i spent the whole day yesterday, driving around and paying bills, with the 54k pesos (33k pesos from university salary and butterfly biz commission, 21k from social security low-interest loan proceeds) in my wallet. it felt good. like ive come to some sort of a major accomplishment.
there was a time, not too long ago, when i couldn't even drive around -- as i had no car yet -- and much less pay all the bills due -- as i didn't have the means, no matter how hard i worked and scrimped and saved...
the first thing i did was make sure i had 5% of the total amount stashed away, as the beginning of my savings fund. as an economics major, i've always known that a savings habit is the best way to a stable and secure life, but the early, brash years with the ex made me forget that (until now, i still can't believe i turned over my paycheck to him! : O), and these first 3 years on my own barely making ends meet made me unable to do that. now, i mean to seriously go through with it, first building up my 6-month emergency fund, then later on saving up for investments, so that in the second half of my life, instead of my working for money, my money will be working for me.
the next thing i did was pay for all the utilities bills at home, even the electricity bill which hasn't actually been delivered yet. i don't want to be caught unprepared again and have our electricity disconnected, taking the kids to my sister's for a weekend or so until i manage to pay for the amount due and reconnection fees again.
i saved the best for last yesterday, going to the government housing loan office to finally update my mortgage, which has been in arrears since May, 2004. the lady asked if i was paying in cash, and i said, oh definitely yes!
she looked at me with a newfound respect and she said thank you twice.
my struggle is all documented, there in her file folder of my case: my countless letters explaining my new situation (newly- separated, with three kids to feed on a single income, saddled with debts the ex incurred in our conjugal name which i didn't even know anything about), my various appeals for renegotiations laying out different options mutually satisfactory to both them and me, my playing hardball to their arrogant demand letters, and finally their giving in to my terms (what could they do? these are hard times in our country. they'd be spending more for attorney's fees than if they'd renegotiate with me on the softer terms i required.)
i ended the day by going to the mall and treating my self to an iced cappuccino, as i looked over new cellphone models at my cellphone company's showroom. finally, i can even afford to get a new, more technologically sophisticated unit for my self soon, so i can give my old unit to Thea.
i looked at bedroom furniture, too, and compared prices, and started dreaming again of what it would take for me to be able to give the kids and i bedrooms of our own, by renovating our little two-bedroom house.
in just almost 3 years, i am able to get back on my feet again, at last, with God's grace and the love and support of family, friends and even some strangers, who did not necessarily give me dole-outs, but who opened doors for me for more extra income through the application of my inherent skills and talents.
there was a time when just even thinking about providing for the next day's needs was overwhelming ... but now the dreams come alive again.
the most important lesson i have learned is that a woman must let go of the conditioning and the illusion that she needs a man to take care of her and to provide for her, that she can't do it on her own, by her own wits and strength and gifts.
she must apply her self to the necessary homework and practical work of steeling her will and polishing her diplomacy and negotiation skills, even as she works hard and works her self to the bone.
she must forever banish the notion that to be alone is to be a freak, to learn to appreciate and revel in her solitude, and to willingly submit her self to the process of character building, which is best undertaken in the experience of the total alone-ness of her soul.
she must finally embrace the task and responsibility and freedom and exhiliration and joy of coming into her own powers.
it is difficult, it can be lonely, but it will always be a rich life.
knock on wood, but i think i am finally making it! : )