Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Broken Child: You Mean We're Poor? - Enlighten Me Series

I've broken down my story into six parts. These excerpts point to the beginnings of my depression. From what I have gathered, my situation was the perfect storm for a little girl to lose her way. I was in great need of enlightenment and guidance.


Part Three: You Mean We're Poor?

Who knew? I was clueless. Poor children don’t know they are poor. Not until others point it out. Some of the laughter or jokes came because of the clothes I was wearing. I didn’t know that they were laughing at me because I was too poor to afford nice clothes that fit well, or looked worn out, faded, or most likely, mismatched clothes. I knew that I was being laughed at but couldn’t understand why. My parents have five children all a year apart. So our clothes were shared among us, as were the shoes and coats. Every once in a while my brother even wore a girl’s coat. On rainy days we didn’t wear boots. Sometimes there were no socks to be found. I realize now that the clothes probably weren’t as clean as they could have been either. When my glasses broke, they were taped up bringing more jeers and jokes. I became the geek, the unwanted, and the unwashed. I was confused. I cried.

I wished someone had enlightened me that being poor put you below others on the social scale. I didn't realize that the poverty moniker was showing all over me. It could have explained the behavior of the other kids. I didn’t care or even think about clothes or how someone else dressed or looked, but it meant so much to so many other people. I was confused.

I didn’t realize we were poor until my mother and I went shopping for my communion dress. These were the most beautiful dresses I had ever seen. Every time I picked one off the rack that I liked, my mother would say, “Sorry honey, that one costs too much.” She said that after the next six dresses I picked up. That’s when a paradigm shift happened and I asked, “Mami, are we poor? Are we a poor family?” She thought for a minute and then admitted that yes indeed we were what people would call poor. But as long as we were together and loved each other that we were rich in love and family. To this day, she regrets telling me yes, because I would never let her buy me anything ever again after that. I always told her I didn’t need it and to spend the money on my brother or sisters instead.

I became embarrassed, self-conscious, and tried my best to be invisible after that. But it was becoming easy. No one pays attention to you when you look so pitiful, unless of course, its to make fun of you. Other than that, you become a nobody. That was fine with me.

Part Four coming up: Seeing Could Have Helped - when you're blind as a bat, no wonder everything seems hazy. Geez.