Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | March 15, 2010

Overthinkers Anonymous

I’m not usually prone to negative thinking or pessimism. Well, except when I’ve spent the last fourteen years of my life in a sex-less, affection-less relationship. That can sometimes get me down.

But I have been known to overthink, and that’s what’s been getting me down this weekend.

As I noted yesterday, I’ve been offered a temporary job that runs from some time this week (it depends upon how quickly they can get the paperwork processed, etc.) through to the end of June. The pay is very good. And it won’t require me to give up any of my current (meager) revenue streams, so that when this gig is over, if I’m unable to get it extended, I should still potentially have access to the database work I’ve been doing.

So far, so good.

But then I get to overthinking it. As Leah commented, “I also hope Penny doesn’t see this as some kind of opportunity to ‘do nothing’ about her employment, citing her need to be with the kids as an excuse.”

That thought has crossed my mind. Then backed up and crossed it again. Then pulled forward and crossed it again. And so on. And I’ve been further concerned not only that Penny might stall in her own job search, but that she could use this as a lever to argue for her getting a disproportionate custody arrangement, rather than the fifty-fifty we’ve agreed upon thus far.

There’s the irony that having this job could, in fact, make it harder to fix (or delay fixing) our financial situation by preventing (or delaying) filing for bankruptcy. This is a tool I do not want to use if it can be avoided. And permanent, lucrative employment might allow me (us) to avoid it. But temporary lucrative employment might take that tool off the table without fundamentally changing the underlying need for it.

There’s the fact that doing this job, while doing everything else I need to do, will forestall my writing projects and delay me establishing the outside-the-box kind of work arrangement that I seemed destined to build for myself — something where I could set my own hours, where I would never become wealthy, but where I could pay the necessities and have time for the kids. And writing. And taekwondo.

And yet… this job… what if it led to an ongoing series of well-paying contracts? Sure, it’s not as reliable (or, at least, doesn’t have the same illusion of reliability) as a salaried gig, but it pays a hell of a lot better. String enough contracts like this together with minimal (if any) breaks in between, and maybe…

…maybe I could afford to keep the house.

…maybe I could avoid bankruptcy altogether.

…maybe I could restore some sanity to all of our lives by being able to commit to a regular daily schedule.

This was the cycle I was trapped in this weekend. Allowing myself to hope for the best-case scenario: keep the house, ease Penny’s transition out of the house, rebuild my financial security (and, by extension, the kids’), etc. And then worry about the worst case scenario: become, once again, just another rat on the treadmill while this time doing it just to pay for Penny to keep the kids and keep me handcuffed to the grind.

Then I saw the title of this recent post over at T’s Quest: “Overthinking vs Allowing.”

I needed that reminder.

Allow. Don’t overthink. I won’t know how things are going to pan out with the job until I’ve actually done it. I likely won’t be able to forecast my future in this kind of contract arrangement until I’ve been there for a couple weeks, at a minimum. In the meantime, Penny has shown no signs of reneging on our (verbal) agreement. While I need to be mentally agile enough to handle obstacles, I’m not doing anyone any favors by anticipating problems. Nor by getting giddy over best-case scenarios. (Not that I’ve been allowing myself to get giddy.)

Just… allow it to unfold. Focus on being the best possible contract database guy I can be. Focus on wrapping up our business’s taxes on Monday, our personal taxes soon thereafter, and start on our divorce paperwork immediately after that. Focus like a laser on doing what needs to be done, in the order it needs to be done, and then seeing where that brings us.

Mommasunshine made an interesting comment:

“Sometimes life throws us these interesting little tidbits our way. I say go with your gut and see what happens. Sometimes the “right” decision isn’t always the easiest one. Trust your gut…it knows.”

My thoughts on what the “right” decision is… are complicated. It’s too much to go into here, right now. But the advice is rock solid. At the very least, my gut instinct is to take a peek down this path and see where it might lead. I suspect it’s not going to be a straight path. But I expect clarity to arrive sooner rather than later.

A good friend of mine “in real life” as well as a few of my fellow bloggers have all said to me, in one form or another, that “good things are just around the bend.” (I’m using jolene1079’s phrasing here, but she’s not the only one to say words to this effect.) That IRL friend of mine even told me to write it down and stick it over my desk. It’s still there.

Which brings me to one final thought for tonight. I thank you all for your support and your keeping me grounded. You’ve helped me in so many ways to clear through the rubble in the landscape of my mind and figure out a good path. Now I need to just take this one step at a time and see where it leads.



  1. Dropping by to say hello. It sounds like you’re facing some tough decisions. These “times” have been tough for so many of us. Sending positive thoughts and hoping that everything turns out for the best.

  2. Inris, I like your comment, “At the very least, my gut instinct is to take a peek down this path and see where it might lead. I suspect it’s not going to be a straight path. But I expect clarity to arrive sooner rather than later.”

    I am going through the same thing right now with my job.

    Always supportive,

  3. Uhm, you scared me a little bit (OK, a lot) with your comment about “easing” Penny and maybe you could x, y, z. Baby, did you go crazy while you were over-thinking? It’s one thing to show respect, it’s quite another to consciously consider enabling someone.

    Unsolicited advice: 1) No matter what, get rid of the house. Give that “assignment” to Penny as you are working. She can make the calls and field the frustrations. Whatever happens, happens. Accept it now and move on.

    2) Hire a babysitter 2-3 times a week (4-8 hours at a clip) so that Penny can keep on top of what she needs to do. In fact, if possible, look into after school care at your sons’ school. Start exploring what will need to be in place when you finally are separated/divorced. If need be, hire a babysitter so you can continue taekwondo. In short, know that having outside help and paying for it will be part of your new reality. If you can’t do that, trade babysitting with another family.

    3) Don’t panic and take a towel.

    • I like her idea of trading babysitting with another family… there are ways!

  4. Welcome to overthinkers anonymous – clearly, we know I also suffer from the same ailment. I think that while good things are just around the bend, you are in control of making them good – however, as Suzanne noted above, I think there is a fine line between worrying that Penny will drag her feet on employment/divorce/etc, and enabling her to do so. I don’ think you will enable it, but I think because you don’t really seem to have a mean bone in your body, it could subconsciously happen if you aren’t careful. But, I think you have your head on straight and won’t let it happen. And again, congrats on the gig, it’s a heck of a start, right?!

  5. I’ve sat here trying to think of what to say, but I keep coming back to what you quoted from Sunshine. I have to agree wholeheartedly. Your gut has the spidey senses that, if trusted, never usually steer us wrong. Good luck!

  6. Congrats on the job! You’ve been worried about your financial situation for some time. Income is a good thing!

  7. I think you are on the right path and if you let yourself believe in and follow your gut, you will be fine!

  8. A couple of immediate thoughts.

    First, the job is just temporary. Extending its future when you have barely begun the job is asking for trouble later. I’ve done this myself, so I know how easy it is to let wishful thinking invade your head. Just do what they hired you to do until they tell you to stop. Enjoy the proceeds while it does.

    Second, and most important. It’s clear that you still have serious trust issues where Penny is concerned. Things are not so settled as you want to believe they are, or your subconscious mind would not be nagging you with the worst-case trip hazards you can imagine becoming reality. The hazards are certainly real, but is the likelihood? I think that wishful thinking, in reverse this time, is at work. Careful consideration of your immediate position and understandings with Penny are in order. Do you trust her? Can you trust her? Should you trust her?

    I don’t know Penny except for what you’ve written, so this comes from your subjective presentation of her. I’m prompted to ask: when did you ever START trusting her? You yourself have written about how she played you. Did it ever really stop?

    You might want to test Penny in little ways that won’t matter if she fails. You need to know where you stand with her in your dealings.

  9. Good luck with the job. I really think it will be good for you.

    I can’t say that the possibility of Penny using this to her advantage didn’t cross my mind (even before we talked about it the other day) but… really, can you avoid it if it’s bound to happen? Probably not. Also, it doesn’t sound like she’s the kind of person to start sticking knives in your back (from what you’ve told us), so be positive.

    I think the best thing to do is to start filing the paperwork for your divorce ASAP and get some sort of custody arrangement in writing, even if it’s only temporary. It’s still better than verbal.

    I don’t like to say this but I think you guys need to get a move on with the separate lives thing- it’s probably about time to get into separate households, even if they are temporary and you switch (the house) later.

    Your money situation will not improve quickly, and you can’t drag it out forever. There’s no time like the present.

  10. I’m definitely an overthinker, so I know where you’re at right now. It’s tough. It’s tough letting go of those thoughts that you’re swimming in and just “allow”. But if you’re able to do that, life (or at the very least your sanity, is a whole lot better.

  11. One step at a time, day by day. That’s the only way. So looking forward to see what happens when you work on allowing. (And when I take my own advice…)

    So glad we’re friends. Know that I treasure you!

  12. A wise friend of mine, in quoting her own therapist, said that when she starts to overthink things, she needs to step back, and write down the worst possible scenario. The pick -that- apart. The chances and viability of it happening? So remote.

    Then look at some actual, potential occurences, and have a vague idea of how you might address them. You don’t need details; just a basic, back-of-your-mind kind of thing.

    Lastly, listen to you instincts. If your instincts tell you to leap at this opportunity, then do it.

    [Password information removed]


  13. Wow. When I saw this post title, I thought, “Does he know that I wrote a blog post called the same thing?” Then I saw you mentioned it so… um… yeah, I get this WHOLEHEARTEDLY!

    It is difficult to see out of the box when you’re in it. I like that “good things are just around the bend” quote. I’m going to keep that in mind. All that we can do is take it one step at a time and have faith that all will work out for our greater good.


    You’ve got this.

  14. This reminds me of something I heard at an AA meeting 30 years ago when I went to support a friend.

    I never forgot it:

    “When you’re knee deep in alligators, it is hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp.”

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