Monday, February 9, 2015

The Best You Can Do

I hear the term "shaming" used pretty often lately.  It's a big internet thing, "mom shaming", "slut shaming", "fat shaming", etc.  I suppose to define this term is to say that someone is making you feel bad for who you are, when who cares?  You are who you are, you do your best, or maybe you don't, but there's a great deal of manufacturing ways in which "your life impacts mine" and the truth is, it usually doesn't.  Usually, you just don't like what they do, you don't agree.

All that is pointless, though, because most of the shame I've had (and I bet you have) is self-shame.  Years ago I went to a church conference thing.  It was all about shame.  It was actually about something else, which doesn't really matter now, but the real text, the real thing they talked about, was how shame isn't about God.  It isn't about positive change, it isn't good, productive, helpful.  It is detrimental.  It leaves you, wallowing in whatever addiction you have, in a pit of "I can't get out of here".  It's just about the ugliest thing about the human race.  It exists in every culture I've lived in, and I've lived in a few.

Shame is the thing you feel when you realize you've done something wrong.  I wish it were just "awareness".  I wish you woke up one morning and realized you signed a contract you didn't want and you just went, "ok, let me deal with this, let me get out, help me get out God," etc.  But most of us, we silently accuse ourselves of being idiots.  We feel anger, swirling around inside with nowhere to go, and we probably eat it.  Because we fear where it might manifest.  We feel shame and damnit, if you don't know what that feels like, you must be some sort of supernatural angel-like creature.  Because humans are creatures of shame.

As I repair things that have gone wrong lately, I find sometimes my feet are stuck in cement.  I cannot move and I feel shame.  I feel so much shame that I didn't spend more time working on my family's spiritual center during our year of trials.  It really put us back.  And where I could have shown everyone the real strength that Jesus allows me to have in the eye of fear, I just showed a bunch of weakness.  I feel ashamed of that.  I feel ashamed that my kids saw so much of that.  I feel ashamed that I didn't take care of my teeth in the last few years (I'm not actually having any problems, I just know I should have!)  I am feeling ashamed over every penny I spent that I could have kept.  Every moment where I said, "Screw this, I need to do something fun with the family because I'm tired of another night at home, crying over what comes next".  I feel shame that I spent $20 that night, or $70 that weekend.  SHame.  Shame.  Shame.

Last week I heard Dave Ramsey screaming about Americans and their poor financial decisions and I felt nothing but shame.  I hated him.  I went from being someone who made all the right decisions, to someone who swam for shore every day and just prayed it didn't get worse.  I still feel such shame from the things I heard him say.  But I guess that's me.  That's my reaction to things, given how tired I am, and how much I miss my family's "nuclear" existence.  When the motivation to move forward is missing, shame takes over like a big blanket of lead.

I am all full of hope right now.  THings are getting better.  I might actually get that doctorate I've been trying for, we have money coming in.  I can make plans, I can pay things off.  Life is good.  It's more than good.  I've got a great husband and great kids, and I even feel like less of a crazy spiritual pendulum.  But I am still dealing with regrets.  Shame over regrets, fear over whether this could happen again.  And right now, this might be the best I can do.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Spoils of Credit

I just want to write a quick rant about life.  This probably will be nothing but angry right this moment.

Then I will go off and teach, I will feel important and loved, and joke around, and then I'll be fine again, since the following isn't what life's about anyways.

We lost a job.  So, big whoop.  And for 14 months we lived off of next to nothing.  But what's hard, the difficult part of the recovery, is all the ways in which folks try to profit off of your misfortune.

We had to sell our house.  Quickly.  So we sold it for less than it was worth.  Our neighbors saw our desperation and tried to make some extra cash off of us.  That was a fun legal battle.  My hubby really should have had unemployment, but his company found a loophole to not give that to us, so that they could save a buck.  And that meant none of the money we paid into unemployment for 6 years came back to us.  Our credit cards, which I had for 15 years prior to this (the same cards) and never missed a payment or even had a late payment, re-evaluated our credit, lowered our limits to less than what we owed (we had owed next to nothing before this experience, but ended up having to put something like 12,000 on cards for moving, unexpected costs, fixing cars, medical and dental things that happened before the loss of job, etc).  then they raised our rates from 7.99 per cent to 19.99 per cent.  Because that was the most they could legally do.

I always think it's funny when people talk about companies should have fewer regulations.  If a company could, it would hire children, pay them $2 an hour, never do any health care, and charge millions of dollars for the project.  Why not?  We're evil.  We are inherently built of sin.  At least that's what I believe.

So each morning I start "repair".  I throw money into a pit that seems will never get smaller, I scold my husband for buying a $1 burger on his way to work, and I try to convince him he can live in a trailer on the outside of town.  I feel like throwing up.

When I took a volunteer position at a church a few years ago, they did a credit check on me.  And even though at that time I had great credit, I yelled at them.  How crazy that we define people by a system that can crush you, by a system that rewards wealth and punishes those trying to do something else with their lives.  We blindly live by it.  We encourage people not to save, but to take out loans, and then we punish them when it isn't possible to fulfill them the way it would happen if life were "ideal."

I have learned a few things from this experience.  But I hope what I've learned most is to remember that often people are not a sum of their past.  They are complex individuals who need help sometimes, they all hope to be the ones able to help, they long to not be someone who talks more to credit collections than friends.