Facebook memories reminded me that April 28, 2020 was my last day of working for Pre-scholar Enrichment. I enjoyed that job. It was meaningful. And good pay. I'd still be there if not for Covid. 

I can't return to that job because I was replaced. I collected unemployment until it ran out in December. 

I'm surviving because a friend helps out when possible, I have this blog, I sell stuff, and the girls and I live with my parents. Many others have it worse. My parents are embracers. I'm sure they'd like to have their entire house back to do what they want, but they won't kick us out. At least, I don't think so. (Lol.) After all, we do get along pretty well.

When I lived those 15 years with my then-husband, I was a stay-at-home-mom. Most years, we homeschooled. One year, I created and sold personal scrapbooks for friends. Another, I worked overnights at Kohl's. I clipped coupons. We thrifted before it was trendy. I sold stuff. We weren't the best handlers of our money, but I tried. 

I loved my role as Mama🤱. I was glad to be home raising my kids, being with them. I struggled but was fulfilled. I'm  grateful I witnessed their firsts, guided their hearts, and tended to their hurts. They are my heartbeats💓. I'm proud of who they are and are becoming.  

On the other hand, being a wife was hard. I used to believe that was all my fault. Sure, I loved him and wanted to please him. But marriage, to that man anyway, was hard. He held secrets. He was proud. And needy. And stubborn. And selfish. I didn't see it back then. And what I did see my religion taught me to second guess. He was the head of our household. He was The Husband. Our marriage was God-given, meant to last forever. I'd bought into Happily-Ever-After and Dreams Do Come True. I trusted in Never-Ending Love and til death do us part. I believed--and embraced-- religion which taught "Jesus, Others, You equals JOY" and "God first. Then your husband, your children, the Church, your neighbors, etc etc etc."

My God, how I bought into that shit. No wonder I was so messed up. I carried the weight of guilt for my selfishness, my sins. For years. I still battle. I hate the battle. I'm angry at the Church. 

I'm struggling as I reinterpret my view of God. If god exists and is love and truth, then god has to be better than what I've experienced and been taught. This god I embraced all my life feels fake to me today. And the faith in myself that Church leaders consistently taught was selfish, sinful, the opposite of God's best desire…. that faith is rising and freeing me. Little by little. 

Trusting that I am smart enough, good enough, caring enough, capable enough, loving enough, perfect enough is freeing me piece by tiny piece. It is a slow process and I do get stuck. In fact, I'm stuck now. Stuck in  sadness and disappointment. Feeling purposeless and lost. I don't know that it's necessarily bad; it just doesn't feel right.

I'm giving up on old dreams, dreaming of new ones. I'm thinking small and manageable. Rethinking my entire life now that I'm nearly 50. Inhale. Exhale. This story is best for another time. 

Ok. Back to Covid…

And being jobless.

Which obviously means money-less. Or poor. And needy. Like a beggar on a city street, in a Walmart parking lot, or at a traffic light, which is most common in my city. (Picture me grabbing my 6x8 piece of torn cardboard. The bold letters say, "Anything Helps." You notice. Jeans, sneakers, hoodie. Nothing about me stands out. Except I'm the only one standing with a sign, hoping you'll notice and help. Or at least notice. 

Standing here, as cars wiz by, I push myself to look at you, to catch your eyes. Even if you look away, I'll wave and smile… right before I look back down. I'm not worthy of your help or even for you to notice me. I don't deserve any kindness. I'm aware of the opinions and the questions. Am I honest? Will your dollar help me survive or will I blow it on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes? Will your money go to me or is there a Controller? Maybe your questions go on and on. No matter. They'll definitely go unanswered. Yet you brake, roll down your window, and hand me a five. "Thank you," I say. I smile and wave as you drive away, continuing on with your day. I think about you. I ask God to bless you, even though I'm not sure God exists. Then I get back to work.)

So… I, Erica Senecal, am not standing by a traffic light with a sign in my hands. Instead, I'm standing before you on this white page. 

I'm using the one gift I have to offer. 

My words. My words are for sale. Every time I post. 

But today, I'm in a bit of a pickle and see BMAC as one potential way out. I received an unexpected email from a company saying they paid a debt for me (that I didn't realize I'd owed) and will be collecting directly from my bank account on May 3rd. They hope the money will be there. I know it won't, unless the government comes through or I can convince y'all that "Anything Helps." 

I'm awaiting the 3rd stimulus as well as  an amended income tax refund that I'm owed. I have regular bills to pay this week (a friend planned to help) but it's not worth it since his company will take their $1000. I fear all the overdraft charges. For months, I've been trying to stay in the positive. After weeks of holding at $1.10, my checking account went red yesterday. When that $1000 goes through, I'll bleed out. 

I know it's just money.

And it's my fault for not working. 

(I look then remember I have no vehicle right now because my car died a few weeks ago and needs to be fixed. Dad did his best but it's the tranny. Waiting on the government money for that, too.)

I pile the guilt and shame on myself.

I feel like a beggar.

I've literally considered standing on a Nashville street corner with a sign. Almost all of my pride is gone. 

Except that I still have my words, my computer, my ability to share my story in as much detail as I want since it doesn't have to fit in a 6x8 cardboard space. So here I stand. Before you. Asking. Anything helps. Anything.

If you'd like to buy me a coffee (not literally because I dislike coffee and want to pay my bills), then click on a button to send money via PayPal or any other payment method via Stripe. PayPal is instant; Stripe takes 3-4 days. I appreciate anything. 

You're my audience, my growing community. I hope today's story is meaningful to you. Feel free to comment and dialogue if you desire. 

And God bless. 👩‍

Peace, my Friends. 

💙, Me, Erica Senecal