Monday, January 26, 2015

My Visit to the Food Bank and A Lifetime of Poverty

Saturday was food bank day.

Have you ever wondered who got together and thought that the poor should all eat corn flakes, cans of corn, tuna and macaroni and cheese? Our food pantries in my locale never heard of a fresh fruit or vegetable. Not in a million years. Even if you are allergic to cheese and fish, you still get a bag full of it like everyone else. At least I got them to exchange the nasty Froot-Loops for some decent corn flakes and got some cans of green beans.

We went to the monthly soup kitchen, that is held at this one church and ate some pasta with chicken and corn and salad, they also passed out cupcakes. The folks at this church are very nice and do not shame the poor whatsoever. I like them a lot. It wasn't a bad meal and if you wait until 1:00pm you can get leftovers and take them home for dinner or the next day. So Saturday which thankfully was warm enough for me not to be housebound was like charity day. We have a soup kitchen elsewhere in a neighboring town that serves daily but sadly like so many places like that, which we wouldn't mind using it's in a very bad neighborhood where going down there alone means taking your life in your hands.

We have been scrounging away. I made cabbage soup with turkey necks, and will be making black bean soup with some frozen chicken and rice from the freezer for tomorrow. I definitely am encroaching into my food, I consider the "emergency" meals, which is kind of scary and have been for the last week. Groceries have gotten so expensive. I laugh at dieting because when I read diet books or even Rachael Ray's Yum-O! cookbook which I probably got for a 1 or 2 dollars some months ago everything has a million ingredients.  The carbs always go up when you are food insecure. I don't care how much broccoli you buy. Let the people who don't have to worry about involuntary calorie reduction try dieting for a change. There is a difference in feeling between refusing to eat snacks and simply not having the option.

I am stumped in how to change my circumstances. We did sell some ebay and such. The scary thing is he is working freelance and we are still so poor. They just don't pay him enough and the flu cut off 200 bucks last month. By the way, with the jobs in his field,  they are far fewer in number they all pay the SAME EXACT salaries, they offered in 1999, when we moved for one of his newspaper jobs out of Chicago.  However now, the health benefits are almost non existent for most. One guy told him at his newspaper their medical insurance was the same as Wal-Mart's which basically means useless. That is some of the secrets about our so called "booming" economy.

The bills are growing so high we as I have written before I feel crushed. I am talking about moving us into a disability apartment and getting on the waiting list, but not thrilled with the rules or if he makes more money we get punished for it but rent is so high now it's eating a great deal up of our money. We may have no other choice.

What scares me is things are this difficult even doing the pay bills by hierarchy formula. Rent, electric, insurance, medical, taxes and food. We have never blown the rent money on a shopping trip or faced a near-eviction. We try to be "responsible" but in this case it doesn't seem to work. Maybe life is this hard for most people and I didn't get a clue around the spoiled narcs. Could that be it? But there is something wrong when there is always more month then money. We are always planning ahead and in survival mode. We have decided we need to keep the grocery shopping at the ethnic stores 15 miles away and an area Mexican grocery store because the food lasts longer and the owners aren't out to gouge us like the main grocery stores.

We have made it a life-rule not to live with anyone. Some may say, "Why don't you two move in with one of his relatives, like his sister?". Some may say, "Why don't you find a friend to move in with to make it easier?". I have lived with friends in my 20s, and gone down that road. Aspies and especially very sick Aspies need privacy. I still remember the year I had to move in with my parents and what a nightmare that was as I struggled to graduate from college.

Another blogger wrote about what it is to be poor, and I wanted to share her words here.  I definitely related to many of her words.

My Lifetime of Poverty

"Some people will tell you that there is no shame in being poor.  Really?  What planet are you on.  Of course there is shame, even from the one who is supposed to love you.  It makes you a low value person, very, very helpless and stupid.  Let's be realistic here.  Why didn't anyone actually connect to me?  Why did they sit all happy and tell me that and ask me a huge list of invasive questions.  Early on realized that you weren't allowed boundaries when your poor. "

There is a lot of shame in poverty. I am struggling with it immensely. At times I get brave and write about how I want to be above it all and how God will honor the poor but when push comes to shove, it is shame inducing and embarrassing. Poverty makes you angry. Poverty makes you see the long list of things you don't get to do. One thing that does happen is you plan to do stuff, "I want to visit ****, I want to see ****", and then you look back 5 years later and none of it happened.

I was showing this article to my husband while writing it, and he said to me, "Why should I feel ashamed when the game is totally crooked!" I noticed he has not internalized these things like me. Maybe he is better off in avoiding that! Hey I don't shame any poor people myself,  I agree he is right in my head but my heart needs to learn it.

I am working on leaving the narc family mind games with poverty wishing a few breaks or at least peaceful steadiness would kick in. My brother showing off his $15,000 dollars worth of furniture got to be a bit much the other day. That must be some insecurity to show off your presents, your furniture to a sister on the lower rungs of the ladder but I know the sick crucible that was all boiled up in.

It's been sad having a life where poverty has affected for so long.  I don't know how to make money or "hustle" or the things people do to bring in the cash. I have done things like tutor and sell the occasional painting for money in the past. Remember disabled people can make a little bit.   The scary thing is without my husband, I would have been even poorer and not able to at least enjoy the 10 years of the more stable working class mode. We also have done everything from sell so many things from our apartment like records or books on ebay to collecting cans. He even sold ebay last week.  If my husband sees a can he still picks it up. "Once a can man, always a can man" was the quip to this sentence.

I suppose one has to brush one's self off and tell themselves not to give up, keep walking. There is no other choice but do this. I am worried about my eyes and 7.9 A1C but I was very ill last month when I had the blood work done. My eyes could just be very dried out with the sinus pain. We try what we can. We have grown old but I found this poem the other day and it is MY LIFE:

              The Bean Eaters

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 - 2000

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood, 
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
          is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
          tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

I know I am fortunate not to bear this poverty alone and have someone in it for the long haul but it can get scary sometimes. I do believe ACONs who are scapegoats do get set up to fail. I have spent DECADES working on life skills I should have known far earlier. On the Afraid of My Shadow blog, she also wrote:

Let me tell you something.  I met some real down to earth wonderful and actual poor people on line. These people had good educations too, but somehow we tend to walk around with holes in our gathering baskets. Unable to rise to the top.  This was all caused by an abusive childhood.  I realized right away I only loved my mother in theory, because I was supposed to.  The real authentic me couldn't stand that creep.

I understand what she means by holes in the gathering baskets. I hope one day to plug mine up or reweave them and fix them.

See: The Wolf At the Door and Other Poverty Posts


  1. At our food bank we would switch up all the food you are allergic to. I was wondering if you can ask them to do the same. I know you'll end up with a lot of green beans, or corn flakes, but it can help to free up at least some money. We would give you all the things you can eat.

    And don't let them judge you for anything.

    And yeah, the rules of life have changed. And people will throw riches into your face, and sit there and judge you. But your husband is right, there is no reason to feel ashamed, the rules have changed.

    I am glad you found that good soup kitchen. I'm praying things will get better for you and the Mr.

  2. I am glad you would switch my food at your food bank. I did with the cereal so didn't push it. I guess I prefer the places that allow some choice, there is one church that does it. I am glad yours is a flexible place. I agree not being judge. Thanks for saying you think my husband is right. The world has changed in the rules. The good once a month soup kitchen has helped us for some time. I should write them a thank you note. Thanks for your prayers.