Being Poor Sucks

Being poor sucks. A lot. I know because after getting divorced I find myself in the constant position where I worry about money.

It’s stressful, its overwhelming at times and draining.

I remember when I told one family member I was getting divorced and she said, “How will you support yourself.”

I didn’t know then any better than I know now. But I’m trying. I work a full-time job, a part-time job and have the most important job of all — mother to my two beautiful kids, ages 10 and 7.

I’m not looking to live some extravagant lifestyle. Just want enough to be able to keep a roof over my head, pay my bills on time, provide food on the table and allow my children to participate in extra curricular activities.

Finding myself unable to pay for things that I never blinked at before has been life changing. Having to turn down invitations because of lack of funds is embarrassing.

I’m wearing the same clothes I’ve owned for years. I sometimes am envious when I see friends sporting new duds while I sit there and feel like a dud.

The other day a friend’s son asked me if I brushed my hair because it looked so out of control. I had used a brush but the lack of a haircut in over a year leaves me looking like some sort of crazed lunatic. Just in time for Halloween!

It’s been humbling having to live paycheck to paycheck and still not having enough. I get mad at myself because I wonder where along the line did I start to use my financial status as a way to define myself?

I’m college educated. I’ve won awards for my news writing and columns. I have two healthy, thriving and wonderful children. A dog that provides me with unconditional love. On all accounts I should be fine. I’ve played by the rules, did what you are supposed to do in order to live out the American Dream.

But the brutal truth is, the divorce doesn’t make me feel like a failure, but the lack of a substantial income does. I spend many restless nights wondering how I’m going to make ends meet.

The one thing my financial situation has taught me is to recognize what matters the most. Instead of going out and shopping, spending money on things I don’t need, I find I’m doing more with my kids. We’re playing more, talking more, appreciating more.

They don’t often ask for things like they used to in the store. That impulse, or instant gratification is starting to wane for all of us.

I used to get excited about a new pair of shoes on display, but now find excitement when I come upon my daughter learning how to sew or my son laying on the floor, playing with the dog. It’s not like I didn’t cherish those moments before, but now?

I’m finding joy in the now.

When I stop worrying, put myself in the moment and remember to breathe, things feel less scary. A bunch of cheese? Perhaps. But on the days I feel hopeless, I turn to gratitude.

Remembering to give thanks for the things I do have, that’s what gets me through.

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