I was looking through my Facebook memories and realized just how bad things were for us in Michigan. It’s no joke or overstatement to say that I have a little bit of PTSD about how terrifying it was to live so close to the margins for so many years.
If you look at the numbers on paper, it really feels almost like a miracle that we made it there at all. According to the math, we should have wound up homeless and on the street.
Some bad things did happen, of course. I got served papers (in front of my kids, no less) that I was being sued by a hospital for an inability to pay my bill. My husband was driving a very old car that finally died right before he moved down here. We took a huge loss on the house we owned, which was supposed to be a short sale but they processed as a foreclosure.
Somehow we survived without even borrowing money from our families (or anyone else, for that matter.) Except for when the kids were very young, we didn’t even qualify for food stamps.
Although I am still somewhat traumatized by how bad and scary things were there, though, I can’t help but feel grateful for how things are now. Yes, even with my husband’s cancer and my MS and disability. I still had the MS when I lived there but I couldn’t find a good doctor for the life of me. We had shitty health insurance that barely covered anything, which we had to drop entirely a couple months before I moved here because we couldn’t afford the premiums anymore. (If you ever wonder why I support universal healthcare, there you go.)
My husband’s cancer was almost definitely present while we still lived there because it was slow-growing. Estimates I’ve seen say that it probably took 10 to 15 years for it to get to the point it’s at now. And I can’t help but feel grateful that we got out and he now has a good job, decent insurance, and good doctors that are giving him a fighting chance. I doubt he would’ve found the same thing there.
It’s all in how you choose to look at things. Sure, I could feel doomed that he has stage IV cancer and I have MS. In low moments, sometimes I do feel that way. But mostly I just feel grateful that we got out when we did.
We now have decent health insurance. He works for a good company, even if sometimes it feels like he’s working for “the man.” (In many cases, he is; his company is very conservative and he’s not.) But they also take care of their own.
We have a beautiful house that we rent for a reasonable price, given the area. He’s making more than double what he did in Michigan for most years we were there. We finally have two reliable cars and can afford to put some money into savings and help out our adult kids. We don’t have to use a calculator while grocery shopping anymore to make sure the cost stays low enough.
Sometimes you have to take a leap and trust that things will be better somewhere else. For us, that was a really big leap and sometimes it was a messy process at first. But was it worth it? Absolutely.
And more than anything, even in the midst of all the legitimately shitty things going on, I still feel incredibly grateful for where I am and what my life is like.