Sunday, February 27, 2011

Going Under

I haven't had much to say lately.  Things have been so stressful here.   But now I really need to vent.  I'm just going to be completely honest, which is probably going to be a real downer- so if you don't want to read it, now is the time to bolt.

The financial situation here is going from bad to worse.  I hate talking about this kind of stuff- it's beyond embarrassing- but I can't stand not having someone to talk to about it any longer.  I worry that you'll judge us, or worse- that people will think I'm hitting them up for a hand-out (of course you guys, my blog friends know that's not what I'm doing.  I just need to talk.  But I fear we have relatives IRL who will definitely misconstrue any honest talk about our circumstances as an effort to get into their wallets, although we've never asked them for help). 

But, considering the fact that we are just a stone's throw from bankruptcy, I might as well talk about it.  It will be a matter of public record soon enough, anyway.  The little job Darrell took (to repair some fire damage to a house) is barely covering our house and car payments.  None of the bigger jobs he's tried to land have materialized.  We are constantly trying to rob Peter to pay Paul around here.  I feel like I'm going to crack. 

Darrell and I struggled when we were first starting out, so being "poor" is nothing new, but God has blessed us so much over the years that I became a little spoiled, I guess.  I mean, we still had worries sometimes, like everyone else- we certainly weren't millionaires.  You can't go through 10 kids, two adoptions, and start your own business, without having moments of struggle.  But, for the most part, we've spent the last 10 years (at least) having whatever we needed (and wanted).  We took our blessings for granted.  I foolishly assumed God would continue to take care of us in the manner to which I've grown accustomed.  What an idiot.

Now, I don't know how to keep all these plates spinning in the air.  If I go to the grocery store, the bills won't get paid.  If I try to pay one bill, there are five more overdue ones in the next day's mail.  When business started to slow down, we had to start dipping into our savings (thank God we had it) and we spent months using credit cards for groceries, etc., hoping/thinking things would pick up again and we'd be able to pay them off.  During that time, I didn't cut corners as much as I could have.  Should have.  I honestly, truly thought the setback was short-term, as we've experienced in the past.  Darrell had several job possibilities which sounded promising, and I counted those as chickens about to hatch.  They didn't.  It used to be that there would always be another job to come along before things got too bad.  I feel so stupid now.  I think I confused Faith with Denial.  I wanted to believe God would restore our income, so I did believe.  And I called that faith.  I didn't want to think too carefully about what could happen if it were all taken away, so I didn't.

I told you some of this already, so you know business didn't pick up.  Things suck.  Now, the savings is gone.  The credit cards are maxed and because of that, we have bills that are higher than they were when we actually had money- ha!  Funny!  Actually, it's not.  The minimum payments on our credit cards are now so high, that there's no way to pay any of them.  We are SO in debt, I'd be embarrassed to even tell you how much. 

I've applied over and over for night jobs and never get a call back.  I have to start the cycle again- going around to all the same places, reapplying for the same crap jobs I've already been passed over for.  Darrell has given up hopes of continuing his own company and is applying for jobs with other construction companies.  If he gets hired somewhere, we'll still have money issues, because no construction company is going to pay him what he could make on his own, or enough to support a family this large.

Our marriage is taking a major hit.  Not like we're getting divorced, or anything.  We can't afford a divorce!  Bwaahaha.  No...  It's not quite that bad- we're sticking together, but things suck.  We fight every day.  We rarely spend time together, just the two of us, and I don't think either one of us even cares, which bothers me more than the fact that we don't spend time together.  It's almost like we live at opposite ends of the house and the kids go back and forth to visit- lol.  Any reference by either one of us to money is a guaranteed fight.  Is this getting too honest?  I can't help it.  I don't care anymore.  My life sucks.  I know there are plenty of people with lives far worse than mine, but right now?  I don't care.  And don't think I'm dissing the hub behind his back.  I wouldn't say anything here that I haven't already said to his face and I'm sure he would say something pretty similar. 

Alex and Mike are now both working for Darrell for free (they've refused to take any wages for weeks now), and Alex has moved back home to help us.  His hopes of going back to college are on hold.  Again.  I'm so ashamed. 

...Tucker just now walked into the room and caught me crying.  He asked, "Is it the finances again, Mama?"  I feel like the biggest loser on Earth.  My babies shouldn't have to feel this stress along with us, but they do.  He suggested we pray together about it.  He grabbed my hand and prayed the sweetest prayer for God to help us and also bring peace to his mom and dad.  Peace really would be great right now, but truthfully?  I'd rather have the cash.  While, I am deeply grateful for the sweet, caring hearts God has given my kids, I hate that they feel it's their jobs to comfort me, or help us out of this mess.  Again, it makes me feel like a loser. 

I'm scared.  I don't know if my faith is just shakier than it's ever been, or if circumstances really are worse than they've ever been, but I'm really scared.  I'm struggling a lot with what we should do next.  I've always felt, from the Christian standpoint, that we should try to avoid bankruptcy.  I want to pay what we owe.  It's the right thing to do.  I want to have faith and wait for God to bring relief.  But...  There's this hateful little voice in my head saying, "Why should God help you?  He blessed you for years, and what do you have to show for it?  What have you done to deserve a rescue?"  I can't stand that mean little voice, which, coincidentally, sounds amazingly like my own on one of my extra-b*tchy days.  But, she's right.  I don't deserve a miracle.  I'm still begging for one, though. 

I don't think I've ever felt lonlier or more afraid in my life.

I mentioned earlier that we have family members who will be quick to question our motives for talking about this, although- again- we do not ask anyone to help us with our problems.  Those same people will also be quick to judge us for the mess we've gotten ourselves into, mainly for choosing to have such a large family.  We've heard quite a bit of criticism over the years for having all these kids- especially after we started adopting (that's when people finally seemed to realized that we weren't just a couple of rednecks unable to unravel the mysteries of birth control- we were doing this on purpose...  Gasp!).  I can't tell you how hurtful it is to be thrilled to share such joyful news with people who supposedly love you, and be chastised instead of being wished well or congratulated.  So...  we've learned that we do not have the support of our whole family when it comes to our family size.  I know there are several who will be rushing to yelp out the "I told you so's," followed by a round or two of "you brought this on yourself," or "this is what I knew would happen all along."   To those people I will simply say this:

I do not regret a single child we've had.  Nor will I ever believe we were wrong to adopt.  Being a mother to these beautiful kids is what I sincerely believe was my God-given calling.  And I'm proud to have followed that calling.  Can you say the same?  Can you honestly say you believe with all your heart you have followed the path God chose for your life?  I'm proud of my kids.  They are great, compassionate, caring, loving people.  My babies are not the source of our financial problems.  The economy, coupled with a few impulsive, irresponsible, or just plain stupid decisions on our parts, have gotten us into this mess.  God was faithful to increase our income for each and every child we've had.  He allowed us to pay for two International adoptions with money we had on hand- never having to do fundraisers or turn to family for help.  Yes, we could have taken that same money and put it into college funds for the kids we already had.  But, my point is- if God thought we were making such a big mistake to add another child to the family, why would He have laid it upon our hearts and blessed us with the extra income to make it happen?  I wouldn't go back and do it any differently.  I'd never wish away Brianna or Sam.  They are exactly where they are supposed to be and I will never believe for a second that they were not meant to be in our family.  My children have blessed our lives so much more than an overflowing bank account ever could have.

So, dear family members, if you have something crappy to say, please be assured that we already feel depressed and hopeless enough right now about our current situation without the added stress of unsupportive family members with their "I told you so's."  This would be an excellent time to remember the old saying, "If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all." 

And lastly, to my precious friends...  If you were kind enough to stick around and read this whole thing, please don't think you have to come up with something clever or profoundly helpful to say.  I don't expect that.  I appreciate the fact that you've allowed me to whine and cry on your shoulder.  The best thing you could do for me is to remember us in your prayers.  I didn't proofread any of this- I just wrote it as it came, so forgive me for the messy post.  Thanks for listening, guys.


Nicki said...

I wrote this same post (minus the religious references :))18 months ago. Honestly every single last thing you wrote, I felt. Same with the family issues.

And while we have long since "recovered" financially, I am not sure I'll ever recover emotionally. Our marriage has taken probably an irrecoverable nose dive.

It's very different than when we were young. The expectations people put on us as a family were MUCH lower and our own expectations of ourselves were a lot lower.

From my own recent experience, this is my unsolicited advice: Concentrate on your marriage. The money issues are temporary. They really are. It doesn't feel that way but it's true. Even if it gets worse before it gets better it WILL get better. But if you don't focus on your relationship NOW, you will stand to lose that even when the money gets better.

On a practical note, how do you feel about work from home? I was able to land a few jobs working from home in a pretty short period of time. They wouldn't have paid our bills but at least they bought us some groceries. Also speaking of bills vs groceries, if you are really struggling with spinning the plates, try to find someone you really trust who won't carry any baggage into the situation and have them help lay out your priorities and make a short term plan. No matter how good you are with money and budgeting typically, when you are scared and anxious and sad it is super hard to make sense out of anything and an unemotional third party can help so much!

(((hugs))) Mama! Really I do truly understand every last word.

Tamara said...

Please, please, PLEASE know that you are NOT alone in this. So many of us are a breath away from where you are right now. Staring down the bills month after month, wondering which bill we can put off for just a little bit without getting the harassing phone calls. I'm with Nicki. Please protect that marriage. The finances are temporary - the marriage is for a lifetime. ;)I will be keeping you in my prayers in the coming weeks. ((hugs))

metaphase said...

{{{hugs}}} Like you said, I have nothing clever to say, but I am here praying for you and hoping for the best.

Anonymous said...

Oh honey. I swear there is little in life more stressful than money trouble. You are certainly not alone - the whole dang country is swimming in debt for heaven's sake! But I know that is cold comfort. I will pray for you. And I will share my favorite verse for when we are stressing about money:
"do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (That last line is my daily mantra!!)

And now I've probably given you more platitudes than you ever wanted or needed, so I shall stop. :)

Anonymous said...

We are in a better place that we were last year, but it just seems that as soon as we feel like we are getting back on top of things, another unexpected expense comes along. We have a broken sewer pipe. A $7,300 broken sewer pipe, that is not covered my homeowners insurance or the home warranty we got when we bought the home. Christian and I were both pretty upset about it last night. I was trying to explain it to Noah (5). He offered us the money from his piggy bank. I was going to blog about it today, but haven't gotten to it yet.

Do you have any of your adoption tax credit left over? It is fully refundable this year. That's how we're going to end up paying for the sewer pipe!

Anonymous said...

I will not try to be clever, nor will I try to give you any profound advice, but I will pray. And? Just a little possibly (only possibly) helpful advice: call your credit card companies and explain your situation. My brother went through this a few years back when he was going through his divorce, and the credit card companies were willing to work with him. They may reduce your minium payment, they may even cut the total that you owe them. And? Kudos to you for your big, wonderful family, and for your faith. (((HUGS)))

Jeff said...

I'm sure that was a hard post to write. Please don't feel judged because as someone commented, most of us are one job loss or a couple of months away from that same situation. I know financial problems can be hard on a marriage. That's why my wife and I don't talk about it. just kidding - :)
Hang in there and I'll definitely be praying for you and your family.

Kelli said...

I have so been there. Even though it was just me....I vividly remember having $12 to my name and having to decide to renew my driver's license ofr buy groceries. Thinking of you!