We have all watched those movies, the rags to riches things, where someone works really hard and then suddenly the big break comes and they are recognized and doors open, their troubles are over, suddenly they have all the money they ever needed and a new life filled with possibilities and joy, sadly we do not live in the movies though, the true reality of poverty is much darker and harder than that. What those movies leave out or I should say squish into their 90 minute run is the amount of time it actually took those people to make it out of that big black hole that literally sucks you in.
POVERTY such a simple word that packs so much punch, a state of being that slowly strips everything and almost everyone from your existence.....things like patience, strength, faith, belief and even love take such a huge hit from this state, they get degraded, pushed down, tested and many times shattered by the realities of it all. When you live in this state for a prolonged stretch of time it will completely change the way you view others and life itself, and for most of us once you sink into the state there is no easy way out, it is a required long haul. I have seen many people try to pull themselves out, me included only to have something else drop and push them down further, always brings to mind the song Crabs in a Bucket, they stretch, claw and climb for their freedom only to fall back down to the bottom. When you are poor every ripple is a huge issue to sort, cope with and get over, it is not a simple well shift it from here to there, no it is a desperate rush to figure out how to cover the new thing, the current issue and of course it always comes with phone calls to others that you may have promised to pay, those calls are never nice, they are always soul crushing, humiliating to a certain degree and of course they always remind you of how you have missed your commitment to them......here is the thing for me, when I am doing this it is not because I do not want to pay you, it is not that I necessarily want you to belittle me, tell me how terrible I am or how I have let the big utility company down, nope that is not why I am selfishly holding on to the funds so I can go have a party. NO I want to pay you, but I also want to keep food on the table, a roof over my kids heads, the ability to make another dollar tomorrow so I can keep paying YOU! and the medications that my family needs, I do not even think of my own medications, needs or wants in any of this, it is all about meeting those commitments that sadly don't take into account anything that is happening in your life, it is all about the money.
I sometimes wonder what people who have never experienced this really think of those of us that live in the state of poverty.....I really do not think that anyone ever gets up one day and says well today I think I want to be poor! yea! that is what I want to do with my life, I want to know what it is like to live in constant fear of disconnections, lack, and anxiety over everyday little things, yes this was the dream of how I wanted to live my life. Of course as I was growing up it was what I dreamt of, going without to make sure the kids had what they need, I love the idea that my clothes are either gifted to me or I bought them so long ago I could read a book clearly through the fabric now because it is so thin and holey, these of course were my inspirations and my motivations to want to be poor......come on now, while I embrace the experience and love my life regardless of its monetary state, I would not wish this existence on my worst enemy.....poverty can break your very soul, for those that have not lived it, I wish you never do, for those that live it I send you strength, love and lots and lots of support, I am there with you it is hard, everything even getting a job requires money something most people never realize.....when you have children, health issues or in like in my case your own serious health issues, children with their own serious health issues and a few other things added to the mix conventional jobs are just impossible options.
Then we come to things like enjoying yourself, going out, doing things that cost money these options are not available, and everything costs, it does not matter if you think simply going to the beach is a non cost event, you are wrong, how about the fuel and the vehicle? not to mention the fee for actually going into the beach? We make do, we have fun here and have been known to pack up a lite lunch and picnic on our back lawn the boy and I as we watch the butterflies and bees play in the lawn, wonderful moment right? yes it was for us, but yet we have those that have come to our home and told us we don't have a life because we don't go anywhere, we don't travel what kind of life can that be? a simple one, but we find our happiness, the fact that when we say to these people these are not expenses we can afford, we prefer to keep food on the table, instead of understanding they shake their heads and judge......that's the difference between living in poverty and looking in from the outside.
This summer I worked really hard, I tried as hard as I could to make enough to go to one event, one very special time that I promised I would be at, but that beast poverty well it knew better, so even though I worked hard and I got as far as buying the ticket, I had to admit to myself on Friday that I would not be there......although those around me wanted to keep up hope for me it was time to say ok well there is next year, as disappointing as it is to know I won't be able to make it there, I feel a slight bit of victory in that at least this year I got one step closer I actually got a ticket! it may seem silly but that is how I cope with it all, I claim the small victories so that the big black hole of poverty won't suck my heart in again........I bend my wire, I create and I keep going clawing my way up that bucket, only thing I won't do is push others back into the bottom.....guess my way out could have been quicker if I wasn't trying pull others out with me, but hell then I wouldn't be me....I take gratitude for the little things in life, they make up a much greater and important whole for me now more than ever.
Let me finish off this very difficult post with a little bit of how I handle the disappointments, the moments of poverty that are just so overwhelming I think of the simple things that are just so beautiful......the moment my husband surprised me with a light bulb that had been taken apart so I could make my own witch's ball, the fact that I left him to do the grocery shopping while I finished something came back and realized he had bought olives, so simple right? not really he hates them, we usually can't afford them either but he wanted something nice for me that I love so he got them, when I looked at the little tub I must have looked confused, he asked me what he did wrong lol! I said well there is no black olives? he answered me with well yes I have never seen you eat them so I figured you didn't like them......I just smiled, he gets me, he knows, even something he doesn't even care for or can stand the smell of but yet he knows I don't like the black ones......later on Friday I sat quietly in the living room wrapping my wire, creating pieces for old friends listening to him and the 3 kids in the kitchen, he was making omelets for dinner for each of us, the chatter was lighthearted and loving, there were giggles and jokes and cries of MOM! Dad is bugging me accompanied by uncontrollable laughter......so tell me why do I need to go anywhere to have a life? I think even in poverty we have a pretty damn good one and who knows maybe someday Madonna will come calling for that special piece of wire wrapped jewelry and this crab will finally fly out of the bucket pulling everyone that was in there with her out too! lol! dreams! an old friend used to tell the hubby and I all the time, what's the point of dreams if you don't dream big?
So! Dream big! love large! be kind! and try to understand and not judge, nothing is as simple as it seems, remember to add the humanity back into your life, and the lives of others when you can, the rewards are plentiful even if they are not quantitative they are qualitative.