When two strong, expressive, vain personalities are in trouble, they are no real help to each other.
I would like to be able to say that moving into our own house and attacking the problem head on brought the Knight and me closer together, but in fact the opposite was the case. We sliped into our first real crisis.
I did not forgive him what he said about me and my family being unable to handle money. I also begrudged him that he never really thanked me for all the effort I have put into him graduating. Of course I did not do it for fame and glory, but because, being a part of my family, I was just as interested in his success as in mine. Still, would it have killed him to mention to anybody that I helped him reach this goal? He did not have to say I assisted in his research, just that I had been there and helped by keeping him motivated. Somehow I had just expected a formal and open thank you, but nothing ever came. In consequence, I made side remarks about me doing the work for him in front of some of his friends, making him angry at me in return.
So, the atmosphere was not really at it’s best to begin with.
Then there was the thing about our budget. Even without regarding the pressing need for repairs, it was hard enough to keep up a positive balance, with our loan, the monthly insurance payments, various taxes and other monthly expenses. I never wanted my husband or daugther to feel how pressing things were, so I tried to make things better all by myself as good as I could. I cancelled payments for my life insurance as well as other long-term saving plans. There was no room for long-term now. I also cut my personal budget drastically, I had dry bread with a slice of cheese or an avocado or a small can of tuna for most lunches and only drank faucet water. I also did things like taking my showers superfast, turning the lights on only very late in the evening, or go back to the creek to get water for my plants (even the ones indoor).
Sometimes I told my husband that we were on a tight budget, but it did not mean the same for him as it did for me. And somehow this is understandable. During my days at University, I had had 400 bucks to make it through the month (total, before payment of rent and so on), so I knew how to survive on a box of cheap cookies a day. I can live an ascetic life, had done so for a long time, even a kind of happy time back then, if it wasn’t for my verbally abusive ex-boyfriend.* The Knight never had these years of stereotypical student poverty, his campus has been so close to home that he did not have to move out. To him, minding a budget meant only to eat venison when it was on the menu as special offer. He still spent more money on single meals than I did for a whole week of lunch. It gave me a sting every time he did this, but I did my best not to comment on it.
Of course my daughter could have whatever she wanted to. But the wishes and needs of a not-even two year old girl are comfortably small.
One day the Knight told me he would kill himself if he knew I was expecting another baby. We have been trying again for some time, but these things seem to take time for us.
“Don’t talk like that”, I replied dryly, “besides, if this is what you are aiming at, I strongly doubt your life insurance would pay if it was suicide.”
I was just out of compassion.
Every evening we went through job offers and I wrote, rewrote and adapted tons of motivation letters. I enjoy this kind of work, actually, or would have, if we had had more time. I don’t know how many job applications we sent. Looking for employment is usually a task that takes dedication, determination and above all persistence. I did not expect any quick results, but the secret is always to keep on trying.
Hardly a day passed without phases of emotional outbreaks, intense worry or entire numbness. I could not recall how it felt not to be desperate and hopeless. Not wanting to pass on my fears to them I hid it from my family, but I knew I could not carry on for much longer. I needed a crutch. I needed support. I needed someone to carry me when I was breaking down under the burden of piled up responsibility.
I had given up on ever being able to be more than friends with him, but right then, I was in need of nothing more than a friend. The Witcher had never really left my side, and it became more and more apparent that he was the only thing that kept me functioning.
* I never really know why I stayed with him for so long. But at least he shaped me in many positive ways, made me more robust, more used to direct confrontation, and also, strangely, I took over his ability to keep a clear head especially in emergency situations. But most of all, he makes me cherish the fact he is gone.