Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's Tuesday: An Update

Well, I'm still here plugging away in La La Land.  I hope my readers are all doing well today :)

Just some stuff:

1.  I'm determined to cut our darn grocery/food bill down to a sustainable level.  We've been spending in excess of $13,000 a year which is ridiculous, despite the fact that I have been tracking expenses for almost a decade now.  This is how long it takes me to lose my 'support' systems!  And yes, food has most definitely been a support.  And don't even ask me how much money we used to spend when we had 4 teenagers in the house.  We could retire on that amount alone.  Anyway, I wanted to really make the effort this time to cut the food bills by 50% and, at the end of this first quarter, I am on track.  I don't want to spend much more than $6500 for 2017 onward.  It has been surprisingly easy on this particular 'food challenge' attempt to stick to the budget.  It hasn't been anywhere near as painful as it once was, so there's progress!  I'm sorry to sound so pathetic.  Many of the blogs I read are headed by determined men and women who just get on with it.  I, on the other hand, have spent a lifetime just trying to function in a non destructive manner and, up until 10 years ago, failing terribly.  The past 10 years have been good though!  Varying degrees of progress but the trajectory has ultimately always been upward, I will say that.  One step back and two forward.  So, I need to make some adjustments for April in order to make it to the end of that month bang on target. I'm pleased.


2.  We've stayed out of restaurants and have turned down numerous related invites.  This has made us pariahs both inside and outside of the family.  Friends have copped an attitude and I'm about to dump a long term friendship over the snippy manner in which one particular 'friend' is handling herself.  She has turned from a support into a competitor somewhere along the way, always having to prove me wrong even going so far as to bring supporting documentation every time we meet for chrissakes.  Get over yourself, lady.  You're becoming toxic and I don't do toxic. 

The family is both bemused and bewildered at our complete lack of desire to eat oversalted/greased/sugared food outside of our own kitchen but we've stuck to our guns.  I can't believe that we've FINALLY succeeded at conquering this particular heretofore expensive problem.


3.  We're taking our first trip of the year soon.  It is going to be completely self catered, as in no restaurants.  All food and cooking supplies/utensils are in the process of being packed.  I'm planning this with military precision as we've never done anything like this before.  It'll be fun, I tell the spouse.  He cocks an eyebrow and looks skeptical but is, as usual, along for the ride.  It's an experiment and I'll post the details of how this goes in a future post.


4.  We are consulting with Cardiothoracic surgeons.  The spouse has a very major health issue.  Unbeknownst to him, he was born with a major heart defect.  Major.  How the hell can one get to a certain age/point in life and not already know about such a thing?  Throughout his life, he's been told one minute he has a heart murmur and then, the next, that he doesn't.  No one thought to do any tests when he was a kid.  Well, he DOES have a fucking murmur, stupid doctors.  We found out about this some time ago but I never mentioned it here.  Along with everything else that goes on in my life, now I am dealing with another life or death situation.  Don't get me wrong.  The spouse is healthy as an ox and asymptomatic.  The heart issue was only discovered several years ago by an excellent cardiologist (who has become our friend) when the spouse was about to get on a plane on company business.  So, anyway, now we know and we have known and the time is drawing near when something is going to have to be done about this condition before the spouse drops dead.  The cardiologist thought that the spouse had some years left yet before surgery would be necessary but the results from the last CT scan show that not to be the case.  It sounds like a daunting situation and it is BUT .... the spouse's condition is a silent killer and we consider ourselves lucky that we even know about it at all.  The surgery will be as major as it gets.

See now, my UK family have been aware of the spouse's health issues all along and yet still manage to continually behave like massive, spoiled, selfish country bumpkin rubes.  I think it's obvious, now, why I had to cut them out of my life.  I just couldn't deal with any more crap and I am barely emotionally recovered over the past 6 months from our last visit to the UK anyway.  ALL of my emotional resources are needed for the here and now, for the people who TRULY love me.  The spouse has taken good care of me for decades and now I am going to make sure that he gets the best of care and attention and gets through this thing in one piece.  So fuck off 'dad', we don't have time for your shit.


5.  As with all addicts, I will have to replace one addiction with another and I'm trying to start a new obsession and become 'addicted' to Health.  This will of course benefit the spouse too.  He is doing pretty darn well on his diet regimen, not bad at all.  It's all about the diet and exercise.  Speaking of, I am doing pretty well on the weight loss side of things.  It's very slow and steady because it's emotionally difficult to lose one's 'armor' but I'm getting there.  I am seeing progress and I'm not backsliding the way I always used to do.  It's hard to overcome those fundamental cracks in one's character when PTSD is the base one has to work from.


6.  The appraiser is on hold for the minute.  With the news that the spouse is facing surgery, we cannot take on any more extra work or stress until the most important issue is resolved.  We will have more news on this in a few months.


7.  House work.  There'll be some of this going on in a couple of months.  We need to finish up and put in the new flooring upstairs. 

That's all for now.  Peace.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Decision Has Been Made

Well, it has been decided.

We are selling our beloved home and going out on the road.

My job tomorrow is to find an appraiser so that I know what my asking price should be for this house.  Our real estate market keeps on going up so ... it's now or never.  We need to sell and bank the money.

I am going to miss this house.  It saved our asses back in 2009 and it will always occupy a special place in my heart.  This house has good vibes.  I knew it was 'home' the second I walked in the front door.  It's going to be hard to sell and leave.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ooh babe ......

Don't leave me now/How could you go?/When you know how I need you
To beat to a pulp on a Saturday night
Ooh babe, don't leave me now/How can you treat me this way?
Running away
Ooh babe
Why are you running away? ~ Pink Floyd


I have been struggling with depression for a little while now.  Going back to the UK as I did last September has indeed proved to have been a massive mistake with regards to my mental health, and it is a mistake that will not be repeated again in this lifetime.  I had been doing so much better emotionally in 2016 but then I had to go and sabotage myself, as I always seem to do.  The chaos, violence and shame of my childhood is like a stain that won't wash out.  It will not wash out, I get that now without any doubt.  I cannot change who or what I am.  I lived with a sociopathic abuser for so long that it has made me an extremely flawed individual, full of self doubt and insecurities, constantly in survival mode, with an inability to listen or to trust in my gut feelings.  I made a vow to myself some time back that, in future, I was not going to ignore my instincts.  When my gut tells me "That's a bad idea" I am trying to listen.

Yesterday, a friend - in a roundabout kind of way - made it known that she felt I had given up.  Well, she doesn't know the half of it as far as my life is concerned.  She only knows what I've told her and it's a highly edited version of my past and present.  She has no freaking idea what I've had to survive.

And yes, I am a survivor.  I take pride in knowing that paradoxically I seem to be made of some strong stuff.  I wouldn't be alive today were that not the case.  And, of course, my spouse takes big credit for bringing me this far in life even though I've made his life intolerable at times.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, be kind to your children if you have them.  It's a huge injustice to affect another person's life in such a negative way as this.  Many times I feel unlovable and unwanted, even though that just isn't true!!  That inner voice that has been relentlessly triggered by being around my awful male parent again keeps telling me that I'm ugly, worthless, shameful, stupid.  I'm still that little girl cowering in fear, wondering if the psychotic bully that is my father is about to kill me and bury me in the back garden.  That was a regular threat.  Among others.

My extended UK family have been keeping me informed with regards to the goings on with my parents.  I will no longer have anything to do with my father because he turns me into a raging, irrational, hysterical individual.  That is not who I've wanted to be in the decades since I left the UK and moved 6000 miles away.  However, every time I get near this man I want to smash his face in.  I want to tell everyone what he did to us.... my mother, sister and me.  On the occasions when I have told people what this sociopath was like to live with, they cannot relate.  They see a charming, funny, 'good' man with strong 'values' and could never imagine him capable of the violence and spittle inducing rage into which he devolves when things do not go his way.  They don't see his massive hands like shovels, capable of knocking a woman or child into the middle of next week, or the hair trigger temper that cocks off on a split second.  And then I feel devalued even further, incapable of fully relating what a monster this man truly is.  He continues to trick people to this day, the latest being my brother in law.  They are drinking buddies. DUI partners in crime.

I have gone No Contact.

Cut a longer story short, my male parent has been in the hospital multiple times since September 2016.  The heart issues that he claimed to have had for years were debunked finally by a cardiologist.  The sperm donor was told that his heart was fine, as fine as it could be for a 78 year old man.  Following that, two surgical operations were performed including a knee replacement.  The knee replacement was two weeks ago and he has been back inside twice with complications.  Personally, I think the knee replacement at his age was a big mistake because, if it fails, he will be wheelchair bound.

Meanwhile, my mother's dementia has gotten worse and she now needs assistance to wash and dress.  She cannot read or write or talk on the phone, so if I was so inclined to phone my parents it would be pointless.  I don't want ~ and have never wanted ~ to speak to my male parent.  I was only ever interested in my mother and seeing as how she can no longer talk to me, well ....... the point is moot now.  My mother is deteriorating quickly and probably doesn't remember who I am anyway.

My sister, despite having 3 grown children, has never learned to cook so her husband has been doing all the cooking.  He takes my parents their meals.  A house cleaner was supposedly hired some weeks back but has never put in an appearance and so the house continues to be filthy, hence my male parent's latest bacterial infection involving cellulitis of the lower leg.  He is such a cheapskate that keeping my mother locked up in a filthy house is preferable to paying for her to receive proper care.  The last thing he wants is to have to pay for a nursing home.  I think I'm the only person to realize this fact but I have made a point of telling the extended family so that at least they are aware that Mr. Sociopath is up to his usual tricks.

When my spouse first met me, I was a raging bull.  I kept it all inside mostly but every now and then my spouse would get a glimpse of it.  My outlet for years was spending, hoarding and engaging in risky behavior of every kind: DUI, spending every cent, gambling, befriending sociopaths, smashing the house up.  And that was the stuff that people actually saw.  I won't go into the stuff that people didn't see.  That stuff can't be allowed to see the light of day.

There has to be an end to this.  At some point, will I ever be free.  Will there ever be a day when I can put these 3 people ~ my mother, my sister, my male parent ~ out of my mind and keep it that way forever?  The 4 of us share such an unhealthy dynamic, my sister is still full of rage.  The spouse was astonished by the barely concealed level of it this past September.  He had never realized before but this time .... wow.  She was like an unsprung bear trap.

Guilt, rage, shame, hatred, revenge.  I think of my broken male parent, chair and house bound, stuck, in agony with infection from a knee op that is possibly failing and a wife who doesn't know him anymore, and I feel a perverse pleasure.  What sort of person does that make me?  This hurt runs so deep that it is indeed pathological.  I think to myself, Now you're getting yours, 'Dad', and it feels good in a sick way.  I admit it.  I want him to feel the terror of isolation, the fear of being forgotten, the pain of injury, the realization that he is a piece of shit.  OK, he probably won't realize that last one because that would entail taking personal responsibility and he's too damaged for that.

The spouse told me back in August to think really hard before booking those tickets to the UK.  I knew I should've listened to him because that trip has set me back years emotionally.  I wish I could turn the clock back, listen to my gut, keep making those excuses to my UK family as to why I couldn't go back there, can't ever go back.

Oh, I can't get the time off work.
I have a house full of pets and no one to take care of them.
So-and-so has to have surgery.
I have to become a citizen before I can leave the country.

I'm sick.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday Update

Coming up to the end of my 3rd fiscal week in February.

Since Tuesday the 7th, I have spent the following:

$32.03   -  Amazon $10.41 Weed killer pump sprayer and $21.62 Amope foot care file
$110.46 -  Aldi $80.09 and Trader Joe's $30.37 (groceries for the week)
$28.73   -  Home Depot - weedkiller, cat repellent, kitchen cupboard door stoppers

I have had 6 no-spend-days since the 7th

I'm going shopping for the week's groceries tomorrow the 17th and anticipate 7 further no-spend-days.  I'm going to try to get through the rest of February without spending any money on anything but gasoline.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tuesday Update: Mortgage, Retirement, Overnight Stays and Vandals

I paid the mortgage this morning.  Balance now sits at a tad over $55,000.  Exactly 2 years ago, the mortgage balance was a tad over $80,000 so there's progress.

The spouse has had a shite day at work.  He called me to complain about his new boss and threatened to submit his retirement paperwork right now, this minute.  After bending my ear for 15 minutes, he agreed to wait until we talked it over this evening.  He needs to see the new monthly balances and projected financial outlay over the next 6 months at the very least, before quitting his high paying government job.  He makes a lot of money.  We will not be generating anywhere near this amount in retirement.  Enough to live on for sure, but not enough to pay down debt and we are still getting out from under the costs associated with 4 kids' college educations.  6 more weeks and college will be a thing of the past for us.  Honestly, I can't wait.

I went on an overnight trip and took my portable cooking range, ice chest and kettle with me along with all the food for 2 breakfasts, 1 dinner and a snack or four.  I have a state license in a certain industry and needed to renew my license.  Part of that renewal included sitting through a seminar/orientation which was a complete waste of my time and money.  While I was attending the seminar, my car was vandalized in the parking lot.  I had stupidly left some electronics out in plain sight on the front and back seats, despite the fact that the seminar was held in a grotty hotel in an equally grotty and high crime part of downtown Los Angeles.  So, I asked for it.  I should've locked everything away in the trunk.  The perpetrator tried to open my passenger door with something or other and damaged the window mechanism and the door handle.  Now, I can't either put down the window or open the passenger side door.  I have booked the car in for repair so that is going to cost me something in the region of $350-500 according to the dealership.  Great.

The overnight trial run of taking along my own cooking equipment and food was a great success.  I took all my food from home, which I would've eaten anyway if I'd been at home, and spent exactly ZERO on food and drink while away.  I made my own coffees and cooked all my food in the hotel room so I now know that our 10 day trip will be just fine.  I realized that I needed a power strip and 2 extension cords so I will be packing those along with the cooking equipment for next time.

We are 7 days into February.  My fiscal month began on January 28th.  I had 5 no-spend-days in the first week and here in the second week, I will have another 5 no-spend-days.  That will be a total of 10 no-spend-days out of 14.  Not bad.  On the spending days, I only bought groceries, gas, a bag of dog food, the portable range, some ramekins for home cooking, and paid for a hotel room.  I also paid our household bills.  Other than that, no other spending.

I have to make up for a $3000 medical bill and, now, car repairs.  So, I am thinking that I will for sure just make this a year long challenge of spending as little as possible.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Afternoon

Things around here are going pretty well.  I managed again to stay within the grocery budget this week and have stuck to my Amazon/Target budget.  No restaurants have been visited.  The spreadsheet has been worked over and wrung out.

I have decided to turn this budgeting effort into more of a year long challenge.  The $3000 medical bill was most unwelcome but there it is .... and there's more to come in the way of co-pays.

I am going to make this the year in which I literally KNOW where every single cent goes.  I'm ready for the 'next level' of budgeting whereby I actually have this whole entire thing nailed down for good and can go on 'autopilot'.

I admire people who always seem to just 'know' whether or not they can spend and how much is left in their budget to spend.  I have never been one of those people.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday: Hotel Room Cooking and Other Stuff

We got hit with a $3000 medical bill so I will be tightening the belt even more over the next 6 months to compensate.  I've set a $100 a month budget each for Amazon and Target.  This is where most of our household shopping is done and I need to set a strict spending limit.

And in the next breath ...

I just purchased a Black & Decker DB1002B Double-Burner Portable Buffet Range in Black from Amazon.  This gizmo will be coming with me this week on an overnight hotel stay/trial run, as well as along for the ride when we take off in April for an already booked and paid for 10-day trip.  Some people might say that taking my own 'stove top', frying pan, saucepans, utensils, etc is overkill and OTT but to them I say ..... I have lived and indulged PLENTY and now have no qualms about cooking beans in a hotel room.  This is new territory for us and the spouse is in two minds about the feasibility of hotel room cuisine, but willing to entertain my battiness.  What more could I ask for?  I'm working on equipment list, menu and food storage.  This could be fun!

I was thinking about increasing the monthly mortgage payment to $1500/month but have decided against it.  The balance will be in the $40,000s by the end of this year anyway so I think we will just slog along with our regular monthly payment and bank that extra money that would've gone towards paying the mortgage off early.  It doesn't make that much of a difference to us at this point.

I was going to pay off Capital One's $4000 credit card bill in 4 payments of $1000 but nixed that idea too.  This bill is the result of college expenses.  I think I will just pay the monthly amount due + a bit extra towards principal and leave it at that for now. I would rather have the extra money in the bank account.  I also perversely want to have this bill 'hanging over my head' as a reminder that I HATE credit card debt and that it is always in our best interests not to incur it in the first place.   Two more months of college and then the kid graduates and we are FREE from college expenses forever (I hope)!!

Everything else is going along swimmingly at the moment. I made a chicken pot pie for the first time ever for dinner and it was so tasty.  A recipe keeper.