This pneumonia business is taking its sweet time clearing out. I’m still having trouble taking a deep breath. It’s like the proverbial elephant sitting on my chest. But this morning I realized there’s another pachyderm squatting on me as well.
Last night I had an opportunity to go shopping with my girlfriends. But I only had $40 to last me until my next Disability check comes on October 3. That $40 had to cover groceries, gas for the truck, and any other purchases. So, I did a rare and scary thing. I asked my sister to let me take $200 out of my emergency fund (which she controls). My sister is a gentle guardian. She always sends me the money I ask for—no interrogations, no judgments. When the check came in the mail, I put $100 in my checking account and kept $100 in cash.
Even though I’ve been too depressed to think clearly, I was giddy last night. I actually bought myself Halloween twinkle lights ($5) and two new spiral notebooks ($2 each)—one with The Dark Knight on the cover and the other with The Avengers. I felt deliciously decadent and rich beyond measure. While my friends shopped for clothes, I wandered through the racks. Such gorgeous fabrics! Such flattering designs! It was a visual feast. When I checked the price tags, I just couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. One top cost as much as a week’s worth of groceries. Clearly, I’d taken a misstep somewhere. I felt dizzy and couldn’t catch my breath.
Poverty is the second elephant pinning me down. Last night I let loose and stocked up on spaghetti and soup at Costco, but normally I fret over every dime. When my bipolar compulsions push me to “throw money away,” it’s usually to buy a pizza or get take out from the local Chinese restaurant. We’re talking $15 at the most, but that’s enough to make me park the truck for the rest of the month and walk everywhere I need to go.
There is no margin in poverty. There’s only shuffling around the few dollars I have. Do I pay the doctor bill this month or try to whittle down my VISA bill (which I use to pay for gas)? Can I afford coffee today, or do I need to stick to ice water? Can I make myself cook a meal when I’m so depressed I’m afraid to turn on the stove?
I don’t write this for sympathy or as a plug for donations. Most of the time, I manage just fine. I’ve learned to live very simply and to mediate my bipolar splurges. It’s just when the elephant eases up a little, like she did last night, I see how heavy she really is. Money, or the lack of it, colors every interaction with my family and friends, it determines my activities, my diet, my grooming—every choice there is to make. I’ve become a person who relies on the generosity of my circle—someone who has gotten comfortable accepting gifts. Pride is a thing of the past—well—I still worry about looking like a homeless person. Maybe that’s because I’m so close to being one.
I don’t know what to do to make this situation any better. I’ve tried going back to work—several times—to disastrous results. I’ve applied for all social assistance programs. I try to keep my expenses to the bare minimum. The only thing I could think of today was to research Etsy and try to sell my greeting cards online. So I worked on that for hours. In a few days, I’ll have a “shop” up and running, but I can’t think much money will come pouring in.
All I can do is put the Word out to the Universe—I need more abundance in my life. Since this is the cusp of the Autumn Equinox, it seems fitting to be setting an intention for balance and plenty. I’m well aware that the Universe answers in unexpected and startling ways. I’m ready for whatever answer comes.