There’s nothing I can say about money that Doug hasn’t already said. I shouldn’t, but will say three things about being poor that Doug hasn’t said because it’s not the same thing he is experiencing. First, because of poverty, I have become isolated and hermit-like. Last week I left the house twice. Once to go pick up some stuff my mother wanted out of her house and once to spend several hours cleaning my mother’s garage. The week before last, I left the house just once. I took Noah to karate and ran in the grocery. That’s it. My feet did not cross the front step for anything else. It wouldn’t matter if the outing was to a local park, because gas is to valuable to waste on me doing something just to get out of the house. Oh, well. It’s nice in here. I have funny little people who I love very much to keep me company.
The second thing is harder to explain. Except for the quick trip in the grocery two weeks ago, I haven’t been alone in a grocery store in over a year. I don’t mean alone without children because I always have children with me. I mean alone as in the only responsible adult. Because Doug is micromanaging every penny, he makes every decision about everything. That in and of itself shouldn’t be a big deal, but never being allowed to pick out what food you want to buy or eat when the grocery shopping used to be your time out of the house, does pick away at your spirit. It shouldn’t matter that I have to say “I’m out of deoderant. Would it be possible to get more?” But it does. It’s dehumanizing.
That brings me to my third point. My trip in the store two weeks ago caused Doug and I to disagree. Not fight. The only real fight we’ve ever had was over the holiday plans last Christmas. But he was very annoyed that he didn’t have control over what I spent the $40 on while I was offended that he couldn’t see how badly I needed to buy a few things without feeling like I had to ask permission. So, I fought back the bitterness inside myself. Bitterness has become my constant enemy. I fight against it so hard that I often find myself feeling absolute nothingness instead. Refusing to be bitter but unable to feel anything else, I find myself hollow. If I won the lottery tomorrow, there would still be things I genuinely dislike, like marching band, wife-beater shirts and bugs. Since I don’t play the lottery, unlike most poor people in Tennessee, that is not a concern. Doug is struggling with this in his own way. He barely sleeps and spends all of his time on the phone and computer trying to find solutions. His blood pressure runs high, as does his temper. He is treated with criticism and blame by the people who should love him unconditionally. Tomorrow is Doug’s birthday. I so wish it could be special for him instead of the hell that it will be. The emotional damage of poverty is much more painful and insidious than anything the collection agencies threaten or do to you.