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My own personal recession


My own personal recession digs deep. In many ways I cannot take a leap as I would if I had heaps of money. How I would love to buy all sorts of goodies and never deny myself anything even if I feel like a goody two shoes with brand new shoes and a whole new wardrobe.

Eye with dollar signIt is truly awful to not be able to surf the financial wave and rave about all my special toys and presents to myself. If I indulge my love of expensive chocolate, the bitter aftertaste of having spent too much money stings like lemon juice. It is hard not being able to rustle up five or ten dollars and having to put up with an empty wallet.

Life seems hollow with an empty pocket, no matter what time of year it is. It is horrible having to count my pennies, going crackers at Christmas time for not being able to afford to buy everyone near and dear to me the Christmas presents they so richly deserve. This is despite the special Christmas account I opened with the best of intentions at the start of the year.

Yes, a recession makes me much more reserved, knowing I can't reach out to people in times of need. With a shrinking bank account I can only focus on myself and my own needs instead of extending myself and doing good deeds towards others. My life is limited. I often have to take desperate measures to raise money and be open to every boring job. Every dollar counts, but doesn't amount to much.

I can no longer, particularly on a disability pension, give myself special pleasures or be a woman of leisure. Instead I have to slum it either in the library or in my own kitchen eating tasteless two minute noodles instead of having oodles of money.

Another problem I have had in the past and which was a huge burden on me was supporting penniless boyfriends, also on disability pensions, who even at the best of times couldn't afford to buy me a coffee. Instead of getting toffee-nosed at them I would often go without, go to a restaurant and drink water while shouting them a real meal, feeling even hungrier for money the more I would watch them eat.

The feeling was so bad. I felt beat.

One boyfriend used to jokingly say 'Don't spend all your money on me honey,' but I still felt milked by him. I had to go cold turkey on many things while I would buy him coffee, cigarettes and even pay for petrol and parking meters. While being milked I could only dream of him buying me silk lingerie and wrapping me up like a princess rather than submitting me to the rough and tumble of plain old sheets.

How I wish I could be given a handout and make easy money. How I wish I could throw money around everywhere I go, instead of being thrown around by huge bills, high interest and deep debt, all while never winning a bet.

Yet I feel myself learning the value of money the more I yearn for the dollar. I also like doing things that don't cost money, such as walking in the park, or window shopping while resisting the temptation of buying. In many ways it makes me feel stronger to make my money last longer, rather than constantly taking everything around me and being lured by the dollar, and being easy fodder.

Isabella FelsIsabella Fels is a Melbourne poet and writer. She has been published in various publications including Positive Words, The Big Issue and The Record.

Image: Shutterstock

Topic tags: Isabella Fels, schizophrenia



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Existing comments

I'm unsure if you're an admirer of Paul Keating, the 'recession we had to have' PM. Keating was/is given to the memorable quote. As a spendthrift, it is a gargantuan task for me to do without. However, it is very good to do so. And I will never deny that two minute noodles have a place in my life - I have lived with a teenage son.

Pam | 17 November 2015  

Hey hey hey resent the phrase "slumming it in the library." Lots of good people, both staff and clients in the library. It is a good place to be, usually near cafes, restaurants, internet cafes and they have toilets. Lots of homeless people find a place in the libraries but also so do students, children and lots of educated people.

Noelene Champion | 18 November 2015  

Isabella, I love your writing and dive on anything I see with your name attached. I understand the real pain you express here. I have seen it in close friends. I am constantly shocked at how difficult it is to live on a disability support pension. I try to help. They overwhelm me with gratitude; I feel guilty that I do so little. From your writing, I know that you do find some joy in your life. I hope that Christmas brings you peace in the glorious meaning of the Hebrew shalom.

Sheelah Egan | 18 November 2015  

You have drawn an excellent picture of what it is to be a 'have not' in our 'have, have, have more society', Isabella. Like many, you are one of what I would call 'the invisible poor' because you attempt to make do without drawing attention to yourself. I contrast that with one woman I know who boasts of her wealth and supposed 'charitable' works. Her life is basically empty and her acolytes shallow self-seekers. Both are engaged in self-delusion. You are right on the ball and have moral discrimination. I think your family and friends probably realise you are the best Christmas present you can give them. We should rejoice in people like you. You know how to give unconditional love. That is something some people never do. With them it's always payback time. I, like all your readers, will be wishing you a very Happy Christmas. You know what it's about. God bless you.

Edward Fido | 19 November 2015  

The pain of the dollar. Describing this very well is the aim of play. You have a lot to contribute Isabella and I enjoyed reading this piece.

Niall Carroll | 14 January 2016  

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