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It’s been awhile. I’m feeling very disconnected. I’ve been totally thrown off by this change in routine, and I am not enjoying it. Today has been a rough one so far. I was late to Bible study this morning because we washed the car Tuesday and hadn’t put Avery’s car seat back in. It took longer to reinstall than we thought, so I was 15 minutes behind as a result. Not too bad, you might think. But because we were late, the lot was full. Normally there is a huge lot adjacent to the church that we are also allowed to park in. Today they were filming there (of course they were), so I couldn’t park there, either. Ended up parking a block away. Normally I would have thrown Avery in the stroller, which we keep in the back of the car, but – you guessed it – since we had just washed the car, the stroller wasn’t in its normal place. So I had to walk while holding her hand, her diaper bag, my purse and the bag containing the (very heavy) Bible and my notebook… I even sacrificed and left my travel coffee mug in the car, but I still felt like an aggravated pack mule. Trudged the block to the church, and dropped Avery off in her children’s classroom. She kissed me goodbye without crying for the first time, which was awesome. Went to my group and got through the remainder of the group discussion before heading to the lecture in the sanctuary. Five minutes in, they came and got me. Avery had been inconsolable for the first time since Bible study started. She was only calm when held, so I spent the rest of the time in the room with her. I didn’t want to give up and take her home, because I felt like that would send the wrong message. She fell asleep in the car but woke up when we got home and decided she was hungry. While I was making her food, she pooped in her diaper for the first time in a week or so. ARGH!!!!

It’s 1:00 PM and she’s finally asleep. Half an hour ago would have been preferable because she really needs a full two-hour nap, and we leave to get Braeden around 2:30. I’m as tired as if I’d already had a full day behind me, and I just realized I’ve had nothing but coffee today. If I try to hit the kitchen now she will almost certainly wake up, so I won’t. I don’t need food that badly.

That last part is quite an understatement. If life were fair, I would be one of those lucky souls who loses weight when stressed. Sadly, I am not. In fact, stress turns me into an eating machine. I am literally watching myself expand, and I’m embarrassed and angry at myself for allowing the backslide. I can’t stand the sight of my reflection from the shoulders down. I was sitting in bed the other day and realized that even the shape of my form under the covers looked larger than I wanted. It’s very frustrating. My clothes are snug (some are actually unwearable) and I feel like I’m moving in reverse, with nothing to grab for traction. I know what I need to do… it’s the doing it that’s the issue. My stress level – even on days when Murphy’s Law isn’t racing to prove itself – is just ridiculous. I’ve been getting headaches on nearly a daily basis, and holding it together feels almost impossible. Food offers temporary comfort, but it’s a loan I have to pay back with interest.

The first day Chris was home, one of his employment agencies had two potential placements. Neither came to pass, and as far as I know they haven’t called with any possibilities since. I am sick to my stomach just typing this. Things are supposed to be better out there, right? When do they get better for us? No one should have to struggle for this long. If Chris were someone other than who he is, I could maybe make sense of it. But he’s a talented, dedicated, reliable and conscientious employee. He just requires a certain level of income in order for us to pay our bills, so those entry level salaries don’t work. So he keeps sending out resumes, and we keep hoping something will change. Really change, not just pretend to. I’m so tired of struggling. Tired of trying to put forth a positive attitude when I’m feeling anything but, and tired of waiting for the walls to cave in. It all hurts so much. I feel like I am drowning a lot of the time. Drowning seems to come up a lot when people are describing both debt and depression, interestingly. I keep treading water, but making little forward progress. The shore seems impossibly far away. And I’m so tired.

I was discussing situational versus clinical depression recently, and the crux of the conversation was basically, “How would I know?” My family has been struggling with unemployment and subsequent debt for five years now. Yes, Chris has worked some of that time, but always in freelance or contract positions. We’ve never had even the illusion of job security. Naturally, when something drags on this long, things get worse, never better. Chris had the misfortune to be working for a mortgage company in 2008. When the real estate market crashed, so did our lives. We’ve been trying to pick up the pieces ever since, but I fear some of them may be permanently lost. There is no little pill that will make this better, or eliminate the fear of losing my home and my life here. Well, no antidepressant, at least. I suppose there are pills out there that would numb all of that, and more, but as a recovering alcoholic they’re not an available option for me.

If happiness is a choice, then it’s something I have to work toward. I do find moments to celebrate in my days, and smiles to cling to, for a little while. Usually they come from my kids, who are the light in the darkness, often. Today I haven’t found much to smile about. But there are hours left, so hope for improvement exists. But back to the car. The other day, we took the time to wash the car for the first time in several months. It was thoroughly disgusting. Its level of grime was making me feel worse… like the state of the car was a commentary on the state of my life. So we cleaned it, stem to stern. I even polished the headlight covers, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages. They were so foggy I was having visibility issues at night. They’re much improved… I really should have done it sooner. At any rate, the very next day, it rained. All day. In Southern California. I suppose I could have checked the weather reports, but it almost never rains here. Until it does, right? And so it goes. It’s still far less grimy than it was, and the headlight covers are still clear. Light in the darkness, right? Isn’t that what we all want? I just need to remember to polish the headlight covers. It’s work, not magic. Just like happiness.