Sometimes Life Has Other Plans

Last week, I took one of my pre-planned vacation weeks to use up remaining paid time and do some extra hustling towards my countdownSetbacks aside, I was still determined to forge ahead as planned.

I finalized the sale of my car.  I honed our budget down as far as I could and started strategizing how I’d return to my extreme couponing ways to save even more month-to-month.  I wrote my resignation letter.  I wasn’t planning on turning it in today—I knew I needed to let a few more pieces (i.e. new gigs) settle into place before I could do that safely—but just writing it was wonderfully cathartic.  The end was still near.

Then everything changed.

As I’ve written about before, my husband has mitochondrial myopathy.  Things got especially bad last summer, when we had to finally sit down and have the “some day I’m going to have to go on disability” talk.  We knew it was coming.  I just thought it was coming at least 2-3 years down the road.

Last week, I learned that the time is actually now.  My husband, as is his way, has been smilingly struggling with just making it through each day, not wanting to worry me with just how tough this was becoming for him.  (Reminiscent of another great guy I knew, I might mention.)  I thought things were just “crappy as usual,” which is pretty much what a Fibro sufferer expects each day, but it turns out they were much crappier.  His working days are numbered, and that number is due to run out soon.

What does this mean?  It means we’re reviewing his employee handbook for medical leave rules and contemplating months without half our income/all our health insurance.  We’re setting up initial consultations with Social Security/Disability attorneys so we know what to expect before the day comes when he inevitably can’t work any longer.  (Did you know you need to be unemployed for 12 months before you can even apply for disability (a process that can take 2-3 years on average)?)  It means we’re going into squirrel-before-winter mode and slashing budget items left and right to start putting as much as possible while we still can.

And the day job?  I’m hunkering down to keep it as long as I physically can while still working to bring in extra funds with my freelancing.

The final Quit will still happen.  It’s just on indefinite delay.

 

The Grand Master Plan, Rebooted

So it looks like CCIQ is entering into a new chapter of its adventure, where shit (which I previously thought had just gotten real) gets even realer.

I’m still going to work on my freelancing.  I still plan on leaving the day job.  But my first focus in the immediate future is going to be on triaging our finances, helping my husband navigate the governmental mess of red tape and application processes, and learning how to make it through my own days, moment by moment, without letting my overwhelming idealism and passion for quitting turn me into a disgruntled, ledge-toeing, overwrought wreck.

I know I have that in me.  I can’t help it.  I feel things far too strongly, and I can’t (and, to be honest, don’t want to) turn that off.  But I’m going to need to learn how to transfer some of my gung-ho energies away from making my own dream Happen Right Now Let’s Do This Already, and instead focus them on rocking this radically altered new life ahead of us.

Part of me (after having a good cry/scream and doing a fair bit of selfish mourning) is actually raring to meet the challenge, now that I’ve gotten the woe-is-me-ing out of my system.

I am nothing if not a glutton for challenges to rise above, and now that I’ve realigned my sights to the new challenge ahead of me, I’m ready to take it on like a boss.

Manage a household on half our normal income?  Bring it.  I can out-frugal anyone.

Deal with a 2-3 year process of proving to the government that my husband actually is sick, likely being denied, and appealing?  Child’s play.  I’ve worked for attorneys for the past 12 years—and it’s about to finally do something for me in real life.  I’ve been prepping for a legal battle half my adult life.

Just keep swimming towards the light at the end of the tunnel, even if that tunnel just got elongated like in a fun-house mirror?  Please, bro.  I swim or I die.  Those are the choices.  Which one do you think I’m choosing?

So, get ready for the path to veer into whole new territory.  I promise it will be every bit as quitful, snarky, and everything else you’ve come to expect from CCIQ.  It’s just taking a different path than previously anticipated.

Are you still along for the ride?

Image: Penn State / Flickr

 

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.

  • Wow!

    I’m definitely still along for the ride.

    I’m sorry to hear that your plans got derailed (and like you, I probably would have needed a HEFTY dose of self-pity time) but I’m so excited to see where your new attitude leads you.

    • I have a healthy dose of optimism that this is just a bump in the road and that things will still turn out according to plan. Every good story needs a few elements of conflict to make the ending that much better, you know? 🙂

  • C_T_Roosevelt

    Bless you, my friend–sounds like he couldn’t have a better partner. The long haul is won one day at a time.

  • I admire your spirit and courage. Power to you, Kelly.

    • Thanks, Faheem. The support is MUCH appreciated!

  • The best laid plans…

    But as you said, you adapt, mostly because the other option just isn’t really an option anymore. My mom has been on Social Security/disability since I was younger and each and every review is a pain in the ass. It’s ridiculous the hoops they make you jump through, but seeing as how some people abuse the system, I suppose it’s understandable. Still, hang in there and fight like the bull that you are!

    As for the day job, just be glad that you still have that going for you. You have that security, even if it’s not your “passion,” and that’s more than a lot of other people have. Hang tight and hang on…it will all work out. My thoughts are with your husband as he deals with this change as well. That has to be a huge change for him.

    • Thanks, Abby. I know your mom has had her struggles, and the encouragement means a lot coming from someone who’s “been there.” You’re right; it seems so unfair that the people gaming the system make it SO hard for the people who truly do need the help, but what can you do *but* fight?

      I do appreciate the day job now moreso than ever. It will keep us relatively afloat, and that’s a huge load off both our minds. We’ll adjust, I know, both to a tighter budget and to a new lifestyle. Life is all about the journey, and hoo boy, is it making sure we take a real doozy. 😛

  • Life is what we make it! Your attitude will get you through this. And we’re all here to cheer for you!

    • Thanks, Lexi. You’ve been a huge support, both as a cheerleader and a freelance “mentor.” It is greatly appreciated. 🙂

  • Kellly – Not only can you do this, but you WILL. That’s what love is all about.

  • Kelly. YOU ARE INCREDIBLE. Your positive attitude is something I really admire, and would do well to adopt. It’s funny how messages come into our lives at *just* the right time, as I read this during a frustrating professional period in which I’m feeling sorry for myself…and it’s NOTHING compared to the adversity you’re so gracefully facing. Thank you for the perspective you’ve given me, and I’m absolutely pulling for you. Everything happens for a reason… <3

    • It does, and I do truly believe that.

      It was a wakeup call for myself, too. I was finding myself feeling sorry for my position, feeling “stifled” by the day job and resenting the fact that I hadn’t made the leap yet. But now? Now my priorities are on my family, my thankfulness for the day job, and my extra-thankfulness at the fact that this still doesn’t stop me from planning for that leap.

      As one of my Pinterest pins so perfectly states, “God only gives us what we can handle. Apparently God thinks I’m a bad-ass.” 😀

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    And of course, I am always here to help you as much as I can, even if only to take you out for a girls’ night dinner so you can have someone that you can unload on without feeling guilty. You’ll get your dream, it will just take a little bit longer.

    • Thanks, Cordelia’s Mom. The venting (and free dinners) are very much appreciated. 🙂

  • ZenHugs to you from the heartland, my friend! I’ve been through that…

    Your willingness to reach out for support, before you’re “down for the count”, will be your best asset.
    ~~~
    It is possible (despite the horror stories) to successfully navigate the “disability maze” the first time through, even without a lawyer. And it definitely helps to have folks on your team who are willing-and-able to speak “government-ese”.

    My biggest hurdle was my own inner “But, but… that makes NO F**KING SENSE!” voice. Learn to say “Maybe not to you, but what might *their* logic look like?” (and don’t scream at the people whose job is to shuffle the paperwork – it doesn’t make sense to them, either! 😉 ).
    ~~~

    Bright Blessings, always ~

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Karen. We *have* heard plenty of horror stories, so it’s heartening to know it’s not *entirely* impossible. 🙂

      I have confidence in my ability to fight (both as someone used to the legal field and as a fighter in general), and I will try to keep your advice in mind when dealing with frustrations. As someone who’s been a paperwork shuffler herself, I can certainly empathize. (That’s why I can’t be mean to customer service reps on the phone, after so many of my younger years spent as a reviled telephone survey girl.)

  • Reg

    We are all still here – reading, enjoying, learning and cheering you on! T A W A N D A!

  • I am along for the ride as well. (and cheering you on along with the panda kindergarten.) I always like to say, “Everything sucks, it all just sucks in different ways.” Through the bleakest circumstances come the farthest advances. It has been my experience that this is true. It doesn’t make it any less hard, but your fans are rooting for you. Woot woot! You will come out on top.

    • I have faith, Anne, I have faith. Especially with such as awesome readers as yourself to cheer me on. 🙂

      • I just found the notifications for your replies to my comments. Huzzah! the internet is hard for those of us with fuzzy paws. Hope all is going well. keep on keeping on. Be the bear!

  • Meg G

    I hate this for you, but know that you will be able to fight back and turn in your notice when the time is right.

    Two Saturdays ago I was on top of the world: I’d gotten a letter saying that I had earned an Assistantship from the university I was starting my MA in this fall, that would not only cover my tuition, but would also give me a moderate stipend. The plan was to do that, keep the day job (they’re pretty flexible bunch & my program is geared towards working adults) and get my own place. The following Wednesday I get laid off.

    I wouldn’t have been so Zen and cool with the whole thing if it wasn’t for reading your blog and knowing that life throws you curve balls, but you just gotta roll with the punches.

    • Oh Meg, that sucks. I’m angry for you, too. Isn’t it so frustrating when you’ve done everything right, and you feel like you’re almost there, then life throws you that curve?

      But I have faith that we can both make it through. Don’t give up! This is just a test, it is only a test… 🙂

  • Your persistence is admirable. While your dream may seem a little bit further now, it will be that much sweeter once you achieve it. We’re here pulling for you.

    • Thanks, Nikki. That means more than I can say. 🙂

  • Aw jeez. One step forward, two steps back. It may take a little longer, but I know you’ll get there – so admire your grit.

    • Thanks, Esther. It helps a ton to have such awesome people pulling for me.

  • Rob F.

    Boy does it suck when life doesn’t stop getting tough, eh? All my best wishes to you both, and yep, still right here with you!

    • Thanks, Rob. It’s good to have quality company along for the ride. 🙂

  • Melissa

    *passes shot of bourbon*

    That’s a fun road detour you’ve come up against, there. 🙁 However, seeing how you’ve carved new roads around every other roadblock you’ve come across, I know you’ll handle this one, too. Deep breaths, chin up, and remember that support networks are WONDERFUL things. (Also, don’t forget to take care of you, as well. Caretakers need love, too.)

    I’ve been here since somewhere around your second post. Of course I’m going to stick around! Pom-poms and good thoughts toward your collective journey through the labyrinth of red tape being as swift and smooth as possible.

    • *Bourbon much appreciated.* 🙂

      They say that roadblocks aren’t there to stop YOU, necessarily; they’re just there to weed out the people who don’t really want it enough. Well, I still want it, so I’m going over or around, one way or the other.

      Your cheerleading and positive thoughts are (and always have been) MUCH appreciated. I couldn’t do this without you guys.

  • Darius Belejevas

    There’s really not much to say when for external reasons situations turn for the worse.

    But when doubt creeps in, imagine how years from now you will look back and realize that no matter what life thrown at you – you made it happen, now that’s a story worth telling 🙂

    Best of luck, Kelly

    • Amen, Darius. It WILL be one heck of a story. The best ones always have conflict and road blocks to overcome–that’s what makes the end so sweet when you get there. 🙂

  • I’m really sorry to hear that about your husband. I know it must not only be hard on you, but on him as well. But your attitude alone about the whole situation is amazing. I really feel like nothing holds you back and you are ready to face anything head on. Because of that alone, you will meet your goal and fulfill your dream, if not sooner than later. 🙂

    • I’m so glad I’ve put so much gung-ho determination out into the blogosphere when it comes back to me through readers like you who remind me that I can and have gone through plenty of roadblocks before.

      Stay tuned, dear reader. The best is yet to come… 🙂

  • Jeanne

    Has your husband looked into a wheat-free/ gluten-free diet? We have friends whose daughter had debilitating Fybro for 5 years, then she went off all wheat, like a celiac, and the pain stopped. I wish you lots of luck!

    • That’s a really interesting idea, Jeanne. I hadn’t even though of exploring that route. Thanks!!

      • Yeah ~ there are many, many types of “eating habit” changes that have demonstrably (most not with “scientific studies” though…) helped folks get back to both feeling good and passing the doc’s tests.

  • {{{Hugs}}} 4 days after the original post ~

    When you’re ready for some research and background on the disability system, there was an interesting article on the radio last week: “Unfit for Work: The Rise of Disability in America” (#longreads), from NPR’s Planet Money (http://ht.ly/jk5oO); and I just found a fascinating counterpoint at Beat the Press, from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. (http://tinyurl.com/bo8arng).

    For background (and moral support) with the Fibro, wander some with “Crowing Crone Joss” at http://crowingcrone.com/2011/04/04/i-know-that-pain-can-become-everything-there-is/. Home is here: http://ccwow.wordpress.com/author/wordsmithjoss/, and some background on her: http://sacredcircleretreats.com/tag/crowing-crone-joss/.

    Love to you, and have a great weekend – it’s going to be beautiful in Chicago… 🙂

    • Awesome links, Karen. Thanks a ton for the info–and the support, as always. 🙂

  • Sarah Gabbart

    Girl – you are inspiring. So glad I found this blog – can’t wait to see what you make happen during this transition. Your attitude is fantastic – as someone who also feels way too much, I can get overwhelmed with this kind of stuff from time to time, but seeing you be able to take this bump in the road and move past it gives me hope that I can too. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Glad you found me, too! I can’t tell you how much having awesome readers helps, in all my various quests and side quests (including sometimes just getting through the day). 🙂

      The thing about feeling too much is, as much as it can hurt at times, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Feeling things too strongly is the reason I started writing again, the reason I started this blog and my Quits journey, the reason I’m going to keep going in spite of all the hurdles being flung my way. There are plenty of days when I wonder what it would be like to just sail through life without being so damn sensitive, but I think I would hate it.

      Being Zen and living moment by moment is one thing, but not feeling at all, or feeling a muted version of my passions? I think that would worse than anything else that could happen.

      • Sarah Gabbart

        Totally agree – though we feel bad stuff strongly, we feel good stuff strongly too! I’m just glad to finally be to the point, as a person, where I am cool with that part of myself. Being a teen/twentysomething was soooo harrrddd! At 32, I’m glad to have perspective and self love – yay adulthood!

  • This, right here, is where life is making sure you want “it.”

    What is “it”? No one knows… but we keep trying to find it.

    You’ll be fine though. 🙂

    • Thanks, Joseph. 🙂 We all will be. We’ve got more power than we realize.

  • Asha T’nae

    Wow…I trust you and your husband are flourishing as you predicted, albeit with lots of creative crafting on both of your parts. Sending lots of wishes for success.

    • Thanks, Asha. We are doing quite well. 7 months into hustling full-time, and I’m already making the same amount (POST insane freelance taxes) that I did at my day job when I was full-time. Hustle pays off! It can SO be done.