Once upon a time there lay a shiny silver book in my childhood bookcase named “Poor Little Rich Girl”. I never turned one page of the book, nor do I know who authored this piece of literature, but I often see it at the top of the staircase where that old bookcase once stood. Perhaps the book had nothing to do with being or feeling the lack of money. Perhaps, the character(s) experienced lack in other ways, such as lack of love for her/himself. I don’t know the meaning of the title nor does it really matter. What matters is those words resonated with me “Poor Little Rich Girl”. No one would ever know, since childhood I have always felt I lacked financial resources, self-confidence, talent, knowledge, and most importantly self-love and self-compassion. I was around nine years old when I came upon that book and forty-eight years later I still have that same sense of lack I felt in my young childhood..
Although I have worked consistently for thirty-three years, I never amassed any wealth or tucked away any sort of real savings. I have lived by some people’s standards, lets say recklessly, although they wouldn’t say it to me outwardly. I could easily blame my parents for not teaching me the importance of saving up for a rainy day or retirement but I must hold myself accountable. Taking responsibility is hard, especially when one feels so much shame about it. Today, I am reliant on a measly Social Security check, although grateful to have this income, I barely survive on these funds. After bills are paid there is very little left to work with. But you learn to survive. No one would ever know I have for the better part of my life just been surviving not just monetarily wise but emotionally and spiritually. It really sucks. It’s like standing in quicksand for decades and it won’t overcome you totally but it makes you tread like crazy just to keep your head exposed enough to breathe. In essence, it still suffocates me as I grasp for air.
So what about the part of “rich” in the title do I resonate with? Well, I can say that my life is rich in so many ways. I am loved and supported by incredible women in my life, my sisters, mother, and a handful of close friends. They love me unconditionally, most of the time (ha ha). Also, when I feel like I am suffocating from the feeling of lack I never have to look to far to see how richly blessed I am. I am not homeless, I am somewhat healthy, I can see, hear and move my body with ease. I am told I am smart, beautiful, generous and compassionate. I feel richly blessed that people see me in this light. If only I could see myself just the same-but I don’t. In truth, I feel inadequate, unworthy and hopeless most of the times but no one would ever know. Instead I put on my game face that tells a different story. When people ask me how are you doing I am quick to respond I am fine, everything is great-this is not the truth. I am in pain. I feel like a lost child. I am scared. I worry about the future-what will happen to me; where will I live, will I ever work again? The chatter in my head is constant; it takes a lot of effort to quiet the storm. But I find ways to escape and not necessarily in healthy ways. Some believe coping methods are for the most part adaptive-they aren’t. Some coping methods are maladaptive in nature but are nonetheless methods to help one get through crises and dark moments. My moments are not always dark, as of late they have been more brighter than usual but still I cannot escape the darkness when it comes. It arrives unannounced, most of the times it is like an uninvited intruder to rain on my parade. No one would know how hard I try to keep the doors locked and to safeguard myself but it still finds ways to invade my mind, body and spirit. One day I imagine my life differently where the feeling of lack becomes feelings of abundance and hopelessness transforms into hopefulness. Perhaps I should try and quell my curiosity about the premise of the “Poor Little Rich Girl” because one should never judge its book by its cover.