I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to tumult. Far from it, actually. I have always lived in a way designed, very deliberately, to avoid major conflicts, serious disasters and just general everyday havoc. I like peace. I prefer calm. And, up until the last year or so, I have always considered myself very capable of handling the stresses that did come my way in an easygoing, big-picture-viewing sort of way.
But then, well, there were just too many. You know that list of the most stressful life events – stuff like death, divorce, moving, new baby, job loss, new job, and financial calamities? Well, that pretty much sums up my last 18 months. And somewhere during that period, my ability to cope slid down into the negative numbers. From then on, everything bothered me. Everything stressed me. Everything that happened was viewed with … what’s the opposite of rose-colored glasses? Blue? Brown? Opaque? Whatever, it was those. So although I wasn’t voluntarily clinging to every negative event in my life, I often saw my days as just one crappy thing after the other. Not every day, mind you, but a lot of them. Too many.
On Monday of this week, I logged onto my credit card’s online account interface. On the very front page, I was informed in big bold letters that the card issuer had run out of money and therefore canceled all accounts. Now, this would be a simple inconvenience to most people, but for me, it was pretty disastrous. When I closed the store, I rolled all of my credit cards into a repayment plan, which rendered them non-usable. The plan also required that I not open any new accounts during the repayment period. No problem, I thought, since I kept one card out of the plan and would have it available for large purchases or emergencies. Guess which account just got closed? Yup. That’s the one. I have about 40 more repayments to go, so that news rendered me cash-only until 2013. Pretty ungreat.
On Tuesday of this week, I received an email saying a PayPal payment had been mysteriously denied by my bank, and upon investigation of that fact, I discovered that the Tennessee Department of Revenue had slapped a lien on my checking account for late payment of sales tax. And yes, that’s my fault. But, but … I had contacted them two weeks prior to arrange a payment plan and they never got back to me. And I forgot about it for awhile, because I was busy being audited by the IRS. I managed to get a tax enforcement agent on the phone and worked out a plan that will unfreeze my account, yet will require every spare cent I can scrape up and probably cancel any hopes I had of taking a vacation this summer. Or fall. Or … ever.
So that sucked. It all sucked. It really, really sucked.
And then I was making dinner – Taco Tuesday - and we were short on tortillas. I figured if we rationed very carefully, the kids could all get full on hard tacos. I took the taco shells out of the box and every single one of them was broken. Every one. And I looked at those stupid broken taco shells and I cried.
Like I said, I’m not hooked on all this stress, but at that moment, I felt like I hit rock-bottom in the way that forces addicts to see that enough is enough and this shit has got to change. When a 14th generation Minnesotan is crying over broken taco shells, it has gone too far.
Hence the past tense about my bad attitude. Okay, it’s been less than 24 hours, but I feel like a sweeping change has come over me. I’m tried of being upset about everything. Just bone-tired of it. Without even consciously trying, I’ve suddenly started seeing things in a more positive way (Hey, at least I’m not paying 35% interest on that credit card anymore!), and now that I’ve begun, I like the feel of it. The disasters have come and the disasters will go. There is still plenty of good stuff, and the rest of it will just have to get handled the best way I know how. That’s the outlook I’ve had for most of my life, and I want it back. I want to be me again, instead of the quivering ball of stress that’s been wearing my clothes for the last year.
So here I go.