Friday, July 13, 2012

Dear Poverty: It's not you, it's me

by Tsara Shelton

Stop Poverty by Scaramouchi
We've been together a long time, you and me. And what a ride we've had! There were times when I couldn't have loved you more my dear poverty, and times when it seemed as if all that kept us together was my absolute hatred for you. However, I have to admit, that these last few years I feel like we've stayed together more because I feel bad leaving, after all that you've given me, than because we still belong together.

But like I tell my kids, doing what's truly right for you is the best way to take care of everyone else in your life. And so I feel certain that it is time I move on.

Looking back I can see the attraction we had for each other was tangible and real. In so many ways I needed you. I discovered the world of recycling clothes and books could be easily as rewarding as buying my own. I was often tempted to steal, knowing well what it is to want, but because my relationship with you was so solid I also knew what it was to go without, and how unnecessary so many of my wants were.

Remember that time my tire blew out on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, Manitoba? I had no phone, no money and no spare tire? My oldest son was still an itty-bitty thing and we were on our way back home from the nearest town that had a McDonalds where I had successfully swiped my boy some half-eaten cheeseburger and a couple of fries off of another families unfinished tray.  That day I just relaxed with a busted tire and played with him while I waited for someone--anyone!--to come driving down the road with a willingness to stop and offer help. We weren't in any real rush to get home, and I knew with certainty that help would come. You had taught me to believe in the kindness of others and so, although I was anxious, I also knew the problem would be solved. And it was! After you and I had been together even longer you guided me toward learning that I didn't have to wait for help, but with a little confidence and ingenuity could pull up my big girl pants and do it myself. 

There were times when I tried to leave you, but never for the right reasons or in the right way. Dating guys because they had credit cards and wore suits to work. Silly me!!

You helped me teach my kids the value of family, the importance of prioritizing for yourself and never judging anyone in the world for doing it different, the importance of being responsible for yourself and your actions while absolutely adoring the feeling of reaching out to help others. Something about the simplicity in our lives together made those lessons always on the surface, always insisting on being seen. Thank-you for that.

But some of the life lessons that I want so badly to learn, that I want to be able to example for my children, you have been holding me back from. It's not you, it's me. I need space to discover this other part of myself.

The fear and embarrassment I feel when I get paid to work. My total lack of belief in deserving money for being myself and helping out. Admittedly, you have helped me to see that part of myself. Because of you I work hard looking for ways to make ends meet, but bump constantly into this issue and come running back to you. With you I am comfortable (if a bit hungry!) and know how it works. Walking into a store in torn jogging pants and stained shirts while singing and smiling at strangers has been my way of asking the world to see me for me, while hopefully reminding them do the same with everyone and everything else in the world! And it's been wonderful!

But I see clearly that when faced with the opportunity to get paid for being me and working hard and sharing my thoughts and time with others frightens me. I feel self-conscious and afraid of letting people down. Of being someone who "sold out'. How can I teach my own children to face their fears with a willingness to grow and change if I won't?

I do hope you understand. I truly see that you have been good for me and that we have done beautiful things together. You are not bad or wrong inherently, but now you are for me.

I want to get paid and feel like I deserve it. I want to tell my kids that they can have an ipod and a new pair of shoes so that they can learn that you can do wonderful things with, as well as without. I want to move on.

And although I have absolutely loved our time together, no, I don't want to be friends.

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