Finally, some good news. Not just one nice thing, but three...count 'em...threeeeeeee!
First. I was accepted as a volunteer in our state's health insurance assistance program. That means I will be trained and available to help our county's ombudsman during the renew/switch period from October to December, not sure the exact dates. I have decided that I do not want to be trained now to do that exact job, but prefer to handle the pre-interview interviews. I am tired of leaping right into the middle of something. It is going to be very nice to be the person who gets to help and calm old folk like me during that stressful and difficult to comprehend process. Yay.
Second. I was accepted into the training thing about which I have been vaguely referring. Now that I am securely in process...have I mentioned being accepted???? Yay...I am comfortable sharing what it is, as I am beyond the point where I have to pretend to not be disappointed and accepting of the process and how things always work out the way they are supposed to and how there is sure to be another opportunity down the way to do this or to have the time to do something else. So, anyway, it is certification to be a Peer Specialist, with a concentration on mental health issues. I got those. You got to have them to even apply. Yeah, you must have a mental health condition and be willing to be totally public about it. I got that covered, too.
This was suggested by my therapist. She shared that I have come so far in my recovery from, well, from everything and that I am already doing pretty much what a peer counselor does. I was aware of peer counseling and my fairly immediate plans were to ask for some kind of informal training and the opportunity to volunteer someplace. But, this certification means that I could actually be employed, doing what I am already doing as a volunteer. Better yet is that what I learn during this training is going to amp-up and support the employment/social services work I have been doing for four years.
But, it means that I have better resources to find a job doing something I love. I have been actively searching for a job for more than three years, without any success. Whilst that is personally distressing, that process has been very informative and helpful when helping my clients with their own employment struggles. So, even it this does not result in a greater chance to find a job, everything that happens with this is going to help every other part of all of my volunteer gigs. Yay.
Oh, just yay...yay...yay!
Third. This one is bittersweet, but mostly totally kick-ass. My ex and his investment people have refused to comply with the court orders placed at the time of divorce, which is now more than ten months. Obfuscations, denials, delays, lost paperwork, "oh, gosh, we are just having so much trouble connecting with you and your lawyer...", and plain, old deliberate non-compliance. A few months ago my attorney convinced me, reluctantly, to create new court orders that would address the non-compliance issues and those created by my ex for gutting the investment funds. I let her do that, but I could not bear to be part of the actual process.
As of yesterday, the investment people have finally complied, but with the original orders, completely ignoring the new ones and ignoring that the accounts carry a fraction of the assets they did last year when the original orders were placed.
I told my attorney this would happen. I told her that they might...potentially...reluctantly and finally follow the original orders only when faced with fines and the threat of jail time. Like any of that would ever happen. Sheesh. I told her that the weird paperwork they sent two weeks ago was designed to do exactly that, circumvent the new court orders. I told her that the two primary directors of the funds were friends of my ex and that he often called them or went to their offices, or they called him, just to chat.
I was told that it was only my ex who was creating all of these problems. I was told that the investment people were professionals and that they would never do anything illegal. I was told that finishing all of this was in their best interest, as when it was settled, they needed to make money off of the funds they invest for their clients. I was told that I simply did not understand the weird paperwork and that all of the empty, incomplete spaces on the paperwork was nothing about which to worry.
Barely half of the portion that I would have received when the investments were to have been divided ten months ago were, this week, deposited into an account for me, one for which my attorney and her assistant and I finished setting up six months ago. Maybe longer. Thousands of dollars in legal and filing fees and they still allowed my ex to keep removing money from the accounts for all of this time. In violation of other court orders that determined that those accounts were to be frozen.
I am properly grateful to have anything. I am trying to just let go of any belief in justice or fairness or any of them doing the right thing. That has never been my experience with my ex, so there was never a time when I expected anything decent from him. That was compounded by the fact that I got out of there alive and that I now have a life, an actual life, that I never, ever, ever dreamed possible. CoolCat and I live in relative safety. My ex is too cowardly to attack me personally, but has no qualms about sending his friends to do the dirty work (can only imagine what he has told them about me that allows them to assault me at work, but that is another story, one that is not worth more than this sentence, time or energy...good-bye, you creeps).
I really am grateful. It is essentially over. I never expected to pry any of my retirement or investment money from him, and now, whilst it is only half of what it should have been, it is a lot of money by my standards. My therapist knows the exact amounts of this whole mess, and insists that it is my interest to insist on a fair accounting, that to do otherwise would allow my ex to win.
Win money? Who cares. I was willing to walk away with CoolCat and what I could throw in a trash bag. As long as I have clean big-girl-panties, I am fine. I have that.
Win the satisfaction of fucking me over one last time? Fine. Cool. Cool and groovy. It means the last time for me, too. I cannot envision how this could not be completely great for me. This final screwing means that I am finished having to deal with him and his family. Now, that is a win that means something.
Win the adoration of his family and peers for having avoided doing the right thing? They do not know that avoiding doing the right thing is one of the things he does best.
Win respect for making sure that I live below the poverty line and will experience financial difficulty for the rest of my life, a life of being a stupid, ugly, horrible, mean, disgusting, thieving and useless person, someone who never cared for him properly, never gave him the respect he deserved, was never able to do the simplest things correctly, never knew the right way to be a proper, Christian wife? I know who I am, and knowing how he has always misrepresented me is nothing new. I am not saying that I ever became used to, or accepting of how he lied about me, but it was what it was, and unless I had somehow found the strength to leave him earlier, it really was just what it was.
I think that if anyone wins here, and frankly I do not believe that there are ever any winners in this sort of thing, that I might be slightly ahead in that race.
If I were entered in the race.
Which I was not.
If I participated in the race.
Which I did not.
I am also not gloating about how what has happened is pretty much what I predicted to happen. The huge surprise, and I am still kind of stunned by this, is that I have received anything at all. So, that can only be good.
What is even better is that I am fine. Even without that money, I would still be fine. I work with clients who are employment impoverished, families who experience food insecurity, the homeless, the mentally challenged, the formerly incarcerated. I am freaking lucky and I know it. I know it every single moment and I do my best to see that my clients absolutely know that they are respected and that the team, of the two of us, is going to work as hard as we can to help as much as we can.
I went to breakfast with my friends this morning. I rarely go because they meet in another city and gas is so expensive and I can eat for part of a week on what I spend on the least expensive breakfast. Four of the women are staunch Republicans, and at least three of them hate having an African-American president. That this country could have failed to keep a black man out of the white house (except as lower level staff, as one succinctly phrased it), is a sure sign of the decline of democracy as we know it.
They are all incensed about the coming changes in health care, particularly as it pertains to poor people. I often hear about how the Southern states here are still steeped in racism, bigotry and prejudice. I listened to a support group member rave on about this subject just this week. Anyone who thinks that racism and all the rest are not a factor of daily life here in the North is either lying or delusional. Certainly uneducated. Mostly biased and delusional. Just saying.
All of this health reform is making it possible for racists and bigots to safely and publicly voice their prejudices and biases and hatred of anyone who is different from them. One of the woman lit into me, mostly, I am guessing, because she knows how stupidly and ignorantly liberal I am (her words). Makes me smile, even now. She started in on her usual ranting and then looked at me for a response. Seriously, she really should just leave me alone. Poke me, insult me or call me names and you deserve what you get.
So, I mildly (yes, I can be mild) asked her if health reform were thrown out what would continue to happen to those families who cannot afford health insurance or medical care of any kind.
Her response was that no hospital can legally turn away anyone. That is mostly true for emergency rooms, and when I said that, she went into one of her other rants about how badly poor people and minority people parent their children and that she would never go to an emergency room because it would be full of "those people." I asked where they should be going and she said that she would never take her child to the emergency room for the sniffles because that is what "those people" are doing there. I asked what people without her/our resources are supposed to do when their children are ill, and she again stated that she would never take her child there for the sniffles. I asked what she would do and she said that she would go to the pharmacy and buy over-the-counter medications.
So, knowing that this was going nowhere, I told her that this is the demographic with whom I work. Those who cannot afford health care or insurance of any kind, and what her suggestion was for them when they or their children are sick, and the bus might not take them anywhere near to a pharmacy, but several bus lines went directly to the hospital campuses.
She then shared that providing medial anything to the poor and "those people" would only increase her own health care costs. I shared that she is already carrying the burden of that because people are forced to use the only medical resource that cannot legally turn them away, the emergency room.
She called me a name and did not talk to me for the rest of the time we were in the restaurant.
I do not have all of the answers, hell, I do not have most of them. What I do have is a responsibility to be a fully invested part of whomever/whatever can provide basic health care and other essential services to those who cannot provide them for themselves and their families. I cannot stop or even give ideas about how to stop abuse, which is often a significant drain on what social resources are available. Until we find a way to convince all humans to pull up their big-person-panties and just freaking do the right thing, waste and fraud and theft of resources of all kinds are going to continue.
Shame on those of us who defraud and steal and waste what is not theirs to waste.
Shame on those of us who have as much as we need, have more than we need or have more than we could ever spend on what we need and what we want, and do nothing to help those who most need help.
Shame on those of us who demean the practices of anyone who does not do things the way we do them or the way we think things should be done. Shame on those of us who criticize, with righteous indignation and moral superiority, anyone who does not meet our standards of behavior, dress, attitude or how they do not properly recycle or use convenience foods. Or live, or keep their houses clean or do their laundry or drive the wrong vehicles or vote the wrong way or do not home school or send their children to the best schools or do not raise their own food or husband their own food and fiber animals or make their own clothes or spin their own yarn. You know, like that.
Shame on those of us who do not do whatever they can, whatever is in their means to help the less fortunate, the less successful at living and providing the lives we have. Shame on those of us who, in our abundance, do not help where we can, clothing drives, serving meals, making donations of time when we have nothing else to give, or avoiding judgements and criticisms and denial of basic human needs to people who are different from us in ways that we do not understand.
I do not have much money, but I do have time, and I have heart. On my way home from breakfast this morning, I stopped at Walmart to use two gift cards for a second set of sheets for my bed and some groceries. I found lovely sheets and was still going back and forth about buying them. Then I thought of one of the women from the domestic abuse shelter who finally secured her own housing; she now has a apartment, with little in it. I know the processes of the organization who helped her and that she would need a second set of linens. So, I put back my sheets and went to search the clearance section and chose a set for her and one for myself, because I could do that. I also grabbed a nice pillow for her, because a nice, new pillow is a great thing when you do not have much else. I was able to take care of both of us, for less than taking care of only myself would have cost.
And, it occurs to me that despite all of the struggles and danger and fear and even more struggles of the past several years, I have pretty much been doing nice things, doing the right thing, most especially when it would have been so freaking easy to not do the right thing. So, having this weird and unexpected settling of the whole financial mess really is fine with me. I have more than I ever believed I would have, and that is a nice way for this part of the larger mess to end.
More importantly, I did it, I came this far, I survived without betraying who I am, you know, the idealized person we believe ourselves to be, that lovely person that we hold in our hearts, and hope that we will manifest when things get tough, messy, difficult, dangerous and just generally fucked up.
Had I been proactive about any of the choices I made when leaving that other life, I would carry shame about how I was not able to hold onto that idealized person I believed myself to be. I would have betrayed that J, I would have weakened her for the next time of struggle and difficulty.
I have come through this with my beliefs, my ethics, my standards and my dignity intact. That makes me the biggest winner in the history of winners, and it is my belief that I am only one among legions of other people who are striving and succeeding in living lives that honor their best selves.
I have all of this settled as much as it will ever be and I am looking forward to my training with so much joy and energy that I can barely contain myself. Yay. Once I get this done, and have passed the certification testing, I am planning on taking, near the end of the year, another national certification that is more centered around homeless issues. Then, next spring I hope to enter the more heavily layered process to address the issues that face our veterans. That certification (and licensing, I think) will take me the better part of next year, so I am hoping to qualify for the earliest training sessions.