“Wealth” and a Challenge for the Contributors (and Followers!)
Tell us about wealth. What does it look like? Where should it go? What would you do with a half billion dollars, or any unexpected windfall for that matter?
I love it when I’m challenged to write about something specific. My mind churns out idea
after idea after idea until I’m exhausted before I even pick up my laptop. So, when this challenge was presented, I felt some relief!
And then I thought about it over and over and over, and I was exhausted all over again!
Money. All of us poor people have heard that it won’t make you happy. And all of us poor people would like the opportunity to learn that lesson through experience, if you don’t mind!
If you’ve read anything about me before, you know that my eldest daughter was born out-of-wedlock. I didn’t bother putting a father on her birth certificate, because I didn’t intend for that man to be in her life at all. He had campaigned enthusiastically for me to get an abortion, and if I didn’t, he would just take her from me and disappear into Mexico. I was 19, alone, and quite frankly, freaked out by his reaction. So, my answer was to make it almost legally impossible to fight me for her, as well as putting hundreds of miles between us. Rebekkah was mine….. And, as government tends to do, the State of Texas stuck it’s big, fat nose into my business, and put the man right back into my life, in the form of Child Support.
My second baby, DJ, was a harrowing pregnancy. Over and over, it would seem that my body was trying to miscarry, and yet my little baby would hang on. Finally, just short of two months early, my son had to be delivered…He was a month old before he could leave the hospital.
The medical bills were as so high, I stopped opening the bills. What can you do when your husband makes a total of $20,000 a year, and the hospital is demanding $82,000 for the birth of your son? Finally, the hospital told me about this magical thing called Medicaid, and they walked me through the process, and the bill simply went away. Breathtaking!
Enter The State of Texas. Because I had used public assistance, the state now had the right to try to recoup some of the money they had spent on me. Well, duh. That makes sense now, but back then, it was never mentioned. And because I had a daughter already from someone I wasn’t married to, they saw the opportunity to collect some money from the biological father.
Let’s say that I was not all that forthcoming with information about Rebekkah’s father. The information I gave them was his name. That is all. And I’ll be damned if that state didn’t find him anyways. They ordered a paternity test, and the dominoes fell from there. Long story short, The Father made a pretty decent living, and the courts ordered him to pay me a nice amount each month, as well as owing me for the six years of Bek’s life, to the tune of $54,000.
Fast forward years later. Bekkie is half way through high school, and all that legal mumbo jumbo has been a thing of the past for a decade. I sit unsuspectingly at my computer to check bank balances and pay a few bills.
Boom! There is a really large amount of money in a bank account that barely makes it through the month. I was stunned. Actually, it made me feel a little afraid.
Before I told anyone about it, I immediately called to make sure it wasn’t an accident. I was informed that The Father had been hiding money away in an account under his wife’s name and they had found, and seized it. And the money was mine. Oh.My.God.
And then the roller coaster ride really began. First, all those tiny voices in my head that whisper their worry about paying bills and still having enough money to make it to the next payday, went silent.
Second, for the first time in my life, I wanted to Protect my Money. I almost immediately became somewhat suspicious. And to some degree, with good reason. It wasn’t the Mega Lottery, but it was more than the rest of my extended family had, and after years and years of silence, suddenly there were family members that wanted to “re-connect”. And because back then I was somewhat naive, I believed that I could buy them all back. Oh please…It was like feeding a stray animal. They always came back for more, and when it was finally gone, they disappeared again. My husband and I argued over how to spend it, always afraid that we might end up spending it all. The kids wanted more and more things that their friends had…It felt great and horrible all at the same time. It seemed like money was all I could think about anymore, and it just felt wrong.
No. I didn’t invest it. My family and I gave a bunch of it away, bought things that people would normally have to buy on credit, shopped for things we wanted, and paid bills. And then it was gone. Along with that suspicious, creepy entitled feeling that had arrived with it. When the last dime of it had been spent, I felt relief. The users in my life went away, and the real friends that had always been my friends before, stayed. No more arguments with my husband over money. My kids settled back into being careful when picking what they really wanted.
My life had returned to normal, where I had to truly appreciate the paychecks that I was earning. I had to be careful to decide what we really needed as opposed to what we only wanted. In essence, we got our character back.
I don’t play the lottery, nor do I find millions and millions of dollars enticing. Since that first time, I’ve come into really large chunks of money from time to time, and I am pleased to say that I’ve gotten better at dealing with this odd turn of fortune. But I always remember that first experience, and I rely on the lessons I learned from it.
Money not only can’t buy you happiness; It can steal the happiness you already have. It can make you into a person you don’t even like yourself. It can become a god; more important than love, family, friendship, and God…It is wonderful and horrible all at the same time.
And we always think we are the ones that can tame that storm… ;-)
lol..and I know not one person who reads this would pass up the chance to learn this lesson themselves!!