Money Is not my problem or my solution. Though it is nice when it is not a constant concern!! When my boys were tiny and chronically ill with a father who could not be counted on to provide his share of costs, three different Trusted Others offered to $$ help, asking how much I needed? There was no magical amount that would fix IT. The ability to make a living and support US, is what I needed. No longer wanting or willing to accept gifts or loans, because a month or two down the road, I’d be in the same situation…only with more debt and less self-esteem. That was a turning point for me. I walked dogs, ran errands for the elderly, cleaned homes and took my children with me. We sought and nabbed discarded items from the curb side to sell on Craig’s List. We collected and turned in recycling like crazy. My boys did this with me and it was difficult and amazing that we held it together for a few years with my mother’s heroic 2 years of mortgage and pre-school tuition payments(even while we were mostly not speaking).
On my final visit to court for collection of unpaid court ordered amounts for care and support of our boys who were tiny and constantly ill with respiratory issues, I was dismissed by a judge who told me if I was serious about wanting to work, that I could drop my kids off at the hospital day care on those days without requiring ex to be burdened. The ex laughed and felt totally affirmed. On that day, I surrendered all future efforts toward collecting or expecting from him. People ask why—because I don’t have the fight in me. I get emotional and look unstable while he stoically denies and justifies. It is a reminder that emotional stoicism offers a façade of credibility that I cannot compete with.
Many good people were remarkably generous with us in those days when my boys were small and I was alone. I can not repay Growing Garden Preschool in Redondo Beach for the generous scholarship and gifts they gave us, in addition to a safe,loving, and nurturing environment. I cannot pay back those who paid me to do things that maybe they could’ve done themselves. I cannot pay back my mother for the mortgage and tuition support.
My commitment to being financially self supporting, though struggling like crazy, is esteemable action that I learned in recovery. No longer begging or fighting for monies owed by my ex or money needed from my mother offers me freedom and dignity. Daily, I pay it forward. I, however, in this moment am beating myself up a little, after driving past a woman on the corner with a baby and a sign asking for money. Wouldn’t even look her in the eye. I did not pay it forward and I tried to subliminally erase her. 98% of the time, I offer money and/or a snack or water depending on what I have in my possession and always eye contact that says “I see you.”. As a mother, I could have connected with her, let her know she is not alone and not invisible, that she matters and she is loved. After feeding myself, I will return with some cash, a smile and a kind word on my way to get my boys from school.
It is irrelevant that I struggle financially; giving the mother and her baby a little money won’t change my finances, but it will change the vibration of my heart and maybe hers. Money is never the problem or the solution. Paying it forward is always the answer and totally badass. NOTE: I do not claim to be 100% wholesome or badass. I am striving in these ways. Most days, I am doing pretty good.
My boys have been with me on two occasions, once we found 160$ at Costco and another time $867 in a grocery sack in a parking lot. Both times, we were successful in returning the money to very grateful people. It was painful, because I wanted it and needed it badly. I was recovered enough to know, it would not improve our lives as much as it would pain the person who lost it. Finding and returning that money with my boys is one of the gifts of recovery. When distraught restaurant owner claimed the bag of $867, they offered a small amount in thanks…I declined, telling them that what I really would appreciate was help finding work that would accommodate my situation of many days home with sick children. They tried.
I am a work in progress. Doing one next right thing at a time. I will head to the corner now to see if the mother in need is still there and to ask what I can do for her.