Then it all collapsed on me like a house of cards.

Finding out on Friday that I was going to have to move whether I wanted to or not set off a chain of reactions that left me very sad and depressed for the last couple of days. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve wanted to get out of this apartment for a long time, but my hope was to be in a financial situation where I’d be moving from here into a house. As it turns out that’s exactly what I’ll be doing, but it won’t be my house. More likely it’ll be the home of my in-laws. Anne and I both agree that if we’re going to pack everything up and move we may as well move out of this complex all together. Moving from one cramped two bedroom apartment to another cramped two bedroom apartment just doesn’t seem to make any sense. The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that I don’t think there’s anything around the same price in Canton to move into and almost certainly nothing that would be cheaper. Even if we were to stay and I do manage to land this new job it doesn’t appear that I’ll be making enough money to pay rent and get all our bills caught up. So my in-laws have graciously offered to let us move in with them and I really, really don’t want to that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing against my in-laws as they are the best any husband could hope for and they’ve been more than supportive of us. My problem with the idea lies entirely with myself.

The first time I tried moving out onto my own I was 21 years old and I was dating Courtney’s mother. It was an experience that A) showed me what a mistake it would be to marry the woman I moved in with and B) ended up providing me with a daughter outside of marriage. We lived together for about ten months about two-thirds of which we shared an apartment with another couple whom I had been friends with since high school. I’m honestly surprised that we’re still friends considering the hell I put them through as my relationship melted down in a most spectacular fashion. When it all finally collapsed I was working as a security guard and couldn’t afford to maintain my half of the rent by myself so another friend of ours moved in with Tom and Shirley and I packed up my stuff and moved back in with my parents. My intention had honestly been to only stay long enough to get my act together and then move back out on my own, but I fell into a rut and didn’t move back out again until I was 31 years old. I have no good excuses and in retrospect it’s a pretty embarrassing passage in my life and it’s part of why I really don’t want to move in with my in-laws.

I took advantage of my own parents for too long when I should’ve been out standing on my own two feet. I had grown up physically, but I’d allowed my maturity to stagnate and I never came to understand or appreciate my own idiocy until I finally had to move out again because my dad was retiring and wanted to sell the house. By then I was working a very lucrative job for EDS/GMAC flying around the country in late 1998 upgrading their PCs in preparation for Y2K and more than able to support myself. In December of that year I leased this apartment and this December will mark my 7th year here. It was less than 7 months later that I took custody of Courtney when my ex was sent to prison for being arrested a second time in as many years for embezzlement. It wasn’t much longer before Anne moved in here despite the fact that we weren’t even engaged yet. Suddenly I had a lot of growing up to do in a very short period of time.

Looking back on it I’d have to say it’s the period of my life I’m most proud of. I was bewildered and had no idea how to be a full-time dad as I hadn’t been a particularly good part-time dad. I had a woman living with me only because she was certain I’d eventually get around to marrying her that I had to learn to live as well as parent with. I was working as a contractor which meant that my job could end at any moment without warning. And I had not only my own bills from a misspent youth to deal with, but some from my wife-to-be including her old college debts. During the last 7 years my wife had what amounts to a nervous breakdown when demons from her own past finally caught up to her and she fell into a very deep depression that I sometimes wondered if she’d ever come out of. We lived off of my income alone while she got the counseling and medication she needed to work through the stuff she’d suppressed for decades by going to school full time and working two jobs to pay for it.

In short, I thought I’d move into this more than big enough for one idiot guy apartment and spend the next year getting bills caught up so I could buy a house and move out of here only to be hit with an avalanche of new challenges and life changes that I never would have anticipated and I became the man I should’ve been years back and handled it all surprisingly well—if I do say so myself—for someone a lot of folks wrote off as being an unmotivated bum. I am very proud of who I’ve become and how far I’ve managed to progress in just seven short years. I’ve still got a lot of learning and growing to do, but I’ve got a lot to be happy about.

This is why moving in with my in-laws has me so upset. For the past 11 months I’ve managed to get by and survive with a lot of help from friends and family and you readers, but not so much that I felt I was being an undue burden. I’ve managed for seven years to always find a way over or around or through every seemingly insurmountable problem that has come along and I expected my unemployment to be a similar experience. I had no clue how I’d make it, but I’d find a way just as I always have. I had unending confidence that I’d get through this more or less intact and on my own two feet. So despite the fact that there are some very good and compelling reasons to take my in-laws up on their offer of moving in with them for awhile, it still feels like I’m giving up and becoming the failure that so many folks in my past predicted I would be. It’s the easy route to take and I took that route too many times in my past. I don’t want to fall back on the easy route if I don’t absolutely have to. The thing is that it’s really starting to look like it may be my only option.

Anne promises it’ll only be 6 months to a year as we get ourselves back on our feet and get some of the old bills paid off. My father-in-law is quite keen on the idea himself despite the fact that he already has two adult children of his own still living at home. I’m family and there’s nothing they won’t do for family or friends as they’ve taken in friends in the past who needed a helping hand for awhile as well. The whole experience will likely feel a bit like the Waltons, though a bit more cramped. I’m wary of the assurances that it’ll be only a year at the most because I’ve allowed myself to fall for that line of thinking many times before. It was only going to be a year or so when I moved back in with my parents and it was only going to be for a year or so when I moved into this apartment and the reality ended up being entirely longer than a year or so. I don’t want to be the burden I’m about to become to people who have already done more than enough for me and my family. My own folks have suggested that we could move in with them as they have the extra room to spare as well, but I don’t want to take them up on that offer for the very same reasons I don’t want to take my in-laws up on theirs. Of the two, my folk’s have more room to accommodate us, but are so far away that trying to get a job in south eastern Michigan would be impractical compared to Brighton where my in-laws live. In either case it means moving Courtney to a new high school in the middle of the year when she’s already struggling with her grades. I had a hard enough time moving to a new high school over the summer back when I was 17 so I really would rather not do that to my daughter. I don’t even wanna think of the trauma poor Melvin’s going to have to deal with when he suddenly finds himself living with three other cats.

Most of all, though, I just don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a failure as a man, a father, and a husband which is exactly what I feel like at the moment. I feel like I’m this close to finally breaking through this troubled period, but it may be too little too late and it’s killing me.

28 thoughts on “Then it all collapsed on me like a house of cards.

  1. Les, check your email.

    I’m so sorry you’re having to take this step.  But you’re not a failure as a person.  You’re still the same savvy, smart, honest, and responsible Bastard we all know and love.  You’ll get on your feet again, with more character built up than any two people have a right to lay claim to.  You’re not alone.

  2. This is the best choice… or more accurately stated a necessity.  We can’t keep up with Rent and Utilities and loan repayments, debt consolidation repayment, etc.  We just aren’t making enough money and won’t even if SEB gets the job he interviewed for on Friday. 

    I’m still working full time, in daycare.  Not very lucrative… I’m taking on classes for certifications in the Medical Billing/Coding Office Administration industry.  I have until July before they are complete and I will be in a short, unpaid, internship that should lead me to a full time, paid job.  One that will at least double what I can make now and might even come with family benefits.  It will hopefully put me in the 30,000/yr range as opposed to 14-18,000/yr.

    Les isn’t a failure and he really hasn’t got a lot of choices at this point.  We could NOT move and end up on the streets in about oh, 6 months or inner city housing and moving our kid to an inner city HS.  NOT GONNA HAPPEN.  My parents live in a place where the schools are good.  It will be crowded… but we will have time to regroup. 

    We will move back to Canton. We will move into a home we can own when we move out of my parents’ place.  I’d like it to be in six months (so our daughter can complete 11th and 12th grade in the school she started).  However, it might not be… It might take a full year to get to that point or we may choose to wait out my daughter’s Senior year if she decides she wants to stay put in the same place to Graduate HS.

    Whatever happens we will prevail and SEB needs to realize that though this is a choice… It is not so much his taking an easy route choice (this sure as hell is NOT going to be easy) as choosing between object poverty & inner city living vs. living with the in laws for a little while.

    Where is the name of all sanity did SEB get the idea that moving in with his in laws was going to be the easy way out?  It’s gonna be hard as hell and test all our relationships to the brink.

  3. We spent close to a year at my parents (with our two kids) a little over two years ago, and even though I felt as you probably do, it all worked out great in the end.

    Hang on in there. I’m sure everything will turn out for the best—you guys just deserve it.

    [insert motivational talk, tactical retreat to better attack, etc. smile ]

  4. failure? hah. I know it doesn’t pay the bills, but the fact that you’ve got a small internet following shows a great number of successes, even if only implicitly.

    I had an acquaintence start sending me her thoughts on things (called seeds) a few years ago. Recently she related that in every problem there’s an element of shock, then anger or sadness, then resolve. I noted that the more we are exposed to these kinds of things, the more quickly we resolve, and the less we dwell on all the others.

    You have a lot of support to help you carry you and yours. It’s not so much a matter of what you can’t do, anymore, but what you will have to do. Fortunately, the latter is where the light is, so in a way you can be thankful that, for now, the path lit itself. With any luck, reaching resolution should actually get a lot easier.

    And if it doesn’t, we’ll be here to read all about it. wink

  5. I’ve been reading this blog for several months now, and this post finally prompted me to register and comment. I really just want to say how sorry I am that things are going badly for you. You seem like a great guy, and I hope a job shows up soon. Hang in there.

  6. Hang in there, buddy.

    Your concern for your family is evident in how you react to problems. Rather than let your pride override your judgement, you’re doing what’s best for your family right now.

    From my side of the screen, it looks like your available choices are limited, and you’re having to choose the lesser of several evils. That’s never an easy choice. But by including Mrs. SEB in the decision, and making the care of the children a priority, you’re doing the best you can for your family.

    That’s the highest duty a father can perform.

  7. As someone who had to resort to moving in with the in-laws not once but twice, I know exactly how you feel. It’s not an easy choice, and it flies in the face of everything our society teaches men about being the provider. But it’s not the end of the world. You have your past experiences to draw upon to know what traps to avoid, and you have what sounds like a great family to help you through it.

    Remember, it’s only relatively recently (like the last 50 years) that families didn’t live together. It wasn’t thought of as failure to have three or four generations under one roof. Why is it so now? Your parents and in-laws are there for you. Be thankful.

  8. Remember, it’s only relatively recently (like the last 50 years) that families didn’t live together. It wasn’t thought of as failure to have three or four generations under one roof. Why is it so now? Your parents and in-laws are there for you. Be thankful.


    There seems to be more and more pressure by our Lords and Masters for more and more for less and less. More and more your position seems to be the norm for us serfs. Unfortunately here in Britain we are constantly forced towards to US business models (i.e. the exploitative ones).  And we let them do it. Why?  I can only imagine it’s the Reagan/Thatcher “I’m alright, Jack” mentality pushed on us in the 80’s.

    I was reading the ‘Kerry supporter sacked for bumper sticker’ thread last night, and the comment of one such was ‘why can’t an employer sack who he want’s when he wants’.  The reason must be it shows the guy has no idea of community- but is probably the first to complain about the breakdown of society if yobs swear and shout out side his door.

    Worrying that you are damaging your child is the thing that marks you out as a Dad, not just a sperm donor. I arrived here about 10 days ago following a link. My first impression was that I was about to be subjected to some Loony ‘USA always right’ rant (can’t remember the thread, but the link name hinted at that).  Nice to know there are some people on your side of the pond who can still think.  I don’t mind it when you say things I disagree with- I can see that you don’t rely on Fox for your thoughts. 

    You, as Douglas Adams would have said, are a guy who knows where his towel is, even if the Shrub has pissed on it.

    Erm can some one tell me what we do instead of praying for SEB?

    (PS regarding your picture- it seems to be upsidedown- the hairy part goes at the top.)

    (PPS my word is again74- I wish- I was 5 and life was easy)

  9. Personally, I’m more worried about you, Dad.  You’re taking this pretty hard, and, like everyone here’s already said, moving in with Grandma and Grandpa isn’t taking the easy way out.  It’ll give us time to recuperate and pay bills off.

    I am worried about school, like a few all-year projects, but I don’t think its anything huge to be worried about.  I’ve talked with a few of my friends and some of them are informed.  I’ll miss them, but I will most likely be coming back after a year and a half.

    Remember what you said at Grandma and Grandpa’s?  You don’t have the money to be a failure!  That’s a good thing, right?  It means you can’t be a failure!  It also means you aren’t a failure!  No matter what, I’m proud of you!  And I love you Daddy!

  10. What Solinor said about how it used to be the norm for everyone to live together.

    And – you’ve nailed several measures of success, with public, interpersonal, intellectual, and familial accomplishments.  If you have to stop and bail out the boat in rough water, that just shows you can do what you have to.

    AND – the fact that your in-laws are supportive and are ready to give you shelter says a lot of good things about you too. 

    Set aside a half-hour to feel really awful about this, (set a timer!) then stop.  You’re doing fine.  excaim

  11. You’ve failed. Maybe you are a failure. So what? Admit it and make a plan to overcome. America isn’t about where you’ve been—it’s about where you’re going. So get going!

    Why have you failed? Once you identify the problem you are on your way to fixing it, and therefore on your way to a better future. A lot of the posters here at Stupid Evil Bastard (see Last_hussar) seem interested to blame “forces beyond our control” (i.e. globalization and changes in the economy)—but where forces beyond your control are at work, the real cause of failure is inability or unwillingness to adapt to the changed environment.

    Besides, what is “failure?” You have fans, you have friends, and you have a supportive family. Your daughter seems to be all right and she loves you.

  12. I had all sorts of inspirational crap written up, but I’ll simply counter it with the assertion that you are not a failure.  So there.

    And I know that doesn’t change how you feel, but at least you have a sense of how *we* feel.

  13. Have you considered moving to another job market? I’m in L.A. and they are handinng out tech jobs like they are going out of style. As long as you and your family are moving, you may as well consider it. From what I’ve read, you haven’t failed; the job market has.

    Not that you would, but if you did move to L.A., you’d have a warm welcome from the swarm of infidels here.

  14. When bad things happen, you can
    a) blame others
    b) blame yourself
    c) do what needs to be done.

    Sounds to me like you’re already doing what needs to be done.  Doesn’t sound like failure to me.

    You have family and friends who love you.  You’re smart, positive, and devoted.  Just keep hanging in there, and you and yours will do just fine.

  15. Les, I happen to have more faith in you than in any other person that I’ve never actually met. You will pull through. I can understand that you fear falling into a rut – but people who fear that rarely do.

  16. Ouch!  I hear your pain – I had to move in with the in-laws for 3 months…felt like forever.  Not that we don’t get on (we do, wonderfully, better than my own folks), but we’re all adults and I had to bend my individuality to fit in with someone else’s home and way-of-life.  The other gripe was watching my wife – she fell quickly back into being ‘at home’, and so acting in a child/parent relation with her parents as opposed to the all-adult relationship they’d had before.  Man it was tough, and we vowed never to let it happen again.  Sometimes it just has to, I guess.

    I also hear, totally, about the feeling of emasculation.  We’re hard-wired to go and drag antelope back to the fireside, if you’ll excuse the metaphor.  Can I make it all better for you?  Nope, but at least I hope you know all your feelings are valid, and that you’ve been heard.  Good luck man, from the bottom there’s only up.

  17. Not a failure.  In 2001 I had to move back in with my dad after being quite ill for 2 years and racking up tens of thousands of dollars in uncovered meds.  I was 42 years old.  I’d been on my own since I was 18, I had a 15 year old daughter.  I thought my life was over.

    It turned out to be the best thing I ever did.  The total absence of the stress of “how am I going to pay the mortgage, car payment, utilities, etc.” was a blessing.  Use the time to do some emotional rebuilding, as well.  Nothing shameful in needing a refuge for a while.

  18. Thank you for your comments and I apologize if I descended into a bit of a self-pity party the other day, but I’m feeling quite a bit better today. Just needed to vent and take the time to regroup emotionally.

    We visited with my in-laws on Sunday to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday and we had a family meeting to discuss our moving in with them. One of my sister-in-laws is going to move in with another sibling who lives across the street to free up her room for Anne and I and Courtney will be taking over what is now used as their computer room. A section of the basement will become our computer room for the three PCs we use and the little house out in Brighton will soon be the most technologically advanced home in the city. I’m still not looking forward to it, but I’m not opposed to it either. I’ll do what needs to be done and hope that better days aren’t far off.

  19. You are not nor have you ever beem a failure.  This is a set back and just like all set backs you can look at in one of two ways.  1) As a negative – a step backwards in your life to a place you don’t want to go. or 2) As a positive – a chance to regroup and get your life back on track.  You know that continuing the path that you are following isn’t good for you or your family financially or personally.  You can’t afford to keep paying rent while trying to catch up on bills.  Once you are working and have caught up your bills, than you can look at your options from a new perspective.  Maybe then you can buy a house and take that giant leap forward you’ve been dreaming about.  Good luck to you.

  20. Failure is not a word to associate with.  You have done very well in the last few years.  You have the tools to continue as the opportunities begin to appear.  We have all been there.  I with one child, a husband gone, and no job went back to my folks home to live.  I found a job.  My folks provided my child with supported love and eventually I was able to pick up the pieces and go on.  You will too.

    It won’t be easy but concentrate on what is going to be not what is and you will make the good things happen.  Dad and I will try to help.  Love you much

  21. I’m still not looking forward to it, but I’m not opposed to it either. I’ll do what needs to be done and hope that better days aren’t far off.

    You really should start looking forward to it as it presents an opportunity to buckle down and get your life plan back on track.  Any negativity or apprehension will just reflect on those that love and depend on you.

    Be thankful that you have family willing to help out.  It was made perfectly clear when I was 18 that I could never return home and resulted in me homeless for a small period of time.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we all do what we have to and the only shame is the shame we allow ourselves to place.  As long as you’re making smart decisions and setting some firm goals, there’s no limit to how people will reach out and support you.

    I’ll be sure to send a bunch of Smurfs to decorate your new room thereby doing my part to motivate you into a quick departure. grin

  22. January 14, 2001 – I got laid off and my wife discovered that she was pregnant. She ended up quitting her contract position soon afterwards. I didn’t get a real job until april of 2002. During that time we sold our cars, a few possessions, burned through damn near all of our savings and ended up getting a lot of help from the in-laws.

    And the fact that they had to help us PISSED me off so much…for many of the same reasons that you pointed out. For a long time I was feeling like I was a failure as well.
    Right up until someone pointed out to me that I wasn’t.

    I was doing what was NEEDED. That’s what people do…what’s needed. Just like you’re doing now.

    You’ll have to ask yourself the same thing that I did; what’s more important? Your pride or the health and welfare of your family?

    and you already know what the answer to that question is.

    Just remember this when Karma comes knocking and someone needs to lean on your for a while.

  23. Just like a courageous person is one that does the right thing even though they are scared shitless. A good father, a good husband and a good man does what is necessary for his family even if it makes him feel uncomfortable. In my book that make you a winner on all 3 counts!

    Since most of us don’t pray the best we can do is keep you and your family in our good thoughts, knowing that someone of your character will come out on top. Hang in there we’re all rooting for you!

  24. So, you’re in between a rock and a hard place. There isn’t much one can do, but you can and should do one thing. Stand up, dust yourself off, and continue on. Everyone has good and bad times and things they need to do. Don’t consider yourself a failure. And even if you do consider yourself a failure, accept it and move on. Just do the best you can with whatever you have. Everyone one of us needs help here and there, and help does not equal failure. If it did, I would of failed many, many times by now.

    It always hurts to read something like this, especially when stuff happens to people I know. I know you are strong, and I know you will pull through. Good luck, you’ll be in my thoughts.

  25. Glad to hear you achieved a measure of peace with the temporary solution. As far as “failure” is concerned, something to think about. If you were a failure, you’d have walked away from your wife, your child, and your responsibilities when things got tough.

    You didn’t, so you’re not. You’re a family in difficult circumstances, who are sticking together and making workable plans in order to be in position to take advantage of the breaks you’re going to create for yourself.

    Sounds like a major fucking accomplishment to me.

    “The only way out, is through”. Just keep going – you’ll get there.

  26. It sounds like your past experiences give you strong motivation to make your new pad your lily pad – just a place to land temporarily before you leap to solid ground. You obviously want to bad enough; you’ll make it.

    I’m glad you are feeling better.

    Also, I think you have a pretty cool wife and daughter. Judging by this thread.

  27. Also, I think you have a pretty cool wife and daughter. Judging by this thread.

    I’ll second that.  Not to mention a pretty cool mom and dad.

  28. Pingback: Amanda Palmer and the Art of Asking. | Stupid Evil Bastard

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