Last night I had a little emotional collapse. For those not keeping scorecards at hand, in the past year:
One of my dogs was killed by a car when she escaped through a hole in the fence.
My job was outsourced. (Disappearing jobs happens a lot to software contractors, so I live well below my means and keep a considerable buffer of savings.)
My wife left me and initiated divorce proceedings.
The (totally fair) settlement with her wiped out my buffer of savings and left me in debt to my father, (but left me still owning my old fixer-upper house outright.)
I discovered that there were practically no software contractor jobs available in the recession.
I broke my neck and have a framework bolted to my skull to support it while it heals.
I had to move in with my parents because while it heals I can't drive or live alone or work. (Help with this kind of thing is one of the reasons I value marriage.)
I stopped getting unemployment because I'm not available for work.
Last Tuesday I found out I'm not healed enough to remove the framework and it has to stay on for another three weeks.
I just realized that I feel being born male is something I have to make up for.
So, I'm really not in the best emotional state. This blog is where I do almost all of my whining; I put on a pretty cheerful face in meatspace.
I need to fill in some backstory about my father too. He's an interesting guy; he grew up in the Depression (and had kids quite late). He makes large donations to charity. But when they send him a request for more money (they send a LOT) and he doesn't want to donate at that time, he'll take the SASE they sent, cross out the addresses, and write in new ones to save the price of a stamp and envelope. Debt is anathema in my family. It's part of the lives of virtually all Americans, but not us.
So some friends came to visit and took me out for burgers. My dad asked how I handled paying for it and I mentioned that I still had some left in my bank account, though I have some credit card debt. He said "Pay off the debt, they're probably charging about 20%", in a very imperative tone. I didn't say anything, but brought up so many of my troubles and so many ways I'm helpless right now. I feel guilty about carrying debt. I want to get back to work, but I can't. I've been wanting to fix up my old '95 Buick and sell my '04 Volvo to pay the credit cards, but I can't. There's an invention I've been working on, but I can't work on that. I want to get the hell away from here and go home, but I can't. I always put a huge premium on independence and now I'm trapped and dependent. So it kind of all came crashing down on me.
I sat in bed for a while praying and crying and feeling sorry for myself. Then I decided I should initate a long upgrade process I was meaning to do on the laptop I'm typing this on, and headed to the room where it is. Just then one of my friends who'd taken me to the burger place went online on IM and I totally and uncharacteristically blabbed to her for about four hours.
I think I made her feel a bit better; before we both married other people we'd been friends that danced around becoming something more. I never asked her out because of something she said that made me think I was too kinky to make her happy; I've regretted that decision a few times. She thought it was because of her weight, an ongoing problem. I think she felt a little better when I explained that and added some compliments that I tried to balance between heartfelt admiration and decent reserve for her marriage. (Her husband is awesome as well as her; way better for her than I would have been.)
I know she made me feel much better, taking all that time for me. We talked about my wife a bit and while I think I may have made things a little worse between them, that being why I generally don't talk about my wife with anyone who knows her, my friend had an insight that couldn't have come from anybody who didn't know her. I'll explain that in another post.
But something I think is interesting is that although I think this friend and I could have been happy together, we would not have been nearly as good for each other as she and her husband are. He was older than I am when they met. It's a good sign.