Beloved lost his old job on September 28, 2012. He got an offer for a new one on December 21, 2012. He starts on Monday.
We are returning to the land of two incomes and kissing that unemployment debit card goodbye.
I am exhaling, finally. We aren't going to go over the fiscal cliff as hard as I feared when Beloved's unemployment benefits ran out in March.
Growing up, the fear I fixated on was my dad losing his job. It was probably a bigger deal than Beloved losing his job, because at the time I was fixated, my mom didn't work outside the home. Sometimes I worried about it alone at night, in my bed. I don't know if the little angel has been doing that. I don't ask her, because I don't want to plant the fear if it's not already there. She hasn't had unexplained stomachaches or trouble sleeping or showed any other signs of kid anxiety, so I've tried to be very breezy about money in front of her.
My girl knows the reason we haven't been going out to eat or buying anything but the bare necessities these past few months: because we were waiting for Daddy's new job. She knew we had enough to be safe but not enough for the bubble gum every time we went to the grocery store. She accepted the cancellation of the full-on pumpkin party in October and the homemade birthday gifts for her friends during the fall. She asked when we could have a party again, and we told her after Daddy got his new job. That was pretty much the answer to everything. We reassured her she would still have a nice Christmas, that we would get each other smaller things so she could have a nice Christmas. And she did, mostly thanks to grandparents and my sister, who pulled serious weight this holiday, and for which I thank them.
I'm trying to unclench.
My restricting anxiety has been operating on all gaskets since September, and I haven't been able to resist tracking every penny we've spent on a daily basis. My sister asks why I would do that to myself, but it's comforting to me in the way counting calories in the margins of my high school notebooks was comforting. I know that once the income streams open back up, I need to stop that. I need to go back to being careful but not obsessive. I need to look once every two weeks, not every day.
The anxiety wants to keep restricting and pay off every single credit card as soon as possible so if something like this happens again, we'll at least have credit. Thanks to Beloved's work expenses and our own years of recession backpedaling, we had more on the cards than I could let myself think about and there wasn't much room to move. I'm glad that in three months, the only thing we put on there was my flight to ALA Midwinter after a friend offered to let me stay with her if I wanted to go to learn about librarians in relation to THE OBVIOUS GAME. But we paid the minimums for the first time in our entire marriage for three months, and it made me absolutely insane to not see that amount go down more.
We will pay off the cards in a realistic timeframe. We talked about it on New Year's Eve over dinner. We've learned our lesson. But just as I went on and on about my wishes to be debt-free, my husband told me as nicely as humanly possible that my clothes are all threadbare and my once-beloved J. Jill sweater looks like "matted felt."
It's true. Even when things are good, I am not good at spending money on clothes, and eventually I look down and realize the t-shirt I'm wearing is older than my daughter and is of an unknowable color. He said it really nicely: "Honey, you're prettier than you're dressing. You should buy yourself some new clothes." Of course, as with any painful truth, it was a little hard to hear, but your lover should be able to be honest with you about such things. I heard the love in what he was saying. Not "you look like a slob," but "you're only 38 and you should get some v-necks."
The answer with spending, as with eating, is somewhere between greed and starvation. I refuse to charge anything that doesn't absolutely have to be charged. I want us to be throwing piles of money at those credit cards, and we will throw the piles in as reasonable a manner as possible once we are back to normal, income-wise.
But I have to go to Target tonight, because I threw away all but three pair of underwear yesterday.
Things are going to get better now, and for my mental health, I need to stop counting things.