This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.
But also a Really Real Poverty Post.
Last night I got a quick reminder that food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food in the house.
I was food insecure for a really long time. Parker, Kidlet and I relied on food pantries and handouts from friends and family and there were a lot of times I didn’t know how I was making it through the month. There were times I didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. There were times I ate less or didn’t eat because I was making sure everyone else got enough. There were times I ate food I didn’t like because throwing it away meant one less meal later in the month.
It hasn’t been like that in a few years now. I have plenty of food and even have problems with my limited cabinet space. (How many jars of borscht does one person need, love?) If we run out of an ingredient, I can replace it. If I change my mind about what I want for dinner, I can normally go buy something else. By logistical standards, I am no longer food insecure.
Last night I tried a new noodle replacement. Edamame noodles. They weren’t bad on their own, but mixed in with spaghetti sauce it was a horrible failure.
It was bad.
Wonder Woman couldn’t even hide her hatred of it and I don’t blame her.
I easily made her more (regular) noodles to eat with the rest of the spaghetti sauce while I tried like hell to eat mine.
I tried, I really tried.
But eventually I threw it away.
And then my brain told me, “You can’t eat anything else because you just wasted perfectly good food and there may not be enough food this month.”
Now, I know that’s bullshit. That food was NOT perfectly good.
It was perfectly horrible.
And I’m looking around my kitchen at bags of food sitting on the floor that wouldn’t fit into cabinets. I know I have a freezer that will barely stay closed because I just went shopping. I know there is plenty of food. I know there is money for more food.
But food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food. Food insecurity is a trauma that doesn’t really go away that quickly.
I went to bed hungry last night. Unable to push past the voice that told me I wasn’t allowed to eat because I’d wasted the food I’d been allotted.
And yeah, one night without dinner isn’t the end of the world. I’m sure there are even those who are saying “You could afford to miss a few meals” (Oh, is that just my internal voice? I’m sure I heard it somewhere first. Who the fuck gave me these messages.)
Anyway, my point isn’t that I missed eating dinner last night. It’s that this stuff has lasting effects that a lot of people don’t think about. The internalized messages, because of poverty, that are so hard to overcome even after things stabilize.
It’s not just about getting food in the houses of people who are living in poverty.
It isn’t just about the food.