I Got Peace of Mind For Christmas

  • Posted on: 23 December 2014
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe

“I’m at the end of my rope.”

My friend said that to me on Thursday night. She’s a single mom. The life of a single mom is hard. It’s an unending siege of alertness; attention; and a search for opportunities to see one’s life improve. Single Moms don’t have enough to survive with in the first place. Life in Victoria is expensive. Add in the odd bumps that comes from life and it’s impossible. When Cheryl and I hit problems, we used to spend our way of trouble-- when money was plentiful, our problems were seldom. When our finances fell apart last year, we had to use our smarts to survive. It was not easy and we’re still limping from the after effects. I have the intention of following through my own Rebuild to put my finances and health into good states, but that’s because we’ve arrested our plummet. We’re lucky. We’re really lucky.

My friend didn’t have the luxury of luck. Most of her income goes to rent (a side effect of Victoria-- too pricey to afford; too small to have many good paying jobs). The financial realities of Victoria are compounded by her bouts with depression that make daily routines insurmountable and carrying out consistent financial practices almost impossible. There’s no way for her to poke up from this situation to look for opportunities. This goes only one way.

When she said that she was at the end of her rope, I was heart broken. I’ve seen people slide too far. Fear of that slide is why I often reach for financial success. In part, that success could give me freedom. The real thing I want to be able to do is help others. I want to put people into good circumstances. I want to help people in trouble. When I was in my financial tailspin, I was keenly worried that my situation left me unable to help others in need.

I don't like possessions. I like to have enough and I like having mementos that physically connect me to the past. The other stuff is stuff I would rather borrow or loan out. With my family, Christmas is an angsty gambit to get stuff. I don't want that. I want Peace of Mind. I say it and say it again. On some birthdays, people listen and donate money on my behalf in lieu of presents. I have too much stuff and too little peace.

After hearing about her plight, I churned. Three months into a regular job and my family finances are a still a wreck-- they are stable, but it's a fiscal jalopy. I couldn't help enough to make a difference. Sure, I will get some groceries and pick up other expenses, but I couldn't cover her rent. She was going to slide. I know people who have slept in their cars. I know people who have slept in storage lockers. I know people who have taken refuge in a men's shelter. I had no clue what her slide would look like for her and her son but I knew I didn't have the ability to stop the slide on my own. The darkest feeling I could ever experience is standing in front of someone and watching them drown. A part of my soul goes with them.

I thought, "what if I ask for help?" It's a basic idea. Cheryl crafted an explanation of our friend’s plight. I told my friend what I wanted to do. We shared it with her. Asking for something is basic but it can seem impossible. Skepticism would lead one to think that people will not listen or that they wouldn't care. Shame would lead one to suffer in silence. Damn those ideas. I don't want to live in a world where callousness puts a single mom onto the street in Winter. I asked her if I could let her plight be known despite the chance that it could feel embarrassing or bare.

I asked.

"I'm in." said one friend immediately. She sent through money and that left me humbled. A half dozen friends quickly followed suit. One of Cheryl's friends from the UK sent through enough to cover her rent.

Within a day, my friend went from imminent homelessness to breathing room. My dread dissolved. It was replaced with something I thought was dead forever: faith in others. It made me feel how eager people were to do good things when given the chance. Seeing this flipped me from my worst Christmas to my best Christmas. This year I got peace of mind for Christmas.

Last updated date

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 01:50