Yesterday I got the news that my uncle David is dying. Some people will be cynical about how much he means to me because of the fact that I’ve probably only spent a handful of days of my entire life associating with him. But I build my happy mental places around moments in time. Meaning that even though I may have only spent a few minutes with him here and there; those minutes were always fun and pleasant. And it’s not just my uncle I’m concerned about. His wife, my aunt Lynda, once was the only person in my extended family who was willing to take a minute to talk to me. She and I sat in their house one afternoon and talked for two hours. She made me feel like I was worth taking a few minutes for. Aunt Lynda is my uncle David’s second wife. She has a son, my cousin Tony. My uncle David basically raised him. Tony was also always willing to speak to me like I mattered. In middle school, he was one of my best friends.
And that’s the thing. I might not have been around them much, but the times when I was were always special to me. My uncle David and his family always made me feel welcome in their home. I owe them for that. Now he’s on his last days. He doesn’t have long left now. And to be totally selfish and make this all about me, I’m pissed that I can’t make a simple hour and a half drive to go and see him before he’s gone. Just like when my uncle Bobby recently passed, I won’t even get to go to the funeral. My whole family is up there. They’ve got to be hurting so bad right now. This came too close after uncle Bobby. But I can’t even get up there to wash a load of clothes for them. Or fix them something to eat. Or just be there to let them cry it out with someone.
I sit on Facebook scared that each new notification is going to be the one that tells me he’s gone.
I just want to go home.
But I can’t.
Why? I can’t afford it. Why else.
I woke up this morning to my bank account being overdrawn by almost $100…by one-third of our pay! And I don’t even know if they’ve added the overdraft fees yet. I made the stupid mistake of getting gas and hoping the $1 charge wouldn’t go through to the full amount until tomorrow. I was trying to float the charge until payday; but it didn’t work. And now we’re fucked.
No, I shouldn’t have done that. But I shouldn’t have had to do that either. We can’t meet our bills and we’re just slipping further and further behind. Every time we have to skip paying a bill, or miss a payment, they add fees…that we also can’t pay. We can’t cancel half of our bills without having to pay exorbitant fees either. We can’t cancel our Direct TV (that we got when we were better off) because we’ll be hit with a huge bank draft for leaving before our contract is up. But we can’t afford to pay it either.
My check engine light came on while I was driving my husband to work this morning…and I cried about it the whole way home.
What the fuck else could I do?
This poverty overload just makes me just want to weep. I couldn’t get back home to tell my uncle Bobby “thanks for teaching me how to tie a hook on a fishing line” before he passed. Now I can’t get up to see my uncle David and tell him “thank you for always being kind to me” before he goes. I can’t be there for my aunts, or uncles, or my cousins, or any of my family. It’s such a simple thing; but I can’t do it.
I can’t go home. Because I can’t afford it.
But hey, at least this isn’t new shit to me. We can’t ever actually accomplish anything because we are always so far behind to begin with. I’m just so tired of being like this. I’m tired of being so far down on life’s hierarchy that I don’t even get the “luxury” of telling someone how much they’ve meant to me before they leave this world forever.
I’m starting to reach a point where I just really don’t want to keep doing this anymore. We just can’t catch a break. And then I look around and see people who aren’t living in my situation.
And yes, I know it’s totally selfish, but sometimes I look around me and think “You have so much, why is it such a big deal for me to have a little of it too!?” For us, $1000 dollars is the difference between having a home and homelessness. But for someone else, that’s a dinner out on a Tuesday. Or an iPad, or a trip to Disney World, or a weekend with the girls. Things that they somehow “deserve” but we haven’t yet
Well how the fuck much more do we need to do to “earn” some respite?
We’ve done the same things. Why haven’t we “earned” it yet? We work, we try so hard to get it right. But every time we turn around something else is being thrown at us. I’m so tired of losing. I’m so tired of being broke all the time. Why am I a horrible person for wanting something as simple as being able to buy my daughter more than one pair of shoes a year? Why are we still somehow undeserving of something as simple as safe shelter?
WHY DON’T I DESERVE TO JUST HAVE ENOUGH YET!?
Sometimes, when I’m kept awake with the stress of how much we can’t accomplish, I start thinking in terms of solutions. Final solutions. And those thoughts terrify me! It terrifies me that those kinds of thoughts are even possible. But then I get angry because I shouldn’t have to think this way.
Yes, I’m pissed at myself for screwing up our bank account. But I’m pissed at our society for making that something I have to do to be able to survive in the first place!
There’s no real reason for my family, and families like mine, to be forced to feel this way. Some get so much while so many more have so little. Why do we get punished for trying to game the system a tiny bit just to survive…while so many others are getting off free and clear after causing a global economic collapse? How can anyone actually think this is ok?
How can someone look at my kids and tell them they aren’t worth anything good or decent? How can someone look at my working family and tell us we aren’t doing enough to earn it yet? How can someone else own five houses while I can’t even afford one? How is it ok for someone to get a $90 million dollar payout to make a 30 minute TV show; while someone else tells me I’m not worth $15 an hour?
For the last few weeks, I’ve spent so much of my time just crying. Sometimes I don’t even know that I’m doing it until I feel the tears on my cheeks. I just cry. And it doesn’t stop. I can’t let my kids see me like this so I end up pushing them away or hiding in the bathroom so they can’t see it. How can this be ok? How is this right?
How are we allowing this to be right?
$15 an hour is only $600 a week, even though we need at least $20 an hour to make ends meet. CEO’s can make as much as $7000 an hour. But we’re not worth $15 or $20?
How is that right when I’m scaring myself by wondering if there really is a way to die painlessly? Especially when the reason I’m even contemplating this is because of something that would be so simple for someone else to let go of. Instead, I just keep hearing the complaints that we still haven’t earn it.
I cry. Then I get angry. And I want to grab someone and shake them and scream at them “You have enough! Let someone else have some too!”
But then I remember that they will never understand. So why bother? I should just go ahead and do it. Would that help?
If all of us down here just went ahead and offed ourselves, would we have earned it then?
*Author’s note: I’d never actually harm myself or anyone in my family. But not everyone down here is like me. We’re all getting desperate for something that we have already earned, but no one will let us have. Besides, we don’t have to kill ourselves….someone else is already doing it for us.