Ten years ago, my husband lost his job. I was working for an agency and when he lost his job, our income was cut in half. He didn’t get a job right away, and I know I didn’t want to even look at bills and budgets. Denial is a real thing. It took me four months before I would face it. I remember because he lost his job in April and it wasn’t until August that we would do a budget. We developed what I lovingly call our “Crappy Budget”.
My husband would be out of steady, full-time work for years. He would work part-time jobs, seasonal jobs, and odd jobs, piecing together some kind of income, but no secure income for about five years.
If you would have told me at the time he lost his job, that it would be five years, I think I would have either exploded or melted into a pile of goo. I know this because people thought they were being helpful, sharing about their friend or loved one being out of work. I heard six months from one person, ten months from another, and still thirteen months from a third person. Each time, I felt panic and anxiety well up in my chest. I could not hear THAT LONG of him being out of work. Just no….don’t go there….can’t go there.
As I said earlier, I waited four months to face the beast of a budget. I also remember crossing the six months, ten months, and thirteen months. I crossed into “uncharted” territory. The fear was all about money….at least at that time. Will we pay our bills? Will we become homeless? Will we go without food? ALL of those worries were just that….worry. I look back and sometimes wonder how we paid our bills, but we did—most of them were paid and on time. We never lost our home or even came close. Everyone in the family was fed for every meal.
I learned SO MUCH during that time, and while it was scary….I am grateful for the experience. It would take me much time to adjust and make mental space, but once I did, it would serve me several years later when we would be in yet another situation. I’m not gonna lie. I have issues around money….still. I’m working on this and have recommended an amazing resource previously. Out of all that I learned, here’s the best takeaway….and maybe you can find a way to take my mantra and make it yours.
Every day, I would say to myself….my bills are paid today. Quite often, my mind would go berserk with hundreds of scenarios that would happen in the future with the debt and what if I become homeless. My mind would ask me questions like, “What are you going to do about your mounds of student loans? Or medical bills? Or next month’s mortgage.” Every time I would answer my mind with this: “I don’t know, but today, my bills are paid.”
Remember that girl (me) who couldn’t imagine making it 6 months without him finding a job? Remember how ten and thirteen months were equally taking her breath away? Not only did we pass those month marks and go WAY BEYOND the time, but we also didn’t do it all at once. We did it one day at a time. One “my bills are paid today” day at a time. The five years would’ve been too much to do all at once. But today can be done today. Much like “Do the next right thing,” coming back to today can be quite helpful. Tweak the phrase “my bills are paid today” to fit your situation. Maybe your version is “My kids are okay today” or “I’m out of the house today.” Living in the present, seeing that you are okay today, can serve us all.