When you have it, life is good. Even if you have enough to pay your bills, buy your groceries and have a little left over to, oh I don’t know, pick up a little something for yourself: flip-flops, a new nail polish, that shirt you saw on sale at Old Navy last week. Things feel comfortable. You’re not a high roller; big spender. You budget. You try to save. You have enough.
But what about when you don’t?
Money is essential to happiness in the modern world. It’s all well and good if you want to be at one with yourself, to wander fields and oceans to get in touch your true self and be blissfully at peace. Some have left their families behind to do just that and they are fine without a penny to their name. But in reality, love and abundance from the Universe does not care for your children. Or buy them new shoes when the old ones get holes in them. You can create that vision board and stick to that routine but some time passes and slowly, you find your belief fading.
You know that there are people out there far worse than you; starving children, homeless people so you don’t complain too much. But it’s such a personal thing. You own it. It’s no-one else’s life, this is your life and it’s your family’s life and no matter what anybody else is suffering, these are your sufferings.
You live at the poverty line but to look at, you look like you’re surviving just fine. You rely on handouts from relatives, you use whatever money you have to keep the lights on, keep the lines of communication open, keep your house warm, to buy enough food to get you through the next few days. The rest of it, the eating out, the going to plays, even buying clothes at the thrift store, the actual not having to think whether you have enough, has no place.
Money ruins marriages. You run the same track for seven years and it feels like it. You have the same arguments with no one clear outcome, it’s just a cauldron of yesterday’s news, swilled up with today’s headlines, and it creates a chasm between the two of you. Sometimes it closes a bit, some or a lot, depending on current events or the outlook but mostly, it’s always there in some form. In a question “Can we..?” “Do you think…” “Will we…?” “Will it…” In actions and reactions, in the glaring silence of pointless words not bothered spoken, in the counting of dollar bills or the upside down change jar. In the not so subtle obvious facts that really don’t need to be pointed out.
You do your best to shield your kids from the negativity of the situation but sometimes it spills out of your unworthy head because they ask for things that are a natural part of childhood. You cannot provide them, even in their cheapest form and it makes you sad and mad at the same time. You try desperately not to be a jealous person when you see what other people have, when you see commercials for things, when you read about others’ activities. You want to be ok with your lot. It’s not much at all but it’s yours. But somehow you feel cheated. You are tired of the struggle. You have nothing left of value to sell. And you are tired of dashed hopes and fraudulent dreams.
But what do you do? You throw in the towel? And do what, exactly? Leave your husband and children? Leave your husband and take your children? Where would you go? How would you manage still? Why cause further heartache? You love your husband and you love your family.
So you give up the conversation, because there really is no point. You smile and make do. You eat whatever you have left in the house because you know if you don’t, you’ll just be hungry. You pick yourself up, time and again, each rise a little more weary than the last and you keep your family close.
It’s all you can do.