Bedknobs and Boxes

My family of 6 has spent the last 10 months living in a couple of bedrooms at an extended family member’s home.  My husband lost his job nearly 12 months ago.   The last time he lost his job, it took several months to find a new one.  We decided that regardless of how short or long this job loss would be, it was the best thing for our family to relocate.  He did find a job relatively quickly (a few months).  It was for a 1 yr contract.  So here we are facing a possible fourth time of unemployment in our marriage.

Job loss is hard.  I haven’t written about it yet because it’s still a sensitive subject for me, especially job losses that go beyond a short time.  Am I stressed about this year?  A little, but not much.  We have weathered this before.  I met my husband while working a job with him.  He is a good worker.  Currently, he is in a positive work environment, which we are insanely grateful for.  His boss is aware of the situation, and knows that he will need to look because he has a family to feed.  I am so grateful for the job he has had with a good boss.  Good bosses are not so easy to find.  

So here’s the honest part about what we’ve been going through.  Bear with me.  There will be a glimmer of sunshine at the end. 

Our lives are in boxes.  I hate boxes.  I like things organized and clean, thank you very much, and living out of boxes has been crazy.  I don’t know where things are.  The boxes have bent and broken in some cases.  Some of the boxes have been ruined, and I have no idea what we have lost inside them.  We did not have space for everything, so we have given away much of our furniture.  Our fridge will have to be replaced by the time we move.  I hope the other appliances will make it, but I won’t know until we plug them in.  

Losing this much is hard for me on a deep level.  You see, I know the ins and outs of poverty from experience.  My husband I worked our butts off to get to the middle class, and even so, it takes a lot of time to recover from poverty.  It’s something I will talk about (I hope) someday, too, because I find that poverty is misrepresented in literature and media.  

I’ve learned many lessons from this time.  I could probably talk for days and days about this stuff, but I’ll keep it to a short overview.

1.  It doesn’t matter how good you are or how well you follow the rules or how hard you work in life.  Bad stuff might happen to you.  While sometimes that stuff is your fault, sometimes it’s not.  You cannot live in the world of If I Do Good, Then Good Things Will Happen.  You will die there of a broken heart if you do.  If you do good, you might still suffer.  

2.  Other people are terrible about knowing what to say during times like these.  People like happy.  People like happy endings.  They like hardship stories, but they don’t want to know about them until after you’ve overcome on your own.  A casual friend will give you a hug and tell you something vague like, “It will get better.”  A real friend will bring over pizza and wine and let you sob and be angry.  

3.  Some people will be big, fat, naughty words at times like these.  They can naughty word it.  Okay, side story.  I’ve been hearing about this singer that people love/hate for years now.  I guess sometimes he acts like a naughty word.  I finally caught one of his songs, and I love it.  I actually think he wrote it for Christians.  I will now be telling people that they can go and love themselves.  

3.  Closed doors are blessings, and I don’t mean the kind that are in disguise.  My husband and I are free right now.  Free to move anywhere in the country.  Free to take a new job.  Free to stay and look for a new job.  Free to find a safe, clean home to live in.  Free. 

4.  Sometimes stories of other people’s struggles help.  Sometimes they don’t.  Own your story.  During this time, I have homeschooled four kiddos and written 6 books.  While I do admire stories from other writers who went through hard things to get published, some of those stories are a walk in the park comparatively.  The only thing I can do is focus and trust my story.

5.  You can always help other people, no matter what you are going through.  The nice side of losing stuff is that we try to make sure that we are helping other people while we are losing out.  It still stinks for us, but it’s nice to be able to bless others freely

6.  I write my story.  This goes back to #1.  Listen, people are going to do bad things to you.  There will be chapters in your life book that you end up a victim.  There will also be a chapter or more in your book when you hurt other people.  That’s life.  I have yet to meet a human who has not been on both sides of things at one time or the other.  Maybe the Pope.  Maybe.  But, even if you  are a victim for a chapter or few, you still are the one who gets to write the story.  Never forget that.  

7.  It’s okay to not be positive all the time.  When this last round of employment happened, I tried really hard to be positive for the sake of my husband and kiddos.  It’s not bad to be positive.  It can help.  But it can also cause problems if you aren’t realistic.  If you don’t let yourself mourn for lost things or bad times.  I am trying to be positive right now, but it is okay that I break down now and then.  Life is both mourning and happiness.  

I have this picture of my kids on the day that we found out my husband lost his job the time it was super hard (incident 2)  It’s on our desktop, which is in a box.  Someday I’ll share that picture and that day.  My oldest is about to turn 11.  He’s right on that edge of childhood when many lose their magic.  So my goal right now, is no matter how irritating the boxes are getting, that we will keep our magic this summer.  

It will be a summer of change, no matter what.  It’s part of the reason that I decided to take a year long journey.  I have adventures to share with my children, and so we will be bedknobing it through.  I am planning days of magic and mystery and giggles and forts and muddy messes.  I plan on letting him know that he can be an adult who kept their magic.  I plan on days of no plans.  

And someday this year, I hope that I can plan on emptying all these boxes.  We will have a grand box ceremony in which we build a large fort with them or burn them or dance a wild dance on them.  Or maybe we will give the surviving boxes to somebody who needs them.  I don’t know yet.  But I do know that we will find magic this year, whether by box or bedknob.

Live Bravely, Love Strongly, -AEM

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