I am the lady you judged for buying groceries with her SNAP card.
I am the lady who raised her two sons with no child support.
I am the lady who wore clothes from Goodwill while making sure her children had nice new clothes.
I am the lady who has always had an excellent credit score.
I am the lady her family comes to for financial advice.
I am the lady who always sought out a bargain and refused to overpay for something even when she could afford to.
I am the lady who at one time was paying $1,600 monthly for her family's health insurance.
I am the lady who would have liked to have worked more and saved more but decided that 40-50 hours weekly was enough time away from her children.
I am the lady who fed her children healthy home-cooked meals daily.
I am the lady who used to live in a very nice neighborhood in the suburbs.
I am the lady who used to have a beautiful garden.
I am the lady who had a spotless home.
I am the hairdresser you adored and thanked for 30 years.
I am the hairdresser who stood on her feet for 8-12 hours daily.
I am the hairdresser who skipped lunch many days to be available to you.
I am the hairdresser who got carpal tunnel.
I am the lady who got sick just as her kids were leaving the nest, when she finally had a chance to totally dedicate herself to her career.
I am the lady who developed an autoimmune disease that attacked her liver.
I am the lady who refused to quit.
I am the lady who tried massage therapy, acupuncture and every doctor, medication, diet, physical therapy regimen, etc. in an effort to control her disease.
I am the lady whose doctor suggested quitting work years before she did.
I am the lady whose family and friends asked her to quit working and get on disability years before she quit working.
I am the lady who screamed at her employer, "I will not go on disability and live off the government!"
I am the lady who laid her head on the backroom table between clients and cried.
I am the lady who couldn't even handle 15 hours a week anymore.
I am the lady who slowly started losing more and more money every year due to decreased hours, the slower pace she had to work, and fewer clients.
I am the lady whose health care costs increased as her income declined.
I am the lady who started accumulating credit card debt to make up the difference.
I am the lady who was terrified when she found out that her liver disease had progressed to full-blown cirrhosis in just two years.
I am the lady who quit work and filed for disability and was denied.
I am the lady who hired an attorney and has been waiting for a court date.
I am the lady who has cashed out her 401k to pay down her credit card debt, pay medical insurance and bills.
I am the lady who has lost everything and is now homeless.
I am the proud proud lady who has had to swallow her pride and ask for help from friends, family and the government.
I am the lady who is so very grateful to everyone who has helped and who is happy to sleep on couches, guest rooms, wherever.
I am the lady who is amazed by others' generosity and by God's love.
I am the lady who has a new attitude, is more relaxed and has more faith in God than ever had because she has witnessed Him work out what seemed insurmountable.
I am the lady who often still feels very sick but no longer feels like she is slowly leaving this world.
I am the lady who finally has gained some weight.
I am the lady who feels she deserves to have a life and enjoy it, even if you don't, even if it bothers you that your tax dollars are helping her.
I am the lady who hopes her story will make a difference and bring more kindness, understanding and less judgement.
I am the lady who understands the true meaning of "there but for the grace of God go I" and that any one of us can fall on hard times.