The elephant in the room

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I’m noticing how hard and alienating it is these days to answer the simple question, “How’s it going?”  When this whole thing went down, I couldn’t help spilling my guts to pretty much anyone who looked me straight in the eye.  (After I stopped crying, that is.)  As time goes on, I am trying to learn more discretion, never a strength of mine.  I want to be able to be truthful without spilling the whole story, for one (or both) of two reasons:

Maybe I don’t feel it’s the other person’s concern, and I want to protect my privacy.

Or maybe I feel a little embarrassed to be so upset by it all, especially since, rightly, the whole story elicits little sympathy.  I mean, everyone’s struggling right now — or if not right now, they will be eventually.  Our situation is only difficult because it’s ours.  (Oh how tragic, you have to work for a living now?  I shudder to imagine.) Sometimes it feels as though well-meaning friends, in an attempt to buck me up, tell me how lucky I used to be.  Believe me, I know.

So, people ask how I’m doing and I say fine and then sort of cut myself off at the eyes, not wanting to show how scary this is for me.  I feel myself voluntarily separating from people in conversation, being there but not there.

Or they ask what’s up and I demur.  Oh nothing.  Nothing interesting.  Life goes on.  It makes it sound as though we’re just skipping blithely along, not really thinking about anything in particular.  It’s too hard to articulate that we’ve lost most of our income and have no real skills to fall back on.  We still look the same, still live in the same place, still have adorable healthy (thank G-d) kids.  The present is ok, but the future looks pretty fucking scary.

It’s as if the cushion of unearned privilege continues to separate me from others, even after it is no longer there.  Nobody wants to hear the sob story of the little rich girl who is forced to join the human race. It’s only important if it’s happening to you, and even then not really.

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One thought on “The elephant in the room

  1. This is what our sermon at church was about yesterday. About *those* Unitarians, who assume that everyone has a college education, and a 401K, or whatever. And about *those* UUs who stood up and said, hey, that’s not me. I’m poor and never had a 401K plan or any savings, so it sucks for me too, and it has.

    But, but…it still sucks for those people who lost their life savings, and their cushion. They worked, they saved, or they were blessed with financial independence.

    Your pain is as real and as valid as mine, in my existent poverty. I am so, so sorry that this financial crisis is hurting you and many other friends. I wish I could make it not so :(. Please know that you’re in my thoughts, and that I really do have true compassion for your struggle.

    I hope that things turn around and that something can be salvaged of this disaster.

    In love,
    Kelly

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