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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where does my strength come from?

Woman is stronger than DragonImage by Glamhag via Flickr
Somebody asked me last week where I'm getting the strength to deal with our financial situation.

Strength?  I don't feel strong. I feel like a bowl of grape jelly, sinking to the lowest level possible. After two years of clawing and scratching, it doesn't feel like we've make much progress.

Of course we have. We still have the house--that's the main thing. We're starting to give the kids their childhoods back through creativity and, frankly, asking for help. (I almost wrote "begging" instead of asking. Pride, I suppose.)

My parents grew up in the Great Depression. I grew up in a comfortable middle-class family. My Mom and Dad fought about money all the time, but it was mainly about her not keeping track of her checks or spending more from the joint checking account than she was "allowed" by my Dad. He was a government employee--a military officer, and while that frequently disrupted our lives, we never wanted for necessities.

They are gone now. Mr. Poorhouse's parents are also gone. My sister lives 2000 miles away, and doesn't have time to keep in touch. His sister is closer geographically, but not psychically. His brother is mentally ill, homeless, and estranged. We have no family nearby to help with the kids or to hang out with on weekends. This mythical strength doesn't come from our families of origin.

I'm a regular churchgoer, but I wouldn't call myself spiritual. For me church is about the music. My parents were the same.

I like my job and my manager. I like my employees and coworkers. But they have no clue that any of this is going on, nor would I want them too. Work is almost an escape hatch, but I wouldn't call it a source of strength.

Friends?  I still have my high school and college friends. They are flung to the ends of the country. I enjoy talking with them when I can, and seeing them once a year or so when business takes me nearby. But we can't call our relationships close any more.

I have superficial relationships with online buddies with whom I share interests. Some of them I know in real life, some only in the intertubes. But there's only a limited amount of intimacy in those friendships. 

I know lots of people through my volunteer work, my neighborhood, my kids' schools. These are people that would be happy to ask me to teach Sunday school, bake cookies for a bake sale, give someone a ride, or head up a committee. They wouldn't just ask me to get a cup of coffee, see a movie, or have dinner, or come to a party unless they were trying to sell me Tupperware.

My kids are bright and funny and smart and affectionate. But they are also challenging. Paul is oppositional and moody. Prissy is, well, a pre-teen. I'm trying to make a good life for them. That could be a source of strength.

Mr. Poorhouse is the love of my life. He isn't good with money--he's happy for me to shoulder this burden. He's as beaten down by our situation as I am. He likes nice things, but he has gone without for a long time now without complaining. He's a source of strength. I can only imagine what it would be like if we fought the way my parents did about money.

I have myself, my kids, my husband, and my house. That's what's getting me through today.

No, I don't feel strong. Mostly I feel lonely.
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