Being strong for such a time as this

Our marriage is so much stronger these days than it’s ever been really.  But things around us seem to be crumbling.  Health issues, insurance issues and the biggie for us right now, financial issues are draining us.  The few times when Michael and I have had harsh words with one another it’s been because we've been stressed out.  There have been some hurt feelings, but also quick apologies.  We’re both very aware that we can’t allow the stress to damage our relationship.  That would only make things worse, much worse.  It is a worthy goal, but one which requires vigilance because honestly, it’s easier said than done.

I think my anxiety and fears have been manifesting themselves in my dreams lately.  Early this morning I woke up from a scary dream with my heart racing.  I had dreamt that I was driving, the kids were with me.  I was about to cross an intersection and I mashed down on the gas pedal.  I’m not sure, but I think perhaps the light was about to change and I was in a hurry and didn't want to get stuck at a red light.  The problem was that when I tried to ease off the gas once I was across the intersection it didn't budge and we kept accelerating.  The pedal was stuck and there was a corner ahead.  I tried and tried to get the pedal unstuck and was yelling at the kids “Pray!  Pray!  Pray!”  We were all terrified.  Finally, just as we were headed into the turn the gas pedal released and I got on the brake hard and managed to pull off on the side of the road and stop.  My heart was racing and my breathing was rapid in the dream as it was when I woke up.  I let myself calm down for a moment and then I prayed for my family.  The dream had shaken me and I wasn't sure what it meant, if anything.

Looking back on it now, in the dream I was a bit reckless and put myself and my children in harm’s way.  It wasn't my intention and unforeseen circumstances certainly played a part.  But, if I had just slowed down and stopped at the intersection instead of trying to speed my way through it, the whole scenario likely would have been avoided. 

Could this be translated into our real life?  Yes, actually…and it has to do with our financial situation.  Michael and I have been a bit reckless with our money.  We haven’t always made the right choices and haven’t been as careful as we should have been.  There have also been unforeseen circumstances, things out of our control that have played a part.  But, if we’d been more responsible to begin with, those circumstances wouldn't have had as bad an effect as they've had on us.  The situation may not have been avoided entirely, but we’d likely be in a much better state financially than we are currently.  And while it certainly affects both of us, it also affects our children.  I feel like we've let them down.  I know that money is not the most important thing in life and I think we do a pretty good job parenting.  But, in some ways I feel like we've failed them.  I feel like we've been reckless with their futures (college, etc.) and while we’re trying to reign in that gas pedal and we're applying the brakes now, damage has already been done.

This is hard for me to admit.  But I know that we’re not the only ones to find themselves in such a scenario.  It’s just that we’re smarter than this, we know better…and yet, here we are.  Michael and I both have been trying to figure out where we go from here.  I’m not convinced that we've reached the bottom yet.  I think we’re still falling and haven’t even felt the full effects yet.  But, we've started to try and climb out of this whole.  He’s pursuing extra work, though nothing has panned out thus far.  And I’m trying to cut corners with our expenses wherever possible.  It doesn't help that the Christmas season is upon us, but right now it’s more important that there is still food on the table and a roof over our heads.

I wonder sometimes if the devil didn't like how much better Michael and I were doing and the effect that was having on our whole family and decided to attack us or if God knew this was coming and made sure that Michael and I were closer and in a place where we could stand strong together to get through it.  I suppose it doesn't much matter because either way, it is what it is.

I think the fact that I was driving in the dream and that Michael wasn't there at all was probably about me taking on my share of the responsibility, owning my mistakes.  This is as much my fault as it is his.  And the reality is that things have happened that have been totally out of our control as well…but such is life and we should have been better prepared, been better stewards, regardless.

I’m very thankful that Michael and I are so much closer these days.  I can only imagine where our relationship would be by now if we were going through this in the state our relationship was in before we started doing ttwd.  Suffice it to say, it would not be good.  And I imagine it would either end up being the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back or there is a chance that it would bring us back together, as difficult times in the past have done.  But even if it brought us together, we’d be traveling a much harder road to get to that point.  Instead, Michael and I can rely on one another, for comfort, for strength.  And we can work through this together, instead of being at one another’s throats.

It’s not a fun place to be, where we are right now.  The stress is growing as our financial structure crumbles around us.  A knock on the door and another brick fell this morning, threatening to take a whole wall with it.  I hope and pray that we can head things off before we lose everything.  But in the back of my mind is the knowledge that even if that happens we’ll still have each other and though it will be hard, we will rebuild.

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