When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to gain perspective.
Three months ago, I was laid off. That was two months after buying a fixer-upper home and investing $40,000 in upgrades that we (foolishly) thought we could pay off a little at a time because we had two incomes. Then property taxes were due the same time as income taxes, which were much higher because of selling stock to get the down payment for said new home. So we sold more of our retirement stock to pay our taxes, which of course means more taxes next year, and a cycle forms.
Then my car broke down, so we chose to pay $3,000 to fix it rather than buy a new one and face payments that we can’t fit into that one income. Then our tenant, who was late on her rent, called to give us eleven days’ notice that she was moving out on Easter Sunday. So we dropped our family plans and drove five hundred miles for a final walk-through, fixing damages and cleaning in the hopes of renting it quickly and avoiding paying two mortgages. Only to discover that four other units in our building are also for rent at $600 cheaper per month (much less than our mortgage) and the whole complex is under extremely loud repair construction, which won’t be completed for four to five more months. So double mortgage payments it is then, while we hire a Realtor to attempt to sell it. Oh, by the way, that will be another $3,000 in staging and another $900 in various fees for HOA documents and inspections.
And then I woke up this morning to an infestation of termites crawling all over our kitchen and dining room floor. And despite trying to smash each one in between gagging, more continue to come out of everywhere.
So I sit here scratching at the completely-in-my-head tingly itches all over my body while writing this story because the alternative is crying into my coffee.
Okay, where were we? Perspective! Yes, that’s it.
I’ve been here before … about nine years ago, actually. Laid off, unpaid mortgage debt piling up, bad relationship, and health issues. I was drowning and couldn’t breathe. I actually had a panic attack and could not breathe. It was rock bottom, and I remember crying on my couch thinking there must be some reason beyond my comprehension that it could possibly get this bad.
Yet I still ate, had clothes and a home (until the bank took it), and had really amazing friends and family to keep me sane and loved.
The struggle was temporary, though going through it felt like an eternity. I filed for bankruptcy, set new life goals for myself, and gained perspective on not only how strong I am but the type of people I will allow into my life and who I will push out.
Sitting here now, I realize that even nine years before that was another rock bottom in my life. My mother committed suicide. While I was on the phone with her. And there wasn’t anything I could have done to change it. (A few years of therapy were needed to help me accept that last sentence as fact.)
I think of my life timeline like a chart of ups and downs. Almost like a stock chart. If you zoom in, it looks extremely erratic. If you zoom out, there is an even cadence to it like smooth rolling waves. It is, as they say, life. We are born, have ups and downs, and die. The highs are as guaranteed as the lows and neither lasts forever. That is reality.
So as I ride this trough out, it is freeing to know that soon I’ll be on an upward trend and the termites will be on a downward one.