eJust got home dollar tree and Walmart. I got some household stuff at dollar tree, trash bags, paper towels etc. Then I went to Walmart to get some food to last until I get my stamps on Monday. I knew I was getting “too much”…I picked up my medication at the pharmacy and went to the register. As she was ringing it all up I began to panic and hold back items….I casually said to the lady behind me…”I hate having to put things back”. “What do you need to put back”? I showed her and she offered to pay for the items. Then I looked at the total already on the register and told the cashier I would still need to take a couple of items off, just so I wouldn’t be broke….The lady behind me looked at the register and said, “Run all of this through with mine. I’ll cover it all”!!!!! I still can’t stop crying!!
I can’t thank ya’ll enough for your caring, comments and concern this week. It has been a rough one for sure.
A good friend of mine brought me some money for food to last until Monday. Just didn’t want to leave you worrying about me. I am blessed.
I was looking through my facebook notes just now and found this…it was written about a week before I started this blog and more than a year before I actually became homeless. I hadn’t realized how long I had been struggling. (Of course I KNEW on some level, just never saw the dates)
*THE MANY PAINS OF POVERTY* October 17, 2013
I see so many different forms of poverty every day, and experience many aspects of it myself. The pain caused by poverty is mostly hidden, felt inside the person experiencing it daily.
There is the physical pain of hunger. This is not always caused by not having food to eat, but many times just skipping meals to make what is in the cupboard last longer. There is also the pain of walking through a grocery store and seeing all the things you wish you could buy, but you stay focused on your list, on the essentials, and you smile at the people you pass…so they can’t see. You smile again when, even though you did the math so carefully, you see the total at check out and realize the package of chicken you picked up has put you over the $10 you have in your wallet. You smile as you ask the cashier to take it off the list, you smile at the customers behind you and play it off like you just forgot to take some more money out of the atm, or left your card at home. You pretend it’s all just fine, until you are safely out of the store, and then you cry when you get in your car, where no one sees. Food banks are always a resource, but you can’t get milk, butter, meat, vegetables or any other fresh food.
Then there is the pain of being physically ill, and knowing that even if you go to the ER, (your only option with no money or insurance), that they will run tests you can’t afford, give you prescriptions you will never fill, and tell you to see your primary for follow up, which you are unable to do either, so you just don’t go. I knew I had skin cancer for over a year before I found treatment where I could make payments, and even then, was unable to pay all of it after the surgery. Even now, I need follow ups that I just can’t afford to go to yet. The “free” clinics are full, and even if you can get in, if you or your spouse work they will say you don’t qualify, same with medicaid.
I can’t even begin to describe the most recent pain of missing my daughter’s wedding…something I can never get back, and can’t even write about…the pain is still too raw.
The worst pain of all is having to deal with the shame and embarrassment. No one wants to ask for help from friends and family. No one wants to admit that they can’t pay their own bills or buy food. Being judged, made to feel like you are to blame for your poverty is what I will never understand. Life is hard, and no matter how hard you try, you can get thrown. I have some wonderful people in my life who have helped us, some of them many times over, without me ever having to ask, and I am so grateful, and beyond blessed. My husband and I have had some very rough times the past few years, gotten a bit better, and then traveled back down to the “what shall we do now” hell of poverty. My most recent endeavor, starting the fund raising post was not easy for me to do. I am embarrassed, and feel shame constantly, but I had to do something. Losing your pride is also very painful, but necessary to survive poverty. I guess I just don’t want to feel judged anymore, because unless you have been where I have been, you have no true understanding, and thus are in no place to judge. I pray no one ever has to feel this way, that everyone I know, and don’t know will always be blessed. A roof over your head, enough food to eat, bills paid, time to enjoy life instead of living every day wondering if it will all be alright. I try to keep my eyes on God, and my trust in Him…but, it’s not always easy. On this day I have food, a roof, a bed to lay down on, my dogs to keep me company, and a husband working 1200 miles away…the bills are tucked away in a drawer, not seen, but I know they are there…like my shame, my fear, and my poverty.
Oh, and just a last word. I don’t want your pity, and I don’t need your judgement. I wrote this to hopefully find some understanding and empathy…because in the end, that is what we all need most.
I woke in this motel room this morning, looked out at the cloudy, hot day, and fought to not crawl back under the covers.
The weariness of just surviving is something that no one who has not been here can ever truly understand. As much as I try to stay energized and positive, it has become a struggle like everything else.
Did I even mention that I got my dog Cody back with me? When I thought that I had a place to stay last week, I went and got him from the shelter to go with me. The reunion was emotional to say the least…I was crying, the shelter director was crying, and Cody…well, he was jumping and peeing all over the place. It was awesome. I feel somewhat badly now that he is in this situation with me, but it has really helped me to not be so alone. He is a gift.
I wanted this post to be so organized so well written, when in all reality I’m afraid it will be just how my mind is…muddled and all over the place.
I went for a much needed therapy session a few days ago, and boy, did I break. I have spent so many days just holding myself up, trying to be strong, functioning…but, the safety and acceptance of that therapy room allowed what I had most feared…letting it all go.
I told it all…How it feels to take a couple of dollars into the store, and try not to look at other’s purchases with envy. What it feels like to go up to a sample table in the store and try not to drool as you place a small piece of ham and cheese into your mouth. You smile, make eye contact, you don’t want anyone to know how hungry you are…how scared. You look at all these “normal” people going about their everyday lives and they have no idea…that you are homeless. You try to hide it as much as you can…and yet, there is a part of you that wants to scream it out loud…”I’m homeless! I’m hungry!”…but, you just smile, nod your head, wish them a nice day. You begin to feel like two people…the one you show to others, and the invisible one, the one that is scared, ashamed, tired, lonely and hungry. The person no one sees.
So many people tell me how strong I am. They don’t see the invisible part either, because I won’t show them. The shame is so overwhelming that I don’t even want to show it here…in the one place I should be able to lay it all down…
I’m afraid to say how forgotten I feel…how sometimes I’m afraid no one is thinking of me…because I don’t want to hear all the denials, because, I know it’s not true, but it is still how I feel. I fear telling how I sometimes feel like a little child, lost and alone, and how I yearn to be held, to feel safe, to feel cared for by someone..anyone, if only for a little while.
I feel guilty for all the envy I feel when I see families together…laughing, having dinner. Guilt for coveting constantly…the food on the commercials, the homes, the happiness of others…everything I don’t have. I pray about it. I berate myself…Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You have some food, you have a room today, you have your dog, you have people who care about you….So many people don’t have even this much! Stop feeling sorry for yourself!
Ugh…why did I think this would be so easy to put down here…on my blog?
No matter how many hard knocks I have had in my life, I sometimes find the littlest thing can trigger a moment of sincere gratitude. It is these moments that we need to remember when we are facing a difficult challenge or trial.
Back in 2009 my husband lost his job when his company downsized. After two weeks of searching for work, we knew we were in deep trouble. We had no money for the rent, and little food. We had been eating nothing but white rice for four days. I finally got up the nerve to go and ask a neighbor if I could “borrow” a couple of eggs. She handed me three eggs. I thanked her and headed back to the house. I had never handled eggs so carefully in my life, watching every little step to make sure I didn’t drop them. I got home and scrambled them so there would be enough for both of us to eat. Oh, but the smell of those eggs cooking was like heaven, my belly rumbling, both of us giddy at the thought of something besides rice to eat! They were the best eggs I’ve ever had. We lost the condo a few weeks later, and were homeless, but that’s another story.
About a year ago I was in the kitchen fixing my dogs something to eat. I went to the fridge and pulled out two eggs to scramble in the microwave, so I could mix them in with their kibble. As I held the eggs in my hand I became overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. Here I was feeding eggs to my dogs, recalling a time when three eggs were like gold, because it was all we had.
I’ve learned so much in my struggles with poverty, and found a way to be grateful for something in every day… on that day, it was just eggs.© Kim Hood 2013