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How I Got There
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I went to University on scholarships and loans for tuition and worked two part-time jobs to pay for room and board. Notice the "loans" part. Moving on into graduate school, the Federal loan program stipulated that the student (that be me) had to be full time and the government definition of full time student was no paid work, even part time.

I went into the Peace Corps directly after grad school--repayment of the loans was put on automatic hiatus by the government because the Peace Corps is a federal program.

So I packed up everything I owned. I mean everything--clothes, books, furniture, jewelelry, a few heirlooms--and put them in storage. All I took to India was a few books and two changes of clothes. I made my mother a signatory to my checking account, so she could pay the monthly storage fee, and left enough money in the account to pay for two years' storage plus enough to get life started again when I returned (rent, food, etc.). She agreed to make the payments each month.

At that time (this was years ago) you couldn't set up automatic payments out of bank accounts and it never occurred to me to pay the two years' worth of fees in advance, because not in a million years did I think my mother wouldn't keep up on the payments.

But she didn't. The storage was claimed for unpaid monies, and all my worldly possessions--everything I owned, everything--was sold at auction, unbeknownst to me off in my village in India.

I returned to the U.S. to find that, instead of being ready to pick up my life where I left off, I was destitute. No personal possessions and no bank account. The Bank of America had closed the account for lack of activity and sent the check to my mother, who promptly lost it or threw it away.

I have forgiven her all the other things that went on between us--she was mentally ill, after all, and not responsible for her bizarre actions and words--but this one thing has stuck in my craw all this time.

It took me years to recover financially. I got a teaching position right away, thanks to my college degrees, but all my income over and above the barest necessities of life had to go to the government to pay back those student loans which became due and payable as soon as I set foot on U.S. soil.

I vowed that never again would I trust anybody with my financial future, my security. And that anything I did put in trust or loaned out would be considered as a gift, and not expected to be repaid or returned. Any repayment is a miracle, a thing to rejoice over, a sign of renewed trust, faith in other people's integrity.

It was a hard lesson. I'm still working out how to forgive my mother. I never said anything to her while she was alive, but in my heart the memory hangs heavy--she never even told me she wasn't making the payments. Maybe I could have arranged something through the Bank of India if I had known.

How do you forgive when your trust is violated?

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