I never thought too much about my age. I can remember getting to eighteen seemed to take a lifetime. Being that my childhood was slightly dysfunctional I couldn’t wait until I had finished year 12 and to get out of home.
When I left home the first time in about April of 2004, not long after I had turned 18. I quickly realized that I wasn’t very prepared for the outside world. It’s funny now but I remember being shocked that I had to pay electricity on top of rent. It wasn’t until the power was cut off in our apartment that I worked out that I had to connect it in my own name. I was kind of annoyed at the time as I really had only budgeted for rent when looking for a place. I thought it was a package deal.
I have always promised myself that if I had kids that I would involve them in the ‘everyday’ activities. It’s always important to play games, do their homework and take them places to stimulate their minds and learning but it is just as important they learn the ‘everyday’ tasks. Like how to get blood out of clothing…. use cold water, how to change the washer on your sink and pay bills!
I figure not only does this prepare them for the real world, it also gives them a bit of understanding when it comes to money. It’s all well and good to say ‘no we can’t afford this’ but why? A lot of young people honestly do think that an endless supplies of money just spits out a hole in the wall.
Parents this is our fault!! We never want to overwhelm them with the pressures we face but this is not real life. Real life is hard and it’s not a failing of ours it makes us stronger!! I believe if our children understand exactly what our financial situation is that not only are we doing them a huge favor but making it less scary for them when making that leap in becoming independent.
I think maybe it’s got to do with the shame of some having more or less than others. Money does in a way make the world go round but it’s not everything.
At 32 I would say that I am pretty handy when it comes to fixing things and pretty self sufficient which I can credit mostly to myself. I have never really wanted a career as such, more to experience as much in this life as I can along the way. This is probably why I have had so many jobs in different fields. Also I have a tendency to become bored and mischievous unless stimulated by new tasks or activities to overcome!!
Money doesn’t define who we are in fact some of the best people I have met have had nothing.
About 10 years ago I met some heroine addicts who lived in Bowen Hills in Brisbane. They lived in a dingy studio apartment that most people would run screaming from. No sheets on the stained mattress that lay on the floor, a busted TV and nothing really in the way of furniture. Clothing was either hung over a chair or in a pile on the floor in the not so sanitary bathroom. I figured this is how they told the difference between worn & unworn?
I came to be there as I had no where else to go. Things had gone from bad to worse for me at this point. I had met them at the RBWH after I was threatened at gun point by a man I thought I knew, but in drugs do you really know a person? He had that night held a gun to my head, robbed me and stolen my car. I had at that point in time had no family support, a bad habit and nowhere to go.
It probably wasn’t the safest of decisions to go home with some heroine addicts I had just met. I was only about 19 or 20 years old but I honestly didn’t have any other option at this point. As I have found again this time, help really seems like just a 4 letter word! When services to ‘help’ are either so overwhelmed by people in need or it is such a stuff around waiting on hold or being directed to the wrong department it can become a case of just giving up in the end. Sometimes I think if I wasn’t so stubborn that I would have given up a long time ago. This is the case maybe for those people you walk past in the Valley Mall asleep in the street. Maybe they hit too many brick walls along the way? Maybe their issues coupled with lack of understanding and support caused them to give up? Maybe it was easier to just find a warm blanket and something to take their mind off their reality which could come in the form of drugs or alcohol?
I found though as I was led into a dingy apartment which these two addicts squatted in, two of the kindest but at the same time broken individuals who helped me get out of the mindset of less and more and the importance of it. You see when I grow up my family had a fair amount of money that subsequently they lost. I guess I figure it’s pretty hard to miss something I never had in the first place and although they started with nothing and worked so hard for every cent of it, having it and even loosing it didn’t ever change them which is how I want to live my life.
These two lovely, broken addicts, although they had nothing put down something so I could sit on the clean side of the filthy mattress. They washed up and gave me the ‘good’ glass to have a drink from. They let me into their home and asked for nothing in return. They just saw a young girl, alone, who was noticeably distressed and may have been eaten up and lost in a broken system or preyed upon by some sleazy character and led down a dangerous path and decided to help. Help because it was the right thing to do and not for any other reason or reward in the end. Now they had their issues which were big enough on there own and walking away rather than taking on someone in need would have been understandable. Both the victims of childhood sexual abuse and products of the foster care system, which was a story nightmares are made of.
During my stay with them I came to be less judgmental of people and the ‘haves and have nots’. They gave me advice and let me into their world and told me their story.
Ever since then I have been interested in people’s story as apposed to all the stuff they have. I much prefer the question ‘what do you like doing?’ compared to ‘what do you do?’. A job doesn’t define who we are or maybe it does? What someone does for a job may be the thing they answer to the question ‘what do you like doing?’.
It’s strange to think about it but we are all expected to live to a certain standard in this life but we are not all given the same chances growing up. We are not all blessed with a good education or stable upbringings yet we are expected to all get it right. I don’t disagree that socially acceptable levels of behavior are a must but how do we ensure that it’s fair to put blame on those who don’t alway get it right or hit the mark?
Changing that is not something I have any answers to or can begin to comprehend how we could even fix it. It’s just something I often think about.
Sometimes I think too much it seems and maybe that’s a reason for a lot of my stress? It is however a big part of how I see people and treat them when going out into the big wide world.
I often wonder where those two beautifully broken people are today?
I wonder if they knew that their small act of kindness has shaped the way I see the world and has done for a number of years now?
How often do we touch someone’s life in a huge way and not even realize?
To them I want to say thank you and god bless. I hope life has found you some happiness and peace in this sometimes cruel world!!
I am a mother of one, artist and blogger from Australia. I write children’s books and want to introduce awareness education for children in all schools. This is my journey from domestic violence and beyond. Where it will end up is anyone's guess. Share in my story....