I remember my first year of marriage being the poor man’s equivalent of hitting the lottery, money wise. We had minimal bills and the income of two full time professional positions. We ate how and where we wanted, had fancy things like cable TV and custom made pool cues. Cut to two years later we were almost literally begging the government to give us enough money to eat and I learned how to work miracles with very few ingredients. At one point, I mixed hot chocolate powder (we’d gotten as a gift) with water and froze it and that was my ice cream. I was very happy to have it too, I felt like a genius. I would cry at times, alone of course, when people would have us over for meals because it meant eating when we might not have. 24 of 36 months we struggled through unemployment, most were consecutive, while trying to manage bills on top of having two children virtually back to back during this time. Despite two unplanned c-sections, gall stones, and surgeries related to the gall stones, I thought I was taking it all fairly well. I won’t say I didn’t break down on an all most regular basis – but I kept going. I got my tears out, then wiped my cheeks and did what I had to do to best make my home a home no matter how little we had.
When my world exploded July 2012, the downhill plummet hit hard and fast. He emptied the bank account and refused to pay any of the bills resulting in the children and I getting evicted, having to rush home to SC and live with family. His refusal to pay the car payment, despite it being in both our names and it being my sole means of transportation for myself and the children, cause it to be repossessed. He paid pennies where child support was concerned, forcing me to have no choice but to stay put and for almost a year share one small room with both toddlers. Still, I felt blessed for all I had. Again, I broke down – almost regularly from the hurt of what I lost and had taken from me, but I was so grateful for the blessings I still received. I had my babies, we had a roof over our head and food in our bellies. I had loving family and friends who made sure we never went without our basic needs.
May of 2013 I got a great job, paying a very fair wage considering the income I had prior and I was soon after finally able to get myself and my babies into a home. Money? Tight to say the least. Not terrible, but tight. Am I happy? As a pig in mud! I see my glowing angels faces each day and can breathe easy in a home where I’m free from his tyranny, control, manipulation and abusive nature. I don’t look over my shoulder any more. I’m beginning to find out who I am, not the ‘me’lost in years of a toxic marriage, but a new me.
In a recent text conversation (because he can’t be civil enough to talk in person or over the phone) I asked him to begin paying the child support on time instead of toying within days of the 5 day provision simply because he could. He, as expected, replied back with aggression and not at all any consideration for the needs of his children or the woman he once vowed to love honor and cherish.
So what hurts about this? What is “being broke”? It’s having $32 in the bank and refusing to spend it on yourself incase your children need something. Knowing you need laundry detergent but allowing the laundry to build up incase my children have a more important need… What’s the saddest part? While I’m asking a father to be prompt in his financial provision towards his childrens needs he responds with aggression and disrespect… While I thank God for recently received hand-me-down toys and clothes for my children. And I am grateful for the paper towels I double layered and folded then placed in my underwear because I refused to spend money on pads for myself incase the children needed that money. It's using the same razor for 3 months, brushing my teeth with water and rinsing with mouth wash, and filling the shampoo bottle with water to use up the last little bit, it's these things and so many more but the difference between being broke, and being broken is the difference between he and I.