Well, just about the time I’d lost faith in humanity…..along comes an online friend of mine who tells my sad story to the world in “A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed” on GoFundMe, the website that runs benefits for people who are down on their luck. So far she’s raised almost $800 for Will and me, and some of the donors are people I don’t even know.
I feel so blessed. This friend and I have never met face-to-face, but we have met heart-to-heart. She’s part of my Facebook mood-disorders group and is a good Christian woman who does her best to live out her religion. Like me, she is 55 and has bipolar 1; unlike me, she is wise in the ways of dealing with both her disease and her life circumstances. She’s also been instrumental in helping me understand where God is in all of this chaos, and thanks to her I’m rediscovering my own faith.
And once again I am amazed at the magic of the Internet, which brings together people who ordinarily would never know of each other’s existence. Geography doesn’t matter anymore; my friend lives all the way across the country, but she may as well be in the same room when we get to “chatting”. I have other friends on the eastern side of the country whom I also have not met in the traditional sense of the word, as well as old high-school chums who I’ve run into on Facebook and picked up where we left off almost 40 years ago.
Still, I was amazed when my friend in Maine came up with the idea to help raise money for us. I’d heard of GoFundMe before, but would never have used it myself…..even in the midst of disaster, I couldn’t have asked strangers OR friends for financial help. I may be poor as Job’s turkey, but I’m also stubborn and yes, prideful despite knowing what goes before a fall. I can’t help it. The trajectory of my life keeps heading relentlessly downhill, and yet I try to pretend that I’m still a middle-class woman who’s simply going through a rough patch.
It seems to be the only way I can handle my present reality. I don’t want to allow myself to become comfortable in poverty’s embrace, as I did many years ago when the kids were little and welfare was a way of life. But I didn’t let the system beat me down: I worked hard to get us away from it and was fiercely proud of accomplishing the deed. That’s what upsets me the most—we had the middle-class lifestyle, and now we’ve lost it. Sometimes I think it would have been better if we’d just stayed poor…..at least we would never have tasted the life we’d dreamed of and then had it taken away from us like candy from a baby.
However, this is what makes me appreciate my friends more. No one is abandoning me because I can’t go to lunch or out shopping, no one is condemning me for being on food stamps or applying for disability. What I have to do now is stop condemning myself.
In the meantime, Christmas is coming and we won’t be alone with no presents to unwrap; our son wants us to come to his place Christmas morning and then be taken to a magnificent buffet for dinner. We’ll have some money to keep us off the streets a little longer, we have food to eat, and best of all we have friends and family who love us. And as much as I hate what’s happening, I realize that things could definitely be worse. Much worse.