I have had a sinus infection from hell that set in almost two weeks ago. I knew the stress had settled in my sinus cavity and began sucking the life force out of me when I couldn't make it to my computer to even read Open Salon one day; that was a sure sign my illness gauge had tipped into overdrive.
Here I am a week later enjoying the stillness of my very quiet life. I am staring at a bright computer screen in the dark with a window backlit by the night. In the morning, I will enjoy a view like this:
Well, this is what it looks like in summer anyway. I love this view, we actually created it when our house flooded in January 2009, and during the rebuild process, we put an extra window facing the valley where I only have three neighbors across 50 acres and then there is the Interstate. I have been blessed the past couple years to live in a place I consider a sanctuary.
Virginia Woolf is one of my literary and personal heroes. When she wrote, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is going to write" I took this lesson literally, although as time has wore on, and I have repeatedly established this for myself, I find it to be more of a figurative lesson. She wrote and spoke during a time when a woman’s worth was still questioned and these principles needed to be treated with conviction. Thankfully, she paved the way for many of us.
We made the decision this week to let our house foreclose. It is really hard to type that sentence. Our family has had three major hits - health issues which insurance did not assist us with (underinsured), a flood which FEMA did not cover many of the costs of (and no, the Red Cross did not provide us with any assistance or temporary shelter), and a recession which left my husband without work. After a year of looking for work, the struggle has become too great and we have to see the situation for what it is. Plus, we are sitting in a home which could flood again next winter with the way climate change has affected the water tables in my area and our home is even more undervalued than those who were hit by the recession alone.
I bet you are wondering how this qualifies as Good News? Do you know that feeling of relief when you get square with the truth? That is where my husband and I are. We are relieved.
We just can't fight an uphill battle any longer and don't really want to. We tried to work with the mortgage company right after the flood and they didn't budge. We've done all the "right" things, called our Representatives and Senators, and have been put in touch with agencies which have been gracious in putting band-aids on the situation. However, we have seemed to find the crack in every long-term solution for one reason or another. One major reason is because my husband quit his job in the summer of 2008 to care for my daughter and I on a more full-time basis while being a contractor (he had been with the same company for 9 years prior to that). He did this because our insurance had denied over $34,000 in claims while we were going through a medical crisis and we both needed ongoing care they wouldn't pay for. Talk about bad timing! Soon, with the “economic downturn”, those guaranteed contracts were gone.
So, this can be seen as a saga or this can be seen as an opportunity, as the donkey parable goes. I have had my opportunity to cry about the unfairness of it all. It may be unfair...who really knows these things? What I do know is the tears were necessary and now I am ready for the next chapter. We hope to finish out the school year here and see where life takes us next. This decision feels exciting somehow, like a fresh breeze; less hewed in, open to everything ripe.
All I know is the systems have failed my family time and time again – medical, judicial, disaster relief, and now economic recovery. We were two people in our twenties when we married, making triple digit incomes, with money in 401ks, equity in a home, moderate debt, and healthy lifestyles. Self-made, the “American” dream. Now, with one and a half medical crisis, a natural disaster, and an economic recession in arrears, we are without insurance (18 months Cobra ran out technically in February, but was not cost-effective to pay Jan/Feb due to premium increase and deductibles) and soon will have to move out of our home and are dead broke. I would love for anyone to tell us we did this to ourselves.
All of this leads me back to Virginia Woolf. She wrote for many reasons and accomplished much, including being attributed for giving character's an inner voice in fiction which is no small accomplishment. What I admire about her most is her honesty – in her life, in her characters, in how she lived and even how she died (as much as everyone else disliked her choice). She has helped me once again take stock in my own life and realize the zeal I find isn't going to come from the security of 401ks or medical insurance, as much as I like having those things, it comes from the ability to face the truth and have faith in the next step. Sometimes all I have to do is the next step.