Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feeling Static.

I've been experiencing a lot of static lately.  I've been having a difficult time because life has put me in a position where I am unable to move and I am bound and unable to break free of this. 

First of all, professionally, I am unable to move.  I am not licensed in New York, and thus I cannot practice law here until I am admitted.  So I can't get a job except for document review, and so far I seem to not be able to get on any projects since I left my last one.  I am a patent attorney and so I can potentially try to develop a business and take clients in this area of practice, but my hands are tied because I cannot accept unemployment if I start up my own business.  The problem is that I am not on unemployment, but I am not off of it either.

I stopped receiving unemployment benefits after my last project ended in a way that it is uncertain to the unemployment office whether I am still eligible.  So they're holding hearings with my former employers, having me submit documents, etc. and going through the whole appeals process having me prove that I am eligible for unemployment.  The problem during all this is that 1) they are not paying anything, but I keep filing for unemployment as they have instructed me to, 2) we are running out of savings, and I mean that we have never been this low EVER, and 3) I am unable to start a business because I'll lose the unemployment eligibility that I'm fighting so hard to recover.

On another note, I'm hurting to the point of crying because of the things I think my wife thinks about me.  I feel that she feels that I am a loser for being unemployed, and when I am working on the computer (whether I am paying bills, filing for unemployment, doing law research for the current lawsuits I am involved in, or answering e-mails), she thinks I am playing and she treats what I'm doing as if it is meaningless.  What she doesn't realize is that we wouldn't have a car, internet, electricity running, healthcare, school loans handled, or taxes filed and paid if it weren't for me taking care of all of this.  I pay all the bills and handle all the finances in the house, and I handle all errands that need to be run in the family.  I take care of all the problems.  I call people and resolve any disputes that happen.  I handle the legal aspects of our life, our contracts and agreements, our banking.  I interact with the insurance company to make sure we have health insurance and that our COBRA is paid and in order, and I make sure all claims are tracked and resolved properly.  Her sole responsibility is to take care of the kids, cook food, take the kids to their appointments, and keep the house in order.  I see it as my side of the responsibility, and her side.  The problem is that I feel that she sees my side as non-existent, and she sees her side as if she's saving the universe.

On top of that, I cross over onto her side very frequently if not regularly to wash dishes, do laundry, watch the kids, play with the kids, change diapers if needed, endlessly insert pacifiers and hold crying children, and I wake up in the middle of the night and too early in the morning more times than I would like to.  She appreciates all this when it happens, but then after time passes, or the ONE TIME I tell her NO to helping her with something, she forgets everything I do and accuses me of being an unemployed loser.

Today (well, combining today and yesterday's events), I woke up and took care of the kids while she slept.  She got the kids ready and made lunches while I watched the news online drinking coffee, and then I took our oldest to school.  On the way to school, I picked something up from the store and I remembered that we hired a maid for the day so I went to the bank to withdraw enough money to pay the maid.  I dropped off my son at school, and came home.  On my way home, I checked the mail in the mail room and came home.  My wife was cleaning the home, and I canceled a membership that was costing us money.  I confirmed that our daughter was properly added to our insurance plan with my ex-employer, and I made multiple calls to the hospital to take care of the insurance portion of the multi-thousand-dollar bill.  I then started making phone calls to specialists to make an appointment for an injury that has been bothering me for a few weeks now and has since become bothersome.  I sat down and answered a few e-mails and checked our bank balances and made sure that everything was scheduled.  I downloaded tax forms for a bank I forgot about on my tax return, and I added to my list of things to do.  My wife was frantic because we don't have food in the house, but instead of buying some like she said she would, she decided to continue in her Pesach cleaning chores.  She took a rag to the bookshelf (not sure why since there were bigger things to take care of) and didn't shop like she said she would.  I continued taking care of things on my end until she asked me to help her with the beds.  I lifted each of our beds while she added skirts to them (because not having skirts was bothering her).  Then it came time to pick up our son.  My wife then tried to get out of it by telling me that I better pick him up or else I'll have to change our child's poo diaper.  I reluctantly agreed, and on my way out, she sent me on an errand to the Judaica bookstore to buy books for Passover.  I remembered that I told her I'd pick up a few more bedikas chometz kits and so I picked up those as well. 

This afternoon, my wife was supposed to take our son to the doctor for a hearing ear test -- something the school wanted us to look into.  She asked me to go instead of her so that she can clean, but I didn't want to.  I told her that I feel that she is bullying me around and that I haven't even had a chance to shower yet.  She then made some kind of comment that I could have showered earlier while I was wasting time on the computer (I actually wasn't), but had I known she wanted me to take him, I would have showered beforehand, and I would have been happy to.  However, I felt that the way she approached it was sneaky and I don't like her changing plans on me last minute because things ALWAYS go wrong when she pulls something like this on me.  (Perfect example: this Sunday, we were attending a family event.  In the middle of the event, she needed to feed our newborn daughter so she took her back to the car; I watched the kids which after about five seconds became a disaster because our daughter decided that she wanted to go swimming in a lake and my son started eating messy cake and it was hard dealing with two squirming kids.  She disappeared for almost an hour and when she returned, instead of throwing a temper tantrum like I really wanted to, I sucked it all in, smiled, and continued our day.  I did let her know that I thought it was excessive for her to ditch me with the kids in the park for almost an hour, but I kept the conversation calm.)  In short, when she changes plans on me, I ALWAYS get screwed.

Returning to today, she asked me to take our son to the doctor.  I was happy to but I didn't like her timing or the way she asked me, and I was in the middle of another task which I didn't want to drop at the moment.  I told her I needed a minute and I told her that I was reluctant to start changing plans around.  She's had this on the schedule for weeks now, and she's the one that interacts with the school teachers about our son.  Plus, I thought that since she deals with the doctors and taking kids to the appointments (I often tag along), that's her territory and I wouldn't know what to answer the doctors if they asked things of me.  This is her area.  She then threw a temper tantrum and stormed out before giving us a chance to discuss it. 

Now I'm all upset and hurt from her actions.  So many feelings of inadequacy and hurt are bubbling up inside of me and I'm feeling myself shut down from the anger of feeling that it is not fair that she disregards everything I do the one time I don't do something the way she wants me to.

So I'm no longer in the mood of being upset.  It's been nearly an hour that I've been sulking and have been writing this post, and I've decided to pick myself up and move on.  While I would normally delete a post like this, I'm going to keep it, post it, and I'll probably delete it later the next time I feel bad about trashing my wife on my blog, something I resolved not to do; so read this while it's fresh because I'll probably take it down later.  I'm going to pick up and continue my day as if we weren't fighting.  Bottom line, she's right that I should have said yes to taking our son to the doctor, but she's wrong in how she approached it.  I'm going to hit "publish" on this article, and I'm going to continue working on things that I said that I would do.  I'll try not to think of my hurt feelings and how I feel she steps on me and manipulates me.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Purim Seudah

I had an interesting time at the Purim seudah. It was nice to be among friends. It was interesting looking across the table at people I respected, but I wasn't so sure they know yet who I am. One thing I learned the last place we lived was to be authentic in our yiddishkeit. Don't try to be something you're not. And don't try not to be something you are.

I am Lubavich, no question about it. I am frum, no question about it. However, I do have quirks that would make some people doubt my authenticity if I put on a persona or a show pretending to be something I am not.

I make no secret of my shyness. I make no excuse for hiding from people for sometimes weeks at a time. It's just one of those quirky things about me. Yiddishkeit is at the center of my being. My relationship with G-d is one of the most turbulent relationships I have. We fight quite often, that's just the way it is. As a result, I withdraw from the community only temporarily until I can muster the strength to step back in, apologize for my absence, and stay engaged for as long as I can. Inevitably, I always get overwhelmed and I withdraw again. People wonder where I go, what I do. Really, I'm just hiding out and busying myself with being a father, a husband, and a spouse. I don't fry out -- I do everything I would do if I were engaged with the community -- I just do it alone.

That being said, I was thinking to myself that the guys around me are truly good guys, and I appreciate that Hashem has brought me to a place where I can develop a trust for those in my community. I also thought to myself that there is nothing that stops me from breaking past my limitations and changing who I am. Today I might be the shy one in the room, tomorrow I could be on the table dancing and singing. Only I can dictate who I am at any moment. I thought that thought was quite profound.