To those who gave us money or gift cards, both anonymously or known, THANK YOU. I’ve thanked you personally if I know you gave, but if you are sneakily giggling to yourself and rubbing your hands together like an evil genius at your secret good deed like I’d be, THANK YOU. I seriously look fondly towards a time when we can pay it forward.

To those who gave us food, THANK YOU. Not so much because we were struggling and hungry, but more because of the stress and having a meal prepared for you feels like the greatest gift in the world some weeks. I want to do this for others. We shouldn’t wait only for illness or new babies to share food within our community; look for those who are struggling, or maybe forget trying to find a reason. Take someone some food.

To those who watched our kids so we could take a financial class, or meet with our pastor or deacon recommended financial planner, THANK YOU. Back to the bringing food thing, this is part of our village that we love. You watched my kids, I’ve watched some of yours, we should all be doing it more often.

To those who treated my kids like the special little snowflakes they are, THANK YOU. You filled in the gaps where we were unable – with trips to the movies, or a gift card to splurge on birthday presents, or just a silly trinket that brightens their day when it unexpectedly arrives in the mail. All those little things that cause me to do mad amounts of math in my head wondering if we can splurge once on three movie tickets but only if we go to the early show and I pack snacks in my purse.

To those who gave hugs, passed the tissues, or made us laugh through our tears, THANK YOU. I know we wouldn’t have made it this far without you. I feel like we’ve broken through that invisible barrier in so many friendships and gone from just good buddies to FAMILY. And that’s huge.

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The short story is we used to be middle class, now we’re not.

I have a lot of anger on top of everything else – depression, anxiety issues, PCOS, and hypothyroidism as well as stress.  Oh so much stress and it’s fun twin excess cortisol production.

My husband was laid off in November 2012. Since then he’s found on and off temp work, sometimes on for months at a time, but often off for an equal amount. He’s also built a shed, worked as an arborist and watched way too much DIY and HGTV. Currently, he’s temping 40+ hours a week plus commuting downtown via metro, but the pay doesn’t cover our bills, nor does it come with benefits like health insurance. So he’s also working as a handyman on the evenings and weekends. He’s good at it, but we pretty much don’t see much of him anymore.

Which leaves me feeling like a single mom with a house and two kids to care for.  Instead of a husband I feel like I have a needy roommate with benefits on occasion, when we’re both not so freaking exhausted. I work as a writer (freelance/ghost) and editor, graphic designer, photographer and run the executive board at the little  nursery school my youngest attends.  I also partake in Muay Thai kickboxing classes 3-5 times a week, which I do not just for the physical benefits but because it’s literally cheaper than therapy. Nothing like kicking the shit out of someone to make you forget all your woes.

I’m trying to be more positive. To not go off and rant everytime I have a willing ear to listen, although I’m thankful for those friends who don’t mind and have been ever so supportive on this depressing journey we’ve been on.

I want to share what I/we’ve learned during this 2.5+ years – about navigating social services, medicaid, SNAP, working with deacons and saving money. I want to reach out to others struggling with extended unemployment or underemployment. I’ve never known anyone in my situation; I want to be friends to those who find themselves in a similar mess. Money is not something people talk about in detail – sure we all known the broad details of someone who gets laid off or gets that big promotion. But the nitty-gritty of day to day life with dwindling resources is too often coated in shame and embarrassment when in actuality it could happen to anyone. ANYONE. We should be able to speak up and reach out when we are in this position; likewise we should be aware of our fellow humans and understand more what is going on in detail whether they can vocalize it or not.

I read once that poverty is a social construct; it’s something you feel when you are no longer able to maintain the social lifestyle of your peers or community that you once could.  I wish I could find the original quote, it was from something on NPR I think. It truly describes where we are.