#selfproclamations #poverty #christmas #gratitude #joy
I've been writing a lot about my experience with poverty as well as my fear of joy.
I want people to understand the emotions that come with being "chronically needing".
Notice how I said NEEDING and not just POOR.
The first 5 years of my twenties, I spent as a very low income single mother in college. I raised a little baby for 7 years total alone while juggling full time college courses, living on campus in a small apartment [$1400/mo] and paying my own groceries/books + our needs.
We needed things. Not just the regular items a college kid needs but actual home items. All year round items. All year round groceries. Toiletries. Diapers + baby wipes + baby products. Shoes. Coats. All weather wear [here in NY].
I was out on my own very young, sans parents. Lived with family by the grace of goddess and then out on my own completely. I was always in need.
And that brought a ton of shame.
So much, I still wear it even in the last almost 5 years of my twenties.
I have bargain and clearance shopped at all times. Because I feared full price.
I have saved all my coins in jars. Because as people wrinkle their noses to pennies and dimes, I know those cover expenses when you add them up.
I have sold items, sometimes that I really loved. So I learned not to get attached.
Buying things for myself was hard but over time I made more money at my job, got nice tax credits back and finally decided to treat myself sometimes.
When I graduated school, I sold it all.
Every favorite dress. My favorite framed pinup photo. My pots and plans. My christmas tree. My little tv. Most of bellas toys.
And I felt really bad doing that.
I was about to enter a relationship with someone. To have a family with them. I'd met my soulmate and wanted to be married + have babies.
But my gut instinct was to burn bridges. Get rid of everything. Start fresh.
An epic rise out of the ashes, again.
Now I feel shame for those choices.
I didn't have to strip myself of the joy I'd mustered up the courage to give myself over the years.
I just did instinctively.
Then i spent 4 years working my butt off along side my hard working husband. And entrepreneurship handed our asses to us.
We also realized many things that were not a good fit for us.
We realized we needed to shed, strip, start fresh.
Again, burn bridges and then rise from the ash.
So this year we did just that. After 4 years of working hard instead of efficiently, we got rid of everything to try and pay off debts. Start from scratch. We are still paying it all off.
Only now, with very very tight income. Very very little wiggle room. Very very tight quarters to live in. And with other people, not on our own.
It brings a lot of shame.
If we did not have this roof over our heads because of someone else, we would not have a place right now.
We had 2 babies along this journey. We welcomed our first baby boy our first Christmas together and our second 18 mos later. Those babies came out of love.
But do you know what people say when you have kids and are poor?
"Why did you do that?"
Why did we do this?.....
We fell in love.
We had a plan.
And now, we are forming new plans.
Because shit does not always work out how you plan it to.
What gratitude and joy I have though when I look at my babies faces. All 3 of my kids are beautiful, smart, kind, creative, and best of all they SWEAR I am the best mom. Little ole me.
My husband is my best friend and my partner in everything. We have trusted eachother and held eachother through all the obstacles.
We feel in need.
But it is embarrassing to tell people we need anything.
Surely, we work.
Surely, we are capable adults.
The world is not built for people in need.
We are called "needy" if we ask. Or mocked. Or shamed. Or guilted. Or indebted.
So when someone gives to us out of the kindness of their hearts, I am a hot mess of tears and gratitude.
I have racing thoughts of how will I ever pay them back?
And it's funny, but when you are in need for so long you actually need things people do not even think of.
I am in desperate need of a little alone time.
The luxury of little breaks here and there. Friends to go out with or an errand to run.
Because I'm home in a little space with 2 toddlers all day + every day while I work on my blog. Then my 12 yr old with ASD comes home from school and needs me. I am needed.
But sometimes, I am needed by me.
It's a luxury to serve myself.
Next, even though I need clothing and a coat and socks and underwear like any other person ----> I want to feel fashionable. Sensual. Stylish.
A person is still a person.
When you are homeless or poor or low income, YOU STILL FEEL IN NEED OF BEAUTY AND FASHION.
And even if the most elegant top and trendy shoes cost a dollar, if you are seen looking good while being poor it is shamed.
Without even knowing where the items come from.
Without knowing my jewelry is from dollar stores or my coat was a hand me down.
You might shame me for looking or feeling good.
Money is a piece of paper and yet our worth is dyed right into the print of the serial numbers and letters across the bill.
Our very worth is mass printed and distributed ----> with people caring very little about what a prized possession money can be.
For someone who is poor, money feels like its everything.
THE END ALL.
You might not realize how hard the people around you work for money.
How they trade hours with their loved ones for it.
How they climb through mobs of people to spend it on gadgets and toys.
How a name brand or a label or a print or a color of an item can make someone seem rich for owning it.
And no one wants to look like they are in need.
They want to look like they have it all.
When you are in need, it is not just material but psychological.
You want comfort. You want happiness. You want fun. You want experiences. You want emotional connection. You want to feel like you are not stuck. Or lacking. Even if just for an hour.
When you gift someone something because they are in need, consider THEIR needs. Depending on the situation, a grocery gift card would be amazing. But also, things that bring joy. A fancy chocolate. A candle. An essential oil or a first aid kit. A gift card for coffee. A nail kit.
There are a lot of things people NEED but also want. Just to feel human. And loved.
I am teaching my kids something I find very important about giving and receiving.
Give with joy.
Give for joy.
Receive with joy.
Receive for joy.
For not the price tag but the transference of emotions and worth.
We feel worth it and we give worth to others when we show an act of compassion.
Compassion is giving a woman $100 for groceries and an extra $5 coffee card JUST FOR HER.
Because you know she feels like absolute poop while struggling. And a little trip for a coffee might be the ounce of human experience she is craving.
When you think about doing a secret santa or a white Christmas game with your family, also consider this.
PEOPLE WITHIN YOUR OWN FAMILY ARE IN NEED.
And if you could give someone close to you a CHIP IN towards their car battery, towards groceries, towards tree trimmings, towards home items, towards a human experience ....
Imagine with any amount or THING or EXPERIENCE you give, and with joy, that person feeling such a DEEP gratitude for it.
For exactly what they were in need of.
I get a bit frustrated every year at Thanksgiving because I hear mindless small talk and see posts even about Thanksgiving being the "family time holiday" --------> but many people do not truly engage with one another.
It's just "you'll never believe what suzie did last week " or "I hate my job. But you know, its work" or "Hows the family by you? ---> ehh you know same old".
NO TODD. WE DON'T KNOW.
I wish families and friends would gather around this time of year to be vulnerable and honest.
To say what they NEED. To say what they DREAM of doing next. To speak about their goals. To go around saying what they are thankful for and then ask what each other could possibly use for the following year. Or the present time.
What could you use to end off this year well, Uncle Todd?
"To be honest with you hunny, my coat is so worn and it's so cold outside when I shovel."
What I would do is get uncle Todd a warm robe and slippers. And pay for shovel service for his house that year.
Because I want to give joy.
And I can only imagine the joy he will feel warm and wrapped up on the couch to relax while something he always does gets taken care of.
A little taste of being cared for.
This holiday season, I URGE YOU to care for someone else. Give joy. With joy.
And gain a new emotion you never felt before. While witnessing it first hand on someone else's face. Caused by you.
That is love.
That is compassion.
That, my friend, is the poor mans' Christmas.
J.S. Jaded Savior
Published by Jean Soto JS Jaded Savior blog: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Soto, mother of 3 and wife, is a writer + artist in the Hudson Valley, NY community.
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: email@example.com
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