Depressing updates

I want to explain why I have not been very active online lately; why I have stopped posting my comic “Abby and Norma” and gone down to posting almost nothing on Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook.

I am trying to put into words the complexity of my life right now. It’s hard because my brain feels constantly fuzzy, and almost anything can distract me. I’ve tried dozens of times to get online and post something like this, only to end up wasting time scrolling through social media full of news that depresses me and arguments that lower my faith in humanity.

First, our bird died. That was in March of this year. It’s hard to describe how much that hurt. When we took the empty cage out of the car, we collapsed crying against the trunk, like John was crying so helplessly that he couldn’t do anything about his nose running and his mouth drooling all over the trunk of the car, and I was almost as bad. We had a heartbreaking amount of love for that bird. The pain of that has dulled by now, but it feels like it was the beginning of a very bad time.

John and I are at a strange point in our marriage. (And this is not part of the bad times, this is, overall, a good thing, but it has made us face obstacles that have added to the stress and discomfort of life lately.)

We have been living in a polyamorous relationship since 2012, and his boyfriend Sibre has just become officially his husband. They had to make their marriage official and dissolve mine, because Sibre is the one who has decent insurance. John is trying to live as a self-employed author and editor, so he has to be claimed as a dependent, and claiming him on my useless insurance is a waste of money, and he can’t be claimed on Sibre’s if he’s still legally married to me.

I feel strangely unruffled by the idea of the divorce itself, for the same reasons that I felt fairly little about the wedding itself. John and I felt married before we legally were, and we will continue to feel married after we legally aren’t. The paperwork means little to me, emotionally.

But I felt constant, exhausting discomfort with all the steps of going through the divorce. Every person involved in it seemed to be examining and evaluating our personal life, and even if they acted mostly polite and helpful, I still felt like strangers were metaphorically poking through our belongings and asking why we have each thing we have.

I still have my job at the pharmacy, but it takes so much energy and I always feel I have so little time for anything else.

We are getting more and more behind on the condo payments, because we’re on just my income, and that’s getting eaten up by insurance premiums and bills for doctor visits that the insurance never covers.

We’re not in any actual trouble from that, because of our arrangement with Mom and Dad (they bought the condo and we have a contract for deed with them, and they’re forgiving about missed payments). We’re still privileged and way better off than most people in this country. But it still feels awful to be relying on my parents not to lose our home. We will get some of the money if we sell the condo soon, which we’re planning to. But we’re not even close to having it clean enough to show to potential buyers. It’s a filthy mess full of stuff we have to go through and get rid of, and I don’t know when or how we will find the time to do that.

I wonder if something is happening to my memory and attention span. I have a near-constant feeling that there are a bunch of important things I have to get done and I can’t remember any of them. I mean, there ARE a lot of important things to do, but whenever I sit down to do them, or even write a list of them, I can’t remember more than one or two.

And I feel discouraged about my ability to succeed at anything creative. When I got into the Renaissance Fair this past summer, I was so excited. But it turns out the Ren Fair is only lucrative for the people who have a booth all season. What I had was a pop-up tent for two weekends, and the area where people set those up is apparently not an area that gets any traffic. It was a waste of time and money, when I had been hoping it would bring in enough money to help us get ahead a bit. And it crushed my belief in myself.

Things have looked up a little bit since then. I have sold a few items that I had on consignment in a local craft shop. I have gotten a deal with another local craft shop to teach wire-wrapping classes. And it looks as if I will be in the 13 Gears Steampunk Event in February.

But it’s so little, and so uncertain, and I still keep wondering if my jewelry-making business will ever be worth what I put into it. We are putting things up on Etsy, but it may be a long time before that ever pays off.

And my first professionally published book, “Born on the Wrong Planet,” is going out of print, and it’s been forever since John and I have been invited to give a speech, and sales for our sci-fi novel “Kea’s Flight” are down to less than one a month, so it feels like I’m a has-been as an author too. I’m almost ready to publish the sequel to Kea’s Flight, which I am very happy with, but I’m wondering how I’ll find time to promote it properly.

And all this is happening at a time when I feel as if the whole country and maybe the world is falling apart, and whenever I think about doing anything, I wonder if it’s even worth it if society is just going to collapse in the next year.

All my survival instincts are telling me to move to the middle of nowhere, get an ultra-durable bunker-like house and go off the grid with wind turbines powering lamps to grow my own food indoors, because for all I know there could be a nuclear winter tomorrow. But I can’t afford any of that, and so it feels like my mind is having to close off all my emotions and become okay with the idea of being dead, because that’s the only way to keep functioning from day to day.

Ugh. I’m trying to stay positive, and things are getting slightly better in our life, but it’s a struggle to look on the bright side when the world is so messed up.

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4 Responses to Depressing updates

  1. Doug in Oakland says:

    Hang in there. We went through our dark times a couple of years ago, and I remember feeling very much like you described. We were living in an old foundry building, in a storage area, and the bathroom was fifty yards down the corridor and had no hot water. I am disabled from a stroke, and in 2014 I went blind from severe cataracts.
    I felt helpless and useless.
    There were resources, though, and I finally got around to using them.
    I had to wait six months, but I had cataract surgery at Highland Hospital, and I can see.
    There was a fire at the foundry building and they shut off the electricity in November 2015, and we finally got out of there last February. It was literally a dark time.
    Then we got a $500 car, and lucked into a room in an old friend’s house down by the freeway that we can afford on my SSDI, and we’ve been OK ever since.
    Of course, right about then was when everything else in the world started falling apart, but the recent emergence from such a dark situation has sort of given us a serviceable attitude towards it all.
    So please take any encouragement you can from our story; I don’t know you but I have been wondering if you were OK since you stopped posting, and I hope your situation gets resolved very soon.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for commenting. It’s good to know people are listening and care about me. And things are getting better, little by little, and objectively I know my situation isn’t nearly as bad as many other people’s. But I appreciate the encouragement, and I think once we get things figured out I will be able to get active online again. Take care and I hope things continue to go well for you.

  2. Benji says:

    Dear Erika,

    I’d like to thank you for the joy your comics brought to me and for the role they played in me going from the first time I remember someone communicating me being autistic to me to me realizing that’s something i have to come to terms with. (Sorry for the horrible grammar.)

    For that I feel I owe you gratitude and the wish that your sky may turn a lighter shade of blue soon.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much. I am glad my comics have brightened your day, and my days are getting brighter too, so someday I will be posting again. It’s just, sometimes life gets overwhelming and I have to lighten the load of things I’m trying to do at once. Thanks for commenting and I wish you all the best.