Thursday, September 27, 2007

Working Hard For No Money

Posted by VioletMama.

We are the working poor. Trying SO hard to get ahead, or even caught up, but can't. This is what we have doomed ourselves to. I don't want it to be this way. I hate being broke. Every week, we go through the same thing. Do I pay the credit card, or buy food? Do I pay medical
bills, or pay rent? Do I pay utilities, or buy my meds? It shouldn't be like this.

We used to be doing ok. After our 2nd child, we had a bit of a problem, but got caught up, and pretty much stopped creditor calls. Then, we moved. and got pregnant. High-risk pregnancy = bills not covered by insurance. Then MAJOR emergency dental work. Now we are back to square one, or even negative. Creditors calling, threatening letters, no money.

I just want what is best for my kids. We've given up a lot. My 2 little guys no longer go to daycare, as we can't afford it, the only reason we have phone, internet & cable is that it is offered for FREE as part of my husbands benefits package. I work when my husband is at home, so that we don't have to pay babysitters. I shop on sale with coupons, and buy clothes either on clearance or at thrift stores. And it's still not enough.

Bankruptcy is not an option. The sad thing is that our debt (besides our car payment) is less than 12,000 and we still have no way of paying it. Our families can't help, we make too much money to quailfy for public aid. I'm scared. I hate feeling worthless, and stressed all the time. I hate telling my kids no. I hate never having anything for myself. I hate never seeing my husband. I hate having no one to talk to about this. I just don't see a way out, and it's killing me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Finding Friends

Posted by Kendra of Heart Wide Open.

Throughout my life, I have always had 1 or 2 very good friends. The type of friends you can sit and be silent with or laugh until you cry. Since graduating from college 3 1/2 years ago, my friends have scattered all over the country and a few outside the country as well. We see each other a few times a year. We email daily and we talk on the phone. I miss them. But they are in grad school or just starting out in their jobs. They party every weekend and don't understand that I don't do those things anymore.

I got married 2 weeks after graduating college and I love my husband very much. He has been my best friend for 6 1/2 years. His friendship was enough for me for a long time after college. We have an almost 1 year old daughter. I love the life I have, but something is missing. We moved 2 years ago to a small town in the midwest. It's the type of town where pretty much everyone has been there since they were kids. They grew up there and somehow I don't quite fit in, which is weird to me since I grew up in an equally small town an hour away. I never realized how easy it was to be accepted because you had lived there your whole life. I joined a volleyball league and a bunco group, but I have no close friends like I did all my life up to this point. I don't know why, but lately it seems to be all I can focus on, the not having close friends, especially the last few days. I've talked to my husband about how I feel, but he doesn't know how to help me. I tend to be shy at first when I meet people, which I've worked very hard to over come, but still it is there.

I seem to be at a loss on how to cultivate a good friendship, someone I can talk to about anything and have their understanding. My husband is my best friend, but he is a guy and doesn't always understand the things like a girl friend would. I work 40 hours a week, so I don't get to attend group things with my daughter where I might meet other moms my age. The two women I occasionally do things with have formed their own friendship and do things together every day while I am at work. They know each other inside and out and when I am with them I feel like an outsider. I don't blame them for that, I am just as bad about not inviting them to do things.

How do you find friends? Why can't I be happy with the wonderful life I have? I love my husband and my daughter and I wouldn't trade my life for anything (well except being rich enough that I didn't have to work). Why is this lack of friends so important that it is all I can focus on? Writing has been my outlet and I didn't feel I could post this on my blog. Since I started my blog when I was pregnant, it didn't seem like the right place to air these feelings, even though my blog has become as much about me as my daughter. I'm hoping that just writing this down will help me focus on the positives in my life, like my family. I'm not really looking for answers to these questions, but wanted someone to know how I felt and maybe hear that someone else has the same problems.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't Know How To Help

Posted by Selzach.

My mom is bipolar. She suffered post-partum psychosis after my birth and tried to kill herself. She was hospitalized for a year and eventually got well when the doctors realized she was bipolar, not just depressed, and got her onto the right meds. She was an great single mom and was mostly stable for over 20 years.

About 9 years ago she suffered neurological damage, we think from her meds. Her then-psychiatrist wasn’t monitoring her as frequently as he should have. It was awful – at one point she didn’t know who I was and couldn’t do simple tasks like dial a phone or balance her checkbook. Eventually another doctor figured out what was going on and put Mom through a series of neurological tests and got the meds straightened out. Mom improved, but was never the same. She went on disability because she can’t cope with stress and can’t really learn new skills. She now averages 3-4 visits to the psych unit a year. Her personality has changed as well. She used to be fun and kind. Now she’s judgmental, rude, and has a warped sense of entitlement. I don’t like what she’s become. If she was a friend or acquaintance, I would have written her out of my life years ago.

She’s pushed my husband to the point where he wants nothing to do with her. We do what we can to help her and we get complaints and a nasty attitude in return. I don’t feel like I can talk to him about it, because he’s (rightfully) angry at her. My dad understands what I’m going through, but has little sympathy for my mom after all he went through with her…it’s hard to
hear one parent be brutally honest about the other. Most of my friends have no idea what it’s like and have little comfort to offer. A few others ignore the subject when I bring it up – I guess the stigma of mental illness is too much for them.

This weekend my husband and I had her involuntarily committed. We went out for a few hours and she took an overdose of some meds. It’s not clear if she was only trying to go to sleep or was hoping to die. I sat and held her hand while my husband called the sheriff’s office. I don’t know what will happen when she’s released from the crisis unit. She can’t live alone, and staying with us isn’t enough anymore. I’m so scared for her, and I’m near my breaking point.

I don’t know how to help her or if I can help.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Better Time

Posted by Anonymous.

I’m a mess. I don’t want to be a mess. I want to be strong and healthy.

Vibrant and worth knowing. I don’t want to cry at the drop of a hat or the shadow of a drop of a hat. I don’t want to be a drain on everyone I know.

I took beans off of my husband’s plate the first night I met him. I didn’t ask, I just took them. Where is that confidence? I hardly knew anything back then, just having my brain reset and all, but what I did know, I really, really knew. And now? None of that matters. And I don’t know anything. Maybe less.

I’m tired of being tired and sick of being sick. I’m willing something new to come along and make me forget how deep I hurt. And I fear there is nothing coming, ever, that can change the way I feel.

And long after everyone else is tired of hearing it and wishes I would just shut up already, I’ll be feeling it and thinking it and wishing I were dead but too afraid to do it because of how that would make my kids feel. (Is there a way to make it look like an accident?) It scares me
how much I mean those words. But I don’t think I’m allowed to say them out loud. So they stay in here, in my head, bouncing around and echoing off the walls.

And instead I’ll just drink a little too much and cry a little too often and plan on the inevitability of feeling sad the rest of my life.

It sounds so dramatic when I read over those last paragraphs. Like an emo teen, full of righteous indignation against the Man, even though she doesn’t know who the Man is.

You know when you start thinking of a million reasons why the people left in your life would be better off without you, it’s probably not a good time to make any major decisions. Like, death. But, when is a better time? I mean, I wouldn’t seek it out, but I wouldn’t say no, either. Know what I mean?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wishing For An Intervention

Posted by Anonymous.

I just got off the phone with my dad. Again. And we spent another hour talking about my sister. Again. I can't take it much longer. I know that this is my role--that as the responsible one that has always had a special communication bond with him it is my duty as a daughter to let him get this off of his chest before his hypertensive heart just gives out from the stress. And as the big sister, it is my role to make peace between them and to field the frustrations, interpret the angry accusations and bridge the gap that neither one seems to be able to deal with. Alone they stand with that gap between them, hurling angry words and misunderstandings. And then I enter and I try to shield them from each other and unlock the truths. Calming them down, pulling the bits of love and advice and concern out of the shouting and handing them over to each, like peeling away the sharp spines of a cactus to find the delicious nutritious fruit inside.

But I'm getting sick of it, because this time my sister is just plain wrong. And we can't seem to get through to her and so I find myself lobbing the same angry question at her: "How can you stay with him?" It's a loaded, painful accusation to her. Pointing out his faults. Her naiveté. Her stubbornness. Her mistake in being with him in the first place. That her obvious answers, which we are clearly aware of, are not enough. That the whole story is clearly one of miserable choices, lies, and mistakes.

But the whole story is just so sickening we don't bring it up in entirety too often. And we don't bring it up in polite company. And so I'm here to vent.

Two years ago my sister had a good job as a manager at a small bank. She worked part time at a local convenience store to pass the time, and stuck the money away. She was dating a nice guy who had proposed but she had stalled because she was wanted to wait. She had a nice car, fully paid for thanks in part to a generous gift from my parents. She had her first house which my parents helped her make the downpayment on a few years earlier. I don't begrudge her these things. My parents helped me buy my first car and gave us money to help furnish our first home. They aren't wealthy by any means--working hard labor hourly jobs in a tired rust-belt town years after their bodies should have been given a break--but they're responsible about money and loving parents and so they give more than they probably should despite our protests. All six of their children. And we all appreciate them deeply, except this sister. She has always felt slighted. Victimized. Defensive.

And yet my parents helped her out and helped her get settled. Dad worked 14 hour days and then drove to her house to replace old pipes, replace an old window, and remodel her laundry room without charge before going home to do farmwork. She would come home from the bank, change clothes, and watch TV for 45 minutes. Never offering him a drink or a sandwich. Never thanking him for the thousands of dollars worth of work he was doing for free and paying for himself. Never bothering to ask how he was doing. Just sat and watched TV and then left to go to her second job. She'd complain to me that he was over too much, was doing things without asking her, and was intrusive. He was angry that she was so ungrateful and didn't take care of her house. I intercepted, interpreted, and bridged the gap.

Then that fall a guy moved in. We grew up strictly Catholic and premarital anything was unspeakable. And yet he moved in "as a friend" with "no where else to go" just "for a few weeks". She had a crush on him; he was married. With kids. And a criminal record. And his wife was divorcing him for his criminal behavior. She called my sister to warn her, but he told her the ex was just jealous. The same story covered the ex-girlfriend with another child by him who called with the same warnings. She was just jealous because she wanted him back so they could be a family. But he was tall, blond, tan, charming, a singer, a little wild, and played the victim card. Everyone was holding him down. He was a victim. He just needed a fair shot at life. He understood her as no one else would and she had found a "soul mate". She was completely suckered in.

Within 6 months he had drained her bank accounts. Four months later he had convinced her to refinance her house twice for almost $45,000 and it all disappeared. Then he had her use her car title to get more money. Then a few pay day advance places. Within a year they were in so deep they had no where else to go and nothing to show for it. He was gambling it all away, but we wouldn't know that--wouldn't know any of this--for another month. In January she found out she was pregnant. It was, of course, his. That next week--knowing full well she was pregnant with his child--he had her write checks for thousands of dollars and he cashed them at an unsuspecting bank. A criminal act. The police got involved, and finally, so did my parents.

It all came out in ugly waves. Everytime we thought we knew what we were dealing with another wave deposited more of their mess. And my parents stepped up to clear her name of bank fraud for the thousands of dollars of checks. Tens of thousands for the payday advances and car loans. The house was not salvageable. They owed entirely too much and the bank would be taking it eventually along with the thousands my parents had invested as help with her downpayment. My parents bailed her out as much as they could, more than they should have, but they couldn't protect her completely. The bank she worked for fired her for the bank fraud. Unemployed. Bankrupt. Pregnant with the child of her criminal boyfriend. Soon to be homeless.

The bank moved slowly on the foreclosure so they sat in the house for months, as utilities were turned off around them. Garbage bags piled up in the garage to the point that it was overflowing. They stopped mowing the lawn. His car broke down and so he took hers when he went out, which he did often. They found temp jobs and she opened a new bank account and put his name on it. We all protested and she said it was just easier that way and that we were unfair to judge him. He lost his job within the month. She continued to work 10 hour days with a 1 hour commute each way, catching rides with a coworker so he could take her car and go gamble the money away as fast as she earned it. Faster than she earned it. Bounced checks for $800 each piled up. He left for days on end with her car and her cell phone, leaving her in their unowned house with no car, no phone, and 8 months pregnant; working 50 hours a week in a temp job for money she never saw. Dad came over one afternoon to clear out the truckload of garbage from the garage, unthanked, and hauled it to the dump where he paid $50 to get rid of her garbage. If only it were that easy.

In July the guy came home with a pile of cash and warned her that it was best if she didn't know where he got it and then he left in her car with her cell phone "for the night". He came home four days later, all the money was gone and another thousand had been pulled from the bank. The police showed up a few days later with a check written on her old account from the bank she had been fired from. He had found an old bank book, written it for thousands, and forged her signature. An act, we then learned, he has previously served time for. She swore she had no idea and he swore she was innocent. He was going to "be a man" and "take the fall" which sounds a bit overly heroic for a guy just admitting his own rotten guilt.

And you would think, after all of this, that she would have had enough. That she would kick him out or move out. And we've offered. We have a spare bedroom and private bath with a small sitting room, perfect for mother and child and she can live here for free if she leaves him. My parents offered to remodel their upstairs to put in a bath and small kitchen and she could live there for free if she leaves him. A friend offered to take her in if she left him. And yet she sits in that house with him, hands him her car keys, and says we just don't understand love.

She's overdue with his son who she plans to name after him. The bank is finally kicking her out this week and her baby was due last week. He has criminal proceedings being brought against him this week. My parents continue to offer to let her live with them and she says she'd rather live on the streets. She refuses to talk about it. In an hour long chat yesterday she talked 20 minutes about finding a changing pad for a diaper table, 10 minutes about how nice his parents were to buy her a 79 cent ice cream cone (they just get her, don't you know, and obviously care more than her horrible parents ever have), 25 minutes about labor and delivery and this upcoming baby, and 5 quiet tearful minutes about what might happen this week. Most of those were silence on her end as I tried to bridge the gap.

And tonight dad called me and agonized over his daughter. And I tried to intercept and interpret, but I just don't get it either. I don't know this woman anymore and it breaks my heart.

PostScript: since this post was sent to the Basement, Anonymous has sent the following update -

"She (my sister) was induced and he has pled not-guilty to his charges of 2 felonies so that he can continue to hang out as a free man for a few weeks while the justice system sets up court dates. The jails are full, so he's still lounging around her house when he's not out gambling away the welfare check. This is what my sister's life has come down to. It just kills me! We're from a good family, with hard working parents. We were given the chance to go to college if we helped pay for it--in fact, I'm a professor now and my brother is a computer engineer at an aerospace center! Another sister started college yesterday, my older brother is a farmer with a nice house and 2 kids and a very cool wife, and my baby brother is taking classes part time while he works 2 full time jobs. And this sister was working toward building up money to be able to save up enough to work part time and take paralegal classes. We were given every chance to do right in life and she was doing great up until this worthless waste of a man showed up."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Needing Strength; Needing Mom

Posted by Anonymous.

I don't even know how to write this.

I took my mom to the ER this morning to get checked out -she'd been having stomach aches. I expected the call to tell me she had kidney stones or appendicitis. I should say that my mom (in addition to being my best friend) is also the caregiver for my 2-year old daughter during the week. As my father (her ex) watched my daughter for me while I readied for a conference call at 3:00, the phone rang and it was my mom from the ER. "I have pancreatic cancer."

I can still hear those words echoing in my head. That was approximately 10 hours ago. She was finally admitted into a room around 10:00pm and we still have no more information except that it does not look operable. I notified family and close friends and thought that I would really like to tell my "friends" from the blogosphere, but I don't have a blog so here I am. I know that tragedies happen all the time, all around us. I know that I need to be strong for my mom and my daughter, but right now - at 1:15 am, all I can do is cry onto my keyboard and fight the panic that threatens to send me running out into the dark street. All I wanted to do was to shake an ER nurse or doctor and yell "THIS IS MY MOTHER, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE HELP US" because I truly don't know how I will move past this, how will I enjoy a Saturday morning at the farmer's market without my friend/my mother? Who will stop to get me a special coffee on Monday morning just because it's Monday? Who will be there for me when I take the leap to have a second baby??

I know this happens all the time, people get sick, people die, but right now, my heart is breaking into tiny pieces and I. can. not. stop. crying. If these are the times when you're supposed to find your inner strength, please let me find mine. Mom, I love you.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Follow Up: Hope and Fear

Posted by Anonymous. Follow up to 'Hope and Fear' (originally posted Nov. 23, 2006).

Back in November, I contributed my story on having a miscarriage and subsequent surgery to remove an ovarian tumor. At the time, I wondered if that pregnancy was my only chance at having a family.

I just wanted to say... I'm pregnant! Almost three months now. The Basement's readers' comments helped me a lot - they were supportive and kind. Many people told me to have hope, that it would happen for me, and I fiercely held onto that.

As you can imagine, I'm very excited and wanted to again say thanks to you and your readers.

Ed. note: Thank YOU, Hopeful Anonymous, for sharing your wonderful news with us!!!

(And, to any other former posters out there, if you'd like to share updates to your stories, we'd LOVE to hear them.)

(Hint, hint.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Posted by Anonymous.

I'm not perfect by any means. I've been a piece of shit since I was born, my parents told me so... I hate being a piece of shit and no matter how hard I try I'm just not good enough. I grew up poor, beaten, verbally abuse by a drug addict father and absent mother. When I graduated high school I looked at my college forms my mother filled out, they made $17,000/yr in 1999. I went to an all black poverty ridden school (I am white) but graduated with honors and paid to start college but quit after 1 1/2 years b/c I couldn't afford to pay for college and it was too hard working 20 hours a week going to school full time. I had no help or support. I moved out of my house at 17 and never returned. My husband and I bought our first house when I was 20 years old and I worked (as an ophthalmic technician) until I had my first son.

I am 26 years old, 123 lbs, 5' 2", stay at home mother of two boys (3 yr old and 1 yr old) and married to a wonderful man. I live a middle class lifestyle in a modest home and should be thrilled but I'm not. I'm not thin enough, I'm not a good enough mother, I'm not a good enough wife or even a decent woman to know. Here's why...

I'm definitely not thin enough! Someone my height should be somewhere around 110lbs. For the last 5 years I've been 150 lbs not pregnant and right before I delivered my last baby I was 194lbs. So in the last year I lost 70 POUNDS but it's not good enough. I should've done better. I'm a compulsive eater and I hate it. I've struggled with it for years and I still do. How did I loose all that weight being a compulsive eater you may wonder? I started compulsively eating healthier things but it doesn't change the fact that I eat when I'm sad, happy, frustrated, angry or any other reason besides hungry. I also breastfed and that helps a lot too. Which brings me to my next problem...

I'm not a good enough mother. I stay home with my boys and I'm supposed to love it. "These are the best years..." is all I ever hear when I tell people I stay home. I resent the mother who says "I could never stay home all day, I'd go nuts" because that's exactly what is happening to me. I'M GOING NUTS! My children are on a strict schedule, they almost never eat sweets, I make my own baby food, I breastfed for the full year (that the aap recommends) for both boys, I've read more than 10 parenting books (that makes me an expert, right?), they watch little t.v., we go for walks, make projects, do art's and crafts, exercise together E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y. That's not good enough, I should do better. A really good mom would do all this with a huge smile across her face, with a sense of humor and more. I never hit my kids, my 3 year old gets time outs but that's not good enough, a really good mom would just lovingly explain that stealing toys isn't the nicest thing you could do, right? I yell, I scream, I have to take time outs myself, a good mother would never need to do that, right? Patience would come in an abundance. I'd have an endless supply of fun everyday for the little ones, right?

My poor husband, we've been together for 9 years and married for almost 5. He's beautiful, I mean the most wonderful man anyone could ever come across and this poor man has to come home to me. He's attractive, intelligent, hard working and, most importantly, a really loving father. He works 8 hours a day, that's it. He's a software developer (programmer) and he's expected to stay longer but he never does, his family comes first. What men do that these days? When he comes home he sees his house in disarray, toys everywhere, a sticky kitchen table, kids screaming and an unkempt wife who is usually miserable. He doesn't deserve this! I make his lunch everyday and dinner. I wash and fold his laundry. Give him BJs once a week (he'd like it more but I HATE HATE HATE doing it, I'd rather chew on glass) and sex 2-3 times a week. But that's not good enough. I usually don't have time to straighten my hair or put on make up but I do try to make sure my hair is neat and dressed nicely. But a good wife would be dressed her best everyday, wearing the pretty diamond earrings her hubby bought her and having her hair straighten with make up on, right? A good wife would put her needs on the back burner and give the BJs when he wants them instead of limiting them to once a week even if she does hate it, right?

What makes me a indecent woman? All of the above and the fact that I have no interests or hobbies or LIFE of my own. I have no real friends and I eat, breathe and live for my children and husband. There are things I'd like to do but they come last or not at all most...I mean all of the time. I feel like an empty shell and my head feels like a jumbled mess that is constantly stirring around. I can't think and I can't even process what the hell is going on. I don't know if this is a quarter life crisis but I know this is 100% my problem. I love my children and husband and wish I could be a better me. I'm sure my childhood has a lot to do with this but I don't know how to shake it.