It’s not a stutter. It’s PTSD with some extra P’s. A LuLaRoe mentor, Lisa Jones, first described this to me, and it hit home so hard. Poor People Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Once you’ve been poor, you will pretty much always be afraid of being poor again. You will think you cannot afford things, that you easily can, like food. I’m not even talking about the big guns like cars and vacations. I saw this Stella and Dot Clutch I had to have and I almost threw up when I saw the price.
It’s like a rug or placemat loom rolled over to make a clutch. My grandma had these placemats in her sun room in 1986 and they were 10 years old then. But I LOVED IT.
For the PTSD to make sense I want to talk about where we came from. Before LuLaRoe, we didn’t have much. I always said “we got by”. Because we did. We are far more blessed than some and I fully realize that, but we were not thriving in America living any sort of American Dream. We had a home that we rented. We had clothing on our backs. We weren’t sleeping in a car. But we struggled. On the day my water broke with my second child, Sam, my alarm was set to go off early anyway because we were due in court to finalize our bankruptcy. We were indeed bankrupt. If you’ve never been bankrupt I’m not sure I can describe to you the shame that comes with it. There was this huge sense of relief when the collectors stopped calling. HUGE. But there was also this feeling of absolutely failing at life and giving up. We had to postpone our hearing 4 weeks for, you know, labor and delivery…but 4 weeks after his birth I went to a courthouse in downtown Detroit with a baby tied to my chest and stood up and told a judge, that I a 28 year old mother of 2 (at the time) was incapable of managing my finances and I failed at life. This isn’t even a blank slate. We kept our cars off the bankruptcy because we needed them. Student loans don’t count. It was medical and credit cards (demon plastic). It was the right choice for us at the time, and we were running out of options.
Lewis and I have both always worked. We worked opposite shifts so we didn’t have to pay for daycare and we were sometimes literally just cars passing in the driveway. And when emergencies, like car repairs or home issues arose, it was sink or swim time and trying to figure out what we could give up. And then we found out we were having another baby. Just kidding…we found out we were having two. I cried that day for several reasons. One, I was convinced that my deformed uterus couldn’t hold two babies and we were all going to die and leave Lewis alone with a motherless Renna and Sam. Two, I had no idea how I would be able to handle two babies at once. And three, how in the heck would we financially be able to survive two infants and eventually four children? But as babies generally do, they came. And as parents generally do, we managed.
Ever grocery shopped with a double stroller held to your cart with carabiners like a side car? I have. As a waitress I didn’t have any vacation time or paid leave or sick days. I went back to work when they were 5 weeks old, but it wasn’t enough. We had been here before, but we were back at the WIC office and the DHS office to get help. We were already a medicaid family, except for Lewis who had insurance through his work and I only ever had health insurance when I was pregnant. Now we were a food assistance family, which brings with it a new level of sadness that actually trumped bankruptcy.
The month before I joined LuLaRoe, through the grace of a loan from a then stranger, I remember standing in my living room early one morning, crying to my mom who came to pick my oldest up for school about how we had money to pay rent or buy food and couldn’t possibly do both. We were lucky to have a support system that literally helped us survive. But one thing I’ve always had that was never taken from me by shame or humility, was hope. I believed in us. I believed there was something better out there for us. I believed we were destined for more.
This new life came at a whirlwind’s pace. In 18 short months, things had changed so dramatically that we were home owners and not just a home…land. I am still terrible with money, I’ll be the first to admit that, but having any money is something we are still learning about. And even though we make more, the choices we have made for ourselves and our children also cost more. I understand how people get trapped in the food stamps, WIC, medicaid system. When you start to make more and see it all go back out for things they used to give you is hard! It’s something I wanted for us. Something I dreamed about, but without the dream for myself and my level of hope, it would have been very easy to let opportunities pass out of fear. I have fear too. I fear everyday that it will disappear as quickly as it came. We are not fancy. We do not live a fancy life. We are not rich. But we have come so far.
With a knot in my stomach I bought the clutch. I bought it because I still believe in me. And I remember where I came from, and the PPPTSD is strong…but it’s not stronger than my will to become. LuLaRoe came into our life and rocked our world. I work hard EVERY DAY because I am motivated by the knowledge that I am worth it. And that’s something hard to say when you’re suffering PPPTSD. I am worth it. I remember where I came from, and I remember how hard it was, and I remember that I was worth just as much as then as I am now.
Don’t let opportunities pass you by because you are afraid you are not worth it. You are. Your journey may look different, but don’t regret the chances you didn’t take. You can use your PTSD to hold you back, or to rise as the fire.
“It’s Ok if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.” – Colette Werden