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I Am SWIE And She Is Me

“Don’t you ever get tired?”, I said to BMNB recently while we were out on our weekly grocery run.

“Tired of what?”

“Tired of struggling. No matter how far ahead we get, it seems some new problem always pops up. We’re always struggling, and I don’t feel like we’re getting anywhere. I know I’m tired.”


“No?”, I responded in what almost amounted to horror.

“No,” he replied calmly. Before turning the ignition on, he turned to me. “We are blessed. We are REALLY blessed.” And he started the car.

Funny, I wasn’t really feeling blessed. It was the near the end of the month, and once again I had more month than money. Our bills, unexpected expenses, and the impact of tax decisions not of my making on my own bottom line have been wearing on me for quite a while. I don’t like debt, and the fact that I have more of it than I’m comfortable with, as a result of some stupid decisions I made and some stupid decisions I was subject to, was weighing me down. The more I thought about where I thought I would be at this point in my life compared to where I am, the more I wanted to give Prozac its proper consideration.

But I thought about it. We really ARE blessed.

We both have pretty secure jobs in an increasingly shaky economy.

We’re well educated, which means that even if we were to lose our jobs, we could probably find new ones.

We’re healthy, aside from a few aches and pains from getting older and sleeping on a cheap mattress (it was supposed to be a substitute until our bed arrived from Denver, which has not happened yet).

We have each other.

And, I have the fortitude of my mother, even when I don’t realize it.

I had to stop and get a grip: Most of the problems I’m facing are nothing compared to the problems my mother, SWIE, had faced by my same age. I didn’t give birth to six kids and have three miscarriages. I have never had cancer – she had it once and would ultimately lose her second battle with it. I’ve never lost a house. I’ve never been on welfare. I’ve never had to have my husband leave the household so that I could qualify for welfare to feed my kids. I’ve only once been financially dependent on my husband, and I swore I would never, ever let that happen again. My husband doesn’t drink, doesn’t gamble, and has never hit me (although if he did, I would put his ass in the ground. Don’t get it twisted – I’m of the opinion that the cure for domestic violence is target practice at the gun range, although there are a lot of sisters on lockdown who share this same belief).

I don’t have to put dinner for eight on the table seven days a week. I don’t have to care for an ailing parent, at least not yet. I don’t have to live through the agonizing realization that your mind is slowing failing you and your memories are fading into an Alzheimer’s haze, at least not yet.

Yet it was my mother who told me, when I faced what was then the greatest defeat in my life – failing the California bar exam – that, “Okay, we all get knocked down sometime. And you can lay down there for a minute. But then you gotta get up.”

At the time I thought she just couldn’t comprehend what I was going through. My job and career were on the line, I was tens of thousands of dollars in debt for student loans, I had to tell my boss and my colleagues that I had failed, and I had no idea where I went wrong with that damn exam anyway.

But yes she did understand. She understood that I was her child, that because I was her child that I was as strong as she was, and that what I was facing, in the panoply of problems worth worrying over, wasn’t nuthin’. The bar exam – that can be passed. Losing your uterus to cancer – now, THAT’s a real problem.

Armed with my mother’s admonishment that I had to get up, I did. I reduced the materials for the California Bar Exam to 3,600 flash cards, of which I had committed 3,400 to memory by the time of the exam. I studied like a fiend, forsaking good hygiene, sleep, and nutritional meals.

And I passed. When I look back, I can’t help but to think that at that time I had absolutely no idea what real problems were. And perhaps I still don’t.

So, bills? That I can deal with. Living in a rental when I had hoped to be in my own home by now? No biggie. At least I have a roof over my head.

Because I am SWIE and she is me. And this problem stuff? We got this on lock.

Footnote: Shortly after my solo pity party, I received an unexpected check in the mail from my electric utility saying I had overpaid them, I received a reimbursement check from work that I wasn't expecting for another week, and I found $8 on the ground when I was out walking my dog. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that SWIE and God are in cahoots.


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