I’m afraid of losing the car. Even though I’ve finally decided to purposefully stop paying the unaffordable car payments because there’s no other way to get out of it, knowing it will be okay because I’ve already talked to friends who we’re going to buy their car from for a much more reasonable, affordable price, there is this fear of the uncertainty. When will they take it? Will my daughter know? How will she respond? What if I have something important in my car that I can’t get back? How will this affect me in 5 years? 10 years? It’s going to kill the already horribly messed up credit I already have. I will almost certainly never be able to take out a business loan or buy my own house ever, two dreams I had that I’ve stopped feeding.
Our electric will be cut if we don’t pay. I’m scared it’ll get cut before I get paid in a week. It’ll be okay. It would only be for a couple days, but I’m scared each day, holding my breath as I enter my house to see if we still have power. Our fridge is almost completely empty anyway. It’s going to suck though.
I’m scared gas might get cut too. That’s our heat for the house and water. I can’t pay that until next month. We’ve gone a few weeks without gas before but it’s a lot colder this time and the thought of cold showers again makes me slightly ill so I push that thought away, close up the windows, and make sure our warmest blankets are clean.
I’m scared to purchase anything. I know how limited our money is. I know buying one thing means we won’t be able to buy something else. Forget buying Halloween costumes or family trips. I’m talking about do I buy snacks or toilet paper. What would you choose?
But I do choose and I’ve been putting off skipping meals as long as possible (denial is a close second to fear) but now I must accept 3 meals and snacks was a luxury for me. I will never let my daughter go hungry, though, so I have $50 left, my gas light on, and we don’t go to the food pantry for another week and my kiddo needs snacks for her lunch and food for dinner. I have to make sure I have enough gas to get me to and from work for another week so I’ve decided I’ll put $30 in and pray that’s enough. That will leave $20 for a week of food for my kiddo. I can do this. I won’t be buying food for me. I focus on that my daughter will eat and push the fear away neither the $30 or $20 will be enough. I trust my ability to stretch money at the grocery store.
I’m also scared how this will affect my daughter. I am well versed in statistics working in a library. Children in poverty tend to suffer academically. I feel like I’m failing my child. I can’t meet her basic needs. Luckily we have people helping. We have people who give us hand me down clothes so we don’t have to buy any. We use the food pantry. But our house is a mess, our lights might get cut before I can pay, I’m too mentally drained each day from the financial stress to devote much energy to any of it. Everything stays a mess.
Then there’s other fears that never go away even when bills are caught up. I’m scared to check the mail. Scared I’ll get a disconnect notice, a bill I can’t pay (currently I have a medical bill from my doctor I see often that I hope is a mistake), or another termination letter from our government assistances that’s happened so much lately.
I’m scared to go to any doctor because insurance screwed me over so badly two years ago when I saw a chiropractor for six months and insurance covered it until they realized there was a mistake and took their money back. That enormous bill went to collections and I’ve been terrified to go anywhere ever sense. My doctor was the only one I would go see and have been for almost ten years and she monitors my PTSD but now this bill and my assistance cuts has me terrified I won’t be able to keep seeing her.
There is so much fear I live with every day that people not in poverty don’t face. It makes everything else so much harder. It makes connecting with people not in poverty, or not familiar with it, feel impossible. I can’t think into the future because I am struggling to provide for the present. Living in poverty forces us to live in the moment, not in a yolo, carpe diem way, but a one step at a time, one problem at a time, and often there is so much fear that the next step will be the wrong one.
It’s so unfair. I have a legally diagnosed, severe, but invisible disability and I can’t afford anything, even a specialist. I didn’t choose this. I’m not choosing this. I tried to pick up extra hours but the stress of my disorder almost led to me being hospitalized three months ago. I carry my disability well, but my coworkers, my pastors, and one other friend have seen how much my PTSD still affects me. My daughter and I only get along as well as we do because of all the help we get for free, not from government agencies but from kind-hearted people. I guess that’s where the blessing of poverty comes in. It constantly keeps me humble and has shown me the goodness of the human race.
My daughter goes to daycare for half the cost because our assistance was cut unfairly but a private director kindly agreed to help us and she’s the only reason I didn’t have to quit my job where my biggest support system is.
We have a friend who provides my daughter with all her clothes so I never have to buy my daughter any. I mean she gives us a TON and they’re in very good condition.
My brother covers my cell phone. I have an iPhone only because his girlfriend gave me her old one and my brother put it on his plan.
Each month we use my church’s food pantry. I want to, and sometime do, cry with gratitude on the way home every time. We get toilet paper from there and that alone makes me so grateful.
My parents and sister frequently cover meals when we go out and help with gas for my car.
Probably what I’m most grateful for and humbled by, though, is my trauma therapist, Yoda, who despite being old and retired, sees me for free and is compassionately helping me to finally work through my trauma. Seeing Yoda fills me with hope. Hope that one day I can be in control of my PTSD enough that I can work more and get out of poverty. That I can achieve things people living without a severe mental illness can. While I have to struggle and focus and live in the moment, seeing Yoda gives me hope there IS a future, even if I can’t see it right now. Yoda fills me with hope it’s there.
And for those who take time to listen to me, to let me share my story and struggles and fear, you give me so much more than money or services ever could. You do SO much for me. You give me a reason to keep fighting. You make the fear not feel so scary. You fill me with strength. I might not always reach out to you. You might not feel like you’re doing much, but when you listen, just listen, you give me more than money ever could. Thank you for this wonderful gift you’ve just given me again. Please know my story is unique, but my struggles are very common in poverty. Please don’t judge without taking the time to hear the persons story first. We all have a story to tell and a voice that’s been silenced but needs heard. Thank you for taking time this morning to hear mine.
Gods peace, because I surrender all my fear to the God who tells me not to worry about what I’ll wear or eat and trust he knows and is good and cares for me. Namaste.