Now that is a dirty word. When combined with a chronic debilitating illness things get even weirder.
Basically I am a very very VERY lucky person. Before I became ill I worked at a place for almost 12 years that has excellent benefits: six months of paid sick leave, they don't fire people when they get ill, they pay for everyone to have long term disability insurance. FMLA guarantees that you won't loose your job for the first three months you are out of work for either being sick yourself or having to care for someone who is ill. It does NOT guarantee pay just that your job will still be there if you get better within the three month period. After that all bets are off. Most places let you go if you are still unable to work. My place, five months later I'm still employed. I will still have a job if I have a miraculous recovery. I have been paid in full for the last four months. In the US that in itself is a miracle. Now I have to transition from FMLA protections which expired last month to the long term disability insurance which starts in a month or two. My illness has to be approved first so there is a slim chance I may not get it but that is why we have lawyers. I just found out that when on disability I get 60% of my pay which is taxable. The other great part is that the company picks up the medical, dental, vision and life insurance payments while I'm on disability. I don't have to pay for them! They also keep making payments to my 401k while I'm out sick! Holy crap! I'll keep the insurance for my family and still get a sizable paycheck. Like I said I am very VERY lucky.
Now here is where things get weird. Husband owns his own business. Since the economy took a nose dive his business has dried up. He is lucky he has the odd job here or there but that measly trickle of jobs don't even cover the rent on his shop space. Now his ego is tied up in this business. He has steadily built it up over the course of the last ten years. Until a year ago he always ran in the black. He was good at what he does and he had the business brains to run the company well. Now, through no fault of his own it is dying. He is selling off equipment to pay the bills. He is home most days now. He works on the house a lot, painting, fixing things. He isn't lazy by any means.
So here we are; we're both home and my salary is about to be cut. This is roughly the conversation that took place last night:
H: "You're Visa bill is $1800/month"
M: "That is gasoline and groceries. I don't buy anything else."
H: "Why is the grocery bill so high?"
M: " I have to eat GF food and I have to eat organic fruits and vegetables or my stomach gets upset."
H: "I can't believe we spend over a third of the monthly budget on food."
M: "Food is always the highest component of a household budget besides rent."
H; "How are you going to pay for this?"
M: dead silent, my brain isn't working since he picked the crash point of my day to have this conversation, I'm barely awake, lying on the couch only letting my eyes move around
H: "What are we going to do? My life has fallen apart."
M: (in my head) your life? what about me? I'm the one laid out on the couch unable to move. At least you can still run around, go places and work.
M: "What about getting your truck driving licence? You like driving and trucks. You could do deliveries." (I have already tried this tactic on other days with the jobs of electrician and auto mechanic. He has four good skills, sound engineer, electrician, auto mechanic and the aforementioned driving)
H: long pause "If I get my CDL and then get in any kind of car accident there are huge fines. If we didn't live near Boston that is a good idea."
Now, I've been poor before. I grew up poor. The name of the game was to work. You got a job so that you always had income. It didn't matter if you were slinging hash or bagging groceries. You worked. Now I am listening to both my husband and kid come up with a stream of excuses why they can't go out and get jobs to help with the bills. Ok. I keep my mouth shut. I don't say anything.
But around 3am when my brain switched back on again and I absorbed the conversation I just documented something clicked. What about that car he just bought? The 1950's Bel Air he is having shipped from Oregon so that he has something to do this winter? Where is the money coming from for car parts? Why is he giving me crap about eating organic when he has just paid thousands of dollars for his THIRD project car. Yes this is number three! There are two other Bel Airs taking up the garage. I no longer figure skate. I no longer buy lunch every day. I no longer travel. I haven't bought clothes in over six months. I haven't purchased shoes in over a year. I haven't even gone out to the movies since I've been sick. The only thing I do is buy good wholesome food to help me feel ok. Now I am furious! I mean really furious. I can't sleep and today I don't want to be near him in case I rip his head off.
They always say that the money arguments aren't really about money. I'm curious what this one is about. My being ill? His loosing everything? The death of his career and business? Why do I have to be punished for this? Grieving for the loss of my old self? He has lost his partner. I can no longer do things with him or for him. I am a lump on the couch. On good days I can cook a lame meal. What is going on?