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Why Poor Peoples Bad Decisions Don’t Make Perfect Sense To Me
I recently read an online article called “This is why poor people’s bad decisions make perfect sense”. It was a long explanation as to why the author and poor people in general make bad decisions. It left me feeling insulted and to be honest, a bit pissed off.
I am a poor person. Has every decision in my life been the best decision? No. But I have made NONE of the bad decisions the article refers to. I feel the need to be heard on behalf of all of the poor people making good decisions.
The definition of poor is lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society.
My parents are poor too. For many years they raised their family on less than $200/month. When I was in grade school we couldn’t afford the hot lunch program and got lunches sent from home. We could afford ketchup and mustard sandwiches. Meat was too expensive. Meat was for dinner only and then it was spread thin with noodles and whatever else was available to throw in to make the meal stretch and feed the whole family.
As I grew up I got good grades and graduated high school. In my senior year my creative writing teacher encouraged me to go to college for writing. He said I had talent. College was never something I had considered. No-one in my family had gone to college and there was no money for it.
I got a job instead and eventually moved out on my own. I was still poor but I had hopes and dreams for a better future. I decided to go to college. I applied for grants and loans and started at a university. I also continued working. I had worked my way up to being an assistant manager at a store near campus. At this same time I met someone and fell in love.
One semester into college I got pregnant. We were using protection but nothing is 100% safe. I felt it was meant to be so I committed to being a parent. Four months later I was spotting and was put on bed rest. I had to leave school and my job. While I was pregnant the man I was in love with decided that alcohol and drugs were more fun than being responsible with me. That spiraled out of control. By the time my son was born I knew I would be doing this alone. He became abusive and I left him. I never received any help with my son physically or financially.
Life was never easy but I had made a commitment to my child and I kept that commitment.
Sleep is a small luxury. 8 hours in a night? I don’t even remember what that feels like. I smoked cigarettes when I was a teen but from the moment I suspected being pregnant I have never had another. Exhausted or not.
At one point I was approached by my niece who was concerned that I was becoming anorexic. I wasn't anorexic; I was walking 10-20 miles a day. Often with my son on my back or with a fully loaded stroller….or both. I walked to work, to the food shelf, to the laundry mat, to everything. A car? Insurance? Gas? All totally unaffordable expenses.
I got daycare assistance so I could work. My son was the first one there in the mornings and the last one to leave in the evening. When he was 4 he was sent to the toddler room at the end of the day because all of the other kids in his age group had gone home. My days were long and I was still making barely enough to keep a roof over our heads. Rent is not cheap….especially if you want to avoid the most dangerous neighborhoods. Food was scarce and I didn’t want to take away from my son so I only ate what he didn’t like or need. I didn’t want him to feel the lack.
When I fell too far behind on rent we’d have to move and do it again. We moved a lot. When my son started first grade the other kids called him poor boy because I couldn't afford to buy him any Pokémon toys….the hot item at the time. We had never heard of them. We didn’t have cable.
Eventually life seemed to get better. The housing market was booming so with a friend’s encouragement I went to a tech college and took a short course to become licensed in real estate. I couldn’t afford the time off work or away from my son to get a 2 or 4 year degree so I thought it was a good alternative. I did well at first, built up my income and credit and bought my first home. It was a cheap house that had been left in major disrepair but I loved it just the same and with the help of my Dad, fixed it up and made it home. I met a seemingly wonderful, successful man, we began building a life together and we got engaged.
Have you ever seen the movie “Sleeping With The Enemy”? That is what happened to me. From the moment the ring went on my finger and the engagement announcements were made he became extremely controlling, not even wanting me to spend time with my family, and made it clear that he now was a priority over my son. He was abusive and scary. I started to make plans to flee. I changed my son to a new school system and sent him to stay with my sister who at the time lived in a very bad neighborhood in a large city. That was scary too but I had to get away. My, then fiancé’ was unaware that I was also making plans to move and he was happy to see my son sent away, but just in case, he stole valuables from my house whenever I was away and emptied our joint accounts. Over time he also took out credit cards in my name, maxed them out and defaulted them to destroy my credit. His idea was that if I was destitute financially I would be forced to stay with him. I got away. I sold my home and walked away with just enough money to get a place for my son and I in a better area of the city but by the time I got there I had lost everything else I had ever worked for up to that point in my life. That is when the housing market crashed. My job as a real estate agent was suddenly at a standstill, I lost my home to the bank, my credit was now ruined by my ex and made worse by the foreclosure. I was truly starting over with nothing. I had a nervous breakdown. No doctor would see me without cash or insurance, I just had to deal on my own. I lost 20 lbs in a month.
To be continued here...Why Poor Peoples Bad Decisions Don’t Make Perfect Sense To Me.