June 30, 2009

Sometimes you just need to write

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:43 pm by Erin

We had a great trip to Costa Rica and I will share more about that soon, but I just need a safe place to write now.  J has been out of work since early March.  He closed his law firm after about 4 months of slowly shutting down, not taking new clients, etc.  It was deliberate.  We were both OK with it.  He planned to take a break for a bit and then get a new job pretty soon, figuring that it wouldn't be too tough as a lawyer with 6 years of experience and as a small-business owner.

The job situation in Atlanta isn't any better than it is anywhere else in the country.  The job situation for lawyers in Atlanta doesn't seem to be any better than the job situation for any other job in Atlanta.  It's now been almost 4 months and J has had a grand total of 4 interviews.  The first three were all in March and early April, then he didn't have another until last week.  He clearly didn't get the first three jobs.  We're still waiting to hear about the fourth.

J is not handling unemployment well.  At first when it was by choice, he was fine with it.  He was relaxed more than I've seen him in years.  He had time to spend with the family and took advantage of it, eating both breakfast and dinner with us all and doing a lot with the kids.  He started swimming pretty intensely to get the exercise that he hasn't had time to get in several years.  Our relationship got better because we weren't fighting* and we got to spend some wonderful time together.

It started becoming a problem in early May, when he realized that it had been two months since he closed the firm, one month since his last interview, and was only a few weeks before both kids and I were also home full time over the summer.  He wasn't joking in early May when he said "So I have about 18 days to find a job, huh?"  Being home with the kids full-time can be daunting but I have three years of past experience at this point of being home over the summer.  J had only the thoughts I went through at the same time a couple of years ago.  It took me a while to get through those doubts and worries to the point where I could really enjoy it.  Why I expected that it would be different for him, I'm not sure.  My own fault, really.

But back to my point.  J started getting stressed out that he's not working.  He started getting depressed about it, though he won't admit it often**.  Most of J's social life came from work friends.  He doesn't do much that would help him make friends.  He doesn't go to church–he went through a kind of spiritual questioning a few years ago and hasn't really found a church home since then.  He doesn't play sports.  He doesn't seem interested in doing much with my friends' husbands and vice versa***.  So he's not really doing anything with other people; when he's out of the house, he's by himself.  And when he's home, having all of us around seems to remind him that he's not working.  His best friends live very far away, though even if they lived here, I can't imagine him talking about how he feels about any of this.  It's a horrible recipe for depression.

He's been taking it out on us by sniping at us.  Mostly on me, but sometimes on the kids.  I will put off making plans with friends in the thought that maybe he'd like to do something as a family, then he snipes at me for trying to involve him when he has work to do (he does have some things that he's finishing, and he is looking for a job).  Other times when I've made plans for the kids and I without informing him, he snipes that he was planning to take the kids to the pool.  His initial reaction has been negative and/or insulting to almost everything, whether it's a question about what he'd like to do for the day or telling him what's for dinner.

It doesn't help that our financial situation isn't as good as I thought it was before we took all of our trips.  J doesn't like to talk about work things at home–since many of them are confidential things he can't discuss, he's just gotten out of the habit of talking about much work-related material at all.  He also doesn't like to worry me.  I've asked him repeatedly to give me information as he learns it rather than waiting until he absolutely has to tell me, but he persists in waiting to discuss things.  I think he doesn't like to discuss bad business news because it makes him feel like a failure.  So when he laid the news on me after our trip to Disney and after I'd booked our trip to Costa Rica, I kind of lost it.  We spent a LOT of money between those two trips.  Had I known the full extent of things…well, let's just say that we don't have the financial freedom that I thought we had.  We've been sniping at each other about that.  I went off on J for eating lunch out 5 times in a week.  He got upset with me for buying little presents for the kids for the time that we were gone. 

We had a LONG discussion about it the night before my ILs came.  I'd been trying to be patient and understanding about his attitude, knowing full well that he was depressed about the job situation and that was the reason for it…but I was done with that.  I told him that I was tired of being picked on, that we don't deserve to be treated that way.  He said that he's just upset all the time and can't always pretend to be happy but would try harder.  I told him that wasn't OK with me, that I don't want him pretending, that I want him to go talk to someone and do what he needs so that he can be enjoyable to be around and can enjoy us again.  I said I understand that he's upset about his job but that he needs to find a way to allow himself to be happy with other things also. 

I hate to think of him spending all day unhappy.  It breaks my heart.

We didn't really resolve things that night, though it helped tremendously to talk together.  He didn't seem against the idea of going to a counselor but also didn't seem enthusiastic about it.  We had a great trip to Costa Rica together–it was truly the second honeymoon that I envisioned.  He's been mostly OK since we got back but I know very well that he's just trying harder to hide how he's feeling. 

I just don't know what to do about it.

*I'm not trying to blame all of our fighting on J's work but there was a lot of stress associated with his job.

**He will admit it from time to time, so he's not fully in denial about it. 

***Which I regret since I'd always envisioned being able to do things with other couples on the rare night that we go on dates.  When we do things with the families of my friends, he always seems to manage to say the wrong thing.  I'm amazed at how he's one way with our family and can be a complete jerk when we're with others.  Frankly, I wouldn't like him much then either.

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June 23, 2009

Our 10th anniversary went by without a word

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 7:52 am by Erin

On my blog, that is.  In real life…um, we didn't do anything except exchange cards.  BUT that all changes tonight when we leave for Costa Rica for a few days!!!  We haven't left P since he was about 2 1/2, and then it was just overnight at a hotel while my parents watched him; we've never left K at all.  I'm nervous and scared about how he'll react to us leaving and not being here tomorrow morning.  Or the next morning, or the one after that, or the one after that.  Will it bring back feelings of abandonment, or will being in his own house with his brother and grandparents (my ILs have been here since Friday, so he's well used to them) help keep that at bay?  We're planning to call but I'm still nervous.  Hell, there have only been 2 nights that I didn't put him to bed since he's been home!

Despite my nerves, I am about to go pack.  And we'll have a wonderful time while we're there, even with a forecast for 70s and thunderstorms.  We're staying at a 5-star boutique hotel, which we've NEVER done in our lives, and are treating ourselves royally.  We don't speak Spanish and only have a little phrasebook.  We cannot wait.

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This visit with my ILs has been quite good.  Perhaps it's my gratitude that they're staying with the kids that makes it easier for things to roll off my back, perhaps things haven't been said the way they normally are, or perhaps it's that they're spending so much time with the kids that I've had a lot of time to myself.  Whatever.  It's been a really nice visit so far and helps me feel better about leaving the boys with them.

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J has a job interview this afternoon before we leave.  He hasn't had one in almost 2 months, so if you could think some good thoughts for him, we would both appreciate it.  He's not handling unemployment too well* and getting this job would be a big boost to him.

*I'll write more about that when we get home and my ILs aren't likely to pop in at any time.

June 15, 2009

As I sit here at the computer

Posted in The musings of Erin at 7:52 am by Erin

With P doing a puzzle behind me and K grinning at me from underneath the table, I am thinking:

"I should really go upstairs and put on more than just this T-shirt and jeans."

Because I threw on the T-shirt and jeans…and ONLY the T-shirt and jeans…when the squirrel-removing people showed up 45 minutes early and I was still in my nightclothes.  Cute nightclothes.  Nightclothes that I couldn't exactly wear to open the door for fear of being arrested.

Oh, the week is off to a brilliant start.

June 13, 2009

Father’s Day is next week

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:35 am by Erin

J and I got married on Father's Day in 1999, so Father's Day holds a special meaning for me.  I will always remember my dad on Father's Day 1999: fixing his tie in the hallway of my parents' house before we went to the ceremony, seeing his expression of me in my wedding dress.  I went to the ceremony in the limo with my bridesmaids, but my aunt told me that my dad spent the entire drive to the ceremony crying.  My dad doesn't cry but I have pictures of him tearing up at the ceremony.  I danced with my dad to "Unforgettable" on Father's Day 1999, though during the dance I told him that I'd hoped to be able to have "Unforgettable" morph into "Go go, Godzilla" or "Meet the Mets".  It made him laugh.

Father's Day 2004 was our 5th anniversary, and J's first year of celebrating Father's Day with 6-month-old P.  I believe I gave J a bonsai tree for our anniversary (that he promptly killed) but have no idea what I got him for Father's Day.  I am a terrible gift-giver.  No matter how well I know the person, I cannot figure out what to get them.  So I was thrilled when I received a link for Mom Central's Father's Day Gift Guide!  They have gifts listed by price, from under $25 to over $100, and there are a huge range of gifts in each price range.  I was really happy to find lots of gifts over there that I could afford to get for J and that I think he would like 🙂

PLUS!!!  They're having a giveaway each day for a whole list of Father's Day presents.  Today, on Sunday, they're giving away 5 gifts, and they'll post more each day.

Our 10th anniversary is next Saturday, the day before Father's Day.  We're going on a trip to Costa Rica for our anniversary (not leaving until the next Tuesday) but until today, I had no idea what to get J for Father's Day.  There was extra pressure because J's father will be here for Father's Day (my ILs are coming to watch the kids while we're gone) and so we need to figure out what to get for him that he can easily transport home in his suitcase.  Having taken a look at the gift guide, though, I can already see several possibilities that we could get.

I feel very relieved that I'll be able to find gifts for J, my dad, and his dad pretty easily this year!  One less thing to worry about on top of my ILs being here, watching the kids, and leaving the kids for several days for the first time ever*.

*We've left P overnight several times with our parents, but never more than one night, and we've never left K before.  I hope it goes well!