For many years of my life I did not lack for anything. There was always an abundance of food in the cupboards. There was always a car or two or three or four in the driveway. There were always more clothes than my closet could hold. There was always a house to live in. There were things to do, places to go, and people to see. My life was busy and full of things. And when I would see or hear about somebody who didn't have many things, I would feel sorry for him or her, and say a prayer for them - and sometimes even throw a buck or two their way.
I used to tell myself and others that I would be fine without the things I had, that they were blessings and I appreciated them, but if I lost them I would still be okay. But to be honest, in a deeper part of me, I would pray that I would never have to actually find out if I would truly be okay - because I enjoyed having my things. The reality was, I could not imagine my life without conveniences and possessions.
Then, in a matter of literally a few weeks, I lost pretty much everything. I fled from my home taking my car, a few clothes in a suitcase, and my daughter. We were homeless for nine months, and, at first, I discovered I really wasn't okay. I quickly had to learn how to ask for, and accept, help from other people who were sometimes nice and sometimes not. That humiliated me. I had to watch my spending closely - and make judgments about whether I should purchase gas so I could get to work, or food so we could eat. Or maybe purchase food for my daughter and a little gas.
I had to work with the few outfits I had with me, and creatively sort them and change them around so it looked like I was wearing different clothes every day when I went to work. I slept on couches, and tried to make myself invisible as we imposed on friends to take us in, and give us a place to stay. For the first time in my life, bad tires on my car appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle - and I learned you could purchase them used.
It was challenging, scary, and depressing. But at the same time, it was enlightening, empowering and freeing. I learned I could make decisions in spite of enormous mental pressure. I learned I didn't need a closet full of clothes. I learned it is much easier to live a life free of the responsibilities that come with too many possessions, commitments and things. I learned even though I could not imagine a day would come when I would be thankful for all my losses, the day did come and I can give thanks.
I learned it is okay to need other people. I learned that truly the darkest time of day comes right before the dawn, and that applies to life as well as time. I learned that I am a far stronger woman than I ever gave myself credit for. I learned that the things that scared me most were things I could conquer. I learned how important it is not to judge others for their situations, and that simply throwing money at a person who is hurting and in need is, quite frequently, not the thing they need the most.
Losing everything is not an experience I would wish on anyone, but I don't regret that it happened to me.