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to be ashamed of being poor? BEWARE self pitying thread!

(118 Posts)
PoorLittleNotRichGirl Tue 09-Jul-13 18:37:35

Just that really. So many people have so much more than me and their lives are so much better and mostly, so much less stressful.

I worry the DCs friends will look down on them if they knew where we lived and what little we have and yes, tbh that their parents will look down on me. Most of them live in the affluent area we used to live in and it is a completely different world.

We now live in a council flat (with the obligatory smelly stairwell and anti social neighbours), drive a 12 year old car (with the obligatory put, put, put exhaust and noisy suspension), have no decent clothes (me) that don't have bleach stains and that overwashed look, falling apart furniture nothing of any value, no jewellery, no money for even a weekend break, value food etc.

I have worked hard all my life. It took just a simple series of shitty events to lose every penny we ever had (and my mind) and end up in council accommodation. When people find out where we live, I feel like I have to explain how we ended up here to stop them thinking we are just feckless scroungers and beneath them. Should I have to do this?

We will probably never get back to living a comfortable life (and having had it, then losing it is harder than never having it at all, really). I constantly feel a deep sense of inferiority and shame and guilt (for the DCs).

It is just shit and I am dreading the school holidays. AIBU to feel full of self pity and constantly worry about what people think of me? Would you look down on me?

JakeBullet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:09:53

"Smile and the world smiles with you" is good advice....but it is hard to smile and be carefree when you are worn down or feeling low. I know as I have been there too.

All I can say is that as I got better so did my ability to smile, hope it soon comes back for you as well OP. xx

pianodoodle Thu 11-Jul-13 11:04:15

I think finding good friends really helps.

If we go for a picnic there's usually 4 of us with the children as well. 2 women routinely buy all their food from the cafe at lunchtime and spend a small fortune. Me and the other girl get out our flasks and cool bags. Rather than being looked down on we're seen as the "organised" ones of the bunch smile

They know very well it's because we can't afford to buy food out but no one makes a thing of it.

They suggest days out that they know won't put either of us in an embarrassing position money wise, and we all have a good time.

I've been invited a few times for lunch and drinks after toddler group by some of the girls. They seem to do it every week. I just say I have to get back for whatever reason but I do sometimes wonder if they think I'm rude.

Trouble is (well, not trouble really) we got really lucky and are renting a house in a lovely area due to being friendly with landlord etc... For a good price. Because of that these women probably assume I have money! I sometimes wonder if the neighbours see me trooping home with poundland bags and wonder what the deal is ;)

We picked having a lovely place for DD with a nice big garden over having money to spend on "stuff" but I'm happier for it.

Bumblequeen Thu 11-Jul-13 12:19:48

So sorry to hear this op. As others have suggested, find your local Sure Start Centre. They put on a lot of free activities. Also try your local church.

It is hard to be optimistic when things around you look bleak ie dodgy neighbours, yobs hanging around your street.

Fwiw I have never lived in a posh area. Grew up on a council estate - not at all rough. I loved my childhood despite periods of poverty. Mum constantly borrowed money from people, had to eat at neighbours home before pay day, standing in the post office queue every Monday for child benefit and being late for school, had very few clothes in sec school. It leaves something with you.

I now hate not having access to money and will be frugal to ensure we can put money aside each month.

Now live in a mortgaged home in an undesirable part of the South East according to Internet. I pass tree lined roads in nicer areas and think one day.........

Life brings knocks, some we feel we will never recover from but we do.

cuteboots Thu 11-Jul-13 12:43:49

anyone who looks down on you isnt worth knowing anyway . If life throws you lemons make lemonade thats my motto. I hope you are ok and things get better for you XXXX

SoleSource Thu 11-Jul-13 12:48:33

YABU if you think you need to give the time of day to cunts that look down on you. You do not have to and should not EVER.

I feel you are going to turn your life around.

Keep a diary, you might regret it if you do not. You know for that book I feel you will write.

marzipanned Thu 11-Jul-13 12:55:37

OP I'm really sorry about everything you've been through. Yes - you'd be abnormal not to be depressed, but I think less because of your present circumstances and more because of your past history. Are you the kind of person who would benefit from counselling? I only ask because you've been through a world of shit and maybe you've internalised it all and not worked through it?

I had a tough childhood - not a patch on yours I'd say, but tough - and I didn't really get over it til I was in my 20s and with DH, because he forced me to talk and work through it all. My brother is in his 30s and still having all sorts of trouble in (an, to outwards appearances, 'good') life because he hasn't really emotionally dealt with what happened.

Yes to those suggesting you get out of the SE if it's at all feasible - you'd be amazed at what your £1300 pm can get you in other parts of the country.

onchanging Thu 11-Jul-13 12:56:40

I used to live in a council flat too and I used to get really down when I'd pass through the green leafy areas. Day to day life wasn't so bad, our estate was inner city but had lots of hard-working families of all nationalities, and our Tenant Management Organisation ensured that anti-social behaviour and communal areas were kept clean. It's worth getting together with other residents to see if you can help set up a TMO if there isn't already one, it meant our estate was a pleasant, safe place to live and we had control over what happened there, not the council. We even had a good communal play space so DS didn't suffer too much from not having a garden.

It is worth making sure that you're getting everything you're entitled to, because nobody should be in such poverty that they have clothes and furniture falling apart. When I was on benefits I had a really poor quality of life until I started looking into things like grants for uniform/clothes, schemes to get refurbished furniture/appliances, concessionary rates for DS's classes and my own gym classes - even holidays for single parents and low cost computers were available. I got referrals from my GP and through my DS's school, and used forums like MSE to find out what was out there. I think that once I became savvy to all the different schemes, my quality of life really wasn't that much worse than any other family.

You should be able to get therapy on the NHS, I have had about two years of psychotherapy for free and there is a commitment to offer more talking therapies so there should be something in your area. You may have to be quite persistent and not play down your situation though.

And don't believe that you'll always be stuck in this position. I was a single mum for years and never imagined that my life would change, that I'd meet someone who'd want to take on someone like me, with lots of health issues and DS with SN problems too. But we're now living in a mortgage-free house in a really lovely part of the country, and I'm retraining for a new career. Life has its ups and downs, and you never know when those ups are going to come.

adeucalione Thu 11-Jul-13 13:01:36

I don't suppose you looked down on poor people when you were rich did you OP? So what on earth makes you think that other people are looking down on you now? Most people make judgements and friendships based on shared values, not material possessions. I do think I would raise an eyebrow if you started justifying your situation at our first meeting though, as it could sound a bit chip-on-shoulder. I hope things pick up for you soon.

xuntitledx Thu 11-Jul-13 13:41:04

YANBU at feeling down in your current situation however YABU by convincing yourself that it'll never get better and you'll never achieve more.

Why do you think that? Why are you limiting yourself?

I've come from nothing and have worked hard to have something - we're certainly not flush but we're comfortable and we're not struggling to find the money for the next meal, for that we feel very fortunate but it hasn't been handed to us.

frissonpink Thu 11-Jul-13 13:57:07

You would get something gorgeous for £1300 a month here! (north west)

but

Then i'm guessing you wouldn't because you wouldn't be entitled to it if that makes sense. Do you get not get help towards your rent?

PoorLittleNotRichGirl Thu 11-Jul-13 14:04:54

My inferiority complex has probably been a product of my childhood. I was made to feel like something was wrong with me from an early age. I was just like my alcoholic, abusive father and his inbred family apparently hmm.

I think the fact that I was able to create the illusion that I had decent standard of living up until I was 35 (now 41) and I was doing 'OK' meant that was able to get past that but now it's all gone, there is no buffer left. I have been stripped raw and have nothing to hide behind anymore. I have had therapy but probably need more!

I don't think I looked down on people in my situation before. It had'nt touched me so it was'nt something I thought about much. My mother and stepfather definitely look down on people claiming benefits, taking 'their' taxpayers money. I had the lecture about claiming tax credits. I never even told them that we were being made homeless. Their mindset is 'you made you bed, now lay in it', 'god never pays his debts in money', 'you made your choice, you pay for it' etc so that had obviously rubbed off.

Rather than risk people judge me and my home, I have isolated myself which has not helped as I have no one to share my worries with, then on here. DCs seem happy enough which is the main thing. I do all I can for them. I am aware that I am very lucky to have my children and they are the sole reason I am still here I can tell you. Although one has SN and it has been a struggle to cope with him.

I have made plans to go to Uni in September as I cannot find a job doing anything and need some more qualifications as even £15K jobs in my area are demanding a degree hmm. I am desperate to change my daily routine and get out there and do something. No sure 2 days a week will be enough though as I will have 3 other days to fill and they are endless.

Writing a book is something I often think about Sole. Not just about the shit that has happened to me but the effect on my mental health. I hate to think of other people going through the nightmare that is panic attacks and extreme anxiety that I have been through and have been unable to tell anyone about due to embarrassment apart from on an anonymous forum like this.

PoorLittleNotRichGirl Thu 11-Jul-13 14:07:28

Sorry, I'm a crap speller as well it seems!

Reastie Thu 11-Jul-13 14:25:38

OP I wouldn't look down on you at all and those who would are not worth knowing. DC I don't think really see or notice things like whether their friends have all mod cons or not (thinking back to my childhood I was friends with people in huge extravagant houses and smaller more 'basic' homes and I didn't care.

I know you've said no to offers of help, but FWIW I live in the SE too, what ages are your DC/what clothes/shoe size are you? (please pm me if you like). I have a big pile of stuff that is too big for me (I've lost alot of weight recently) and too small for DD I don't know what to do with. If it will be useful to you you're very welcome to it, if you don't live too far away I can drop it over to you. I didn't mean that as a charity gesture to make you feel bad, just trying to help as you said your clothes are well washed, please don't be offended blush

adeucalione Thu 11-Jul-13 19:57:33

There must be other nice people in your neighbourhood OP, people just like you. Is there any way of getting out and meeting them?

The degree sounds like a fab idea, but your days would seem less endless if you could chat with a friend or go to the park with a group of mums. I don't think you need to feel ashamed of your circumstances at all, but if you are isolating yourself because of that reason then get to know the people who live near you, they won't be judging your home will they?

Dackyduddles Thu 11-Jul-13 20:06:05

Thing is op I believe more of us feel like you than not. Why would credit card firms and debt be so popular? We are all to a greater or lesser degree living beyond means. The only ones I know who don't are my parents generation. Cars are bought on finance. Carpets too! Tv's, it's all buy now pay later. It deludes most into believing they afford something which actually they don't have. It's facade. But one I think lots of people don't even realise they have built up as its normal now.

Does any of that make sense? I'm ashamed often as I don't nearly look at finances enough. Always something better to do. We are all just swans paddling furiously smile

Reastie Thu 11-Jul-13 21:10:28

OP further to adeus comment - I'm nice ( grin ) and I'm in SE (I'm in West Kent), I'm happy to meet up if you fancy it god I sound like a right stalker don't I . Anyway, offer is there.

looseleaf Thu 11-Jul-13 21:41:48

I haven't read the whole thread but don't shut yourself off. There's a particularly nice girl in DD's class whose mum won't let her come to play (despite our assurances our flat is tiny; it is) as she says she's too embarrassed about where they live. This girl (6) feels left out as always just seems to go home and has now stopped asking me if she can come over. I respect and value them greatly, they are a most respectable family but won't let anyone close for feeling inferior and I think that's such a loss to them and us as it's otherwise a very diverse and well-knit class. And I can tell we mutually like each other. Most of our friends have far more than us but I never think like that (until this thread) as we're friends

Notcontent Thu 11-Jul-13 22:16:18

It is all about how we compare ourselves to others and our expectations.
I am guilty of this. I live in a nice area but have a pretty crappy house (London prices). It's a mixed area, with lots of people who are much worse off then me, but also people who are much better off.
Of course I compare myself with the people who are of a similar background to me, with similar jobs. But I am a lone parent so much worse off - and i torture myself myself with thoughts of how I too should have a huge fabulous house, etc. I know it's not healthy.

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