Live Below the Line, Day 5: My Eyes Have Been Opened

Map of Developed Countries according to the CI...

Map of Developed Countries according to the CIA World Factbook 2008 Includes the French Overseas Departments and Territories which are constitutionally a part of France, as well as the overseas islands which are constitutionally a part of Spain, Portugal and Norway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the last day. I just plain don’t feel well now. I’m unusually tired, I’m perpetually nauseated, I have a seemingly permanent stomachache, and doing some of the more simple tasks around here takes a load of energy I didn’t realize it took before. You become sort of used to the hunger, it becomes a background noise, and you begin to notice everything else that isn’t normal for you. Tomorrow I get to eat normally again, I get to have my tea again, I get to take my supplements again. I get to make protein shakes with expensive protein powder and expensive milk (I worked out how much milk I could have in a day and not run over my $1.50 budget, and it came out to like 1/8th of an ounce. Not even worth it). I can have cookies if I want, I can have crackers if I want, I can make myself a gourmet Italian dinner of chicken and fettuccini alfredo if I want. I doubt I’ll be that extreme, at least with the gourmet dinner, lest I make myself sick tomorrow.

And it still sticks in my head. It’s over as of today. For me. I am truly privileged, however “poor” I might feel sometimes because we can’t afford car repairs, or we’re going to have to pull out the credit cards for a vet’s visit. My cats have been eating far better than I have this week. I’m in the process of slowly remodeling my kitchen. Poor people don’t get to say that, even here in the U.S., let alone in the poorest countries in the world.

Imagine living like that, like this, hungry all the time, weak all the time, suffering from the myriad ailments that come from malnutrition and even starvation. And you have to walk 2 miles to the nearest river or well for water that isn’t all that clean. If you need a doctor, he’s 50 miles away or more, and you have to send for him and hope that he arrives in time, and then risk the possibility that he won’t treat you or your loved ones because he knows you can’t afford to pay him.

Those who live in extreme poverty have rougher lives than we in the developed world can possibly imagine. Especially those of us in the developed world who aren’t poor ourselves. We tend to take an awful lot for granted in the developed world. An awful lot, as in, just about everything we have, that the extremely impoverished can’t even imagine. That’s what this has opened my eyes to. I have so much that they will never see in their lifetimes. We can make the choice between eating healthy and eating junk. They can only eat what they have, when they have it.

This week has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever endured. To everyone else who has done it also, you’re brave, you’re strong, and you have my deepest respect. Am I glad I did it? Profoundly. I’ve learned a lot that can’t really be learned through anything other than experience. Will I do it again? Absolutely.



3 Responses to “Live Below the Line, Day 5: My Eyes Have Been Opened”

  1. It’s not exactly a happy milestone, but I still feel great pride in you for attempting it. I will give a donation to my local soup kitchen in your honor.

  2. 2 Julie

    I have about $6 to my name and really no income. I live with my best friend who is on disability and we get to the point where there is no food until she gets paid. I am online in school and just found out my loans are almost capped and I am looking for work. I do freelance and that is quite rare right now and I have no car to take me anywhere so I bike around town when I can.
    The small town I live in, has really no work and because of my own disabling issues, working from home is my best option. (Still waiting on a disability appeal from ever ago) So we cut corners and do our best, are behind on the electric bill and always late with rent. Am I happy? Most of the time because I have a roof over my head, quarters for the laundromat, and cats that I can feed sometimes better than myself. Am I getting out of this? I feel like the answer is no.
    I get discouraged by the government (GOP) and am always hoping there will be a big windfall. I have tons of creative abilities and have some good work history. But some days, it is all just another day. to get to the next day.
    Yeah I could have it worse, but I certainly know I could have it better. Does money make the world go ’round? I don’t think so, happiness comes from inside I know and I can find that time to really smile know I have loved ones who care. But money would help a great deal be caught up and not worry about food. Oh and I am 45 and became a dislocated worker a while back and by trying to reinvent myself by going back to school..
    keep hoping that was a wise decision..

    Thanks for your blog. I have enjoyed your writing about this experience.

    • That’s a tough situation to be in. I sincerely hope you are able to find a way to something better soon. Have you looked at freelancing websites like or You can put in for freelancing projects through those sites, and build a little reputation for yourself as a freelancer, which in turn can help you get more gigs. There are also sites like and that post all sorts of work-from-home jobs. Virtualvocations has a subscription fee, but is free. If you haven’t checked them out, take a look around and see what’s there. If you have and are looking for work-at-home jobs through them, then I wish you all the best of luck.

      I also wish you all the best with school. Thank you for taking the time to tell a little about yourself and your situation. It’s people like you and your roommate that the government would much rather turn a blind eye to, and it makes me sad and angry. I hope things start to get better for you.

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