Sunday, April 15, 2012

Miss Poverty

Poverty is a wily little bitch. She doesn't always have her hand out in welfare lines, like the pundits would have us believe. She doesn't take over your life because of cascading bad decisions. Sometimes poverty sneaks in and plops down on your couch before you even know it. Sometimes, you can be trying your damnedest, working your fingers til they are raw, and she will still plop her dirty shoes up on your coffee table and settle in for a long visit.

Sometimes, sometimes, poverty is the guest of (dis)honor in your home. She is so in your face that you worry about even having a home. She colors every decision you make with fear and panic, that heaviness in the pit of your stomach that never goes away. 

And sometimes, you can push her out the front door and lock your deadbolt. She'll sit on your porch, waiting for the door to open, but you will figure out how to put your weight against it, because there is nothing worse than that guest coming back in.

Then, you are left with the scars of poverty and the way she has changed you. You don't wake up in cold sweats anymore but you still think like she is in your living room. Your decisions still tend to be based on fear- the lack of versus the abundances that are there.

You still buy the one little bar of soap because it is less right now at a dollar than the six pack of soap that is actually far less in the long run but more in the here and now. You weigh every decision through the lens of cost versus the intangible values- your monkey wanting to go to a birthday party entails presents and cards and wrapping paper and ... You fight the panic every time you see an envelope from anything in your box. 

But you are getting better about pushing her further away. You start to think big picture versus getting mired in the 'right this second.' You realize that you have enough, maybe just barely enough, to keep her out of your home. You start putting a little aside for the next scary day. You start buying the good yogurt for your monkeys because you can. You take the kids to a movie and you buy the popcorn and sodas, because you are in the moment versus worrying about what that shaves off of paying your gas bill. You start calling the people you used to dread hearing from, knowing that you can pay them and hold your head high. You start looking at things for what they are, not fear of what they cost. You stop letting money, or the sheer lack of, control your every move. You start letting the important things matter in your decision making skills. You start to pull your power back a little every day.

And possibly, you will be able to start to open your door and tell Poverty to get the hell off your porch. 

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