Last month I opened a gofundme account after a lot of careful consideration. Every single lady-like part of me screamed 'Bad idea! Bad idea! You are humiliating yourself, Self, and my god your PRIDE, ewww' while the nitty gritty hard core practical side of me said 'Why not? After all, Self, you are already suicideally depressed so what's the worst that can come of begging in public? Best case scenerio, you will get some help, Self, worst case scenerio is things stay exactly as they were'.
So I overruled my lady-like civilized rational self and I begged. In public. Here's what I've learned from this experience.
1.) It is truly difficult to write an effective begging campaign. How much should I ask for? And for what, exactly? Who am I actually begging from, when my friends list on facebook is quite small? Which 'voice' should I write in that would have the most appeal to my audience?
(Trust me- that was a toughie. YOU try paring down your natural tendencies to 'suck-it-up', ie make light of heavy realities, etc) I wrote at least 10 drafts for my campaign, ranging from humorous to intellectual, from guilt-tripping to whiney.
2.) I've learned that I didn't actually die from embarrassment. Yeah, I got a little sick to my stomach and shed a few tears and probably drank more beer than is good for me while obsessing over the campaign, but I didn't die of shame. (You were wrong, Mom, bless your heart.. you don't actually die of shame).
3.) There are some absolutely awesome people in the world of the Internet, and they were not the ones I was half hoping would hear me! A loose group of great Internet friends responded to my plea, and I was overwhelmed by the love and support shown from people I've mostly never met in person. Some of these folks are living in nearly the same depths of poverty that I am, yet they opened their hearts and wallets with a few dollars and a lot of encouragement. (Note to Self: I'm not only beholden and extremely grateful, I'm going to have to do a much deeper self search to see if I can figure out why I've seemed to make a better impression on people who haven't met me in person).
4.) The wild mood swings I experienced daily while begging were enlightening. From anticipation each day I opened my email to see if someone donated another $5.00, to the crashing disappointment when I saw nobody had, to the wonderfully humbling gratitude towards the ones who did. To the resentment, oh yeah, the resentment and the pain- I am ashamed to say I had some hateful feelings about people I knew could help but didn't... and then anger at myself for that resentment. After all, it was begging! I kept telling myself that if I was on a street corner with a guitar and a hat out, I couldn't be mad at the folks who didn't throw a quarter, I should just be grateful to the ones who did.
5.) IMPORTANT! I learned that I should never ever look at anyone else's campaign on gofundme, for in that direction lies utter despair. As I struggled with all the feelings involved in collecting $500 dollars, I quickly learned that I could rage, actually rage over a campaign for someone's 18 year old cat who needed surgery- that particular campaign had already garnered over $12,000 dollars.
6.) I learned that many of the people I am in casual contact with (at least here on the Internet) don't have the same conception of poverty that I do. I pray they never will. It's made me a tougher stronger better person, but because I've always been upbeat, proud, and kept my sense of humor, it's hard to explain that it really is HARD to survive with no savings, no retirement plans, and no partner to share the tough times with.
7.) Writing updates for my campaign, thanking each person that helped.. has been even more difficult than writing the original begging campaign. Not because I am not grateful- oh I am! More than you may imagine! But because it brought up every single one of these mixed feelings every single time I posted a new picture of myself (I am not photogenic!) and a sincere thank you.
So I have to say THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart to those who've helped me. I can't tell you enough just what that means to me. My younger brother Matt donated his old truck to me unasked- with your help I have purchased brand new tires for it. My entire campaign and all these confusing feelings paid for 3 tires! My little sister Allison posted a link to my campaign twice, even though I suspect she was not comfortable at all with her big sister begging, THANK YOU Allison! One of your friends donated $25 dollars to me, tell Francine I'll pay her back, ok?
I wasn't born in poverty, I was raised in a middle class Southern California envoirnment in the 60's. I was reasonably well educated although I don't have a college degree. I come from a fairly large family, and at least when I was young the family connections were strong... I don't know what happened to that.
I turned away from the standard middle class expectations for a successful life and chose the path I've walked instead. I may have been an oddity to my family, but I've never truly embarrassed them- I've never been in jail, or committed to a mental hospital, or shown up on someone's doorstep in the middle of the night seeking help. I just failed to be 'successful' in the way that was more conventional.
I did marry once, and promptly divorced several years later when I realized that I wished to raise my child without the help or hinderance of a sub-standard mate. I forsook any court ordered Child Support from a man I disliked and feared, and raised my son without much money but with a whole lot of love. My son Daniel is a good man today- some of his youth was a pretty bumpy road but he's grown up well. He knows he is loved, and he is a strong man. I can't answer all his questions about family connections because I really don't know, but I have provided him with contact information on everyone I can possibly think of who has a blood relationship to him.
So these are some of the lessons I've learned from my recent stint of begging on the Internet. I'll never do it again, but it HAS been educational. Almost every single day of my life, I learn something new. Sometimes it's about how wonderful people can be.. sometimes it's about how my own mind and spirit work. Every day I wake up breathing is a GOOD day you know. Love, Maggie Baker 2-13-2016 gofund.me/2vkekwmc