Guest post by Elise Adams from Adams Organizing
Four years ago this August, I was rescued from a life of homelessness and violence when my daughter’s father was arrested. So when I came back to my hometown and began rebuilding my life, I was relieved to get on government assistance. A full fridge and a safe house felt luxurious to me.
After living in hotels, I was quickly content with a subsidized apartment, food stamps, and a little money to pay my utilities. I felt blessed to stay home with my children.
Fast forward a few years… I’m married to the man God picked for me (since my “picker” was obviously broken!) and we have a baby boy. After a job loss and a year on unemployment with a lot of bad decisions in between, we arrived at the the worst day of our life together just four weeks ago. I was getting ready to leave a business trip and we were counting on our IRS tax refund check to catch us up on bills. But it didn’t arrive on time.
I will never forget that night! I cried myself to sleep wondering, “How could I be back in such a desperate place?”
Then something twisted deep inside my stomach. I promised myself that we’d never be in such a desperate situation again. No matter what it takes, I told myself, we will not ever run out of money so completely that we are afraid that we won’t have enough to pay rent.
For some of you this is a shocking story. How can anybody allow themselves to sink to such desperate situation? Didn’t we know any better? Are we crazy? Or maybe we’re lazy?
Yes, in some ways, to all of those questions. Yet, what I believe kept us stuck in a situation that most of you would find unthinkable is the very same reality that keeps Dave Ramsey’s listeners leasing cars and using credit cards: Denial.
It was easier to pretend that we aren’t really poor. As long as the lights stayed on and we weren’t evicted we could pretend we were safe and secure.
This is why I am so thankful that we ran out of money that day four weeks ago. I am so glad that I cried myself to sleep that night, promising my own soul that we’d do whatever it takes to climb all the way out of poverty.
Today, just four weeks or so later, we have made huge changes:
- My husband is working 42 hours a week now and he is taking a full class load toward his nursing degree.
- I’ve totally re-focused my blog on this whole area of personal responsibility.
- We’ve changed how we budget–using only cash for everything after bills.
No matter where you find yourself today financially, might you still be indulging in a bit of denial? Are there areas that you let slide because it’s easier? Maybe you are struggling with unemployment or are taking government assistance to get by? I’d love to hear your stories!
Elise Adams is an author, motivational speaker, and radio personality who is determined to help everyone she meets ‘survive, thrive and get on with their lives’. She blogs over at AdamsOrganizing.com where she openly and candidly attacks the tough topics of addiction, chaos, and homelessness from a personal recovery perspective. Her latest project is a Free Video Class she calls ‘How to survive ANY crisis without Losing your Sanity’. Elise, her husband, and three toddlers (three other kids live with their other parents–can you say ‘blended family’?) live in the Pacific Northwest.