2019 around Thanksgiving, the kid and I had the rug pulled from underneath us. I didn’t see it coming, worse still was the depth of the wound that it caused. When we toasted on New year’s Eve, the kid said “May 2020 bring us plenty”, and then she started to laugh as she pointed out that 20 and plenty rhymed.
We hoped for plenty because a lot had happened in the years preceding the pulled rug act that just made it feel like the last straw, so of course we were hoping to at least start work towards finding our base and starting all over… but nope! 2020 had other plans. It got uglier by the month, literally! Every month had its very specific challenge. The blows were big and crippling, and I’d feel my spirit double over, not sure how long I can remain standing. People would remind me that I was a ‘strong woman’ and to see how far I have come and I can do it again… There were days where I would rather just puncture my eardrums than hear one more person tell me I was strong.
Being strong is tiring, being a strong woman is freaking exhausting and very traumatizing!!!
I was falling apart. I was losing sleep and losing weight. I was having to deal with the fact that choices I made are affecting my child’s life and she is diving fast into a very frightening level of depression and I didn’t know who or where to turn to. People that normally would be our fortress pulled away because they ‘didn’t want to be involved’. Understandable so too, but what I wanted was not anyone’s involvement in the matter. I only wanted a friendly place to land and feel normal while I catch my breath between blows.
I got to learn how very long a month can be when swimming in shit and expected to swallow it because….well, I’m drowning and there is no lifebuoy. Matters didn’t help much that every other month there was a relentless effort to make us homeless. So not only was I worried about holding onto my sanity, showing up everyday and carrying on with the things that needed to be taken care of, I also needed to put a bold front for the kid who was crumbling faster than I could hold her up.
And there was no one to turn to…
I sincerely don’t know how we both would have made it without therapy. I made up my mind very early on that I would go through all of it, holding onto the very last shred of dignity I can find, and that entailed not letting it break me to the point where hurt turns to anger that turns to hatred. I won’t even tell you how many times I came close…
What most people don’t know is that my creativity is a coping mechanism. The more stressful my life becomes, the more (and faster) I create. So I kept churning item after item, and everyone simply assumed I was swimming in money because, well, why not? I have an online store and I list new items weekly and they are well priced, so ergo!
Truth be told, I make the sort of items that are not considered a need or priority and we all know that 2020 has taught us all to narrow down and focus on the important things. So even though on paper and in inventory, I was worth some decent coins, I was literally counting the dimes and worrying about when next I will afford gas for my car, or afford my meds, or heck!! even feed my kid!! I had a credit card that was perpetually getting maxed out and reimbursed with each paycheck.
…Then I lost my job at the worse financial time for me. I won’t even go into the nightmare that was. Navigating uncertainty takes a toll, doing so without a job and nowhere to land is alien, hard to explain till you actually go through it…
I told the kid we won’t be putting up a tree because it would be pointless to have a tree with no presents underneath. No one will be sending anything our way and I was too broke to afford presents, so putting up a tree will only make what is missing even more obvious. She agreed, but then had a change of heart. So I put out a call for a plastic tree and a gracious stranger gave us, not only a good sized tree, but a whole loaf of banana bread and a Christmas card (our very first) with a gift card in it. Miracle number 1.
I put up the tree and decorated it, we didn’t have many things to hang on it but at least we had a tree!! It was hard to decide if I wanted to use the gift card from the kind woman to get the kid a gift for her birthday or buy gifts I would put underneath the tree (for her). I decided birthday should trump Holidays, besides, it was her sweet 16!
Day after the birthday, we received a holiday greeting card in the mail with gift cards included All it said was it was from ‘Santa, North Pole’ and that he wanted to let us know he was watching and noticed that we have been good. No return address, no mail mark, no idea AT ALL where that was mailed from. Miracle number 2.
We initially had no plans for a fancy feast, but now we can afford a few things, so we used those to buy ‘fancy food’ for the holidays. And then put the rest of it aside, to go towards settling my credit card bill.
Next day, someone else reached out to say Santa is trying to reach me and had a card for us. My first thought was that this person is working with the same ‘Santa’ that sent us the greeting card and gift cards, and it didn’t feel polite to tell her that Santa had already reached out; that would have been presumptuous. Turns out this was another Santa (I think). We made the 40 minutes trip to go pick up the card from Santa 2. There were 2 cards waiting for us. When I opened the first card, the first thing that caught my eyes was the Red cardinal. Red Cardinals are creatures I believe my dad (who passed 9 years ago) sends to let me know “You are going to be OK” (I talk to him a lot when I need help…)
Let me digress a little. From the moment I lost my job, anything that could go wrong did. I was in a very VERY bad place, financially, domestically and health-wise – physically and mentally. In the past months, my consolation had always been that I still had a job to go to, and I get to hang out weekly with the lovely people I worked with, but suddenly being without employment and in turn left out of the ‘workship’ (friendship with co-worker), things felt even darker and drearier, and I was really struggling.
I had already depleted my little savings before I was let go and already had gone into credit card debt I had no idea how I would be paying back, so knowing income was no longer coming, sent me into a slow state of panic that I would eventually max out the credit card and have nothing to fall on. I’d spend hours on end talking to myself, to my dad, to source energy, to the divine… late into the night and right into the early hours of the mornings. Insomnia was my daily companion and migraines my bed fellow…so seeing the red cardinal when I opened that card brought tears to my eyes. The card was from the person that told me about Santa 2’s card. Inside her card was a generous gift. I looked at my kid and saw the tears well up in her eyes and I said to her “We’ll be OK.” Miracle number 3.
By this time, I was trying not to break down. The miracles of the last 3 days all coming from people that knew nothing about the level of my struggles (or at least I don’t think they did) but allowed Spirit to move them to bless us brought back a glimmer of hope. We still had no gifts under our tree, but by now, I didn’t care. I would start paying back my debt; and that would be a much better feeling than having a gift under a tree.
Santa’s person then pushed the other envelope forward and said, “go ahead, THIS ONE is the one from Santa”. When I opened it and its content poured out, I could no longer hold it in. The worse sort of ugly cry poured out of me. Tears of gratitude and further relief. I looked up and the kid was immobilized. She looked like she was not breathing, like she had seen a ghost….scared? Shocked?? Miracle number 4.
We drove home in awe. The kid cried all the way home. 40 minutes’ drive. She kept saying “There are still kind people out there” like a mantra. I agreed.
When we got home, I told her she can have two ‘reasonably priced’ items. We obviously won’t receive them in good time to put under the tree, but at least she will have holiday gifts so she went into her room to think about what she might want. I made a quick calculation and realized that I we were getting pretty close to paying up the credit card debt by now. There is still a bit more to clear it all, but the bulk of it would be taken care of, and that was a HUGE weight off my shoulder. These were accumulated expenses from before my last paycheck right into that period and I had by then just about maxed out on the card. Just knowing that the spending capacity of my credit card will be upgraded and it should hold us a while longer was reassuring.
The last straw was when a lovely lady reached out to find out how to make a purchase from my store so I told her (paypal). I was getting ready to go to the P.O, so I checked my email for her mailing address and when it didn’t come through, I went on paypal because it always has an address attached to every payment. When I opened my account, I panicked because there were funds there that had no reason to be. First thought that crossed my mind was that someone hacked into my account again (happened before) and this time they were laundering money. Dramatic, I know. I scrolled down to the ‘recent activities’ section to see where it came from. When I saw that it came from this lovely lady, I couldn’t hold in the tears. My heart was pounding so hard. Happy Tears. Her family sent a lovely note with that generosity as well
This was not the first time this family have been kind to us. Their timing reaching out to us with assistance we need at the very time they offer it was always spot on!!! Their generosity with that PayPal gesture paid up the remaining of my credit card debt to the penny! Miracle number 5.
I sat there in my studio, in the dark, crying and feeling a level of relief I have not felt in close to 2 years. I’m not kidding! All, and I mean ALL the people that have reached out to us with these blessings had NO REASON at all to be kind to us, and they most likely also know I will never be able to pay back anyway.
Now, this is December of 2020. The bulk of us have been beaten to a pulp by the effects of the virus. Some of us have had a nightmare of a life before COVID 19 and it was easier to ask for help then, but with COVID 19, and everyone else living their own private nightmare, where do you turn? Everyone else is dealing with a lot!!! And you have been asking for help way before the pandemic. Heck! No one wants to know now. I’d tell myself I need to know where to draw the line between being needy and really needing help… It had by then felt like I had depleted all avenues and I had literally resigned to see how life will snuff me out eventually (I’m not being dramatic). So the import of those generosities, and especially from all the places they came from and how it all came about made me have renewed faith in divine protection. I can sincerely say that in all my 48 years I have no memory of this level of kindness, ever.
I will work very hard to turn things around, even more so now, so that by the holidays of 2021, I will be one of Santa’s aids bringing some hope to someone else’s life too. No, this isn’t ambition, this is gratitude. I will never be able to pay back the kindness, I don’t even know half the people that sent it our way…But I can help someone else find hope again somewhere down the line. I don’t know how yet, but that is something to work towards. Happy New Year!
Peace begins with me.