Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Biting Bullets aka Raging Against The Machine

Another Tuesday is here. Once again, I don't have any Big Ideas for a blog post. Let's go with bullets, shall we?
  • Last week over at Unicorn Bell they asked for submissions of Inspiring Stories. I debated whether I wanted to jump into that pool and decided that the worst that would happen was I'd get wet. So, my story is up over there today. If you feel so inclined to read it, well that would be awesome! If you like it, that would be even better:) You can click the link...
  • My garden is thriving. Mostly. My dog runs through it on her way to the back gate. Aside from that, so far so good.
  • My migraines have been troublesome. Again. I think I might be approaching the core of my issues. The closer I get, the more my brain wants to distract me. Excruciating migraines do the trick rather handily.
  • I am now finished with my A to Z posts through the letter "R." I can see the Finish Line. Good thing because April 1 is almost here.
  • Retired accountants "work" at the library on Saturdays for free before April 15. Since I have been on disability, tax hasn't been an issue for me. Heck, I am living below the poverty line and must live with my mom just to survive. Anyway, I used my inheritance from my dad and withdrew money from my IRA last year to make some much-needed repairs to this house.
  • I expected the Energy Credits to offset whatever the IRS would charge me for withdrawing the money early.
  • Not so. I got no Energy Credits because I had no taxable income (remember that part about living below the poverty line), but was assessed a penalty of just under $700 for withdrawing the money.
  • Oh, and I lost my Energy Credits because they don't carry over if you aren't able to use them. So, even though I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to get better and back to work, the IRS is not going to give me the energy credits when I am working again. They are just gone.
  • I concede that this debacle could have something to do with the migraine that has plagued me since Saturday.
  • Do you ever tell yourself things like, "It's just money. No big deal. You shouldn't sweat the small stuff. In the scheme of things this really is small stuff, it just seems like big stuff." So do you? Does it work?
  • I just had a bit of a revelation as I typed this last bit. Every time my migraine cranks up it has something to do with my core issues: feeling abused, trapped, loss of voice, loss of confidence, and not good enough. If you read my IWSG post then you know this hotbed of crap started in junior high school, reappeared when I was married, and stuck around for the duration. Each time I made progress, I was hit in the face with one or more of these feelings.
  • Let's take a quick look at how I felt on Saturday. The taxation system of the government in disallowing my energy credits but insisting on my penalty even though my income was extremely sub-par... yeah, I felt trapped, abused, unable to voice my *valid - I think* complaint, bullied, but not confident about gaining any traction in turning this around. I suppose that not good enough doesn't apply, expect for the fact that one of the workers told me I was ignorant for not being aware of how this would all turn out. She said I would have been smarter to take out a loan (because that is just what I need - another payment every month). 
  • But, I didn't say anything. I just took her dressing down because that is what you do with your elders. Right? Even though inside I was raging against the machine... and her. At least the guy who worked with me on my taxes felt badly about how this all turned out. (She was the person who checked over the numbers, verifying it was all "correct.")
  • So, compared to her I was definitely not good enough and sorely lacking in the Smarts Department. And I kinda got the feeling that she enjoyed my having to pay that $700 for being such a dimwit and not taking out the loan I couldn't afford.
  • And there it is. Rage. My core issue that I really don't want to face. Rage. Rage. Rage. 
  • People pleasers, like myself, don't rage inside like a volcano on the verge of eruption. We nurture. We love. We give and give and give and give until it hurts by golly.
  • Well, that was unexpected. Sorry about that. I truly didn't see it coming. It just poured out like water breaking the dam. If you got wet, my apologies. 


  1. You needed it.
    Loss of Energy Credits is a shame. $700 is one heck of a steep fine.

  2. That's sucks. Really, a $700 hit would affect me pretty badly too. And I hate that feeling of being bullied by someone who thinks they know better. Time to go out in the garden and yank on some weeds. :)

  3. You ever notice how someone always seems to love to tell you what you should have done after the fact.

    When I saw the early withdrawal penalty amount, my first thought was "heck, a loan might have been cheaper."

    My second thought was "but then you gotta make payments on the loan."

    The worker who gave you the dressing down was ignorant. I am assuming she was a tax professional.

    If you knew all of the implications of the tax code...you would not need her!

    There is a saying about opinions....


  4. Larry hit that one head on. It's easy for someone well-versed in the tax laws (because its THEIR job) to tell people like us, who haveta fillin the blanks, we're stupid. Let me see this intelligent person fire up my gerber cutter at work, or tell me what Tanu Tuva was, or anything that I have the experience in and THEY don't. Just to see if they appreciate being called stupid.

    BTW Tuva was a tiny nation just north of Mongolia prior to WWII. I'm a history buff.

  5. Let it out. Let it out, let it out, let it out. Then take a deep breath. And move on. And yes, it stinks. But still, rant a little more, and then move on. Or, write a letter to the tax jerk's supervisor and explain how you felt when one of her employees called you ignorant...

  6. Alex ~ Yeah, releasing that anger helps. I'm beginning to figure out that tamping it down doesn't make it go away.

    L.G. ~ Yep. Weed yanking is an excellent outlet.

    Larry ~ The truth was that there wasn't a good answer here. A loan would've prevented the tax burden, but it would have created another problem. The real Stinker is the way that the taxes are structured so that someone gets hit with that penalty... no matter how low their income. Add in the Energy Credits that are rendered null and void, it is just one big Whammy. So, there was plenty of rage to go around. The government. Tax people who think they're so smart. And even good old Self for not speaking up.

    CW ~ Funny how being called ignorant feels about the same as being called stupid. I think maybe it has everything to do with tone. Don't know.

    Liza ~ I think allowing myself to feel it is important. Letting it out is next. Once we truly release something it no longer has any power over us. And that tax lady... I think that they just lose their empathy for the rest of us who don't have the same level of knowledge about those tax laws.

    1. As a CPA, the whole point of the penalty mystifies me. I get paying the tax...the taxes were not paid when the money was earned.

      But what is the point of the penalty?

      I would think the IRS would encourage early IRA withdrawal-they their their cut sooner.

  7. Geez, I'm sorry you had to deal with that. Some people are not only rude but also cruel.

  8. I'm also sorry that you've been through so much. It's a shame that you got penalized for trying to do something good. Hope your migraines stop acting up again.


  9. I'm sorry you didn't get the credit. It is beyond annoying when you're planning on something as being concrete and it ends up not being so. I can relate, as I'm sure most others can too. Doesn't make it better though, I know. :)

    Thankfully, sunshine's never very far away (even when it's winter).

    Hugs to you.

  10. Sandra ~ Worse than the lady who said I was ignorant (technically I was, since I was unaware of the tax laws) might have been trying to help by suggesting I would have been better off getting a loan. Since I knew that option wasn't good for me, I would rather pay the penalty. I think her attitude after I was already SO ANGRY at the tax law itself was just a final straw. The way this law is structured, I could have been making $5,000/yr or less and still paid that same penalty. In other words, if you pull money out of your IRA no matter how desperately you need it, you pay the fine. If you use the money to fix your house, there is not an exception for that. If you need the money to eat, there is not an exception for that. It seems to me that if your income is lower than a certain point, the exception should be waived - period. And that is my real gripe. And the source of most of my anger. The tax lady gets a little, the tax code gets a lot.

    Julie ~ Yeah, it's shocking that our tax code isn't written fairly. I know I am shocked. Aren't you?

    Rosey ~ Yeah, I think that whole thing would have gone better if I'd known how it would turn out before I walked in there. In other words, if I'd pulled the money out knowing exactly how much penalty I would pay and the energy credit wouldn't offset it (and it didn't matter how little income I had), then it would have been my CHOICE to pay the penalty if I withdrew the money. It is those surprises that you don't see coming. However, this too will pass...

  11. I feel so bad for you. Life is hard enough without having to deal with the IRS and its labyrinthian code.

  12. I just read your story over at Unicorn Bell. That's good stuff, Robin!

  13. Coming by a bit late, Robin, but I hear you. I suffer from migraines, as did my mom. I have read it can be hereditary. Imitrex helps suggested by someone at work and my doc, but they are costly (12 to 15 $ each in Canada) and only used as a last ditch effort when it's gone on for 2 or 3 days.

    I've also know tax hell for the past two years, just because they keep changing the rules to close as many loopholes and claw that money back. No one likes the IRS or the Canada Revenue service. Patience is hard to foster when we talk taxes. We earn, and they taketh away.

  14. Hey Robin. Ugh to migraines. I don't know if anything can be worse. They're so crippling. I like how you identify your feelings and where they come from. It's helpful for when they reappear again.

  15. Hope your migraines clear up. They can be so debilitating!

  16. I think it's impossible to avoid rage when doing tax stuff. I didn't have a headache but I had heartburn for about three days after we did ours. The tax laws are so complicated that no one should feel bad about not understanding them.

  17. SUPER BIG HUGS to you Robin... SOOO sorry to hear of your continued migraines and tax issues. It really is so unfair. No matter how you slice it $700.00 is a lot of money, especially to someone on such a non existent income.

    I think you should beat up a pillow or something and visual that WOMAN"S FACE... that would make you feel SO much better. Keeping thing bottled in is never good.

    Like you, I'm the sweet, giving type... BUT, I RAGE... I mean I REALLY RAGE. Curse, carry on, moan throw things.... you name it. No kidding. I've got the worst temper. BUT I always feel better afterwards. I never rage at anyone... just on the street or in my apt. LOL. People look at me like I'm a maniac when I curse the icy winds of Chicago. I am quite vociferous. And in all honesty I don't care one iota what they think. The people here are so rude and nasty, so my outbursts fit right in with the scene.

    Take care of yourself! Sorry I haven't been around much. Kind of limiting myself on the computer. I NEED to start writing my A-Z's though. Maybe later today, but definitely I'll try to write a couple tomorrow.

  18. cube ~ I am realizing after writing this that I am not the only person who harbors some rage toward the IRS.

    rosey ~ TY!

    D.G. ~ I have been the way of drugs and that wasn't helpful. The side effects can be worse than any relief seen from them. As for the IRS... yes, they suck.

    Pk ~ Yes. I think that might be a big part of taking control over them. Just what is stressing me out??? We don't like to think about that stuff and tend to bury it.

    Sherry ~ Yes. TY.

    Susan ~ That is definitely an emotional response eliciting a very real pain. A different pain than migraines, but a very real one. That is Mind Body Syndrome in action.

    Michael ~ I think that is my biggest problem, Michael. I don't like to rage. It is an uncomfortable emotion, so I tend to tamp it down. But tamping it down doesn't get rid of it. Instead, it just changes the way it comes out... migraines. And other painful stuff. So, I think your way is better. I am going to work on productive ways of letting that garbage OUT. Thanks for the hugs. Much needed!

  19. I used to have more rage than I do now. These days I try not to think too much about the things I can't control much though it's hard not to get pissed now and then--well actually often. But I guess I mostly mutter and moan rather than rage.

    I try not to worry about money and follow the advice Jesus gave about not worrying. Still it's difficult. You gotta have money if you want to live normal and have basic comforts at least. Wish we didn't have to deal with the crap like you've been dealing with, but no one wants us to have things too easy. Every time things pick up and start looking bright somebody wants to come along and screw it all up for us. I know how that goes. In fact, things have been kind of nice for me lately. Something bad has got to be on the way.

    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

    1. I am slowly learning that letting that rage out in a "safe place" is the best way to let it go for good. I tried the "trying not to think about it" approach and that didn't work so well for me. I also tell myself that Jesus has a plan for my life and I really shouldn't spend the time worrying. Most days that works. Other days, not so much. Ah... the frailties of humans!

  20. Sorry to hear about your migraines. How come there still isn't a way to completely get rid of those? Living below the poverty line.... I don't know what to say, except that I think you're one of the smartest bloggers I know and I appreciate your visits a whole lot. How does one become a people pleaser, Robin? What's your theory?

    1. When you live on disability, you are NOT rich. I really want to get well and get back to work. I get by okay because I live with my mom and we combine our incomes, but that is not a permanent solution. Plus, who wants to live their entire life with a raging migraine? That is no way to live.

      I think people pleasers are perfectionists, care very much (probably too much) about how others think and feel, spend more time on other people's need than their own, and can lose themselves in their desire to bend over backwards so that other people do well, like them, etc. I think that walking hand in hand people pleasing is often the need to rescue other people from their bad choices. And people pleasers were often bullied as kids by other kids or maybe even the adults in their lives. So, this need to please rises up so that someone does not treat you that way again. And then when you crash into a bullier... well, often it results in some sort of illness. For me, it's migraines, but some people get acid reflux, panic attacks, insomnia, pain in the neck or back, etc.

      An excellent book on this subject is by Michael Schubiner, M.D. called Unlearn Your Pain. He talks about how these feelings can turn into physical pain. It is helping me bring my migraines down... and helps me to recognize when a person or event reinforces all of my core issues to ratchet them up again. The tax situation and my migraine intensifying walked hand in hand with one another.

  21. Hi Robin, I feel for ya. I can remember when my husband got laid off and we had to get into ours and yup had to pay the penalty. It's wrong.

  22. Ugh, migraines are the worst!! I'll agree with Arlee and say, leave your worries in God's hands. Sounds easy to say, but it works for me. I do know it's good to release that pent up anger in a good way, or you'll get ulcers...like me...

  23. Mine now manifests itelf in major panic attacks. ("mine" = the people pleasing and respect for my elders that prevents me from standing up for myself when bullied by one of them) My doc also thinks that there's a level of PTSD from the heart attack. Might be some truth in that. I don't know for sure.

    Something I've learned recently, is that nobody has the right to talk down to you, even if you might not have done your homework prior to doing something major. We're all "ignorant" about anything/everything that we've never had the opportunity (or even the forethought) to learn about, especially when we've had no prior knowledge that we'll ever need to know it in the first place. {if that makes any sense} There's not a person on this planet who isn't ignorant about far more than they're educated about. That, my friend, makes us all equal and NOT deserving of anyone regurgitating their superiority complex all over us.

    That woman is obviously ignorant about the concept of social graces and if she's over 25 yrs old, her ignorance about something that basic, transforms it into something more like arrogance and mean spiritedness. YOU are truly an awesome person, Robin. And I know that there are many, many, many people who agree with me on that point. You care about people in a very real and passionate way. I only hope that someday you'll know (and allow yourself to believe) how many others feel that same way about you. Feel better, my friend. XOXO, M. PS: I agree with Liza about that letter, too.

  24. I also suffer from migraines, although mine mainly come from stress.

    I truly do hope that you get out of this terrible situation you're finding yourself in.

  25. I am really sorry to hear that your migraines have gotten worse. :( I have never suffered from them so I can't say I know what you are going through. I have friends who have them. One friend does Yoga and just started accupuncture treatments and has said that the accupuncture has helped her just in the first couple treatments. I am looking for the book Unlearn Your Pain that you suggested to me. And ugh on your taxing problems. I know what you mean I'd rather have a colonoscopy than deal with the tax man. I could say a lot more but it'll probably send me into a Chantix ranting moment so I'm going to go read your link to your story.

  26. Sandra ~ That is wrong. You were already in a financially bad place since you needed to withdraw the money in the first place. I bet your taxable income that year was so low that you wouldn't have paid any tax. But you couldn't live on it, either. It is so wrong to punish people with these penalties. There should be an exception that if you make less than a certain amount, the penalty is nullified.

    Cathrina ~ I am busily working on getting rid of these migraines. I think that God has steadily been leading me down the path toward understanding why I suffer with these darn things.. and giving me the tools to change the situation. I really can't ask for more than that!

    Mary ~ Yes. Yes. Yes. There are distinct aspects of illness that are related to how our brain processes the pain we feel. We feel anxious, bullied, threatened, need to please, etc. and it is STRESS. And we get migraines or panic attacks or PAIN. Very real pain. I spent some time verbally raging at the tax code and that lady and I felt so much better for it. I didn't need to call anyone. I just needed to let it out so that it wasn't plaguing ME any longer.

    Misha ~ Me too!!!!

    GG ~ My migraines go up and down in direct relation to what is happening in my life. I wish I could say that I've cleared out enough garbage that they are GONE, but that isn't so. That book Unlearn Your Pain is helping a lot, though. I hope it does the same for you!

  27. I read your story, and it was lovely. I especially liked the use of the flowers to symbolize what he was telling you - that you never stop growing even after death. Yes, take pleasure in the little things and doing what you love. I'm so sorry about the tax thing. Ugh. So stressful. I hope you feel better, and good luck with the rest of your A-Z posts! :)

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  29. Oh Robin, I was in PS for a while without my laptop and I'm glad I came back around to read this. I'm always happy to see you working through things and I know you will come around on the migraine thing. The tax thing just plain sucks. The IRS screws over those who deserve it the least. They screw over good savers too. We had to pay a bunch of extra money to taxes last year (way more than $700, and I only mention that to try and make you feel better) because we bought real estate with 'profits' from our saving up for years to do so. But the choice was similar- even with tax write offs for having a loan on our property it would have cost more over time, so we chose the short term hit. Then the county in CA hit us with a supplemental tax bill because they can in the first year you own a place by way over-valuing your property. I tried to fight the bill and was told that yes, I could and should do that by the people at the county office. Then they changed the rules so that if they don't get to your case within 2 years you automatically lose your case and also lose your filing fee. They made the change of rules without notifying us or anyone else. And guess what? Coming up on 18 months from the time I filed and I'm thinking I won't be having my case heard. Ugh, damn government money grabbers!
    I'm sure you remember me telling you about my not-so-good-for-me-and-also-crazy friend. Even she did leave me with one good piece of advice. It really IS only money. It comes, it goes. You will still be happier with the good things you did to make your home more livable. I am sure of it.


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