Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rags to riches

"What a difference a day makes."

In addition to being a decent jazz song, it's a fact that I rediscover over and over again.

Yesterday, I wasn't sure how I was going to put food on the table or fuel in the tank. It really seemed like the next couple of days were going to be TIGHT (payday doesn't come until Friday). However, my tax return arrived last night, and I now have a pocket full of change and a belly full of food. (Whew!)

I have this funny "tick" that goes off in my head ... I think it traces back to some of my early childhood memories. When money is reeeealllly tight (which can happen on occasion), I get hungry - I mean really hungry, like "nothing in the world can possibly satisfy this hunger" sort of hungry. No matter how much or how little food is left in the cabinets, if I'm broke, I start to panic. It's strange.

And then, when the money situation get better again (and it always does), the hunger goes away. I can skip several meals, and not even think twice about it. Like, as long as I know that it is there, whenever I want it, then I don't really NEED it.

It's like there's some sort of "switch" that gets flipped in my mind. When I have money in my pocket, the world is right. No matter what is happening around me, I know that everything will turn out just fine. I am Doug. Invincible, magical Doug.

But when I run out of money, when I'm down to my last dollar, even if all my bills are paid and I have a refrigerator full of food, my mind starts to regress. I turn back into a defenseless little boy, desperately trying to find something to eat for myself - food for my brothers and sisters. It is a very powerful and mind-consuming thought. Like an animal trapped in a cage. "must get out ... must find a way ... must find food" (the thought keeps repeating, over and over, no escape).

Strangely, I do not have any specific memories from my childhood about being hungry. We were poor, yes I remember that. There were times that we even stole food, but only when we really, really had to (sometimes the need for survival outweighs the need to be good). I remember lots of things about my childhood; some good, and some bad. But I don't recall having that deep-down panicky feeling that seems to surface from time to time. (It can't be a memory, because there are no mental pictures to go with it.)

I'm sure some psychologist would tell me that I need to dig into the past and "heal my inner child", but I'm not so sure that digging into one's brain is really all that wise. There are times when things are better left alone. You get a bullet in the brain, sometimes you leave it there. Even doctors know that.

I am no longer the child that I was. I have survived. Even better, I am confident in the knowledge that I CAN survive, no matter what. I am the adult now. I am in control of my life. Nothing happens to me unless I allow it to happen. I am empowered.

Rags to riches, that's how the saying goes. But it doesn't happen overnight. Listen to me, kids - - it takes a long frakkin' time to grow up and become self-sufficient. Yeah, the Disney movies make it seem like a good-hearted little boy can just wish upon a star and everything will change overnight. Let me tell you the truth, I wished on every frakkin' star in the sky, over and over again, and no fat-assed fairy godmother ever gave me the slightest bit of help. (Disney sucks if you're a poor kid from a broken family.)

I built this life on my own - - ME.
No fairies, no angels, no magic at all.
No church choir, no pixie dust, no red slippers.
Just me. Working hard. Being patient.

Nobody can take that away from me. Ever.


I really need to budget my money a little better. Stop cutting it so close.
Otherwise, my "inner child" is going to keep kicking my ass.

Tomorrow is Payday.
... breathe ... breathe ...
I am blessed.
... breathe ... breathe ...
I need a drink.

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