There is something that people don’t realize about being on the edge of poverty. You live in constant fear of your bank account. You check it when you wake up, you check it throughout the day, you check it before you go to bed, just in case. Every text message, every email, could be an overdraft notification. The problem with living on the edge of poverty is that you have the occasional reassurance that you have money so you can sign up for things that only work on a monthly bank withdrawal. You have that thought of “of course i will have $8 by this time next month, $50 a year from now, that can happen. The problem is that by the time it does happen you 1) don’t always remember and 2) don’t always have the money.
This fear can be completely debilitating. It makes you not want to get out of bed, not want to go out in public. You hoard money away so that you have cash “just in case”. You know exactly what time you have to deposit or transfer money in order for it to count for that day so you don’t get an overdraft. You try desperately hard to not let people know how little you have. It’s by far the worst place to be. It’s very hard to get out of it.
We are finally on our way out. saving this money, buying this land, moving, C getting a new job, it’s all helping us come out of this. In fact, as long as everything goes as planned (famous last words), this should hopefully be the last month of this. Today i looked at our accounts and they all had money in them. I know we have bills to pay, I know we have no clue when C will get his first paycheck, I know that we aren’t out of the woods, but for once in a really long time our accounts have over $100 in them, each, not combined. Yet I still can’t breath. I still feel like the bottom is going to fall out, and it still may. We are still waiting to see if C gets an unemployment check for December, we are still waiting to see on a lot of things.
I want you to realize though that it’s not easy. Please don’t dismiss the struggle. Don’t talk about how lazy poor people are, or how people just want the easy way out. That may be true for a few, but it certainly isn’t true for most. We don’t want to be here. So stop your judgements, stop your preconceived prejudices, stop looking down on us from your high towers and help.
3 thoughts on “Living in fear”
E and I had spent almost 3 years in “survival mode” just trying to do what we had to keep an apartment, food and gas in the cars. I hated feeling like that. HATED IT. And I still do hate it. Even after mama’s life insurance money came in, we made conscious decisions about updating our cars because for the first time ever we could actually afford to buy newer cars with less miles, and hopefully less mechanical issues. But that money also had to help pay for the bills from her house, for the medical bills, for us catching up on bills. We also decided to use some of the funds to help others who were in some bad situations, to give children a Christmas (who otherwise would not have had any), to help some charities and to make a few people smile. We used some of it to pay for a brief vacation that we both needed. And I bought a new sewing machine, which I will be using to help make some extra money for us.
Our goal is to be in a positive balance in our accounts, to have our debts paid off or in good standing, and to be able to breathe (without dreading when the other shoe is going to fall) within 24 months. I hope that I can use my education to do good things for those who need help, and also obtain a position I enjoy and that pays what I am worth, and allows me to have family time, sewing time and Beth time. I am working very hard to make those options come true.
I am so proud of you doing what you are for your family and for yourself. And if anyone tries to trash talk you, please send them my way!!! Some times it takes a harsh lesson for people to understand that life is not about things, but about experiences, love, laughter, memories, sadness, joy, fear, accomplishments, and surrounding yourself with those who will be beside you through every one of those moments.
I’ve been there, honey. I remember when I was pregnant with Liam and unemployed (no unemployment check), we struggled to pay just the interest on my truck one month ($35). But we did. Its awful to have to do without, but it makes the better financial times that much sweeter. Hang in there. Reading this made a pit in my stomach, just thinking back to that time. But really, I have always been poor, and I keep that in the back of my mind… Always. Glad to see you overcome the struggle, because it is real, and it does suck! I hope this is the last of the struggle for you and yours!
It is odd how living like that stays with you. We grew up like that: pay check to pay check and sometimes a gap when there just wasn’t enough. I still remember telling my baby sister not to ask for things (toys, candy, etc.) because Mama would cry if we asked her for something she couldn’t get us. Your Mother’s tears make a profound impact when you’re a small child. Ten years into adulthood and seven of living with enough money to never have to buy store brands (if I didn’t want) or put things back when the teller rings up the total and I still get that knot in my stomach that insists things are going too well and it’s only a matter of time before the other shoe drops.