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Friday, August 3, 2018

No One Can Judge Me... As I Do

"You are your worse critic." If I had a dollar for every time my husband has told me this, I think I'd be sitting on quite the wad of bills by now. It can be a hard truth. All we have to do is look in the mirror - physical or proverbial - to see all the things we don't like about ourselves. Whether we judge our appearances, hate some trait in our personality, can't stand a physical impediment or just continually remind ourselves of wrong decisions to put us down, we will always bring out the worse in ourselves. 

Take my personal put downs for instance. 
I'm fat. My husband absolutely can't stand when I refer to my weight in a negative way. He doesn't even like it when the kids say "Mom is not fat, just fluffy." (Any "Fluffy" fans out there??) I finally lost 3 of the 40 pounds that I have been holding on to for the past year. Slow process... But I love to eat. And I am a great cook. Not boasting, just stating the fact. So telling myself no to a second or third helping has been difficult. I've finally started eating smaller portions. I'm talking really small. And that has helped. I keep baking to a bare minimum and usually only when I'm feeling upset about something. But when I look in the mirror, I don't see beauty in myself anymore. I see a plain, old, Mom. A woman who has lost a lot of fights and just doesn't care much these days. 

I'm broken. Physically speaking, I'm worn down. Most of this is just because my back is falling apart. Literally. And it has affected me in ways that I can't stand myself for. There is nothing I could have done to change this. No precautions I could have foreseen to take. It happens. After 3 surgeries while growing up, the true side effects kicked in and reared their ugly heads. So a word from the wise on a child that grew up with scoliosis - do everything you can to avoid surgery. And if you must allow a child to have surgery, keep watch on the slow progression of damage that comes after. Took 15 years to reach the breaking point for me. And once it did, my life felt ripped apart. Sacrifices are normal. A normal part of achieving ultimate goals. Doesn't make it easy though. This week, I was cooking and had the radio playing. One of my favorite songs came on so I started dancing to it. My body said no. Pain struck and the dance came to an abrupt end. Talk about being a downer. 
I can't provide financially for my family. My family means everything to me. And I would do everything possible to provide them the best I can in life. These days, my biggest wish is that the bills are paid in full and on time. So far, we have done this. This months bills are looking shaky. At least in my short line of sight. But there are times when I wish we could afford the extras. This month is my older daughters birthday. She is turning 6. I asked my husband what we will get her for her birthday. You can only imagine how my heart dropped when he reminded me that we just can't afford anything. And he had no ideas as far as something I could just make with what supplies I have on hand. Which made two of us. This reminded me that we have fallen so far from where we were when I had a job. That after being laid off, I have been unable to get another job due to my deteriorating health. I feel as though I should be able to do more. That I should not have to watch us accepting help and feel as though I'm just burden to others. How often have we talked about someone we knew as being a "burden to society". Well, I feel like that phrase may as well apply to me. What can I possibly give back to anyone to make my existence worth something? My family deserves better. I let my mind wander down a dark path where the thought of whether my husband still had a life insurance policy on me or not gave me bad ideas. Let me get something straight - I have never been able to take my life, no matter how bad things have gotten. And I have made a promise that I won't ever try. Doesn't mean that the thought doesn't cross my mind as a solution. 

Are my dreams worthless? This is a constant battle these days. I've given up on the dream of buying a house, setting down roots and trying to build connections nearby. As much as I would love to, it just isn't feasible. My husband has about two more years in college. Which means we have to stay close to his university in the meantime. And that he will be stuck in the job he has until he gets his degree. And that sucks. But we both know we don't want to buy a house around where we are or in the areas around his school and work. We want to go further north towards his family. And if things don't go the way we are hoping with my assistance requests, we might end up somewhere much smaller. Something I brought to my husbands attention with this, is that maybe we should get rid of the collections we have. Sell everything we hold dear but could live without and go true minimalist out of necessity. He doesn't feel we are at that point just yet, which is good. I don't want to get there if we can avoid it. But the dreams I had seem so far away that I fear we may never be able to reach them. And there are moments when I get a little cynical at his comments of needing me around to be "traveling companion" later in life. Or when we say "one day" and "eventually". These phrases, when paired with a dream leave a bitter taste in my mind. 

2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 
How do others see me? This one is probably the worst. This is when I imagine what others are thinking about our family, even if they are probably not anywhere near as cruel in their thoughts. If you are truly honest and give thought to it, how many times have you looked at someone and decided what their life must be? Let me give you an example. A woman goes through the checkout line. She has a cart full of grocery items. She's carrying one baby on her hip, has 1-3 others in tow around her. Her nails are newly done. She's wearing name brand clothing. Her kids don't look as tidy though. Her kids are not her priority. And she swipes a Food Stamps card to pay for the food. But pulls out a wad of cash for anything else. What does your mind tell you about her? Shall I tell you? She's a welfare recipient. She puts everything into herself and pops out kids from multiple dads. Probably divorced, if she was ever married at all. If you looked in those bags, most of the foods are probably microwavable or quick fix foods. Why? She doesn't like to or know how to cook. My mind screams - useless, drain on society. I've known women like her. Complain about how life has done them wrong, but wouldn't lift their expensively-manicured fingers to change it. If you follow them to the parking lot, most are driving new cars. Big SUV's. Shiny and new. Or if they fall in the "trash" spectrum, a piece of crap car that looks as neglected as her kids. Again, her money is more for her looks than anything else. She probably lives in a ghetto trailer on the wrong side of town. Why? Because it's cheap and keeps more money in her pockets. Now be honest, how many of you imagined the same kind of person at one time or other? Well, guess what? I feel as though people look at me the same way. I don't have fancy manicures. Never had my nails professionally done at all. I don't wear name brands unless someone gave them to me or I found them at a yard sale or a thrift store. I don't care about looks besides wanting to be thinner in the belly department. I don't wear make up unless it is for pictures or a special event/holiday. But when I pull out our Food Stamps card, I feel like I'm being judged. I have my 4 kids around me. Probably can't tell that there have been more than one dad in the picture, but my mind throws that in my face. You don't have to. If you catch me unloading them from my van... well, it must be quite the sight. My front bumper is half torn off. I don't wash the van often so it usually has a thick layer of dust on it. I put my hair in Pippy Longstocking braids. Okay, no they don't stick out like that... they lay on either side of my neck. My older daughter picks her own clothes and doesn't listen to my advice on what really matches. My boys throw on whatever suits their fancy, which has sometimes been... adventurous. And I haven't been putting shorts on the baby to help her stay cool in this heat. So a t-shirt and diaper is the extent for that one. Oh, yeah. I probably look like "trailer trash". I've seen the eye rolls. The impatient drumming of the fingers. Loud sighs. Narrowing eyes. And even if they don't act like this when I use the WIC card and then the SNAP card, I will be imagining they are. Why? Because I'm already so embarrassed that I can't look anyone in the eye. 

We are a new level of BROKE. I don't need anyone to laugh at my misfortunes. I do that already. And it is not a cheerful laugh. I can't afford to shop at the dollar store. Don't even have a dollar to my name. So my mind lines up the judgement when someone makes a suggestion on things that should help us. And it pretty much starts with, "You are so pathetic...", but is always directed towards myself. I feel as though I obviously have not done enough in others' eyes. I have not tried hard enough to make something of myself. I must have given up along the way. Or when I tell them that I am broke, they probably laugh. I mean after all, being "broke" usually means you can't eat out more than twice a month and even then - only from the Dollar Menu. Well, I'm more broke that than. We are so broke that we don't eat out at all. All food comes from food stamps. Every penny gets saved and cashed in for bills. No cable, no Netflix and now not even Xbox Live. We keep the thermostat at 78. Always. I sweat without stepping outside. We don't run the dishwasher unless I've cooked a big meal and have a full machine worth of dirty dishes. Oh, yes. I'm BROKE. It is what it is. And everything that isn't food goes to the credit card. We have had help from family, of which I'm truly thankful for, but I also feel that I am going farther and farther into debt.

Finding peace in all this is hard. There is no sugar coating this. I get absolutely miserable. As I mentioned before, I have dark thoughts. Especially when I have pain to remind me why we are in this boat. I loathe myself. I hate my body with a vengeance. I feel trapped. And as they say, there is the fight or flight moments. When I work on my blogging and writing - I'm fighting the darkness. When I don't - I'm looking for "flight" options. I write letters from time to time to help ease through my emotions and get my mind off the negative things. I keep a journal when I'm in the deepest hurt. But it is not always enough. So I've picked up a couple of the projects I laid aside. 
Keeping busy banishes the heaviness. I'm not the best crafter, but there are some things I've taken up to keep my mind preoccupied. My Mom sent me some amazing, old goggles and glasses. They are perfect for my steampunk goggle designs. So I'm going to work at making two pairs; one for my husband and one for me. Since we can't afford a gift for my little girl, I had to dig deep to find something I can make her. My Mom had sent her two sets of letters that spell out her name and hang on the wall. She wanted the glittery ones at first, so I put aside the plain white ones. Now, I pulled them out and have added some hand painted touches. They will go nicely with her changing decor in her room. You see, she's growing up. As much as she's a diva, she wants her room to reflect more of the lady and princesses that are more elegant. We have moved past the Disney look of old. So the pearl-trimmed mirror and now these letters are the start of something beautiful. Something that she and I can agree on. And something that will keep me busy when I need to be more than ever before. 
In addition to keeping busy, I will spend more time seeking God and the plan He has for me. 

Ecclesiastes 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him; for it is his portion.


  1. I know that broke. Raised first 2 kids on that. Our oldest son got stroller from curb pickins. Good news is were still ok. Life isn't just for the rich. We can all live and enjoy life. Parks and beaches are free. Recipes online to make a cake from what you have. I had a recipe from the depresdions that made a cake with no butter and milk. It used vinegar. It was poormans cake. If Ana hears you say we have nothing she will think about it instead of just living her childhood. I was poor growing up but until someone said something about it I didn't know. People I knew who were kids in the great depression didn't realize they were poor because everyone was and people just did the best they could with what they had. I hope to teach my children this lesson. Money isn't everything. It can even be a noose around our necks. In the end all we will have is memories.

    1. I was happy being poor growing up. Like you said, I didn't know any different. But times have changed. When your kids are surrounded by people who live like they have money, they see what we don't have and figure out what is missing. But it isn't just about not having money. It's about not paying the bills or having to put it on a credit card. It is about deciding what is more important - rent or electricity. Water or internet. They can do without bikes. They can live without new toys. But if we reach the point of losing our home, then what is the point of anything else? It will be the reigning memory. Speaking of - they will have plenty of memories of a mom who couldn't play with them and take them to a park. Of a deadbeat dad who walked away and a stepdad who was never around. Great memories, aren't they?