Mom mugger goes purse-picking
Q: The other night at a big LBGT formal-type bash — which was hosted by a friend of mine, I made a huge mistake and donÕt know how to either forgive myself or make it go away. I was at a party with about 100 people, most of whom I didnÕt know. I was in charge of putting away everyoneÕs coats and purses in an upstairs bedroom. As I was taking the first batch of coats upstairs, one of the purses fell and the billfold fell out. I could see some bills sticking out. I started to put it back, but then I did something I now canÕt believe. I took part of the money and stuck the billfold back into the purse.
After that, several times during the evening, I stole some other money from other purses. ItÕs like I just turned into a thief before my own eyes. Believe me, I never took all of the money in any purse, just a little of it.
Now I know you must be horrified at what I did, but I swear I have never done anything like this before. I swear that I will never do it again because I feel so terrible. I didnÕt spend the money on myself. I was really broke and had no money to buy groceries for my kids. So I bought some groceries and a few school supplies for the kids. I recently lost my job. I thought I could find one quickly, but nothing has turned up.
Yesterday, a friend of mine ÒAllisonÓ came to my house (she was at the party). She said that she thought she saw me taking money from someoneÕs purse. She said that she just wanted to be sure and not accuse me of something if it wasnÕt true. IÕm not a good liar and I felt so guilty that I blurted out that I had taken the money, but was sorry. She called me a thief and said she couldnÕt be a friend to a thief. I just stood there and couldnÕt say anything. She walked out of my house, got in her car, and left.
Now I hate myself and Allison knows that I stole the money. Not only that, I am afraid she will tell someone else what I did, which would destroy me in the community. I know I would never have done this if I wasnÕt desperate. And I didnÕt plan it. And I donÕt know whom IÕve taken the money from, so I canÕt pay them back — and even if I did, the money is gone.
What do I do to be able to live with myself, and how do I handle the fear that I will be destroyed? Help! IÕve always thought of myself as a moral person.
A: The first thing that concerns me is that you donÕt have food in your house for your children. You need to get some help until you can get back on you feet. The Department of Human Services in your community may be able to help you. They offer temporary cash assistance for low-income families with minor children. They give money to help pay for living expenses such as rent, heat, utilities, clothing, food and personal care items. They have a program that assists individuals with children to find employment. There are also churches in your area that help with food and clothing.
What about your family? Could you ask them for some help to get you through these tough times? Do you have friends who can help?
Now for the moral issue: whatÔs done is done. IÕm aware that it is much easier to make good moral decisions when you have money and can feed your children. As far as dealing with the woman who saw you steal the money, I would ask to talk with her about what she saw, letting her know what is going on in your life — not as an excuse, but as a cause for your actions.
If this were my situation, I would want to come up with my plan for redemption —as it were. It might be something like doing some service for the community or someone who needs help. If you decide to do something like this, wait until you are on you feet. It would also help your case if you would tell the woman who saw you stealing that you have such a plan. Use this chapter in your life as a learning experience. Good luck and let me know how things are going. I care.