Learning to let go

Learning to let go of worries - NZ Muse

I don’t like to throw around the word depression lightly. But the last couple of weeks have seen me at my lowest point in a long, long time.

There’s been fatigue, trouble sleeping, nightmares, an MIA period, tears and eventually, that’s bubbled up into conscious stress. I’m basically walking an emotional tightrope.

In search of peace and a good night’s sleep, I’ve been doing my best to let go and give up worrying about things that are outside my locus of control.

The job situation

I cannot control if/when T gets work. It’s as simple as that. I need to minimise fruitless dwelling on this, because it’s unproductive.

The house situation

I cannot control what the market does. How fast prices or rents rise. What rules the government/banks decide or don’t decide to impose on buyers. What the government does, or doesn’t do, about rental housing standards. How much competition there is for housing here – renting or buying.

I need to stop stalking real estate listings online. It does no good. It makes me depressed because we cannot afford to buy anything and we cannot afford to rent a good place – certainly not on one income as we are. And until I totally give up hope of ever buying, it’s imperative to keep rent cheap.

I stupidly got my hopes up last week. It was all sorts of rare: a private rental, so no agent fee; viewings at lunchtime but ALSO after work hours; a bit more than we really wanted to pay, but it looked so good we went along to the first evening viewing. It was nice but not enough to make the rent increase worth it, and there was already a FAT stack of completed rental applications on the counter anyway.

The car situation

I cannot control how long our car lasts or what else goes wrong with it.

Fun fact – it was totally brake-less for a while a few weeks ago. Thankfully that is now fixed, but there were already a million other issues and it just keeps deteriorating. Another fun fact: after maybe 4 years of owning it, we just found out that the engine was replaced at some point – a 2001-or-later engine sitting in a 1998 car. This explains why every time we’ve had to get parts for it or get anything done to the engine, it’s been a massive clusterfuck.

The conundrum, of course, is T needs a reliable car for work purposes but needs work to afford a car. We’re just going to have to wait until he’s back in work – no way am I draining cash savings for a vehicle. We were previously planning to get a loan for a decent car – I was waiting until he passed the trial period at work and had job security – but that situation turned toxic  and screwed up the timeline on that plan.

And more…

What else is bugging me? That T stupidly came off his motorbike last week and scraped himself up something terrible – basically nixing any hope of immediate temp work and saddling me with the housework on top of earning a crust to support the two of us. That we’re still waiting on about $250 in reimbursements from that toxic ex-job of his. That we have at least another three years of a government that doesn’t give a toss about renters. That I’m literally feeling a constant weight on my chest – my sternum – making it hard to breathe (whether this is a symptom of stress or just the cold – spring made a brief appearance then disappeared – I don’t know). That I didn’t fall in love with a millionaire. KIDDING. Still have a sense of humour.

I don’t like dwelling on this kind of stuff. I don’t want pity. I hate when people with a die-hard victim mentality go online just to bitch and moan and refuse to make any effort to help themselves.

I’m also conscious that I don’t want to paint NZ in broad brushstrokes – it’s a mild, clean, safe and beautiful place, and as one of the few NZ bloggers I know of, I want to represent my country fairly. But as you already know, it’s not cheap. And the state of housing is especially dreadful – I think it’s our biggest shame. Luckily for you, though, I think I’m almost all blogged out on that topic.

I’ll probably regret publishing this, but it’s been cathartic. I’d even venture to say it’s helped me let go of things.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

I’m trying to focus on the good things. I’m earning more than I ever have before, even if I’m not seeing the actual bottom line benefits of that at the moment. Since T missed out on a good job that would’ve taken up all his weekends, at least we’ll be able to get outdoors in the weekends this summer and do stuff. And food, as always, is a guaranteed pick-me-up; the best 50 cents I’ve spent recently was on upgrading to a croissant roll with chicken and avocado, rather than a plain bread roll. When in doubt, eat, and make hay while your metabolism is still on your side. Mixed metaphors FTW.

Any advice on letting go of worries?

28 thoughts on “Learning to let go

  • Reply CielBelle September 23, 2014 at 08:05

    Keep your head up! These things do not last – I remember keeping the Serenity Prayer as an alert every morning on my phone when I was going thru tough times

  • Reply Kassandra @ More Than Just Money September 23, 2014 at 08:35

    I think you’re already implementing what one should try to do when in the middle of a personal storm. I would say to definitely monitor the physical symptoms of stress and see if they will lessen by choosing to let go of what you cannot control. It’s hard – no impossible – to not worry but you’re acutely aware of what you need to do in order to help you through this rough patch.

  • Reply Genie September 23, 2014 at 10:27

    I splurge on food and not much else. People keep saying that food is expensive but food is necessity and entertainment…and joy.

    We try and think of cheap or free activities to keep us happy. Sometimes little investments are necessary to make life easier.

    I’m not pleased about the election results either. It seems that most NZ bloggers are on the same wavelength. I guess there is something about people who think independently and read other blogs on normal people?

    You can’t ignore that there are people in this country having a very bad time. Well, maybe you can if your net worth is $50 million. It makes me wonder how our leader can even comprehend how the rest of us live. He is the 7th wealthiest world leader if you don’t count kings, queens and sultans. He doesn’t care about you or me.

  • Reply Revanche September 23, 2014 at 10:42

    First, *hugs*. This is a lot of big stuff to have settled on your plate.
    Second, I don’t think it’s whining to express your frustration at the things that are clearly having an effect on you significantly. You’re certainly not playing the victim here!
    Third, this is how I make it possible to let go of the anger or anxiety, or start to. I may still be upset by the facts but having had a go at them online, I can set a little bit of emotional distance between myself and the situations that are frustrating. It’s not the end-all answer, but it’s definitely always been helpful to blog about the things whether or not I want to hear suggestions… sometimes the very act of writing about the things gives me better insight into what I can or can’t do about the situation.

    FWIW, I’ve been in a similar place and it’s wrenching. I can’t say “have faith” because that feels patronizing personally (that might just be me though) but I think I can say that if there’s a way, I know you’ll find it. And obviously, always here if you want to talk.

  • Reply Pauline September 23, 2014 at 11:06

    *hug* 🙂 Usually when life gets shitty I try to find three things that are going well every day. It can be as simple as the sun shining or a good meal. It helps put bad things into perspective. I also have another saying “there are few things money can’t buy”, for as much as it pains me sometimes to pay (car, more rent, anything big and unplanned), once it is paid you can enjoy it or forget it and move on.

  • Reply debs @ debt debs September 23, 2014 at 11:40

    Hope you feel better by letting some of the steam out. My husband taught me “As bad as it is, it could always be worse” which is coming in quite handy since I’m madder than a hatter at him right now.

  • Reply Money Pincher September 23, 2014 at 12:03

    I know you are hitting a rough patch, but you’re on the right track: posting things that you are grateful for and the title of your post: Learning to Let go.

    I learned that things doesn’t always go as planned in life and there is very little that you can control other than yourself – what you think, how you feel, what you do and etc. (everything else, you basically have no control over) so going with the flow and letting go of that control, and adapting to the changes is pretty much what life is about.

    I’ve gone through some rough times and at the end of the day, I find that I appreciate more to have my husband and my siblings with me and that we are all healthy. I mean, you won’t know the good times unless you went through some bad times.

    I hope the storm will pass and the sun will shine again soon for you.


  • Reply Linda September 23, 2014 at 12:24

    Being the only one providing household support is a heavy load to carry! I know. I’ve been there. Frankly, after two years it’s too much for me to continue. Hang in there!

  • Reply Abigail September 23, 2014 at 13:03

    Hoo boy. I definitely can sympathize. I obsess a lot and have spent a lot of time learning tolet go. Which I’m sure I’ll manage any day now.

    We both have health issues and it’s pretty much official he will never work in any way. Something I’m coming to terms with this year after we went down the list of limitations. And having CFS, depression and the only job… Well I get pretty frustrated when his back goes out andi have to take care of him too.

    I think the key is doing what you’re doing now: realizing you’re powerless over these things. And trying to create any illusion of control is simply going to kill you emotionally.

    In the end, I just have to remind myself that i have limited energy, and fretting about this is just not getting me anywhere but being tired. Easier said than done, of course.

  • Reply femmefrugality September 23, 2014 at 14:17

    I just dug myself out of a funk like this recently. It’s awful. There’s so much we want to be in control of. So many people saying, ‘You can change your life if you just work hard enough!’ Which may be true, but there are points along the way where you just have to give your brain a freaking break. And that’s not easy. Because you’re working in overdrive, and you want everything to be better. But there is so. so. much. that’s out of our control.

    I’m on an upswing now, but those downswings are rough. No pity, just empathy, friend.

  • Reply Stace September 23, 2014 at 15:34

    Hi there,

    Just wondering if you guys have ever thought of moving out of Auckland. I grew up there and so it’s always home to me, but I studied in Christchurch and have settled in Wellington now and can say without a doubt, you get a much better quality of life out of Auckland. I’m not sure on the exact job scenario for you would be elsewhere, but I know it’s still quite easy to find private rentals down here and house prices are sooooo much cheaper. Wellington has good transport links out of the city and for a 20 to 30 minute trin ride out of the city, the house prices go down. We also have great fruit and vege markets here too, which are so much cheaper than supermarkets! It’s a big commitment I know, but it may work out for you, money wise.

    • Reply eemusings September 23, 2014 at 15:40

      Not sure how long you’ve been reading the blog? If we were to leave Auckland it would be for another country. Jobs, friends, family, are here. Including cheap asian supermarkets and fruit veg shops galore! Multiple ones within walking distance from home. Auckland is cold enough for me, definitely wouldn’t go anywhere colder. I LOVE my job and have good prospects here – nowhere near as many elsewhere in NZ – and love the beaches, variety of cuisine, basically everything except the housing situation. I don’t see housing being THAT much cheaper in Welly or Christchurch anyway. And renting horror stories from Wellington even outstrip my stories in Auckland.

      I adore Welly and love visiting but it’s not a city I’d settle in.

  • Reply Erika September 23, 2014 at 16:16

    Oh man, many hugs to you! All that stuff sounds super frustrating! I hope your load lightens soon! 🙂

  • Reply Sense September 23, 2014 at 18:26

    Ooof, that’s a lot of big issues you’re dealing with! I’m sorry you’re having a rough time. That sounds awful!

    I sometimes get in these funks and my cure-all is a ton of sleep. It sounds like it’d do you a world of good, too, but your worry is keeping you from sleeping. What a catch-22! There’s no shame in the doctor game if this continues or you suspect it is actually depression. Could be the change in seasons, too–see: http://dooce.com/2014/09/18/dane-depression-fall-equinox/ for a great read.

    I noticed that these worries mostly have to do with $$. Just ‘let go’ for NOW–you’ll get everything on your list up there with time and budget tenacity (or not, but that’s because your priorities will change). Keep on keeping on, and take care of yourself (and tell T your bloggers said to pamper you a bit when he is feeling better :))!

    • Reply eemusings September 23, 2014 at 19:20

      Yeah pretty sure it’s situational, if extreme (similar in 2009 when stressed out between uni and unemployment). It is all about $. Consciously clearing my mind is helping with the sleep. I reckon I need to get out for a good run, too. Thank you 🙂

  • Reply Sally September 24, 2014 at 05:36

    I hear ya sister. I tend to find peace when I simply get home and say, tonight I’m not doing a damn thing. Not doing the laundry, buying groceries, writing, or planning the future. I am eating my favorite dinner and laying on the couch. Oh, that’s what I did last night! And lo and behold, I felt better at the end of the night even though nothing has changed but my attitude. I think you have a good attitude and you are both dealing as best you can, so don’t be too hard on yourself or T. Everything is always changing!

  • Reply Stephany September 24, 2014 at 07:48

    Oof, I have the hardest time with this! It’s so hard to be positive and find the good in life when you feel so down about other aspects of it. My go-to’s are comfort food, lots of sleep, reading, and allowing myself to have downtime when I need it. If I spend an entire Saturday morning in bed, so be it!

    Hope things start looking up soon!

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget September 24, 2014 at 08:15

    this post reminds me of the time when we had just moved into our townhome, and had spent ALL our savings on the deposit, and now our rent was about $600 more a month than before, then Eric got injured playing soccer, so he couldn’t work and couldn’t get disability, and he couldn’t do anything at home. So it was all on ME. I wanted to kill him. I was just so frustrated and truthfully none of it was my fault, and it wasn’t really his fault (although of course I still blame him), but it was just a frustrating situation and there was nothing I could do about it…all I can say, is that it gets better.
    There will be a light at teh end of the tunnel. And in 5-10 years when you’re sitting pretty in your own house, you’ll look back at these times and think “man, remember how broke we were?” It’s the tough times that make you stronger

  • Reply Fig September 24, 2014 at 09:54

    I’m so sorry that things aren’t going well. I hope a string of good luck comes your way.

    I hate how NZ treats renters. It was one thing that made me miserable there and kept me in a situation that was terrible for me. While I was there I did the same thing driving myself crazy looking at real estate listings I’d never be able to get while living in a damp house with more people than it was meant to hold. It’s a weird situation and I hope you find a way to make the best of it over there.

  • Reply Cait Flanders September 24, 2014 at 10:02

    If I’ve learned anything recently it’s that you need to let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. Take a night off to sulk. Heck, take a whole day or an entire weekend. But plan to take action – even if it’s just a small action – when you’re done. In your situation, maybe your actions could be to have a nice chat with T every day, so you can tell each other that you care and that you’re in this together. I’d definitely stop looking at real estate listings, since you know it’s not helping. And eat, girl. Eat something delicious whenever possible. I hate to pull quotes, but one that has always proven to be true for me is: this too shall pass. Sending big hugs.

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank September 24, 2014 at 21:52

    Relax and Focus. Just remember that everyone goes through ups and downs. Hope this instability will lighten up soon!

  • Reply Michelle September 25, 2014 at 16:32

    Am sending good, calming vibes. I think that you are focusing on several things that are out of your control. As hard as it is, you’re going to have to focus on what you can control: your relationship, time with friends and family (maybe a nice hike? I know it’s almost Spring), eating well, your job, quiet time, and maybe some meditation.

    Are there some simple (read inexpensive) things that you can do to make your current place a little more cozy for you? A throw rug from the thrift store, some fresh picked flowers, or some good tea on a chilly night?

    You have to manage your stress or you run the risk of getting sick. Please take care of yourself.

  • Reply Mutant Supermodel September 27, 2014 at 08:30

    I’m in the exact same boat. If you figure it out, hit me up please.

  • Reply Melanie @ Dear Debt September 27, 2014 at 17:11

    I wish I could give you a hug! I have totally been there — when everything just seems to be wrong and all of it is a struggle. I have no advice accept to practice self-care and thank you for being honest. We need more talk like this. Not shunning of feelings. I hope things start to change for you soon!

    • Reply eemusings September 27, 2014 at 18:06

      Oversharing on the internet since 2008 – that’s me.

      Hugs gratefully accepted.

  • Reply Funny about Money September 29, 2014 at 13:07

    Oh, dear. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling bad. It’s so hard to get past these times…but they do usually fade away.

    It sounds like you have what I used to call a Poison Poppy of Despair. Draw a little diagram that looks like a poppy, its floppy petals arranged around a center. Each petal is one source of distress. Tag them with the name of each annoyance/sadness/fear. This helps you a) identify the worst things that are driving you to despair and b) visualize the da*n things in relation to each other.

    Then look at each petal and ask what you’ve already asked — can I do anything about it? Also ask how much each petal really matters, in the short term and in the long term. These strategies will allow you to decide how to prioritize the various harassments, so you can deal with them one (or at most two) at a time. Don’t try to cope with any more than two at a time. Start with something that seems to matter a lot to you and that you actually can influence. Just getting a single terror under control can make a big difference in your outlook — at the very least it shows that you can deal with something, no matter how overwhelmed you’re feeling.

    Meanwhile…this sounds pat, but it’s true: get some exercise. A lot of it. Try to go outside and walk two or three miles every day. Bizarre, but it does help.

  • Reply cantaloupe October 1, 2014 at 02:30

    Money is definitely the biggest stressor in life and a difficult one to deal with, emotionally. When I was super poor, I had to constantly remind myself of the things I had. I would be like “ok, you have enough money to buy groceries this week, that’s awesome!” Or like, “you don’t have to live in government subsidized housing, you’re a renter, congratulations!” Or like, “You can afford one cheap bottle of wine this week, you’re full of wealth!”

    It was a sad time. But it also made me extremely appreciative of the things that I have now. The fact that I no longer have to constantly keep track of how much is in my account (so that I don’t overdraft) is something for which I will never be ungrateful.

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie October 31, 2014 at 02:06

    Depends on what it is… so long as it isn’t involving real people getting hurt or dying…

    Find the humor (at some point when things keep piling on, I just snap and kind of dissociate and start looking at the situation as if I’m an outsider in a novel). Tell yourself you’re racking up karma points and something good is going to happen soon. Know you’ll get through the rough patch and keep pushing forward as best you can. And remind yourself that money stuff is stressful, but at least no one really got hurt. Make big changes if that will help ease the burden (change housing, change transportation, etc.). Cognitive behavioral therapy if there’s anxiety (sliding scale if you can find it).

    If it does involve real people getting hurt or dying… allow yourself to go through the entire process of grief. Get professional help if needed.

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