So Close and Yet So Far Away

April 14, 2004

As week four of my unemployment draws to a close I find that I am filled with mixed emotions. We have had good days and good news recently. Unfortunately our recent good fortune makes my awareness of our predicament even more acute.

We had a good couple of days towards the end of last week. We allowed ourselves to take an afternoon trip to St. Louis one day, and went to the movie matinee the next. Over the weekend we saw my entire family for Easter and had as good a time as could be expected under the circumstances.

On Monday, Michele, had a phone interview with a company in North Carolina that went extremely well. She is very excited about the idea of working for them, and all indications are that they will conduct a face to face interview soon and make her an offer after that. To have a potential income on the horizon has been hugely uplifting for both of us. I am very proud of Michele, and excited for her.

It does bring up some issues we have so far ignored or tabled. Moving and selling the house are two big ones. There is so much to do in order to get from here to there once an offer is made and accepted. Money will be tight, but not impossibly so; selling the house will help tremendously. But selling the house will be bittersweet at best for me.

Because of bad decisions regarding our finances and taxes that I made, we had to mortgage the house heavily to get caught up. Losing my job right on the heels of getting my back taxes paid puts a lot of pressure on getting a new income quickly so that I don't fall behind again.

No matter how I slice the numbers we will be lucky to leave here with three quarters of the money we came with in 2000. And it maybe as little as a third. Sure, we'll have paid everything off except for the car, we'll be debt free. But we won't have a house, and we won't have a decent down payment for one either.

It all seemed so simple 4 years ago. Having a $75 per hour bill rate was going to solve all our problems. I thought I was finally going to make so much money that money would no longer be an issue. Turns out that throwing money at your problems doesn't work after all. Who knew?

Maybe in the long run leaving here with just enough to start over elsewhere will be good. I have been cured of my need for things. The pursuit of material possessions no longer holds any real interest for me. But I hate that my need to learn this lesson has forced us to the brink of bankruptcy and financial ruin. I hate that my unhappiness with my employment situation may have contributed to its early termination and therefore amplified our situation.

All I know right now is that it is 2:30 in the morning and I am unable to sleep. My fears are wide awake and every time I close my eyes the what if questions start hammering away at me. I am sorry that I didn't pay closer attention to the realities of being self employed. I am sorry I couldn't compromise my sense of who I was in order to stay employed. Most of all I am sorry for all the pain and stress this has caused Michele. She has endured so much in her life, usually at the hands of someone else. I hate that my actions in part have once again placed her in a tenuous, stressful situation.

I feel as if we are so close to a better situation and a better life. A life that is styled to take care of our real needs ( read emotional and spiritual ) and not a life of chasing money or things. We just need a couple of breaks to go our way and we'll be okay. But so many breaks haven't gone our way and it is easy to see all the thing that can go wrong. I have tremendous faith and belief in Michele, and in her understanding of our circumstances. She is mostly optimistic, and sees a better future for us. In all honesty I am not able to see that future just yet. I need to trust in her. And I need to confide these negative thoughts and feelings to her, and to you the reader, so that they don't overcome me.

I am my own enemy right now. I have to resist the urge to fight with myself about my past actions. Rehashing what I did or didn't do isn't going to get us to a better place. I have met the enemy, and he is me. Now I must find a way to forgive him, and console him, so that I might move on.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.