Haven't written anything in quite some time. And the greater likelihood is that I will write what I'm thinking of tonight and then delete it away. And here's the reason why: My family is suffering from a horrible problem, one that lots of people suffer from, and most people worry about at least some time in their life, but yet the entire subject is so humiliating and so taboo, you almost never hear details about it. If you have a terminal illness, or some other horrible problem, you can go to your friends and talk to them about it, and they give you emotional support to get through it. They know you're not asking them for a cure, you just need someone to talk to about what's gnawing away at your insides. But THIS problem is one of the last social taboos. You can't talk to anyone about it out of fear they'll think you're asking them to help you solve it, so you suffer in silence. I've been trying that tactic for a really long time, but I find now that I can't think, I can't write, I have trouble smiling or laughing, and I'm having violent nightly panic attacks from trying to hold it all in without venting. Worrying about it consumes most of my waking hours, and often haunts my dreams. Having it changes the way I eat, speak, think, my hobbies, the way I look, and everything else about me. It is something so horrible and so dire that I sometimes hide in the bathroom so that no one hears my sobs. I find I can no longer write on my blog because this thing is so big and so bad, I find it difficult to concentrate on or talk about anything else, and when I TRY to think of something funny, or amusing, or on the lighter side, this thing is lurking in the shadows, always hovering over me, reminding me that I shouldn't be laughing, or smiling, or thinking frivolous or happy thoughts, because IT is coming for me, and it's going to get me. This thing I'm talking about is severe financial problems. Poverty.
I didn't try in school. I was smart, and I knew it, and I thought I could get by with just that. I knew I wasn't going to college, and I figured I'd work at odd jobs and pioneer and hopefully marry someone who could help me make ends meet. I married Charles, and he had a home already, that he was buying, and his vehicles were paid for, and I thought that gave us a head start. He worked laying brick and I worked waitressing, temping, whatever I could find, so that we could try to cover our bills.
Brick masons are out of work when it's below 30 degrees outside, or if it rains, or if there's a downturn in the economy and people stop building things. Charles was always missing work and we were always in bad shape. With waitressing, the tips are up and down and sometimes nonexistent. I was still a kid then, really, and was still trying to pay off a car, and wanted to go on trips and do other stuff, and we were always on the brink of financial disaster, even way back then.
Then we started having children. Charles changed jobs and has tried several things, he cleaned carpets for awhile, which was not very lucrative, but better than the brick thing. Then he got a job teaching masonry for the high school, which was great, but they got rid of the masonry program and laid him off after three years. He worked delivering wine for awhile after that, but fell off the back of the delivery truck one day and broke his wrist and shredded his rotator cuff, and required three surgeries and months of therapy to try to fix it. It's still not right. Since then he's worked for the city, but the pay is minimal, the benefits cover him only, and it's definetely not enough for a family of six to live on.
I've done everything I could think of over the years to try to make some money. Including :Waitressing, temping, making and selling baked goods, making and selling jewelry, selling Avon, making calls for a nursing company, working at Old Navy, cleaning houses, working as a lunch lady, and working as a janitor. Most of the time, I've done two or three of those things at once, trying to keep us afloat. We had finally, FINALLY gotten to a place where we could safely pay all our bills and have a little bitty bit left over when we were working for the city, working being a lunch lady, and cleaning a bank at night. And that's when I got pregnant with the twins. Then it all went to the proverbial hell in a handbasket. Now we're down to just the one job, Charles working for the city, and me taking care of the babies twenty-four seven, and worrying myself into hysteria about how we're going to survive. We now make HALF of what we did before we had the twins, and we've added two people.
We are almost surely going to lose our house, and probably soon. It seems ironic, given the fact that this house is already way too small for our family, and in the ghetto, and falling apart and we can't afford to fix it. But we can no longer afford to pay even the mortgage on THIS house.
We have applied for and receive all the proper government aid, which it humiliates me to even admit, because I know how many people feel about such things. Yes, I'm admitting it, we survive off food stamps. And my kids only get to go to the Dr. because of Medicaid. Charles has insurance through work on himself, so that just leaves me. When I have asthma, or my depression is really bad and I need to change meds, or my thyroid needs to be checked, I have to mull over whether or not I can live through it without going to the Dr., because we SO cannot afford it. And when an emergency happens, such as, say, last year when I fell on my face while trying to stop my kid's rooms from flooding in our leaky basement, and I turn black and blue and it feels like something's broken in my cheek, I choose to ignore it. People say things like "That looks broken!" "You should go get that checked out!" Well, I can't afford to. And I have no insurance. And I'm sure it'll be fine if I just ignore it long enough. And that is how it came to be a full year later and I still have a giant dent on my cheekbone where I apparently broke it or damaged the underlying tissue so badly, my face will never be the same. I can live with the dented face, but one of my biggest worries is that next time, instead of a dented face, I find a lump in my breast, or something like that, and can't get it treated because I'm uninsured and poor, and my four children end up without a mother, homeless and living with their father in our van.
Speaking of the children, I look at them, and I feel horrible pangs of guilt because I wasn't more careful with birth control. I sometimes wonder if I'm a horrible, selfish person because I didn't give up my beautiful babies to someone more responsible than I am who can actually pay their bills and provide them with a decent place to live. They are so wonderful and they deserve a great life, and yet they have an idiot for a mother who wasn't careful and therefore had them unexpectedly when she couldn't afford to take care of them. They deserve better than me. Knowing that is such a severe blow to my ego, I cannot even put it into words. I am so thankful every day that they are here and healthy, but feel so guilty at the same time that they are here when I can't afford to properly take care of them.
The older kids need stuff for school, that seems so simple, "I've gotta have a display board for my science project and it's due on Thursday!" "My Spanish professor says we have to have a Spanish/English dictionary, she's mad we don't already have one, cuz it was in the syllabus." "Can you get me a jacket to wear to school in uniform colors? It's freezing in our classroom, but they won't let me wear this one you got me at the consignment shop because it says 'Old Navy' on it, I need a plain navy blue one." There's something like that nearly every day, something they want or something they need, and they're certainly not trying to be brats about it, they just need what they need and what can they do but ask for it? Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out how I can make the kids use only so many squares of toilet paper for the next few days, and what we can feed the cat instead of cat food, because we HAVE to make it till payday before we can buy ANYTHING. Much less a jacket, or a dictionary, or a display board.
After the meeting when everyone's going "Y'all going to eat? We're going to Katana!" or wherever it may be... and Dalton's going "Can we go? My friends are going?" and Brenna's saying "Can we, Mom? All my friends are going too!" And no, we can't go. We have to go home and eat whatever I bought on sale with food stamps and cooked the day before so that we could have something ready when we got home from the meeting. That part is not so bad, at least not to me. It's not a necessity to go out to eat. But I know how it feels to be a teenager, and everyone else is going, and you don't get to because your family is poor. I HATE that for Brenna. I just hope that going through it makes her a stronger, better, more understanding person when she's older. The kid's big going-out-to-eat-treat is Saturdays in field service when we stop at McDonalds for break. I do everything in my power to save enough money so that when we do that, they can at least enjoy a little fast food then with everyone else. I guess technically I should NEVER spend money on us eating out, and pack them little snacks and make them have that instead, but I just don't have the heart. And when there's a decent movie on at the 2$ movies, I take Brenna if I can. We both need a little escape and a little treat now and then.
We'll survive. I know we will, we always have. And I pray ALL THE TIME and I have family members praying with me that something miraculous happens and we be able to keep our house, or I somehow find a way to work without all the money I could earn going straight to daycare for the twins and Dalton, or that Charles suddenly gets a HUGE promotion, or that someone calls and offers him a wonderful new higher-paying job with lots of benefits. I keep reminding myself that the Bible promises we won't have more than we can bear, and that if the flowers and the birds are dressed beautifully and have enough to eat, so will we. Having sustenance and covering, we will be content with these things. I pray about it, and I feel better sometimes, and then something else happens and I feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes, and up and down and up and down on the roller coaster that is life I go. Fortunately, I've gotten old and fat and I now have a huge dent in my face, so even if I were desperate enough to want to, I couldn't fall back on a career of stripping! Lol! JUST KIDDING!!!! (A little humor popped out there, I had a happy/funny thought, I love it when that happens!) I know that many people go through this stuff, and some of my family's even going through stuff like this with me right now. It helps to know I'm not the only one, and it helps to talk about it too, from time to time, but only with those who will not make it their personal mission to try to "fix" it (really only Jehovah can fix this one, and I HATE feeling like a charity case, and part of the reason I refuse to talk about this is because I don't want anyone to think I want them to give me money! Sometimes you just need a friend to vent to!) and those who will not judge ("I saw her buy a 2.50 bottle of wine! She shouldn't even be purchasing that when she's living off government money!") So if anyone reading this feels tempted to do either one of those things, DON'T and bite me. But I guess I felt that I couldn't keep it bottled up much longer. Trying to hide how bad things are and sound amusing and happy is just too much of a hypocritical charade for me these days. I'm down to my last thread of sanity here, and it's a frayed one! My sister said I should just stop trying to hide it all and maybe others would help pray for my family and the prayers would make a difference. So this is what I am asking anyone who reads this for: Please pray for my family to figure out our way. Please pray for us to have food, clothing, and shelter, and to be able to live simply but have what we need. Please pray for me to keep the shred of sanity I have left, and to keep my faith strong, and to have hope and courage that things will get better. And please pray these things for all the others out there who, like me, worry about these issues all the time but rarely speak of them in detail with others out of complete humiliation. Most of all, please pray that the time comes soon when none of us have to deal with poverty anymore. And anyone who's reading this who is going through or has gone through the same kind of thing, please tell me all about it so I don't feel so embarrassed and alone! Because I swear to you, I would rather post a picture of my obese self buck naked than to post what I have written here. But I started this blog to tell my story, and right now, this is the only story that I have to tell.