For the last 6 months or so, my self mantra has been “I love myself”.
I say it to me randomly, I say it to me when I realize it’s been a while since I said it, I say it to me when I’m sick or feeling badly, I say it out loud in the mirror sometimes.
It works well for dealing with depression, too — I still feel tired and need rest and recovery, but being depressed is not an experience in being hopelessly sad as it once was, and I credit my self talk with that.
I also credit that new self talk with my recent experiences of basically never tearing myself down when I’ve made a mistake, the most notable incident being when I wiped my own blog database.
I’ve noticed lately a new mantra emerging. Not to replace this one (I’m keeping it) but to add to it. And it’s a doozy, for me, one that has taken a lot of growth to come to, and has been almost as hard to learn to say — for different reasons, including embarrassment, social conditioning and a deep sense of identity.
It is: “I am not poor.”
Because I’m not. And I never actually have been, actually, poor.
I’ve had to make hard decisions about what my money was going to pay for, and I’ve had to go without things, some of which many people view as integral to a basic life.
But I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t maintain a bank account, and got caught up in the circular scam of high fee check cashing joints and payday loans.
I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have ID.
I’ve never been so poor that I starved.
I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have some form of transportation, be it public or a bicycle or a car or a motorcycle.
I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t get at least a small line of credit, and I’ve never been so strapped that I had to get marred in using that line of credit for basic life needs for more than a small amount of time.
Part of why I’ve never been in those situations is because I’ve had help in those time periods where without support I would have needed to resort to those things, many of which are choices that are incredibly difficult to come back from. Much of that support until last year stemmed from my romantic relationships.
But when I am honest with myself, those situations were a matter of choice, no matter how limited in my options I may have felt at the time. Just like moving into the van and leaving Seattle was a choice, as much as it felt like the entire world was rejecting me and spitting me out of the city.
I was in the position to lean into the support of others to sustain my life not as a need, but as a privilege. A means to live my life the way I am compelled to live it and to contribute to larger society in the ways I discover I am best suited, which often fall outside of the normality of a financial structure that’s become a matter of course for most everyone else I know.
And that has not been easy, by any stretch, to accomplish, or to receive, or to ask for, or to maneuver. I do not live a comfortable life by many, many standards.
But what it really comes down to is that I’ve been lying to myself for a long time, about my situation, about my opportunities, and about my lot in life. Because all that time, from when I was 5 years old and understood but couldn’t hold my dad’s fears of being evicted, his constant struggle with earning and leveraging money, I’ve identified as being poor, as being class oppressed.
I’ve seen and read and experienced some of what poverty really, honestly, looks like. In real life, rather than just on paper as an arbitrary number.
I am not poor.
And I never was poor.
And that’s really just the truth of it.