Growing up poor, you need two things in order to sustain your survival. You need to have food and love. You need to have food, in order to nourish your body and love, to nourish your soul. If you have those two things, you are able to at least survive. You may not flourish but you can survive.
When I was growing up, I was poor. I am not talking “I didn’t have the latest Nikes” poor. I mean, “waiting on my government cheese” poor. I can’t say I always had the two elements of survival at the same time however. It often seemed I would have one or the other. There were many nights, the song of my stomach was my bedtime lullaby. I often clung to the neighborhood parents for the love I was so desperate seeking.
I grew up knowing in the succession of the love my family had to hand out, I was the crust of bread. Crust of bread…not that warm crusty bread Grandma just pulled from the oven…no, the stale Wonderbread kind that is just starting to mold that Mom tells you is fine if you “just pull off the crust.” That’s where I fell in line. I grew up knowing I was a mistake. I was often told, “I could have….If I didn’t have you” or “I gave up….if I didn’t have you.” I was too loud, too fat, too old, too, too, too…
So what happens when you grow up? Well for me, my love became sacred. I love those around me deeply it is often painful. Their hurts are my hurts. Their joys are my joys. I love with every inch of who I am. Yet, I never say I love you lightly. When I do it is because you are a part of who I am. If I tell someone I love them and they don’t tell me they love me back, right or wrong…my heart breaks. No matter where I am in life, I am still just a poor broken girl. Never loved back.