As I put my groceries on a credit card, I breathe deeply the frustration of the anxious. Yes, I’m anxious every time I buy food. Every time I make a payment. Somehow the money is always there, but it feels as if I’m constantly treading water and having to go to extremes. I’m in college so I wait for the next student loan check. Ah, sigh of relief. I take on extra jobs and have started two businesses in addition to my full time job. A yard sale, selling crafts, extra teaching.
I understand it’s not sustainable. It’s not like I went on irresponsible spending sprees to enter into this kind of debt I owe my attorney and credit card companies. No, this debt was forced on me by a man of means and his millionaire family with their vacations and home in Florida. This family who won’t pay a dime to help their children and grandchildren with school. This family who drove me into poverty as a way to silence and control me.
They have a powerful sword to cut me with in their money. Somehow they have won the favor of the court and now the court is yet another successful tool of oppression and abuse in their hands. They can make me as poor as they want to, and they want to. They can ignore, minimize, and justify how it affects the children, their own flesh and blood. They are blinded by their illness.
But the haggard dog that invisibly follows my steps every day is Poverty. I don’t want this dog following me, like a bad angel, a harbinger of fear and loathing, a reminder of where my family is from. Appalachia, in case you’re wondering. Squalor, hollers, not nice things, a house made out of cinder blocks, trailers. It feels as if I will never rid myself of this dog, find it a good home. Poverty dogs the steps of many a single mother. But this unwelcome beast was placed on my doorstep by people who wish ill will on me, by people who are just nasty.
Every time I write a check, make a purchase, make a call for a business, I say, ‘fuck off, Poverty.” I muster up anger…I can’t kick this dog but instead the person who abandoned this dog, the person whose entitlement allowed him to want for nothing his entire life, who has a retirement to fall back on, whose millionaire parents would never allow him to suffer debt or lack of money for food and basics. They would also not allow him to work too much. No, they want me to take up the slack and care for him. So, they give me this hungry, wide-eyed, mangy dog, one who sulks and has shame written all over him. Then, with the burden of this dog, I am expected to care for my children and him, The court puts him on welfare and expects nothing from him, even though he is rich and more should be expected. If I can work several jobs, he can surely build on the 20 years he’s established doing the same work in this town. He should have an office busting with clients. But he refuses to advertise and plays “poor rich man”. I believe him when he says he can’t pay child support. I believe he is incapable of making money and paying child support. I believe he is not smart enough to figure it out because he doesn’t have to. But I don’t believe him when he says he has no other option than to impoverish me. It angers me that a rich family would concern itself with issues of punishment instead of helping their own flesh and blood. You don’t denigrate a child’s mother like that, a mother they love.
As I wrote in the last post about contradiction, they are definitely contradictory. If you are a social worker you should know better. If you are a bully, you will sic your poverty dogs on anyone you feel like abusing.
I have to take care of this poverty dog, fatten him up. I have been burdened with caring for my children, an ex husband, and an extremely unfair amount of debt. I have no emotional, financial, or physical helper with my children. I have dead weight and really, it is like having another child with multiple other mothers who enable him. I’m the only one who doesn’t want to enable him. But, this is what I have and must deal with. I must get through life either saddled with this or must use this poverty dog to help me break the spell that has been placed on my family for generations.
Fuck off, poverty. And the oppressors who created you.