I’ve been watching a lot of Boardwalk Empire lately. I had wanted to watch it for a while but we don’t have HBO. But my son came home from college raving about Game of Thrones that he had been watching. He then shared with me how he had been watching, and now I get to see Boardwalk Empire. Voila! I can’t tell you how or I’d have to kill you.
One of the characters in the show is a woman named Margaret. (Which happens to be my given name) Well, as you may know this show takes place during Prohibition during the 1920’s in Atlantic City, NJ. Margaret is an Irish immigrant who was married to a guy that beat her and they had 2 children together. He gets… killed. It’s too long of a story to tell. So she is suddenly a single Mother. She is then courted (kind of) by the main character who is a high powered politician and bootlegger. He is a widower with no children, well alive anyway.
Through the whole course of their relationship we see Margaret struggling with the idea of making it easier on herself to raise the children or do things by herself without dirty money. It’s not even so much the dirty money, it’s the whole idea of being “kept” by a man, I suppose. It seems at times she felt like a prostitute. At one time she eases her conscience by talking to another woman that is “kept” and the woman basically told her “Hey, you gotta’ do what you gotta’ do”
Margaret goes back and forth several times. Being self-righteous and taking stuff of Nucky’s (the main character played by Steve Buscemi) and giving it to the Catholic Church. Other times she figures she’ll play the game and get what she can for her children. Being an Irish Catholic immigrant, you can see she is swayed often by the Catholic guilt thing, which isn’t always healthy. (Believe me)
I completely empathize with this character. I have been a single mom for 13 years now. Sometimes the ex is kind of in the picture, most often not. I have struggled. Struggled terribly. And all the way through I’ve had that “I’m going to do this without any help, especially not from a man”thing. See, I was raised by a pack of angry feminists who told me I don’t need a man, I should never depend on a man. So, I’ve never been the type to just take things from a guy if we weren’t totally committed. I cringed when people told me to get married again to “help myself”. Silly naive me, used to refuse trips and gifts from guys because I knew in my heart I wasn’t really interested, so how could I lead them on like that and accept the gifts. Kicking myself now. (sarcasm)
Well, not really. I still think that’s not very nice. However, I finally succumbed and let somebody help me. I am partially kicking myself though because it’s become exactly what I feared, it tends to be held over my head. However, I’ve been able to have a roof over my head for a year. See, a year ago I was being squeezed out of a place with yet another rent hike and I was at odds with the landlord and great timing I had just lost my job. So being faced with homelessness, my boyfriend begrudgingly offered to let me temporarily stay in his big 4 bedroom house he lived alone in. Neither of us really wanted to live together.
It was against my principals, 1. Accepting help, and 2. Living with a guy with my kids when we weren’t married. And I swore I would never live with someone or get married again for financial reasons. But I explained to my kids that it was a business arrangement. They are in high school and college and old enough to understand. Good thing is, I’m not pretending, we know it’s a more business thing. That also makes it a little more sad.
It took me forever to find a new job so I’ve been here longer than I anticipated. We agreed that I would pay rent but I have been grateful that he lets me pay what I can, when I can. However, I have this constant internal struggle that I couldn’t do it on my own. I hate having to live with a man to make ends meet. However he sure isn’t letting me skate by and relax, he’s making sure I either pay my rent in money or sweat-equity. So, that helps in relieving the guilt like I’m “taking” something. We didnt’ want to live with each other, we know it’s the only reason I’m here. (Not that we don’t like each other) But my kids have been comfortable in a nice house. I’ve concentrated on paying my bills instead of constantly scrambling to find rent money to avoid eviction. I still get threatened with eviction from my current living situation if my kids don’t clean but I at least know I can talk that through. (sarcasm)
I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Having to accept help, that is. But I have a place to live until I get things back on track financially. Do I swallow my pride and just ride it out or do I consider it “earned” help. Well, I’m going to pay back every penny of help I owe so it’s not exactly a free ride. And we both know, as soon as I can afford it, I’m out to my own place. I’m incredibly grateful but I just hate myself for needing help. Guess I can stop the guilt now. What would you do?