finally, she spoke again.
“Due to the current income levels, there will be a change in the monthly support.” I couldn’t breathe. The walls were closing in. “There has been a recent change in state regulations. The self-support reserve has been increased and will increase again on August 9th. Due to the current income levels, and the current level of the self-support reserve, the current support level is going to change from $375 a month, to $303 a month. On August 9th, it will automatically change again. It will go from $303 a month to $254 a month.“
Wait… What? Did I hear that correctly? The support level is going to decrease??? This has to be a dream. Can you repeat that please? I think I had something in my ear. I don’t believe I heard you correctly. But the look on his face said it all. Shock, disbelief, anger. I waited for the fireworks. Surely he would not let this injustice stand. When he realized that she really made the decision she just made, he finally boiled over. There was a string of incoherent rambling arguments about why it was the wrong choice. Why couldn’t I just get a second job? Clearly there was nothing wrong with me busting my ass day in and day out to bring home $50 at the end of the week, and for them to feel that I am entitled to more than that is just ludicrous. I sat in stunned happy silence as he let his true colors show. He showed himself for what he truly is. A greedy, money hungry, worthless little man with a Napoleon complex. Finally, someone else could see that he cares more about the money, than what is best for our children.
I walked in that room with nothing to lose, and in an instant my life changed. Now I have a fighting chance. A chance to finally turn my life around. To finally provide my children with the life they deserve. A final fuck you that was seven years in the making. My life is mine and you will never control it again. I have taken the power away from you, and now, your world is going to crumble.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ~ Thomas Edison
I had a moment of weakness today. I broke down and told myself that I was giving up. I can’t continue fighting for nothing, it just isn’t in me anymore. Just thinking those words, I Give Up, made me feel like a complete failure. Like I WAS fighting for nothing. Because if I can’t find the will to put a smile on my face and keep moving forward, then I AM a failure.
At this point I think I need to give a little insight into my life. Maybe then you will understand why it’s so important to me to continue moving forward, even when I feel like the sky is falling.
I am a 29-year-old single mother to two amazing little boys. They are my everything. My reason for being.
Due to circumstances beyond my control at this point, they live with their father. At the time, I thought it was what was best for them. As time went by, I realized I was wrong, but it was too late to go back. These two little boys deserve the world, and I wish that I could give it to them. Unfortunately their father takes every dime he can drain out of me in child support so I’m left with very little to live on at the end of the week.
This is where my moment of weakness came in.
I checked my bank account to see how much my check was going to be and was devastated to see a pending deposit of $37.00. It was at that point that I realized, no matter how hard I try, I’m always going to struggle. It’s always going to be an up hill battle. How could anyone see the light at the end of that tunnel? So I told myself I was giving up.
“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” ~Elvis Presley
As hard as it is to believe sometimes, there is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel… Even if it’s just a small one. No matter how bad things seem, they always have to get better. Right?
Here’s where things get difficult for me. Most people in my situation would turn to religion. They’ll pray to God to make things better. I can’t do that. I’ve spent most of my life not really sure of the existence of God. I never felt comfortable with religion. I remember trying to go to church when I was younger, and being bored to the point of getting up and walking out. My point is, I don’t have an outlet for my feelings of weakness and failure. I simply shove it all down, force myself up off the ground, and keep plugging away. I don’t know any other way…
So a funny thing happened as I sat crying, trying to figure out how I am going to survive for the next week. Through the darkness I saw just a tiny pinpoint of light. Most people probably wouldn’t have even seen it. But I did. And I dried my eyes, picked myself up, and started walking towards it. That’s the secret right there. You must walk. Because if you run, you’ll scare it away. It starts with baby steps. Eventually you’ll get there, but you can’t rush it. Nothing great happens overnight. There’s no instant miracle. It will only come with hard work and perseverance. Do I have all the answers yet? Absolutely not. Do I know how I’m going to eat for the next week? Sure don’t. But I do know that I won’t get where I’m going by standing still. The first step, that baby step, is getting up tomorrow morning and going to work. And after enough days of pushing forward even though I feel like I can’t, my life will be amazing. One day my awesome little family will have everything they deserve.