I ran out of money yesterday.
Like, literally, out.
I’m at the checkout at Fred Meyer, with my boys who are soooo excited about their school supplies and all the possibilities of a new school year before them. (Minus the whole getting up in the morning part for Jake).
I had an offer to help with school supplies but I got all pridey about it and was like, other people need help more than I do, I got this.
And then time stood kinda still while the clerk hands me back my card and says, “hmm, it didn’t go through.” And I’m all well, can you try it again because there must be some kind of mistake. (Indeed mistakes were made. Many of them. On my end).
So he tried again. The line is getting fidgety behind me, the boys are unusually all up next to me at the counter.
“Sorry, it says insufficient funds.” He hands it to me with a shrug like clearly there’s an error here and I’m trying to save you face lady … but the supplies we’d spent an hour gathering are all bagged up, and the line is long behind me and the boys are all wide-eyed.
“What’s insufficient funds?” Asks Sam. I pause to think about how I want to reply but the lady behind me decides to help me out by saying: “It means she doesn’t have money in the account.”
“WE’RE OUT OF MONEY?!” Sam is incredulous.
“Ma’am is there another way you’d like to pay?”
“Sure, I can write a check.” I laugh because, obviously. And he nods, go for it. Oh, this guy gets it. As I write the check I’m frantically wracking my brain for ways to get some money into my account before payday which mercifully is the very next day. But without money in the account to cover this check, I’m looking at fees and fees on top of fees. By the way for those of you who wonder how people get so behind on money stuff, it comes down to this: you mess up a little bit. It costs you a lot. And it takes For. Ever. to dig your way back out.
Why yes! I could have done the responsible thing and said “Oh, okay well we’ll have to put these back and come back.” Instead, I did not. Even better, I took the boys to get smoothies to prove how not out of money we are. I know! Then, I hurried home, rushed around gathering up loose change and the remainder of my savings and headed back to the bank. At this point I’m on the verge of tears because how did I even get here right? Not that long ago I’d worked so hard to get out of debt and on a good financial track and then The Divorce happened and the perfect credit score I’d protected my entire adult life went right to hell.
I pray in the truck before going into the bank. It’s a simple one: “God. Please send money. I have no idea how. I just need to borrow some through tomorrow so I don’t get more behind.” And, because I always feel like God wants to know what I’m going to do on my end of things I add, “And I’m really working on being a better steward of my resources.”
So then, I’m standing in line with my little jar of change and some cash I’d kept in an envelope in case of emergency, which wasn’t supposed to be pencils, tissues and crayons but here I am. And I see a friend leaving and avoid eye contact because I’m the kind of person that if you ask me what’s up, I’ll tell you. And I didn’t want to tell anyone this.*
But we connect. And she says, always so cheerful, how are you? And I, because authenticity, I respond with: “How are YOU!?” And the tears start brewing and dammit I am about to lose it in a line three people deep. And you know how when people are extra nice to you, it’s even harder not to cry? And she directly asks what’s up and why am I going to cry, so I tell her. And she hugs me. And then comes back and hands me the exact amount of cash I needed to cover us through payday. Just like that, gives it to me. Buy the boys some shoes, whatever you need she says. Love you.
Later, I learn she’d been held up at the bank and was feeling annoyed by that. In that moment, it was clear to her she was where she was supposed to be. And I’m thankful she was. And I wish I’d managed myself better to not have been in this situation but I don’t know how long I have left on this planet and I don’t intend to waste my time regretting things I can’t change.
What I can do is figure it out moving forward. What I can do is set a better example for my boys about stewardship of our resources and being honest about what we can and can’t afford right now. I have to start though, by being honest with myself about it. You know, live within my means and all that old-fashioned goodness.
*I mentioned that I didn’t want to tell anyone because who does crap like this? And, yet here I am writing about it now. I want you to know why. I believe that shame kills our spirits. The twinge of guilt that I felt that I was not handling something properly was appropriate. That feeling motivates me to make better choices immediately. Shame though? Shame is crippling and serves no one. I trust you guys to read this for what it is. Me keeping things real with the intent to encourage you to ask for help and trust when it comes.
Sharing this, however, is not a plea for help. What I need is for us to keep shit real with each other. I got this. With a little help at just the right time!
If I need it, I’ll ask for it. That’s really what I’m working on right now. Accepting it when it comes and being more direct in asking for it. And, then, trusting people to show up when they say they will. #TrustIssues
Also, people can’t help but offer advice. Helpful, well-meaning advice such as: balance your checkbook! Make a budget! Stick to it! Good stuff, guys. And present circumstances aside, I’m actually pretty good at grown up stuff. It’s just that when life gets flipped upside down, you go into this survival mode and it takes awhile to get to the side of things were you look around and go: yeah, this isn’t how things are going to be. And then you change them and find your new way.
Looking forward to sharing more about the journey to now and where we go from here.
Have the courage to tell your truth: to yourself first and others who matter to you. There’s freedom in that.
p.s. I’ve so missed writing here and it makes my heart happy to be back at my keyboard. Soon, very soon, I will even have my office back to write in. Because I am organizing all the things. For real this time!
p.p.s. one more thing: finding freedom in truth doesn’t necessarily mean spilling all your stuff on social media, or disclosing information to someone that will hurt them under the guise of “just being honest” to relieve yourself of a burden by passing it on to someone else. More than anything freedom in truth is an inside job. We all lie to ourselves about something. It’s just a matter of how long you need to keep that up before laying it down and living into truth and freedom. It’s harder, but better this way. I promise.