The problem with being poor is that sometimes you are forced to do things that you find distasteful, and that is putting it mildly. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it presents you with options. If you are lucky you grow up in a world of plenty of options. That gives you the power to choose and that is a rare and special power indeed.
Choice was a luxury that was far too rich for my blood. We lived a hard scrabble life. Can’t say that we ever went hungry or were cold because we didn’t own a jacket, because that is just not true. We had those things, except the food was the opposite of gourmet and the clothes were….Well, they were anathema to fashion. We wore what society rejected. People refused to buy these things and as a consequence the stores sold them for next to nothing to people like me.
That is a phrase I have grown to despise, people like me. It is ugly and demeaning. It used to make me feel small and worthless. Over time I learned to hide my pain. You wouldn’t have known the shame that I felt because it lay beneath my mask. But it was there, always close to the surface, hidden but always there.
It is a part of me now. It was part of what shaped and molded me. Shame and anger, dust, dirt and despair. The fear of not fitting in and the fear that maybe I would fit in, but not with the people I wanted to. Where did I belong…no where and to no one. That is how I felt and how I learned the art of pretending.
The art of pretending helped me to get jobs and get out of tough situations. The art of pretending was my security blanket and my curse. The art of pretending might have helped get me in the door, but it never fixed the pain.
Still, over the years I gained a thicker skin or maybe it is a thicker head. You can decide for yourself which way it went.