Big Deals and Survival

I tend to blow negative things out of proportion. This time each year, I freak out about money because B goes back to school and only teaches classroom, non-online courses. Even though he’s working more, he makes less than he does over the summer because he doesn’t have those supplemental online courses. Money is extremely tight. Plus, there’s that whole we-have-a-baby-now variable that wasn’t present last year. Right now, saving money is not an option because we need every dime. We trim the fat and exercise massive frugality, but the stress is rough. When I see our bank balance I feel a shift in my bowels.

Oh, and our computer is on its last legs, so soon that will need to be addressed. And I’m pretty sure Wee Cee is going to keep growing and will need new clothes since she can’t wear her 6MO stuff forever. This is a shame because she has the most adorable little fleece hoodie with hearts on it that I don’t want to put away. As you can see, my priorities and motivations are completely valid and sane.

My brother is also having some problems right now. He has Aspergers so his life has always been challenging, but right now a lot of things are hitting him all at once. He was dismissed from his job for reasons that I won’t go into. He works for a huge company that you have heard of, so they have an infrastructure in place for people to appeal their dismissal, so he will do that. Still, there’s no guarantee that he will get his job back. He was also recently in a car accident that was his fault, and he’s being sued by the person he hit. This is a lot all at once. He lives with my mom and she’s been parenting him from the moment he was born. He is now 27. She had been a SAH mom pretty much from the instant I was born until my dad passed away eleven years ago. After he died, she went back to school, went back to work, has since excelled in her field, all while being my brother’s primary advocate. When things are rough in my brother’s life, they are extra rough in my mom’s life because she has to pick up the pieces. She’s racked right now. I’m glad she was here this week because it gave her an escape, but she’ll soon be returning and having to face the life of T. It makes me shudder for her.

I have a knot in my stomach when I think about these things. And a knot in my brain. And in my heart. Why do things have to happen all at once? Who or what can I blame? The hardest part always seems to be the present. Yesterday I was at the store and at the checkout counter, I overheard the massively pregnant lady in front of me say that she was already past her due date. She will have her first baby by Saturday if not before. And I just wanted to tell her to make these last few days count. Your life is made so much richer and worth living with a baby – I know this so well; it’s the theme of my life – but having one does nothing for simplicity and ease.

But what I know is that things are not as bad as they could be. These are big deals, but we will survive.

In fact, if things did get exponentially worse, we would survive.

If they got to that exponentially worse place and THEN got even more terrible, we would still survive. Even then, if they got to such a terrible place that I can’t even wrap my head around it and calculate the challenges we would face, we would still survive. We have each other: me, B, and C. I have my family. I can’t count on much else, but I can count on the love I have for them to motivate me to keep my head up. I can count on my maturity, even though a lot of the time it is relatively scant. I can’t count on my education – right now it’s the student loans that weigh on me the most – but I can count on my sense, my intuition, and the logical qualities I was born with. I can count on the wholeness of my life that God has given me. He has made me realize that I already have it all, but I just need to do all I can make it worth living. I need to see this through and realize that a life full of challenges is just as worthy of being lived as a life of ease. In fact, it’s even more worth living.

There was a time when I had just gotten out of school and I was looking for my first job. I think I literally had like $1300 to my name, and one month’s rent was $750, so the pressure was on to get a job – any job. I was miserable. I was afraid I was going to have to move home and work at the Gap like I had before I finished my degrees. My body was sore because I was so worried. I’m not relaying this story to tell you that I had nothing to worry about and that I did eventually find a job, although I did. It’s pertinent because when I reflect back on that time now, I remember it not being as horrible as I thought it was. I survived the backaches, the headaches, the stomachaches, the sleepless nights.

I recognize it as definitely not the hardest thing I had ever been thought. I survived that. I’ll We’ll survive this.

Let’s do this.


  1. I so know your pain and worry and stress – my husband has graduated with a BFA in 2010 and has been out of work/under employed for 2 yrs – our son goes to a private school (he’s awesome, but had a traumatic birth that had a great outcome, but you don’t touch the fire and not come away with some burns, if you know what I mean). I’ve worried endlessly about ending up on the street if I lost my job..etc..the wheel eventually turned for us (this past Tues my husband started an excellent job and I feel after 9 years we are finally moving forward).
    You’re doing the right things – you just got to hang in there and move forward. Take it little by little. It always seems that everything looks worse at 3AM when you wake up in a cold panic. Just hug the loves of your life and know you have a safetynet in family.
    Your mom sounds amazing. Hopefully, there are some services out there that will help her and your brother. I don’t know why things happen when or why – they just do. Try to think of it as not bad/good – it just is.
    What’s sometimes harder is when things are going well, trying to not feel like it’s just a matter of time before the ‘other shoe falls’ – It’s so hard to not look at things as good or bad. I try to believe that things turn out as they should and to let loose of the need to control everything – so many things you just can’t control. It’s really really difficult (at least for me). You can do this – you will survive – it’s cliche but just one moment at a time. When I get overwhelmed I think of a sage piece of advice my friend’s father told me when I was trying to learn to ski and was terrified of the HUGE STEEP ski run. He said – don’t look at the whole mountain, just concentrate on the 5 feet in front of you. That helps to center me. I hope you find some peace –

    1. You are so right that 3AM is the hardest time. It’s lonely being alone with your thoughts at that hour. I have always said that no good thing happens after a certain time.

      My mom is pretty amazing. There are definitely services in place to help them, but I think that one of the hardest things is just declaring him disabled, which we never have (legally speaking).

      Thank you for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated.

      1. Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher · · Reply

        Take care – I’ll be thinking of you during my 3AM freak outs.

  2. Poor T…and your mom. I hope the appeals process is successful, but if not, that he finds something else soon that works for him. He’s such a good guy, and I know there is somewhere he can thrive.

    I hate, hate, hate stress and worry, and I don’t think I react particularly well to it! It sure does make the stuff that’s on the other side seem amazing, though, and you know you will get there. I also know that you totally appreciate the good things in your life and you understand how to lean on those, so I have confidence you’ll get through this patch!

    And if you ever need to lay any of it on anyone, I’m all ears! Sometimes just dumping it all out makes it feel better for a while. Hugs to you and the crew!

    1. Thanks, sweet lady. I think things are going to work out alright because they’re already well on the way to getting the appeal process underway, but there’s just a lot of uncomfortable, fidgety waiting. Sometimes waiting through that is more difficult than knowing from the start that there’s no chance of things getting better. At least then you can start fresh right away. Hugs right back to you, my friend!

  3. Oh, Emily. It’s just that time of year isn’t it? Things have been crazy and rough over here, too. It really does bring you closer to the people you love, though, and you guys will get through it. I remember reading once that everything that happens to us in our lives, even the really big bad things, can be summed up in about three seconds once it’s all said and done. I don’t think it necessarily applies to everything, but it’s helpful to remember when I feel like things are spiraling out of control. This too shall pass. It doesn’t seem like it, but it really will.

    1. I never thought of it that way, but it is so true! The hardest things I’ve ever been through can now be stated and summarized in about 10 seconds. I don’t know if it’s because I chose not to go into too much detail, but I like to think that it’s because they are in the past. And over. Over over over. Good grief. This will be over too. And then we will have a party ;D

  4. Stress is the suckiest of sucks. I know that feeling very well. I remember when my husband and I were newly married, living in Manhattan and had zero money. Literally zero. We were living crappy pay check to crappy pay check. One day we were taking a stroll and my husband put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a $10.00 bill. You know that feeling, like “Oh my gosh, what’s this?!” Well, we laughed and danced a jig right there on the sidewalk. We went in to the nearest pizza place and each got a delicious slice. Yum. We lived like that for a couple years and then Lily was born and we lived like that for another four or five years. We were so broke that we bought our groceries at the gas station on a Shell or Exxon gas card. We’d look for change that fell down the couch cushions. My husband continued getting degrees to avoid paying back student loans! I think he has three degrees! haha! What a plan! I know that sickening feeling of barely scraping by. Hopefully this is, A. making you laugh or B. causing you to feel better about your situation or C. a little of both. Things eventually turned around slowly. Life can be stressful and push you to your breaking point.
    I was prescribed steroids and vicodin 2 days ago because my back seized up from current family stress. Ugh. I don’t cope with stress very well either, Emily. It takes its toll on me physically. Deep cleansing breath. I KNOW it will get better for you guys. IT WILL. :)
    Sending good thoughts and peaceful, stress-free feelings your way.

    PS – you always have this blogging community that I’m pretty sure would give you the shirt off of their collective back, if it ever came to that. LOL!

    1. I needed to hear that. It’s good to know (and that phrase is bandied around a lot but I really mean it) that we are not the only people who deal with lackluster funds (I like describing them like that more than “financial struggles”!) Sometimes I feel so irresponsible that we are both getting older and now have a child but we have the same financial woes that we had when we were recent graduates. It’s just so hard not to compare yourself to your peers who have a house and 2.5 kids and what appear to be great jobs. I know “the grass is always greener” and all that, but I think you can be allowed to be grateful for what you DO have (ie, a happy marriage, a healthy child, fulfilling hobbies) while still wanting other things.

      Hope your own stress is assuaged soon too. You can always wallow with me ;D Also, I love my blogging friends for the very reason you said. They are the very opposite of fairweather friends. I love the honesty that comes with blogging and that people support you for it.

  5. So wise to remember it’s the “we” that counts. Hang in there. Wish I still had baby clothes to send you! Hang on to the hoodie. I still have some of the baby clothes I couldn’t part with. Seeing them again when I declutter is so much fun.

    1. Remembering the “we” is just as much a struggle as so many other things. You’d think that after being in a relationship for so long, I would have broken myself of the habit of taking on so much stress, but I think reorienting myself to think of the “us” is going to take a lifetime.

      I cannot even fathom getting rid of her clothes she’s outgrown yet. They are just too sweet! I will probably secretly seal them in Ziploc bags so I can smell them years from now and get a whiff of her babyhood.

  6. “My body was sore because I was so worried.” Oh man, been there. I’m sorry you’re going through such a tough time. Life, she is tough sometimes. Good juju to you and yours.

    1. Thanks, lady! I’ve got an appointment with a bubble bath and a glass of wine tonight. Pretty excited. :D

  7. […] Emily, over at The Waiting, blogged about some difficult things going on in her life. Her sadness and frustration rushed over […]

  8. You’ve got this. Oh, honey. I wish I could just pick you up and set you down inside my brain, and let you fumble around through my Memory Home Videos. You’re right. You WILL survive this. And baby doll…things can change in an instant. I hope you don’t mind, but instead of writing a horrendously long comment, I dedicated a blog post to you and what you’ve written today. Thank you for the inspiration, and for being so honest and open. <3

    1. You.Are.Amazing. When we finally get together (which we will, oh we will) we are going to make Memphis implode because it will then be the epicenter of Awesome. Thanks for your tremendous kindness, lady.


  9. you are going to be okay. it is so hard to see the whole forest when your stuck right in the middle of those trees or insert any other parable people lamely sling to help another human feel better during times like this. i will say, i’ve meant very few people with your strength and keen sense of what’s right on here. in the end, though you can’t see the end right now, those things will get you much farther than you could’ve imagined. much love, sm

    1. You are so sweet, Moms. Thanks for your kind words. You are right, things will improve (and likely already are and I just don’t see it right in front of me.)

      1. sweetmother · · Reply

        that’s always the way it is, unfortunately. xoxo

  10. Just keep saying to yourself, “This too shall pass.” It does, I promise! We have had some recent issues in my house as well. I keep reminding myself that a year from now this will be the past, will be over, and will be better.

    On a lighter note, I highly recommend garage sales and thrift stores for baby clothing. Also put the word out that you are open to hand me downs. Ask for clothes for Miss C for Christmas as well. Seriously my girls grew so fast for so many years they rarely had something new on their body that wasn’t a gift from someone else, it just didn’t make sence financially.

    And that is my two cents for today!

    1. Garage sales and thrift stores are awesome! I also hit up a big consignment sale a couple weeks ago and bought her a TON of stuff for next year for only like $15. I am truly savoring this time when she has no choice but to wear the stuff I put her in and doesn’t complain that her clothes are geeky. When I do buy her new stuff, it is only marked down clothes. I’m with you; I can’t make any sense out of spending a lot of money on clothes she will likely wear for only a few months.

      Thanks for your two cents! :D

  11. I hope things ease up soon Emily. Your thoughts on survival, “If they got to that exponentially worse place and THEN got even more terrible, we would still survive.” That’s pretty much what I try to tell myself through every rough patch. Loved this post.

    1. Thanks! If anything, I’m glad I’ve had far, FAR worse things than this happen before because at least I can say that they’ll never happen again. It’s oddly reassuring that I got through massively crappy times with even less maturity and support than I have now.

  12. Sorry things are so rough right now. It’s hard enough to fight personal issues, but when one also shoulders the problems of family members, it can be overwhelming. I hope things smooth out for you. You certainly have a survivalist attitude which will get you far.

    1. Thanks, Carrie. It’s hard because I don’t live in the same place as my family so I can’t offer more support, and I think that kind of exacerbates the situation. But I really believe that positive thoughts do a lot of good and that things will turn out alright in the end.

  13. Rock on Emily, you and your family.
    With an attitude like that, there’s no way any one or thing can hold you down.

    1. Thanks, Guap. Red wine doesn’t hurt either ;D

  14. bellissimom · · Reply

    Wow, your mother is a wonderful woman for doing all she does. I hope things get better for everyone and the stress and emotions of everything going on can balance out.

    1. Thanks, Emily. She is pretty amazing. I would have crumbled a long time ago if i have been presented with her set of challenges.

  15. I’m so sorry to hear that things are rough for all of you. I know all too well the stress of money, or more specifically not having any. You’re doing a great job of keeping perspective.

    1. Thanks, Heather. It’s going to get better, but I wish I could fast forward thru all this. Actually not really. I’ve gotta have something to blog about. I can’t just write posts on Sesame Street forever ;)

  16. wow, is it possible to be psychic twins with a bear? I feel you on the debt issues. And coincidentally enough, my mum has a brother with Asberger’s. Big (((hugs))) to your mom for being present for the struggle!! Mum’s mother totally checked out and never really even acknowledged her son’s needs. He works full-time in a parking lot and is having a bleak time.
    That having been said, it’s no wonder you totally get the liquorstore bear brand of humor ;) and I’m grateful for it.
    Sorry to hear things are so rough but it is so heartening to feel how much love there is to get you through it.
    And of course I will have a drink for you.

    1. There have been stranger things happen than being psychic twins with a bear. For instance, Jenny McCarthy now writes parenting books. Please have some drinks for me. Those Martha Stewart ones look pretty effing wonderful (especially the eyeball ones!) :D

      1. liquorstorebear · · Reply

        Jenny McCarthy is but one reason the kids are having all their shots. It’s frightening indeed that she has had any influence at all.
        Of all those drinks, the eyeball ones are the least fur-staining, so let’s go with those. I don’t have any ingredients except gin, though. Sounds good, right?

  17. Emily,
    You’re scaring me a little bit here, but… I honestly think it will all work itself out. Ten years ago we were so broke that we couldn’t even afford Bounty paper towels (and our monthly bills exceeded our monthly income…) Thankfully, my husband switched fields and things got a lot more comfortable. The early years can be hard, but I think they’re meant to be character building. Or they’re meant to keep liquor stores in business. Or something.

    1. My husband is thinking about switching fields too, or at the very least transitioning to school administration rather than teaching. That way, he would have a chance at upward mobility, as the com coll system he works for does not offer chances for promotion for instructors. You are onto something with the liquor store thing. I always suspected I country was run for their benefit.

  18. It takes an astute person to realize what’s important in the middle of a shit storm. You will survive this.

    1. Thanks, Speaker7. In the meantime, I will keep reading your blog because doing so gets me in a happy place.

  19. I have heard a few variations of a Japanese proverb that I remind myself of during times like this: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

    Sometimes just getting out of bed and being a functioning member of society is a victory to be celebrated. You got this.

    1. So, so true. Or in my case, just keeping the baby alive is a victory. Thanks, Snarky.

  20. Hang in there.
    Maybe teaching your baby how to do the dishes might help.
    …just a thought.

    My thoughts are with you and your fam.

    1. I totally agree. I have contemplated strapping Swiffer pads to her onesies so she could be cleaning while she rolls around. Kid needs to start earning her keep.

      1. Lyssapants · · Reply


  21. Your honesty is always refreshing. I’m rooting for you.

    1. Thanks, lady. You are so kind.

  22. This dismal economy is a key source of much of the stress that so many people, myself included, suffer. These have been crappy times for years now, so you’re not alone. As tough as times are, eventually, they will improve but even if you continue to get crapped on more before you get shined on, you’ll get through it. Plus your readers have faith in you. You’re a talented writer. Have faith in yourself and hang in there.

    1. Yep, the economy for sure blows. If I had it to do over, I would reconsider going to grad school, or at least shop around more for less pricey schools. I have the most under-utilized degree ever, and I’m paying for it everyday. I wish I could work for a think tank. That sounds so awesome.

  23. Praying for you & your fam, Mrs. Em. I use your brand of therapy every week where I work – “…and what’s the worst that could happen, then?” You have fabulous perspective. I am trying to use it on myself, too, at the moment, for our similar struggles. In fact, this summer it came to our attention that my sister, age 60, has Asperger’s! Whoa.

    I was just thinking as I heard a Michael Franti song on the way home tonight, “Now here I live, at the beach…why isn’t every day like a nice, carefree Corona beer commercial? Why does real life have to intrude so often, even so?”

    Still, the tide comes, and it goes…I tell myself even the sea turtles stay happy constructing their equivalent of a cardboard shack nest under the bridge, knowing full well even IT may get mucked up by some other force – but life goes on, and we are all the stronger for it. Sending you some sand to put between your toes and the sound of the surf. In fact, I highly, HIGHLY recommend a day trip to your nearest beach. Pack a picnic and just GO. It will do wonders.

    1. Thanks, SSM. Your encouragement is highly appreciated! Aspergers is a strange thing, eh? Sometimes I feel like it’s an entirely separate member of my family.

      We live about two hours from the shore. Now is the perfect time to go because it’s getting cool and pleasant outside. And I think I will insist that we pack up for a day trip. That sounds divine.

  24. What a mess. It can’t last forever, but getting through it now will take guts. From your post, I think you’ll be ok. You have ovaries of steel and lots o’ love.
    As a broke person myself, I have been amazed by the number of resources there are for people struggling financially. I.E. clothing swaps, etc. If it does get worse before it gets better, there’s always community to turn to. Unless you live in the woods, or something. Might have to resort to trapping your own food if that’s the case.

    1. Trapping my own food…now that’s a good idea. I think shopping at Walmart is pretty much the same thing as going out into the wild, right? It will certainly put some hair on my chest. Thanks, Sara!

  25. Yes, you all will survive it because you are all together and have each other’s love. I am sorry you are going through such rough times and I hope that soon shifts and that your load lightens. Hugs my friend.

    1. Thanks, Shoes. I think things will be ok. It’s just the getting there that’s a trial.

  26. Teresa Pate · · Reply

    Well, T and I went to a job fair yesterday. We’ll see how things go.
    I am so thankful God is in charge.

    1. Me too, Mom, me too.

  27. I am so jaded by american culture that all I could think while I read your blog was beyonce i’m a survivor. Maybe you should watch this video each morning to pump you up.

    1. Good idea. And think about how no matter how bad things get, at least Beyonce and Jay-Z aren’t my parents.

  28. I had started a comment about the green grass life and how it may not be as great as you think. But that is not helpful. It is kind of like a rich person bitching about getting the wrong type of handbag as a gift. You are in a space in time where the walls are high and the future is blocked. 5 years or 5 months or 5 minutes from now when you are on the other side of those walls, the struggle will be gone. Maybe a new struggle will be in its place, but you will not be the same and will be able to face that struggle as well.

  29. My brilliant internet connection ate my comment the other day. I just wanted to say that I am sorry that things are stressful, but I echo everyone else’s sentiments that you are clearly going to be fine. You are smart, talented, and incredibly self aware. Your circumstances are shitty, but you are awesome. Be kind to yourself and do what you can to prevent the stress from hurting your body. And know you have a big cheering section.

  30. The only thing worse than worrying about money is worrying about family. I am in a ridiculous tiff with my mom right now and it makes it all the worse because I feel vulnerable (sleep deprived), poor (maternity leave), and sad (I don’t want to fight with my mom). I hear ya, babe. We’ll all get through this. But this is what it is. Right now. And you can’t help but feel your feelings. Getting outside of it helps, for sure. Putting it in perspective like you’re doing will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. xoxo

  31. krugthethinker · · Reply

    I am so sorry about all of this. :( I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away, and I so would if I could. But I know that you and your family are strong, some of the strongest people I know, and if anyone can come through all of this, it is definitely you. I hope things are looking up, and even if they aren’t, I hope you know how very much we all love you, and how ready and willing we are to do anything we can to help. Love you!

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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