The Evolution Of Broke Betty

Recently, my life has started to look different.

It’s almost become an out of body experience at times. Particularly because when I left home at 17, I was green to the world. I was also very naive to what independence meant. In the interim of what it could be to grow up, I had done it. The years of 16-18 for me weren’t the spare time to figure life out.

The circumstances under which I left home weren’t great (I’d had a very messy break up and an abortion), but it was my choice. Most of us know that ANY life decisions we made at such a young age probably wouldn’t have been in our best interests. This is possibly the first time I truly understood the class system as well. Now a days, this goes in my favour because I am aware of my freedoms. How funny is that, I’m a black woman speaking on her privilege; slim they may be. I learned a lot about the art of blagging. Not that we all must do this but for me it was instrumental in maintaining the false sense of security I had lulled myself into.

I was poor. My official living status was homeless.

Picture this my room was at a hostel for families, (nothing like the hippy ones I spent wondrous nights in South America partying in 3 years later) it had a rather clinical feel to it. My bedroom was also my kitchen and there was a shared bathroom down the hall. It was about 10 x 13 so the size of a large double room it, wasn’t very much but it was my own space.

I used to turn my oven on so I had heating, mental I know. I also used to buy a box of 40 ramen noodles to last me for a month 1 pack a day was sufficient. They were the tastiest things in life to me, now I eat them and get nostalgic. I had way too much pride to call my parents for help as I knew this was a life I had chosen.

In comparison to my life now I don’t understand how I managed, this is my truth. I just don’t know. What I do know however is that I supressed a lot of my feelings at that time so this whole piece is being written from an objective even logical stance. The level of humiliation I personally put on myself was a catalyst for my dogmatic work ethic (when things started looking up work was a brilliant distraction). I had been 7 months away from teen motherhood of twins, a role I wholeheartedly didn’t want until after my abortion. I didn’t know how to move through my experience and aftermath of the “adult” situation I was in. It’s interesting because the regret that consumed me was silent. My heart was silent, I was silent. Isolated and poor what a combination!

Yes, poverty was upon me in the most private way, I was on benefits and I see no shame in that statement. I did, I did for many years but now I see reality. I mean it wasn’t like the government had set me up so my head was above water but I wasn’t going to drown any further. For this I am eternally grateful.

I was emotionally spent back then not tired, not sad, not feeling much really just spent, my cup had run dry. Tired of being me in this life I didn’t understand. You know as a young person from around 13 years old we are fed a narrative of the big wide world. The narrative of my world was filled with less opportunities and more circumstances. We only allow ourselves a certain amount of pain before we switch off.

During this time I would dream of the days when I could buy a thicker winter jacket and not because I wanted one but because I needed one. I thought about sleeping in a double bed again.  I even hoped for the days I could speak of being in an over draft because my credit rating was high enough to even have one. I wished for my emotions to return to me tenfold and for the sorrow of my soul to let me be free. For the self-disconnect to stop. For the regret to flee. For my nightmares to be kinder to me.  I thought of better days.

These are those days. While I know that I’m no lady of leisure now I understand how far I’ve come. I’m stable enough that I can go and do what I need to have what I want.

Now out of choice being broke is apart of my brand. For me wealth looks different than it does to others; so I will never try to live above my means in an attempt to mask my actuality. Its a temporary state subject to change, like most things in life what you put in is what you get out. I know now that better days are always coming and the worst were a part of my making. To have achieved the standard of living I have now…. God, I’m so proud of myself.

It took me so long to switch back on. But when I did I made a pact with myself. One that still feels a bit silly but has been very valuable. Remember who you are. Simple, but its a constant for me.

I will forever be the girl of my past, the being of my present and the woman of my future.


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