I received an e-mail from a friend on Facebook the other day, essentially asking me; "do things get better?"
The question was in regards to ending a long-term relationship. And, honestly everything I could think of to say sounded cliche and trite.
So, I was honest. Regardless of how a relationship ended, or how you feel about the person with whom you are ending things with-- there will be mourning. And, with mourning that means there are good days, and bad days.
After said conversation through Facebook messenger I talked to Bradford about a lot of truths I have recently came to face. Bradford listened to me as I explained the reasons I stayed with Marc for so long, and listened to the list of fears I had over ending my relationship with him.
I think if it were any other person other than Bradford I would have felt self-conscience as I explained some of the conclusions I had drawn after meditating on it for a while. I explained how even though I had noticed big signs six months into our journey together that said relationship with Marc wouldn't workout, followed up by bigger things after a year of dating, followed up by one break-up, and boom, its four years later, and we've had a couple failed pregnancies...and, then there was no where else to go because our course had sailed so roughly.
But, why did I stay?
Yes, I cared for Marc, there is no denying that, but the caring feelings I had for him stemmed from our initial three months of online dating (prior to our 4 year relationship we had chatted online from April until July)-- I think I stayed, because even though so many things did not fit well for us (not to mention the monstrous and dangerous things he told my best friend about his mental illness), staying with Marc meant a certain level of security-- a home and financial security.
It sounds so shallow and awful to write even now, but it's the only thing I can think of as to why I would stay in such a relationship. And, being with me for Marc meant that he had a live-in someone who would take care of him-- which, is honestly necessary depending on his mental state.
And, I can honestly say that since I left Marc, all the fears I've had over leaving him, have come true.
However, I am alive, and I am surviving.
Sometimes, things are so hard all I can do is cry, and cry. Other times, things seem manageable. But, there is no denying that I am living in poverty.
Facebook does this thing where it shows daily memories of past posts on each day-- I am being reminded daily of what I felt was my hey day-- and, it does hurt seeing how different things are, and how far life has taken me.
In the one hand, I get to see how far I've come in the last year since moving to Oregon from Utah, in the other I went from working part time at Old Navy, getting a discount on my clothes, working full-time at the salon, living with Jess and Ian, having my Mondays with the kids, owning a home/queen of Primrose Cottage, having my own garden, being the healthiest I've ever been in my entire life, getting massaged monthly, and doing other things to care for myself, as I continued to pay off my student loan that was in deferment, and having very few worries.
To now I have been donating my plasma in a weak attempt to stay afloat. I have asked my work to give me more hours, but my hours still vary and are unsteady, and even though I am searching for a new/better and/or second job I am finding it difficult to do much with a bike that needs a tune-up, and our car that is on it's way out (our vehicle is in need of some much needed repairs).
In the meantime, every month we struggle to pay our rent, we are constantly $300 behind on our bills...and, even though Bradford has been selling off valuables, and I get paid the 15th and the last day of the month-- what really saved us last week was us donating plasma together. We earned $330 by donating fluids last week.
I feel like I should mention now that if you look into how much plasma is worth-- it will make you sick to find out how little one is paid in comparison to it's worth. That's why it is a donation, regardless of getting cash.
This week we've made $60 so far, and if I am well enough to donate again this week we will get another $80. Unfortunately, yesterday I had my first bad prick. My arms, both of them, are limp like spaghetti. I found out that my hematocrit is low, and I may not be eligible to donate for a week or two until I am healthy enough.
And, I am not going to lie it's been very strange donating plasma to earn funds to pay my bills, on top of selling stuff, trading, collecting cans (in Oregon you get 5¢ on can and bottle returns) for returns, pimping hoops and classes, picking tons and tons of blackberries and making loads of freezer jam (for ourselves, and trades), and I fortunately landed a gig tomorrow working as fire safety for a fire performer at an old folks' home, but we also need to make the plasma donations to keep us floating.
It's weird, because you are doing something that allows others access to life saving medicine, but you're doing so in a clinic that sometimes feels a little sketch among every sort of type of person; school teacher looking for extra weekly funds, to Eugene street person who hasn't used deodorant in a long while.
After your first visit (which takes hours, and includes a relatively thorough physical) you enter yourself into the registry to donate upon arriving at the center, you are then given a brief health screening to make sure you're healthy enough to donate, and then you're set off into a room with these beds, and whirling machines, as the some random movie plays on screens above the beds (usually Armageddon).
This week's first donation was a bad prick. A girl named Sarah poked me in such a way that the entire time my donation was going on my arm was throbbing-- the machine whirls and an automatic tourniquet tightens as the blood is pumped out of you. During this time you're instructed to pump your fist continually to quicken the draw time. And, then you hear your plasma heat the empty bottle in a weird, sickening tinkling noise. After about fifteen minutes the tourniquet loosens it's grip, you can stop pumping your fist, and your blood is slowly returned into your vein and IV blood thinners to keep your blood flowing until you're completely done giving the amount to donate.
My donations always take about minutes. Bradford's always takes about 1:15 to 1:30.
Afterwards, you're drained, hungry, tired. The hardest part for both Bradford and I is afterwards when you have to wait five minutes and drink down a Powerade. We aren't big on sugary drinks, and this is particularly awful, as you can't leave until they see an empty Powerade bottle.
We are always freezing afterwards, we now plan what our after donation meals will be-- making things easy at home, and giving us an excuse to eat food we normally wouldn't be able to get, but we put a portion of our money earned towards food. And, we've been really good about sleeping, vitamins, and eating well.
It's thanks to our donating that we've been able to put gas in our car, brake fluid in it, buy razors, pads, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, ziplocs, and other non-food related grocery things (like new tooth brushes!).
We are fortunate, because we have access to assistance through FOOD for Lane County, and DHS-- today Bradford attended a class and was given a $30 gas card for showing up. Every time we do something new to try and better our situation we ask the people in charge what we can do to help ourselves out. We are not shy about our situation, and refuse to feel less than anyone else, as we try to regain our footing.
We take everyone's advice, and try to apply it when able. We take any person's help that offers, because we honestly need the help.
My whole point? I know that if I had stayed in Utah, and if I had stayed in my relationship with Marc-- I most likely wouldn't be going through a lot of this. It's an unfortunate truth that even though money doesn't buy happiness it does buy hygiene supplies, allows you the freedom to be more than a slave to living paycheck to paycheck, and it does provide a lot of comforts.
People with money get to pick their own meals, unlike us, and can afford organic, good, and local foods.
If I had stayed I would be unhappy in my heart, and there are a lot of hard draw backs about being back in Oregon.
I would still choose to leave Marc. I would still choose to move to Oregon. I would still choose to be Bradford's best friend. I would even choose yesterday's bad prick.