I’ve been self-employed for a while.
In 2010 I started working with silicone, later opening up a shop selling…novelties…in 2011. It was a realization that after a year of doing very little with it and raking in $790 in sales that I could put in effort and make more, and this was true. At its peak, my sales amounted to nearly $60k. Expenditures did take up 40% of that, so it was not as gracious a profit as it seemed.
In 2020 I failed. I couldn’t hack the mess I’d made for myself, and it was done. I still owe people, and the anxiety I get around that particular market now is insurmountable. Well, it was insurmountable, but as I’ve found myself designing items digitally with a longterm friend from that time, I had to put my toes back into the water. I have a plan, and as much preparation I can put into it, it only really takes form when I post the much-needed apology for every misstep I took.
One of the missteps was doing that work in a home with a smoker. Cigarette tar is incredibly sticky, and cigarette smell is impossible to remove from something like silicone. I honestly long for a day when I can clean the house of its stench, although that’s a damnable thing to say when we realize what that means.
From 2020 to 2022, my partner supported me financially. I found a way to pare down my living to $1k a month. As our relationship has disintegrated (and rebuilt, and immediately disintegrated again, and I have not the energy to revive it, nor is my interest in doing so particularly high), this support stopped. About the same time, I started to partake in this work with the longterm friend. Of course, he is not full of infinite money either, but we have made things work. Eventually, one of our ventures will pay off, but a month after its release it still sits stagnant. It really is just a matter of time, but it is time I struggle to find.
Upon returning to therapy with my psychologist at the end of 2022, I found myself in a tough position: my current insurance wasn’t going to cover much of the visit. To add to that, that particular plan was going to increase by $50 in the next year while continuing to cover less. Doing even a visit every other week at +$150 on top of those insurance costs wouldn’t do it, so I dug through mountains of digital paperwork to find a plan that had no deductible limit before it would cover certain things. It was an additional $50, so $100 more than what I had been paying for insurance, but reducing my psych visits to only $50 paid off immediately.
I cannot put aside the whole of my health while I suffer through one of the most difficult things to do — caregiving.
The costs of my living increased to about $900, and my income was $500–1500 a month (although typically at $1k, with PayPal taking their share, leaving me $950), depending on the work I was able to have my friend make into a reality. I have $40 in savings, a maxed out credit card, and tons of debt.
I’m too tired. The only option for a job would be to have something that starts after Dad returns from work, but I am exceptionally exhausted from caregiving, from being awake at an hour that doesn’t work for me, from not sleeping enough. I don’t have the energy to take care of myself, let alone get a part-time job sometime in the night when I need to relax and sleep. Some people manage this fine, I cannot. I don’t have the spoons to begin with, and now I am working with slotted spoons.
It is a household with three of us, a dog, tons of fish, my four handfuls of geckos. Dad has a fulltime job, and he is not making pennies — he never will, IT as his job will be in demand until the world ends. He was taking the time on weekends, putting me back “on duty” to go shopping. It was important, as we needed food.
Over time, I picked up the mental load of making dinner, and somehow with it, the expectation that I buy groceries developed. I cannot fucking afford to buy groceries.
This lent itself to a month wherein he did not seriously go shopping, the fridge getting emptier by the day. I’d made an awful joke about how it looked like a rich person’s minimalist house: looking very empty, but with expensive artwork (eggs) on the shelf. The absolute bastard went through my Hot Sauce from Hell, claiming he was trying to clean the fridge of things that were old and taking up space. I bought it in November last year.
The expectation was wholly unmentioned. There were no words exchanged about shopping. No shopping list made itself known. But I was starving, and having had enough of it, I went and dropped $250 I did not have on foodstuffs. Much of it is protein, to go along with oodles of dried rice and pasta.
A small blessing, or rather, a large one, a friend of mine expressed significant upset when I said there was little in the house and I was eating “Sad Minute Rice.” He said something suggesting he was going to send me things, and to my surprise, a 40lb box of dried goods showed up a couple days later. 15lbs is rice, a small amount is tomato, mushrooms, and granola, and the rest is a mass of other grains. In terms of starches and carbs, my friend saved my life.
At no point following the acquisition of the foodstuffs was there an offer to pay me back. A discussion must be had at some point, and if Dad is demanding I do the shopping from now on, he has to pay for it because I simply cannot.
Maybe, on the surface, that makes me sound like a failure of a human, or selfish, or something else. But mind that I am doing fulltime caregiving for my grandma and carving out amazing designs when I can. I am, in all respects, Working Very Hard.
And Dad is out here buying himself tons of toys and gadgets. He can pay for the fucking groceries.
This is emblematic of another issue, which is that the bulk of the mental load is getting dumped on me. It increases with regularity, exhausting me in every capacity — physical, financial, emotional, mental.
I would sooner burn myself in a pit of fire, lit by dollar bills, than continue this trend.