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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It's not that simple

I have kept quiet about the welfare issue for a VERY LONG TIME, despite an enormous need to speak out. This picture circulating the Internet and several comments made directly to me pushed me over the edge from silent seething to furiously writing. This post is not about ME. This post is about EVERYONE who casts judgement toward those of us (yes, me included) who choose to use the available public assistance. It is so easy to say, with their college degrees, "Get a better job." It's so easy for a woman with a working, contributing husband to say, "Work harder. Earn it like the rest of us." Those of you with an earning potential of $20+/hour can't even fathom what it's like to be qualified for NOTHING. Or, in the case of many, you have forgotten.

I'm going to tell you a little secret about "welfare":

IT IS NOT JUST DRUG ADDICTS AND LAZY PIECES OF SHIT WHO USE IT. In fact, most of us are intelligent, responsible people who have ended up in shitty circumstances or need a way out of a hole they unknowingly dug for themselves. We are just PEOPLE LIKE YOU who have jobs and families, and despite working hard, still can't even afford a city bus pass.

Speaking of bus pass, this is another common theme that needs to be addressed. People who say, "Just ride the bus." These people are 1) in possession of a functioning vehicle, 2) haven't ridden the bus since 1992 when bus fare was 50 cents (btw are you aware it costs $4 to ride the bus now?), 3) have never lost a job due to the buses running off schedule and the mile and a half walk between bus stop and place of employment. A bus pass costs approximately $120. If that doesn't sound unreasonable to you, you are one of these people I'm referring to and should probably not chime in with an opinion because you HAVE the kind of money I only dream of. One hundred twenty dollars is more than my last paycheck. That's right, two weeks of work.

THIS particular ignorant piece of work is what spurred this rant:



What do you know about her situation? I guarantee most of you don't know that I was a military wife who left my home, my family, and my chance of getting my college degree to sit in the middle of no where for four years of my life while my husband fought for your freedom. Now I'm a single mother, mid-divorce from the man who lives with PTSD every day of his life - the price HE paid for your safety and freedom, and you want to talk to me about the price you pay in taxes to help me?

I'm here to ask you, as you wonder why the girl at the grocery store needs those food stamps, do you know that woman's story? Did her husband just die in battle, leaving her five kids to raise on her own, while you stand there and judge the phone she carries in her purse?

Is the woman at the store going to turn around and tell you how her husband, who just bought her iPhone three months ago, recently kicked her down two flights of stairs? Is she going to tell you about bravely escaping a dangerous situation like that? What do you know of her recently-acquired need for assistance in feeding her babies? 

Remember that woman you judged because her boyfriend hit her and then she ran back to him? You know the one I'm talking about... she comes to you with a sad story of how her boyfriend treats her like trash, you worry and asked around and find her help, only to find her back with that guy a month later. "What a stupid girl, going back to an abusive relationship," you thought. Perhaps you weren't living her hell while she tried to dust herself off and start her life over but met judgment and hate instead. Where she needed help picking up the pieces, she was stared down at the grocery store check-stand by people who support themselves and made her feel as if she wasn't capable or worthy of taking care of herself. But that boyfriend who calls her stupid? He can keep her financially afloat. At least with him she's not accused of "abusing the system". Somehow staying in a damaging relationship is more OK in peoples' minds than walking away and asking for a little bit of help re-building for a better future.

Oh, you think that woman doesn't REALLY need help because her kid is well-dressed or playing with the latest toy? Did it ever occur to you that a mother would do ANYTHING, even sell her own blood, to get a few bucks to put a smile on her kid's face?

I'm not out to start a war (believe me, I already started one on fb with such talk), and yes, I'm aware I have used extreme examples here. But what seems like an "extreme" example to one person is someone else's reality. All I'm saying is who are we to look at someone else and decide they are selfishly stealing from the American public? You don't know her story. You don't know what she's been through, you don't know what she's going to do to better this world once she's on her own two feet. But I can tell you she won't be bettering anything if your hateful stares and derogatory comments drive her to suicide instead.

Perhaps we don't need new rules, perhaps we don't need to "crack down" on these sloths who are using our tax money to buy their kids dinner this week. Perhaps we need a little compassion and understanding instead. Maybe a kind smile and willingness to give to those who need it would go a hell of a lot farther to improve this wretched world. 

11 comments:

  1. You're doing what you need to do for yourself and your children. That's what a mother is supposed to do. Unless these people want to find you a job and daycare, they can seriously fuck off.

    _meowNursey <3

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  2. We live in such a judgemental world. I sometimes wish I had a little electro-shock device that would stop me every time I make assumptions. Thank you for the reminder and best to you & your family.

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  3. Bravo! Do you know how tempted I've been to post something just like this? But I know it won't reach the people who really need to read it.

    I still might, the next time I see one of those stupid things on FB.

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  4. Well done Aubrey well done.. Great blog. As a child I remember there was a time my mother & father who have been married for over 48 years now had separated for about a year I was probably about 8 years old my mother needed assistance to help feed me my brother & sister. At the time I did not know where the money was coming from I just knew we had a place to live food and the occasional toy. Things happen in life sometimes help is needed. Now I look back at our situation & I'm glad for the assistance my mother had at that time.. Once again great blog well said as usual..

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  5. After I got divorced and I was on food stamps, it saved my life! I encourage those who need help to go for it!! If you qualify, then obviously you need it! I also recently found out that the government has a program that will help out with cell phone plans. If in need, why not... That's what its set up for!!!

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  6. A-effing-men .... people judge ... they don't know ...

    I have food stamps, medicaid and a smart phone ... the smart phone came as a birthday present from people that I told I would rather have money to live on than anything else and they insisted they needed to buy me a present ... I have nice clothes ... courtesy of family ... but I'm also not homeless ... courtesy of family ... I have ranted about this to some degree now and then ... but this ... this was amazing ... and you are so, so not alone ...

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  7. I agree with you Aubrey. The problem I have is that there is a lot of people who just milk the system and never ever plan on getting on their own two feet. So, yes, people who have been on Food stamps and Cash Assistance for 3 years is a bit unnecessary, unless they are actually trying to make their life better {ie, school, working etc} If you need the help, take it, but once you don't do not try and fraud the government just to keep said benefits....get off it and save it for people who really need the help.... I think we have all seen people who abuse the system and that's where the bad stigma comes from. I don't think ANYONE has a problem with people on GVT help who actually needs it and has the desire and motivation to use it and then lose it...

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    1. I will honestly tell you that I have been on food stamps and medicaid for four years ... since I separated from my husband ... I spent a year working part time retail and trying to find a full time accounting job, which was the field I worked in before I was a stay at home mom ... and the only reason I had a roof over my head was my father was paying for it ... then I moved closer to him ... so I had to quit that job ... I went to school to become a CNA ... I got my CNA it took me four months to find a job ... and that job was only part time and paid $9/hr ... my dad couldn't support me anymore so I moved into my mom's basement ... then I started going to school full time working on becoming an RN ... and after moving again it took me nine months to find another part time job that only paid $10/hr ... six months after that I found a three-quarter time job with no benefits that pays $12/hr and I've been there for over a year now, while going to school full time ... and I won't graduate from my nursing school until December 2015, which means that I will be on food stamps until then, making it seven years of food stamps by the time I'm done ... I qualified for cash benefits when I wasn't working at all, but this is how it would have worked ... the amount for a family of four is about $570 ... then they subtract my measly $262 in child support and they only would give me about $300 ... then in order to get that (despite being a fulltime student) I was going to have to volunteer at ARC 22 hours a week ... making that $300 work out to be about $3/hr for my "volunteer" time ... and taking that much time away from my "real" job hunting time ... I declined the benefits ... my point isn't that it should be more money either ... my point is that you have to be desperate and willing to get those benefits ... I was also highly disappointed because when I showed up at the meeting where they set me up with the volunteer position they told me it was part of their "welfare to work program" ... I (stupid me) thought that meant they were going to try to help me find a job ... not at all ... he looked at me like I had three heads when I asked about it ... there is a 48 month lifetime limit on cash benefits and they tell you very clearly that you better make sure that this is the time in your life you really need it, because once your 48 months are up ... you're done ...

      But yes, after working my ass off ... it will have taken me seven years ... food stamps ... medicaid ... pell grants ... federal student loans ... tens of thousands of dollars from my parents ... to make me actually in a place that I can support my three children ... it's not just about length of time ... I think that there are a few bad apples ... but the majority are like Aubrey and I and are really, really trying to make it ...

      I don't enjoy living in my mom's unfinished basement, with the concrete walls and bare rafters ... sharing a 20x20 space with two of my children and my pet cats ... I don't enjoy working 32-40 hours a week and knowing I still couldn't afford to move out ... and then on top of that going to school 20 hours a week ... doing homework while my kids do homework ... and during their sporting events (that my parents pay for them to participate in) ... the cost of living is ridiculously high ... wages are ridiculously low ...

      It's definitely one of those "walk a mile in my shoes" things ...

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    2. Oh and ... by the way ... I quit going to school for my accounting degree between my junior and senior year because I had given birth to my second child and was going to be a stay at home mom ... my ex-husband hovered (still does hover) around six figures ... I had a house ... three cars ... didn't flinch at walking into Gymboree and spending $500 on clothes for my kids ... never worried about where our meals were going to come from ... I thought I was set ... and then he threw a chair at me while I was holding one of my daughters ... one year of anger management and counseling later ... he only got worse ... blamed me for his temper ... I finally had enough ... then in a slap in the face the judge imputed the $42,000/yr income I walked away from to be a stay at home mom on me when we went to court for child support ... leaving me with $262/month for three children ... despite his $90k+/yr job ... and that left me where I am ... just to give you background ...

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  8. Oh ... and Miss Aubrey ... I shared this on Facebook (it was that good) ... 26 comments later ... only one person was "negative" and they basically said the same thing Mayhem at the McNeils is saying ... they also said we needed to focus on education so people have the skills to support themselves ... which I agree with ... except the jobs still have to exist ... but most were very supportive ... I even got you another "a-effing-men" ... :)

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    1. Lemonade Lady....I by no means am bashing Aubrey. I too am on Food stamps right now at this point in my life. I have 3 kids and was a FL CNA. I now live in GA, so my CNA license isn't valid. { I just obtained it so have no working experience for reciprocity) I am enrolled FT for my RN as well. i won't graduated until 2016 though. I was just stating that I have seen and known a few people who purposefully abuse the system....not everyone had good intentions and feels hopeful and determined about their situation.... I'm sorry for the situation you have been forced into. Believe me, I really relate. We have a lot of similarities, except mine never was physically abusive. I'm proud of you for being so strong and doing what is right for you and your kids. Good luck with everything!!

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