My car was getting ready to die on me. Not only was it having mechanical problems, but it also had a leak. So when it rained water pooled on the floor in the back seat. For most of the winter the floor was covered in a dirty sheet of ice that got dirtier every time my kids climbed over it or spilled their crumbs or threw down a piece of trash.
My car had been through a lot with me: There was still deer hair in the grill from the time I hit a deer with it, and it had taken me to and from several different jobs. But it felt time for a change—I was looking for a new start and a new job after having been unemployed for almost a year. And needed to be sure I had reliable transportation. Plus, I was just tired of driving the Granny Mobile, as I called my boat of a car.
I sold my car and saved that money and the money from my tax return and began the search. I went on Craigslist, different car dealership websites, and posted on Facebook. My sister’s sister knew someone at a dealership who could knock the price down for me, and when I pulled into the car lot I saw a car that I knew I could love: a silver ’06 PT Cruiser with a nice clean interior and no leaks to speak of. I’ve never had a car that new—usually my cars are older than I am.
I drove the car home proud and happy. Now I was ready to pursue my goals. I was determined to get a job (and keep it) and get back on track with what I needed to be doing. I wanted to get out of public housing, afford health insurance, start paying off the student loans that I kept deferring, and learn how to manage my money better. Don’t get me wrong: I loved being home with my kids, but now that they were both in school I also wanted to financially contribute to the household, instead of living off of child support and public assistance. I want to feel like an adult, instead of always relying on someone else for help.
I filled out applications and went to interviews and accepted a job at a local food mart. It wasn’t my ideal job, but it was a start.
But then my car decided to break down on me in the Lowe’s parking lot. Just six days after I bought it. Thank God I wasn’t on the road. I bawled my eyes out until my sister came and got me. It was sad leaving my new car there. For me that car represented everything I was working towards.
Sometimes it seems that life is tearing me down, just when I thought I was getting it all together.
But through all of this, I’ve realized an important lesson: When life is dragging you down it’s important that the people in your life are not. It’s important to surround yourself with people who will support you and encourage you, especially when it comes to a romantic relationship.
I’ve been in relationships in the past where we dragged each other down. Neither of us would keep a steady job, and we’d feel depressed and lonely even though we were together. We didn’t encourage each other to do better for ourselves. When bad stuff happened, we just kind of sank further and further. So that really held me back a lot.
But with my current boyfriend, things are different. He has a steady job and a good work ethic. He doesn’t say that I have to get a job, but he wants to see me do well in life and he lets me know that. We share many of the same goals, like the fact that we both want to be homeowners someday, and so that’s what we’re working towards.
Relationships can either make or break you. They can be strong and supportive partnerships in which two people are working together for a common goal, or they can be destructive and distract you from the things that matter most in life. That’s why it’s so important to think about who you get into a relationship with. Choose someone who will build you up, no matter what life brings.
Because someday, your car will break down, and the dryer will break, and your kids will get sick. And in those moments you will want to be able to say to yourself, “I am refusing to give up. This place cannot keep me here. I will do better for myself and my family. I will buckle down and try even harder.” Having someone by your side who will truly support you in that can make a big difference.